Ryan Swoboda

Co-Founder & Chief Executive Officer


Mr. Ryan Swoboda co-founded NAVAN Technologies, Inc. in 2016 while conducting his graduate thesis research on material synthesis and nanocharacterization with the Melosh Group at Stanford University. Ryan received both his M.S. and B.S. in Materials Science & Engineering from The Farm, focusing on nanoscience and developing NanoStraws for cellular reprogramming applications. As both an inventor on early stage NanoStraw patents and the Principal Investigator of NAVAN’s Small Business Technology Transfer Phase II grant awarded by the National Science Foundation (award no. 1759075), Ryan has contributed significantly to the development of the core NanoStraw technology and led the transfer team and process.


Ryan advocates the NAVAN vision of increased accessibility and affordability of cell & gene therapies and is committed to a culture of purpose to drive NAVAN’s success. Having been a first-generation college student, Ryan realizes the power of education and increased access to new technologies and considers NAVAN’s ventures as unique opportunities to effect lasting positive impact. In his spare time, Ryan enjoys conducting science demonstrations for low-income students in the local community.

Sergio Leal-Ortiz, Ph.D.

Co-Founder & Chief Scientific Officer


In addition to overseeing the Scientific operations at NAVAN, Dr. Sergio Leal-Ortiz is a Senior Research Associate at the Neuro-Fab facility in the Stanford Neurosciences Institute. His research interests have been primarily in neuroscience, having studied neurodevelopmental disorders, autism, rRNA expression and other topics throughout his academic career.


Sergio received his Ph.D. in Molecular Biology and Neurochemistry from Otto-von-Guericke Universität Magdeburg in Germany and completed his undergraduate degree in Biochemistry at the Universidad Austral de Chile in Valdivia, Chile.

Martin Hjort, Ph.D.

Chief Technology Officer


Dr. Martin Hjort is a materials scientist with more than 10 years’ experience in one-dimensional nanostructures. He obtained his Ph.D. in physics from Lund University in Sweden characterizing nanowires. Martin was awarded a prestigious postdoctoral fellowship from the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation in order to work in Dr. Nicholas Melosh’s research group at Stanford University. At Stanford, Martin, showed that NanoStraws can be used to repeatedly extract cellular contents from living cells, thus being able to track cellular transformations. Together with Dr. Leal-Ortiz, he also pioneered the use of NanoStraws to deliver biologically-relevant cargo into cells in suspension.


Martin has been part of NAVAN Technologies, Inc. since its conception and he is currently Chief Technology Officer, driving the development of the NanoStraws. Martin is the author of 23 peer-reviewed articles in high impact journals, holds 2 U.S. patent applications, and is the recipient of several awards including the 2017 Cozzarelli Prize.

Sarah Boyatzis

Chief of Staff


Ms. Sarah Boyatzis is a senior project manager, with more than 15 years of experience in delivering high-value technology projects for global industry leaders and startups. As NAVAN’s Chief of Staff, Sarah drives strategic and operational initiatives, including implementation and scale-up programs from planning to execution. Accomplished in building high-performing teams, Sarah oversees productivity improvements throughout the company that have resulted in significant savings in operating costs and a greater ability to meet increasing customer demand.


Sarah received her Bachelor of Computer Science & Mathematics degree from the University of Western Australia.

Hannes Voßfeldt, Ph.D.

Senior Scientist


Dr. Hannes Voßfeldt is a Senior Scientist at NAVAN, following extensive experience as both a scientific researcher and research consultant. As a scientific consultant, Hannes researched novel methods and technologies at the intersection of engineering and molecular/cell biology, to become a renowned expert in NanoStraw technology through awarded grants, publications and presentations on the topic. Prior to that, Hannes’ research was primarily focused on the genetics of neurological disorders.


Hannes received his Ph.D. in Molecular Medicine from Georg-August University Goettingen and his B.A. and M.S. in Molecular Medicine from the same institution in 2008.

Susan Johnson, Ph.D.

Senior Scientist – Immuno-oncology


Dr. Susan Johnson brings an in-depth knowledge of T-cell immunology and host-pathogen interactions to NAVAN. Contributing a versatile skill set in immunology, virology, flow cytometry, transduction methods, molecular biology and animal models of disease including syngeneic tumor models, Susan is actively involved in the pre-clinical and clinical development of NAVAN’s therapeutic development, stemming from the NanoStraw platform.


