Dr. Aguilar is a clinician and clinical research leader with more than 20 years of experience in immuno-oncology, oncolytic viral therapy, gene therapy and cell therapy. She co-founded and helped to grow a successful biotechnology company, Candel Therapeutics (previously Advantagene, Inc.), from a 3-person grant-funded start-up to 60+ employee public company. As Chief Medical Officer (CMO), she led the company’s clinical development strategy focused on viral-based immuno-oncology. She oversaw the clinical portfolio including design and execution of 7 ongoing and 7 completed Phase 1 to Phase 3 clinical trials in 4 disease indications with two lead product candidates. Dr. Aguilar managed collaborations with pharmaceutical and academic partners. She built and managed a 25-member clinical department. Dr. Aguilar also managed Candel’s regulatory and quality functions until 2021, when she transitioned this work to independent departments to support company growth. Under her leadership, the company achieved Special Protocol Assessment, Fast-Track and Orphan Drug designation from the FDA for various programs. She also led the company’s COVID-19 crisis policy development and implementation that resulted in 100% retention as well as additional growth of staff to support completion of enrollment on a 711-patient placebo-controlled Phase 3 trial in newly diagnosed prostate cancer while continuing advancement in ongoing clinical programs in glioma, lung and pancreatic cancer.
Previously, Dr. Aguilar was Associate Director/Clinical Liaison for the Harvard Gene Therapy Initiative at Harvard Medical School and an attending physician at Dana Farber Cancer Institute and Children’s Hospital. While there, she developed clinical programs in orphan diseases and led international clinical collaborations. Prior to this, Dr. Aguilar worked on bringing adoptive T cell therapy from bench to bedside at the Center for Cell and Gene Therapy at Baylor College of Medicine.
Dr. Aguilar holds an MD and completed her residency in Pediatrics and Fellowship in Pediatric Hematology-Oncology at Texas Children’s Hospital. She also completed a PhD in Microbiology and Immunology from Baylor College of Medicine as well as a BS in Biochemistry from University of California, Davis.