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about us

Mission, Vision, Team

Founded in 2022, UP Oncolytics is engaged in the development of viral vectors to treat refractory and poorly responsive cancers like glioblastoma (GBM) and metastatic melanoma.


Despite intensive research efforts, many cancers do not respond to precision therapeutics because of challenges in drug delivery, heterogeneity of the tumor, and an immuno-inhibitory tumor microenvironment. Oncolytic viruses overcome all these challenges. 


Our initial focus is on GBM, an aggressive brain cancer. Brain cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths for people under 40 years of age in the United Kingdom, for men under 40 and women under 20 in the United States. In over a century, the overall survival for GBM patients has not significantly changed. The Central Brain Tumor Registry in the United States (CBTRUS) reported that the median survival for adults with GBM is 8 months with 6.8% of patients surviving to 5 years. At UP Oncolytics, we understand new approaches are desperately needed and we are actively working on solutions.

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Our Mission

To change how cancer is treated.

Our Vision

By harnessing the natural oncolytic and immunomodulatory capabilities of viruses, we will usher in a new era in cancer therapeutics. Our oncolytic virus platforms will provide safe and effective treatments to patients and families fighting difficult to treat cancers.

Richard Rovin, MD

Richard Rovin, MD

Co-Founder & CEO

Dr. Rovin is a Board-Certified Neurosurgeon with over 30 years of clinical experience. After completing his training at Northwestern University, Chicago IL, Richard began his Neurosurgical practice in Marquette MI. While there, he served as Chief of Surgery and Chief of Staff at Maquette General Hospital. He also co-founded the Upper Michigan Brain Tumor Center and served as its Medical Director. In 2012, Richard became the first Neurosurgeon in the United States to perform a minimally invasive removal of a deep-seated brain tumor using the BrainPath TM system. In 2015, Richard joined the Aurora Neuroscience Innovation Institute in Milwaukee WI. There he served as Director of Clinical Research, Chief of Neurosurgery, and System Neuro Oncology Medical Director.

Richard’s research interests include discovering novel treatments for glioblastoma and other cancers and identifying social and environmental factors that impact health and access to healthcare.

Parvez Akhtar

Parvez Akhtar

Co-Founder & Chief Scientific Officer

Parvez Akhtar is an experienced cancer biologist and virologist at Advocate Aurora Research Institute, where he is leading the effort to validate oncolytic viruses for the treatment of solid tumors. 


He completed his MS in Biochemistry from Dr. RML Avadh University, India. In 2006, he received his Ph.D. degree in Microbiology from the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India. He conducted his postdoctoral training at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, where his research focused on infectious diseases, tumor virology, and cancers. 


Dr. Akhtar has published over 40 scientific abstracts and manuscripts in national/international peer-reviewed journals and has been invited for talks and podium discussions in national and international scientific meetings. He has trained and supervised many master’s students, undergraduate students, and technologists. He serves as an IRB and IACUC committee member in AARI. Dr. Akhtar is the recipient of Oncology Research Award and Neuroscience Research Award from Aurora Health Care Foundation and Vince Lombardi Cancer Foundation, Principal Investigator Award at Aurora Research Institute and Rieselbach Distinguished Paper Session Award on Aurora Scientific Day. His personal mission is to impact the quality of patient care through immediate and effective translation of research.