Susan was trained in immunology at the prestigious Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research in Melbourne, was awarded a competitive NHMRC early career fellowship to undergo research at the WHO Collaborative Research Centre in Geneva, Switzerland and has worked on viral research programs at both the US Military HIV Research Program and Stanford University Department of Medicine. She has 12 years’ post-graduate experience in immunology working in both academic and biopharma environments

Canh Nguyen

NanoStraw Engineer


Mr. Canh Nguyen brings 13 years of experience in microfluidics and fabrication techniques from both academia research and industry to NAVAN. Previously from the lab of Stanford Professor Steve Quake and as a consultant at the Stanford Nanofabrication Facility, Canh is now focused on contributing to NAVAN’s Engineering team, in the role of NanoStraw Engineer. He is involved with NanoStraw research, development, and production; as well as working with junior engineers to achieve company milestones.


Canh is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley, a Cal Bears fan, and is forever searching for a friendly “Tree” at Stanford to sit under!

Jose Rivera

Laboratory Technician


Mr. Jose Rivera is a recent graduate of San Francisco State University where he received his Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering. During his undergraduate studies, he completed a Quality Engineering internship, during which he gained a deep understanding of the machining, manufacturing, assembly, and quality inspection processes. Jose is also experienced in Atomic Force Microscopy and Electromyography techniques, which developed his interest in the cross-section of engineering and biology and led him to seek growth in the Biotechnology industry and join NAVAN.


At NAVAN, Jose works on NanoWell assembly and processing and is involved in laboratory upkeep and process development.

Nicholas A. Melosh, Ph.D.



Dr. Melosh is a Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at Stanford University. His research lab group explores how to design new inorganic structures that will seamless integrate with biological systems to address problems that are not feasible by other means. This involves both fundamental work such as deeply understanding how lipid membranes interact with inorganic surfaces, electrokinetic phenomena in biologically relevant solutions, and applying this knowledge into new device designs.


Dr. Melosh received his B.S. in Chemistry from Harvey Mudd College in 1996. He did his graduate work on block-copolymer silica composites with Brad Chmelka and Galen Stucky at the University of California at Santa Barbara, receiving a Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering in 2001. His postdoctoral training was on molecular electronics and nanoscale patterning with Jim Heath at the University of California, Los Angeles and the California Institute of Technology from 2001-2003. He joined Stanford University as an assistant professor of materials science and engineering in September 2003.

Craig Garner, Ph.D.



Dr. Garner is a well-known expert in translational research, i.e. applying research findings to medical practice. Craig is currently Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science at Stanford University and Co-director of the Stanford Down Syndrome Center. In 2014 he became a Scientist/co-Speaker of the DZNE-Berlin: German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases and Professor at the Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin where his group studies the molecular mechanisms of synaptic function in health and neurodegenerative diseases. In 2014 he also co-founded SPARK-Berlin to educate academic scholars about translation and entrepreneurship. Moreover, he has founded three biotech companies: Balance Therapeutics, Stealth Biosciences and NAVAN. He has received several prizes for his work, including the “Coulter Foundation Award for Translational Neuroscience“, the “Fidelity Foundation Award for Neurodegenerative Research“ and the “Stanford Neuro-Innovation Award for Translational Neuroscience.”


Dr. Garner received his Ph.D. in Biochemistry from Purdue University and a B.A. in Biochemistry from Rutgers University.

Chris Rehse, Ph.D.



Dr. Chris Rehse received his Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from Otto-von-Guericke University Magdeburg in Germany. He then conducted a Postdoc at Stanford University in Biomedical Engineering where he developed biological applications for NanoStraw technologies. Based on a NSF STTR grant Dr. Rehse established the initial business models for the NanoStraw technology and is now focused on building the bridge to European collaborators for NAVAN Technologies, Inc.


Previously, Dr. Rehse established a university incubator program and startup center for the Otto-von-Guericke University Magdeburg, focusing on translational research. Dr. Rehse is also the Co-Founder and CEO of neotiv GmbH, a digital health startup focusing on the early detection of Alzheimer’s, in collaboration with the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases.