Management Team

Linda Marban

Linda Marbán, Ph.D.

President, CEO and Director

Full Bio

Dr. Marbán is currently serving as our Chief Executive Officer and has served in that capacity and on the Board since November 2013. As co-founder of Capricor, Inc., our wholly-owned subsidiary, Dr. Marbán has been with Capricor, Inc. since 2005 and became its Chief Executive Officer in 2010. She combines her background in research with her business experience to lead the Company and create a path to commercialization for its novel therapies. Dr. Marbán was the lead negotiator in procuring the license agreements that are the foundation of the Company’s intellectual property portfolio. Under her direction as Chief Executive Officer, the Company has been awarded approximately $30.0 million in non-dilutive grant awards which have funded our research and development programs, and a loan award which funded Capricor, Inc.’s ALLSTAR clinical trial. Dr. Marbán’s deep knowledge of the cardiac space, in particular, allows her to provide unique direction for the Company’s development and growth. From 2003 to 2009, Dr. Marbán was with Excigen, Inc., a biotechnology start-up company, where she was responsible for business development, operations, pre-clinical research, and supervising the development of gene therapy products in a joint development agreement with Genzyme Corp. While at Excigen, she also negotiated a joint development and sublicense agreement with Medtronic Corp. utilizing Excigen’s technology and supervised the building of a lab in which the work was to be performed. Dr. Marbán began her career in academic science, first at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation working on the biophysical properties of cardiac muscle. That work continued when she moved to a postdoctoral fellowship at Johns Hopkins University (“JHU”). While at JHU, she advanced to the rank of Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Pediatrics, continuing her work on the mechanism of contractile dysfunction in heart failure. Her tenure at JHU ran from 2000 to 2003. Dr. Marbán earned a Ph.D. from Case Western Reserve University in cardiac physiology.


Kristi Kristi A. H. Elliott, Ph.D.

Kristi A. H. Elliott, Ph.D.

Vice President of Research and Development

Full Bio

Dr. Elliott joined Capricor in 2021 serving as Vice President of Research and Development where she oversees Capricor’s exosome platform and pipeline development. She has approximately 15 years of experience in biotechnology combining her extensive stem cell knowledge with over 5 years of expertise in exosome platform development. As an innovator in the exosome field, Dr. Elliott has been involved in the conception and implementation of exosome purification, scale-up, loading and targeting processes for multiple exosome-based product candidates.

Prior to her role as Vice President of Research and Development, Dr. Elliott served as a Technical Advisor in Business Development and Strategy for Exotech Bio and AD Skincare; both joint ventures between Harvest Capital Strategies and Intrexon Corp., focused on exosome therapeutics. Prior to this role, Dr. Elliott held various roles at Intrexon Corp., including Senior Director of Stem Cell and Exosome Development and Director of the Human Therapeutics Division. During her tenure at Intrexon, she managed a cross-functional team including operations, bioinformatics, engineering, and research and development. She was responsible for multiple primary and stem cell therapeutics and exosome-based research programs from concept through the development of IND-enabling studies. Dr. Elliott held several other roles in small biotechs focused on stem cell technologies and began her career as a stem cell specialist at the University of California, Irvine.

Dr. Elliott received her B.A. in biology and M.S. in molecular biology from Rutgers University. She earned her Ph.D. in human genetics and molecular biology from The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.


AJ Bergmann

AJ Bergmann, M.B.A.

Chief Financial Officer

Full Bio

Mr. Bergmann has served as our Chief Financial Officer since January 2018. Mr. Bergmann joined Capricor in 2011 and served as its Director of Finance until November 2013. After the merger between Capricor, Inc. and a subsidiary of Nile Therapeutics, Inc., he became the Company’s Vice President of Finance. He also serves as the Company’s corporate treasurer. Prior to joining Capricor, Mr. Bergmann had experience in accounting, finance, and operations management of companies ranging in size from start-ups to mid-size companies. Most recently he was with the business management firm, Gettleson, Witzer, and O’Connor, in Beverly Hills, California, where he focused on accounting and finance for several production studios generating motion picture releases and worldwide revenue that exceeded $1 billion. The firm’s clients included foundations, trusts, and independent actors, writers, producers and directors across the entertainment industry. While at the firm, he focused on budgeting, tax forecasting, and asset management. Earlier in his career, Mr. Bergmann served in financial positions in various industries. During his time at Capricor, Mr. Bergmann assisted with Capricor’s Series A-3 Preferred Stock offering and helped structure the Company’s successful $19.8 million budget proposal to the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine. He directly coordinated the Company’s reverse merger and subsequent uplisting to the NASDAQ and financings yielding over $100.0 million, to date. He has experience in developing corporate and financial strategy alternatives and executing strategic plans. Mr. Bergmann manages the Company’s finance, accounting, business development, and human resource functions. Mr. Bergmann graduated from Providence College with a Bachelor of Science degree in Management and a minor in Finance. He has an M.B.A. from the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business. He is actively involved in various venture capital and entrepreneurial associations throughout the Los Angeles area.


