Together we achieve more
Meet our diverse leadership team made up of scientists, researchers, analysts, and entrepreneurs who are dedicated to our mission and believe our research can make a significant difference in proactive healthcare and diagnostic testing.
David N. Colaizzi, Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder
Dave Colaizzi is an experienced business leader with a track record of success, that expands across several industries including technology and biotech. Colaizzi is responsible for Signature’s strategic direction and operations, guiding the company through new assay development, and establishing partnerships with leading research organizations.
Colaizzi has spent over 20 years in executive roles. In 1997, he co-founded Pittsburgh software development company, fivestar*, where he served as Chief Executive Officer and Chief Technology Officer, identifying how technology can make business more efficient for Fortune 1000 companies, non-profits, and higher education institutions. fivestar* has been developing custom software solutions for over 20 years and has served clients on 6 continents. Colaizzi remains the Chair of the fivestar* board, assisting in key decision making and as an advisor to the leadership team.
In recent years, Colaizzi shifted his career path into the biotech space. He formerly served as Principal and Chief Technology Officer with genetic testing pioneers Genelex, where he helped revitalize the company leading to their acquisition by Invitae in 2020. His leadership style is structed around building talented, versatile teams and enabling their success.
Today, along with the work he does with Signature, Colaizzi focuses on channeling his expertise as a leader into advisory roles. Notably, taking a spot on the Maitri Medicinals board, helping them navigate critical decisions as they experience rapid growth and develop their growing/processing and dispensary operations. Colaizzi also is Chair of the Board for BioHybrid Solutions which uses transformational platform technology to develop next-generation NanoArmored protein-polymer conjugates. He holds dual bachelor’s degrees in Business Administration and Italian Language Literature and Culture from the University of Pittsburgh and enjoys keynote speaking and working with individuals to mentor and coach them.
In his leisure, Dave enjoys cooking and cycling on Pittsburgh’s many bike trails and greenways.
“Working with the team to harness the power of non-invasive liquid biopsy for research and to develop diagnostics could not be more exciting. The collaboration and discovery opportunities in terms of addressing clinical needs are vast.”
- David Colaizzi
David G. Peters, Ph.D., Chief Scientific Officer and Co-Founder
For the better part of the past three decades, Dr. David Peters, a genome scientist, has been focused on the development of molecular and computational methods for the non-invasive early detection and phenotyping of complex human disease.
Peters has a strong track record of innovation and leadership. He has gained international recognition for his innovative work in translational genomics and has demonstrated an ability to generate novel ideas and build productive collaborative teams across a variety of clinical domains.
Dr. Peters obtained his undergraduate degree in Applied Biology from Liverpool Polytechnic in 1990 and his PhD in Genetics from the University of Liverpool in the 1994. In 1995, Dr Peters joined the Department of Human Genetics at the University of Pittsburgh where he undertook post-doctoral training. Dr. Peters was appointed as Assistant Professor of Human Genetics at the University of Pittsburgh in 1998. His early work focused on the population genetics and functional genomics of intracranial aneurysms.
As an expectant father, in 2001 and 2004, Dr. Peters became aware of the significant risk of the fetal loss associated with routine invasive prenatal genetic testing protocols such as amniocentesis and chorionic villus sampling. This experience sparked an interest in non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT).
In 2006, Dr. Peters joined the Department of Obstetrics, Gynaecology and Reproductive Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh as a Visiting Associate Professor. He immediately recruited Tianjiao Chu PhD, to his research group and together, in June 2007, they developed a method to detect fetal aneuploidy in cell-free DNA from maternal plasma, named “minimally invasive karyotyping (MINK)”.
The new innovation of MINK was that it could detect a maternally-inherited fetal genomic copy number anomaly in maternal plasma without physically separating maternal from fetal DNA. The MINK approach was shown to be able to detect fetal aneuploidy with high accuracy and this concept is now used globally as standard of care for NIPT. In 2011, Dr. Peters’ group went on to demonstrate that MINK could be used for the non-invasive plasma-based detection of small fetal microdeletions in early gestation. These findings were published in The New England Journal of Medicine.
As a result of Dr. Peters’ activity in the field of liquid biopsy, the University of Pittsburgh has filed a number of patent applications based upon his work. This has resulted in a partnership with Signature Diagnostics, and a funded sponsored research agreement with Magee-Womens Research Institute to support the ongoing work in Dr. Peters' laboratory, with focus on the continued development of epigenomic liquid biopsy approaches for the non-invasive detection and phenotyping in a variety of clinical contexts.
Just as Dave Colaizzi, Dave Peters is an avid cyclist, and enjoys Dave Colaizzi’s leftover cooking!
“I am focused on developing blood tests, and other non-invasive methods, for the early detection and analysis of complex human diseases. My goal is to reduce the burden and impact of disease through earlier and more accurate diagnosis that informs personalized approaches to treatment.”
- David Peters, PhD
Tianjiao Chu, PhD, Chief Analytical Officer
Dr. Tianjiao Chu oversees Signature's collection of data and its use to create analytics and business intelligence models. Chu received his PhD, in Logic, Computation, and Methodology, from Carnegie Mellon University and went on to do his Postdoctoral Fellow and Research Scientist in data mining.
Chu applies his 12 years’ experience as a statistician to excel in his role as Chief Analytical Officer for Signature. A major goal of Dr. Chu’s research is to develop a sophisticated statistical model for next-generation sequencing and to examine the limitations of this technology, exploring its applications as a diagnostic tool. He also uses informatics tools to analyze mRNA and protein datasets.
Chu has worked closely with Dr. David Peters, Co-Founder and CSO for Signature, for years and created tools in the form of a proprietary analytics model that allowed Peters to search for the maternally-inherited fetal DNA in a sample mixture. Through their collaboration and dedication, the team was able to identify Down Syndrome and even applied the technology to identify other fetal aneuploidies—also described as chromosomal abnormalities.
Tianjiao is bilingual, fluent in both English and Chinese.
“Working as a biostatistician in clinical research has allowed me to take complex, mathematical findings of clinical trials and research-related data and translate them into valuable information that is used to make public health decisions.”
- Tianjiao Chu, PhD
Richard Balazs, Chief Operating Officer
With over 20 years’ experience in all areas of business operations, Richard Balazs brings to Signature his well-rounded skillset, entrepreneurial spirit, and personable approach as our Chief Operating Officer. In this role, he applies his experience to oversee, implement, and improve key business functions. He has served in operations roles across several industries, allowing him to develop diverse expertise equipped to meet company objectives.
Prior to Signature, Richard served as Chief Operating Officer at MHS Labs, a high technology clinical reference laboratory. Additionally, Richard spent seven years as Director of Operations at technology consulting firm BusinessForward, where he managed and enhanced company operations through process improvement projects and initiatives. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a focus in Management from Duquesne University and has professional credentialing from the International Association for Six Sigma Certification as a Lean Six Sigma Green Belt.
Outside of the office, Richard serves as the Artistic Director for the Folk Factory, a dance ensemble whose mission is to preserve and perpetuate authentic Eastern European folklore through both traditional and contemporary productions.
“As an operations professional I always view my role as enabling the success of our team. I’m constantly thinking about efficiency and smarter ways to deliver our services so we can delight our customers and build meaningful partnerships.”
- Richard Balazs, COO