John Bonfiglio, a former chief executive officer of California-based Immune Response Corporation, is the new CEO and president of Argos Therapeutics.

Argos has operated without a CEO for more than a year since the departure of Clint Dederick. Bonfiglio is Argos’ third CEO since 2002.

Despite its changes in management, Argos recently received a $21 million contract from the National Institutes of Health to develop therapies for combating HIV. Argos, which changed its name from Merix, bases its technology on the human immune system.

Argos has raised more than $53 million in venture capital. Local investors include The Aurora Funds and Intersouth Partners.

“Dr. Bonfiglio’s specific leadership experience in immunotherapeutic development will be a tremendous asset to Argos,” said Hubert Birner, chairman of the board for Argos. He also is a general partner with TVM Capital, an Argos investor.

Bonfiglio was replaced as CEO of Immune Response in November of 2005.

“Argos’ unique and promising approach to immunotherapy, which utilizes each patient’s own dendritic cells to trigger a patient-specific immune response, positions it well to produce important new therapies for cancer, HIV, and other infectious diseases,” Bonfiglio said in a statement.

Dendritic cells are part of the immune system.

Bonfiglio earned a PhD in organic chemistry from the University of California at San Diego.

He also has served as chief operating officer of Cypress Bioscience and CEO of Peregrine Pharmaceuticals. He worked as well at Baxter Healthcare and Allergan.