About Excellos

Excellos accelerates gene therapies by improving the quality, breadth, and variance of donor samples, and providing end-to-end cell therapy services: from customized collection to engineered working cell banks. Our proprietary Excellos 360 technology provides deep characterization of cells to better match patient and therapeutic development needs.

The Excellos Story

Our team has extensive experience in cell banking, processing, and manufacturing. As a spin-out of the San Diego Blood Bank, we understand the challenges in collecting quality, consented material and that cell characterization is the foundation for a successful therapeutic. By teaming with Telegraph Hill Partners, we built the dream cell processing and manufacturing facility in downtown San Diego. We embrace our customers not as clients, but as partners- we are in this together!

Leadership Team

Tom VanCott

CEO, Board Member

Thomas VanCott is an immunologist with extensive experience in biotechnology and life sciences. Before joining Excellos, he was CSO at Combined Therapeutics, Inc. where he led an mRNA platform targeting protein expression to specific tissues, At Catalent Cell and Gene Therapy, Thomas’ role was Chief Technology and Strategy Officer leading integrated product development services, . Thomas also had a comprehensive stint as President and CEO at ABL Inc., a privately held CDMO serving biotech and biopharma.. Dr. VanCott has a B.S. in Chemistry from Dickinson College, and earned his Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry from University of Virginia. Thomas served started his career as a Captain in the U.S. Army at Walter Reed, researching novel vaccine targets, and leading preclinical vaccine research and biomanufacturing programs.

Rob Tressler


Rob Tressler has authored over 30 peer-reviewed articles and publications and is an inventor on numerous patents. Previously he was the CSO at the San Diego Blood Bank and has held executive scientific roles at Geron, Inc. and Cellerant Therapuetics. Robert’s scientific focus is stem cell biology, oncology, and anti-aging. Robert achieved is Ph.D. from University of Texas in Cancer Biology and has a Masters Degree in Microbiology. He is a member of the American Association of Blood Banks, The International Society of Cell Therapy, and the American Society of Hematology.

Heather Burnell

VP of Quality

Heather Burnell is a Quality Professional with over 32 years of experience in the biotech industry, with over 7 years of experience in cell and gene therapy. She has experience leading Quality teams for large multi-product facilities and startup environments. Prior to Excellos, Heather held roles at CDMOs as Head of Manufacturing and MSAT for Abzena, and Head of Quality at SAFC (now Millipore Sigma). Heather held a variety of QC/QA roles at Amgen in her 22 years there, including leading regulatory inspections, both pre-approval and biennials for FDA, EMA, TGA, among others to successful outcomes and overseeing Corporate Quality Systems globally across all of Amgen’s sites.

Hillary Youngberg

VP of Business Development

Hillary Youngberg has over 15 years of experience in the cell and gene therapy space. Prior to her leadership role at Excellos, she led west coast business development at WuXi Advanced Therapies, focusing on the development, manufacturing and testing of cell and gene therapy products. Her experiences include 7 years at SAFC (now Millipore Sigma), a viral vector CDMO, in both program management and business development roles. Hillary received her B.S. in molecular, cellular, and developmental biology from UC Santa Barbara.

Bruna Bertsch

VP of Finance

Bruna Bertsch is a finance leader with over 20 years of experience developing, scaling, and managing all aspects of finance. Her experience encompasses private and public companies, and she has worked with several start-up companies and their subsequent acquisitions. Prior companies include Certik, Luxtera, Sequenom, Qualcomm, and Accenture. Bruna’s emphasis is providing value-added data and analytics that delivers decision-making insights.

Virginia Bunnell

VP of People & Administration

Virginia Bunnell leads the people strategy for Excellos, including developing a high-performance culture that motivates and drives alignment of organization goals and initiatives. She is responsible for the development of a people focused culture and drives all aspects of the employee experience for Excellos. Prior to Excellos, Virginia previously held the Director of Administrative Services role at the San Diego Blood Bank where she lead, managed and motivated a multi-functional team to build a highly efficient culture and increased staff productivity. Virginia holds a Strategic Human Resources Leadership Certificate from Cornell University and Senior Certified Professional from the Society of Human Resource Management. Virginia gives back to the community by serving on several not-for-profit Boards.

Board of Directors

Paul Grossman

Telegraph Hill Partners

Before joining Telegraph Hill Partners, Paul Grossman was Head of Strategy and Corporate Development for Life Technologies and held a similar position at Invitrogen Corporation prior to the merger with Applied Biosystems. Paul’s experience includes a variety of leadership and executive roles in R&D, Legal and Corporate Development teams, including spearheading the acquisition or divestment of more than 25 businesses. Paul holds a B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering (B.S. and Ph.D. from U.C. Berkeley, M.S. From UVA), and a J.D. from Santa Clara University.

Deval Lashkari

Telegraph Hill Partners

Deval Lashkari, a co-founder of THP, has worked in the life sciences area developing and commercializing novel technologies for over 25 years. He gained experience as an entrepreneur and through senior management positions in a number of life science companies including Incyte Genomics, and Operon. Deval has represented THP on a number of boards including Akoya Biosciences, Argonaut Manufacturing Services, RareCyte, Sage Labs and more. Deval received a B.A. with highest honors from U.C. Berkeley, and a Ph.D. from Stanford University.

Terry Kinninger

Terry Kinninger has over 30 years of senior executive experience in international technology companies in the medical diagnostics, medical device, software and information technology industries. He has raised ~$300 million through IPO’s, private equity and debt financing, and has extensive mergers & acquisition experience on transactions totaling over $1 billion. His experience includes CFO Agena Bioscience, CFO & COO Endoscopic Technologies, CFO & Executive VP Business Development R2 Technology, and CFO & COO Bridge Medical. Earlier in his career, Terry was a CPA with PricewaterhouseCoopers and holds a B.S. from Miami University.

Robert (Bob) Finzi

Robert Finzi has over 40 years of venture capital and private equity experience and extensive experience serving on both private and public Boards of Directors. His background includes managing all aspects of private equity funds. He has held roles as a General Partner at Merrill Lynch Venture Capital, Managing Partner at Sprout Group, and as Senior Advisor at Credit Suisse. Bob is a member of the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors at the San Diego Blood Bank. Bob holds a B.S. and M.S. in Industrial Engineering from Lehigh University and an MBA from Harvard.