Altis Team


Ben Scruggs, Ph.D.
Executive Chairman

Ben Scruggs, Ph.D., is a Principal at Hatteras Venture Partners in Durham, NC. He supports the firm’s new portfolio company diligence, existing portfolio strategy, and overall operations. Prior to joining Hatteras in 2016, Ben was a postdoctoral fellow in the Epigenetics and Stem Cell Biology Laboratory at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. He has performed research in the fields of genomics, metabolism, RNA biology, and transcription regulation. Ben received his B.E. in biomedical engineering from Vanderbilt University and a Ph.D. in molecular cell biology from Washington University in St. Louis.


Christopher Sims, MD
President & Co-Founder

Dr. Christopher Sims, MD, is the President and a co-founder of Altis Biosystems and is a Professor at the University of Washington. He holds 
a BS in Physical Sciences (Chemistry) from Auburn University and an MD from Johns Hopkins University. He completed a medical residency at the Beth Israel Hospital, Harvard University, and postdoctoral clinical fellowships in medicine and in rheumatology at Stanford University Hospital. His postdoctoral research work was in Physiology and Biophysics at the University of California, Irvine where he remained on faculty until his move to UNC-Chapel Hill in 2007. His current research is aimed at the development of cell-based assays and microfabricated technologies for clinical and biomedical applications, particularly in the field of stem cell research. Dr. Sims has been the scientific co-founder of three prior companies: Cell Biosciences (currently Protein Simple); Intellego, Inc.; and Cell Microsystems, Inc.

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Jimmy Smedley, Ph.D. Chief Operating Officer

Jimmy Smedley, Ph.D. is the COO of Altis Biosystems. Prior to joining Altis, Jimmy served in various roles at KBI Biopharma. In his tenure at KBI, he built and grew the company’s Analytical Development department from 8 to over 65 employees. Additionally, he helped develop and lead a limited cell-based assay function into a full-service, 10-person GMP laboratory, including supporting over 25 cell lines and biological potency test methods. He received a Ph.D. in Molecular Virology & Microbiology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, and a M.S., Biology from Duquesne University.

Chielf Scientific Officer

Bill Thelin, Ph.D
Chief Scientific Officer

Bill Thelin, Ph.D. is the Chief Scientific Officer at Altis Biosystems. He has more than 15 years of drug development experience, overseeing preclinical from discovery to IND-filing. Prior to joining Altis, Bill served as the Vice President of Research at Parion Sciences. In his tenure at Parion, he helped to build a portfolio of novel, first-in-class therapeutic programs for pulmonary and ophthalmic diseases, which collectively raised >$150M in non-dilutive funding through NIH grants and corporate partnerships. He received a Ph.D. in Cell Biology at the University of North Carolina and was a postdoctoral fellow with Dr. Richard Boucher at the UNC Cystic Fibrosis Center. Prior to Altis, his scientific expertise focused on epithelial ion channel and receptor pharmacology, mucosal disease, and targeted drug discovery.


Niki Heinz
Director of Business Development

Niki Heinz is the Business Development Director at Altis Biosystems and has been successfully selling into the pharmaceutical and biotechnology research space for over 10 years. Niki formerly worked for Asterand Bioscience and BioIVT and has also worked as a QC and R&D chemist in the detergent industry, as well as with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources as a Naturalist. Niki has a BS in Biology and is an active member of the Henry Ford College Biotechnology Advisory Board.

Maureen Bunger, Ph.D, M.B.A.
Senior Director Marketing and Product Management

Maureen Bunger is Senior Director of Marketing and Product Management and has held prior positions in business development, product development, and product management over the last 12 years following 5 years as a basic research scientist. She comes to Altis after 6 years at Lonza where she was global product manager of a portfolio of >200 human primary cell and media products and successfully launched several new products into the primary cell market. Maureen earned a PhD from University of Wisconsin – Madison and an MBA from Cameron School of Business at University of North Carolina- Wilmington.