AJ Bergmann

Xavier Avat, M.B.A.

Chief Business Officer

Full Bio

Mr. Avat joined Capricor in 2022 as Chief Business Officer to oversee Capricor’s strategic priorities, the commercialization of its pipeline products and business development activities. Mr. Avat comes to Capricor with over 25 years of diverse experience in healthcare, across multiple therapeutic areas and global markets.

Prior to joining Capricor, Mr. Avat served as Senior Vice President, Global Corporate Strategy and New Initiatives, at Edwards Lifesciences, a global medical technology leader, where he led the company’s global strategy and corporate performance metrics, as well as initiated and incubated market development and franchise initiatives. Prior to joining Edwards, Mr. Avat was Vice President of Corporate Development for Santen Pharmaceutical, a Japanese company, where he led corporate planning for the Americas markets and established the Canadian operations, building the team and leading preparation of the first Canadian commercial product. Prior to that, at Gilead Sciences, Mr. Avat held positions of increasing responsibility, including corporate development, as the GM of Latin America, and then as part of the US team that launched Sovaldi. Prior to Gilead, Mr. Avat was at Genentech and Merck (then Schering Plough), where he focused on global portfolio and commercial transactions. Mr. Avat started his career in sales at bioMerieux in Europe before moving to the US to drive the integration of an M&A. In addition to his broad global business background, Xavier has experience in business development, sales and marketing and corporate development.

Mr. Avat obtained his Master of Business Administration from Edhec Business School and Master of Science degree in bioengineering from Polytech Lille in France.


Karen Krasney

Karen Krasney, J.D.

Executive Vice President and General Counsel

Full Bio

Ms. Krasney has served as our Executive Vice President, Secretary and General Counsel since November 2013. Ms. Krasney has been providing legal services to Capricor, Inc. since 2011 and in 2012 joined Capricor, Inc. as its Executive Vice President and General Counsel. Ms. Krasney’s career spans over 40 years serving as general counsel for numerous corporations and private companies engaged in a wide variety of industries. Her extensive background and vast experience has been focused on domestic and international corporate and business law, as well as litigation. Ms. Krasney has been involved in the medical technology arena since the mid 1990’s, representing several medical technology companies developing products for the treatment of cardiovascular disease. Commencing in 2002, Ms. Krasney served as legal counsel of Biosensors International Group Ltd., a multinational medical device company that developed, manufactured, and sold medical devices for cardiology applications. In 2006, she accepted the position of General Counsel and Executive Vice President of Biosensors and served in that capacity until 2010. During her tenure at Biosensors, among other things, Ms. Krasney headed the legal team that facilitated the company’s successful initial public offering in Singapore and was responsible for negotiating and documenting all agreements for the company worldwide, including licensing agreements with major medical device companies and agreements required for the company’s international clinical trials. Ms. Krasney also serves as a director on the board of Cardiovascular Research Foundation, a non-profit research and education entity, and as a director for a private non-profit charitable foundation. Ms. Krasney received her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, Los Angeles and her Juris Doctorate from the University of Southern California.


Yasmine Shad

Yasmine Shad

Vice President of Quality

Full Bio

Ms. Shad joined Capricor in 2022 serving as our Vice President of Quality where she oversees all facets of Quality Assurance and Quality Control for Capricor’s product pipeline. She has approximately 20 years of experience in managing quality functions with a demonstrated history of working through all phases of clinical development for multiple cell and gene therapy products focused on quality systems implementation and development, GMP facility operations, and regulatory submissions.

Prior to her role as Vice President of Quality, Ms. Shad served as Executive Director, Clinical Quality, Site Head for Kite Pharma, a Gilead Company, where she focused on leading the sites for autologous and vector manufacturing. She led clinical trial stage quality functions including but not limited to quality systems, quality operations, quality engineering, LIMS, QC analytical, QC microbiology, and sample management. Additionally, prior to this role, Ms. Shad held various roles at the City of Hope National Medical Center concluding her time there as Senior Director, Office of Quality Systems. During her tenure at City of Hope, she was responsible for the quality management of GMP facilities and oversaw all GXP activities for multiple biologics. Her early career was built off a foundation of science where she served as a Research and Development Chemist and Research Scientist.

Ms. Shad received her B.S. and M.S. in Biochemistry from Laurentian University and the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada, and later went on to obtain an additional M.S. in Regulatory Affairs from San Diego State University. She is an active member of the Regulatory Affairs Professional Society (RAPS), Parenteral Drug Association (PDA), and American Society for Quality (ASQ).