Ryan Swoboda

Ryan Swoboda

Chief Executive Officer, Co-Founder & Director


Ryan Swoboda co-founded NAVAN in 2017 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 became CEO of Navan in July 2019 and has successfully led the team and Company since then.


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.

Martin Hjort

Martin Hjort, PhD

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. As an example, Martin proved NAVAN’s superiority over the currently considered delivery state-of-the-art in vivo through his latest publication in collaboration with Lund University.


Martin has been part of NAVAN Technologies, Inc. since its conception and he is currently Chief Technology Officer, driving the development of the NanoStraw Platform and System. 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.

Nicholas A. Melosh, PhD

Co-Founder & Director


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 seamlessly 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.

Sergio Leal-Ortiz

Sergio Leal-Ortiz, PhD



Dr. Sergio Leal-Ortiz co-founded NAVAN in 2017 through his molecular and cellular biology research at Stanford University. As an inventor on multiple NanoStraw patents, Dr. Leal-Ortiz continues to develop key innovations and multi-faceted elements of NAVAN’s NanoStraw Platform and System to enable next generation cell therapy and regenerative medicine applications. In this spirit, Dr. Leal-Ortiz spearheads research, development, and validation of NAVAN’S unique capabilities across a broad range of hard-to-transfect cell types and hard-to-deliver-cargos. Dr. Leal-Ortiz has authored numerous publications featured in our Select NanoStraw Publications section, including proven intracellular extraction.


Dr. Leal-Ortiz 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. In addition to directing Bioscience at NAVAN, Dr. Leal-Ortiz is affiliated with the Neuro-Fab facility in the Stanford Neurosciences Institute.

Craig Garner, PhD

Co-Founder & Director


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, PhD



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.


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.

Phyllis I. Gardner, MD



Dr. Phyllis Gardner has over 40 years of experience in academia, medicine and the healthcare industry. She trained in Internal Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital, followed by a Chief Residency at Stanford University Hospital. Since 1984, Dr. Gardner has been on the professoriate of the School of Medicine at Stanford University, subsequently attaining tenured full Professor in 2002. She is on the Board of Fellows of Harvard Medical School and the Harvard Medical School Committee on Education.


Dr. Phyllis Gardner has also been active in growing and investing in prominent healthcare technologies and has served on the Boards of prominent public and private healthcare entities, as well as serving as an adjunct partner and then partner of the venture capital firm Essex Woodlands Healthcare Ventures for over 15 years (1999-2015). Dr. Gardner is currently a Director of Revance, Inc. (2005-Present), CohBar, (2019-present), and Navan Technologies, Inc. (2019-present). She recently left the board of Corium International (2007-2019) after it was sold and became private. Also among her prior Board of Director roles were Aronex Pharmaceuticals (1998-2001), Health Hero Network (1998-2005), Aerogen, Inc. (2000-2005), CambriaTech (2000-2006), UMD, Inc. (2006-2009) and Ventaira Inc. (2006-2010). Dr. Gardner was the vice-president of research and head of Alza Technology Development in ALZA Corporation from 1994-1998, while on sabbatical and leave from Stanford University.

Steve Winfield



Steve has 40 years of experience covering every aspect of corporate incubation, growth, operations and highly successful exits. He has cultivated and applied entrepreneurial skills to every role in his career, including 25 years as Founder and CEO of 3 Cos.


Steve has held key management roles in Strategic Product Direction/Development, Operations, Tactical Alliances/Partnerships, Marketing/Sales and Engineering. He founded QuantumLink in 1994 to invent a completely new, disruptive telecommunications product category. Steve conceived the product, orchestrated all corporate and product development, created inertia and gained market traction, then sold the company in 2000. After founding Quantum Capital to invest in equipment leases, he founded LiquidLink and grew it into one of the largest Bordeaux importers/distributors in the US. He sold the importing rights and substantial goodwill in 2012, then the inventory.


Recently, Steve’s interests are in life sciences. He has been a Director of the CLL Global Research Foundation Board since 2014. Steve currently serves on the Allocations Committee which analyzes promising research to fund and the Investment Committee plus is the Board representative on the Scientific Advisory Board. Steve has close connections with Doctors at leading medical research institutions all over the world.