Dr. Sandra Dunn
Chief Executive Officer
Dr. Sandra Dunn founded Phoenix Molecular Designs in 2012, following the identification of a novel approach to treating TNBC, the deadliest form of breast cancer. The discovery of RSK as a prime target for TNBC came from functional genomic screens in her laboratory. Dr. Dunn has spent more than 27 years as a breast cancer researcher and as such has served on multiple oversight committees, including: Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program (USA) and the Susan Komen Foundation. She was the youngest member of the DOD Breast Cancer Research Program in the early 1990s and was recognized for her commitment to the field during her early days as a postdoctoral fellow at the National Institutes of Health.
She is passionate about making a difference in the lives of people suffering from cancer and is firmly dedicated to breast cancer. This was inspired by personal experiences with the disease in her family, as it impacted several generations of women. Her broad range of experience in private industry, government and academia has prepared her to lead PhoenixMD, where they are working to change the outcomes for women with breast cancer by developing a selective new drug to uniquely attack the cancer cells in a way that has not been done before.
She has led multinational oncology research projects to advance the development of novel cancer therapeutics and has built amazing teams to achieve these goals. Over the past three decades, she has raised millions of dollars to fund cancer research and has built one of the few female-led biotechnology companies specifically aimed at eradicating breast cancer.
Dr. Dunn is technology leader in oncology drug development and biotechnology businesses.
Dr. Gerrit Los
Chief Scientific Officer - San Diego Operations
Dr. Gerrit Los is a highly accomplished scientist and leading expert in multiple disciplines including oncology, translational medicine, and pharmacology. He has led numerous successful scientific and commercial collaborations and has supported and contributed to the clinical development of multiple oncology compounds, delivering lead candidates to patients. Dr. Los served as Director of Cancer Biology and Senior Director of the Oncology Research Unit at Pfizer between 2002 – 2012. In these roles, his achievements included directing teams in the development of ground-breaking targeted cancer therapeutics such as the novel first-in-class kinase inhibitors crizotinib and palbociclib and other highly successful treatments such as axitinib. Most recently, Dr. Los served as Vice President of Pharmacology at AnaptysBio, San Diego, where he directed the preclinical development of 2 lead compounds in preparation for Phase 1 clinical trials and contributed to AnaptysBio’s immuno-oncology program. Dr. Los provided leadership and strategic direction for Five Prime Therapeutics in South San Francisco from 2012 – 2015 and drove the development of several oncology assets including innovative proteins and immuno-oncology therapies.
Prior to Pfizer, Dr. Los was an Adjunct Professor at the University of California San Diego where he built and directed one of their pharmacogenomics/molecular pharmacology programs which focused on developing and understanding the role of prognostic markers in tumour responses. Before leading this innovative research work in San Diego, Dr. Los directed a research team in preclinical drug development and optimization of local drug delivery at the Netherlands Cancer Institute in Amsterdam. Dr. Los received his Ph.D. in Oncology/Pharmacology from the Free University in Amsterdam, the Netherlands and was a Dutch Cancer Society post-doctoral fellow at the Netherlands Cancer Institute. To date, he has published more than 100 peer-reviewed papers, is a contributor of 8 book chapters and has more than 250 published abstracts. He is also a reviewer for multiple high impact cancer journals.
Mr. Michael Liggett
Chief Financial Officer
Michael Liggett brings 30 years of experience in the health care and finance industries. Michael was a practicing pharmacist for 7 years before obtaining his training and certification as a Chartered Accountant. After spending 7 years at Price Waterhouse Coopers (then Price Waterhouse), he joined Inflazyme Pharmaceuticals Ltd. in the capacity of Chief Financial Officer. He provided leadership through multiple financings and other strategic initiatives before successfully transitioning the company to establish its footprint in the forestry sector as Eacom Timber. His background includes over 20 years as a public and private company CFO with strategic and operational expertise and proven success in finance, M&A, strategic partnerships, restructurings, and risk management. He holds a BSc in Pharmaceutical sciences from the University of British Columbia and holds Chartered Accountant designation.
Dr. Hooshmand Sheshbaradaran
Chief Business Officer
Dr. Sheshbaradaran has over 20 years of experience in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology sectors in drug development, marketing, business development, financing, and executive operations. Previously, he has held senior global marketing and business development executive positions in several leading pharmaceutical companies including Global Director of Oncology Business Development at Roche and Global Director of Oncology, New Products Marketing, at Pharmacia/Pfizer and has been involved in development of several anti-cancer drugs including Camptosar, Ellence, Emcyt, Sutent and Vidaza.
Hooshmand also has extensive small biotech experience, including holding positions such as Chief Business Officer at PsiOxus Therapeutics Ltd; Head of the US subsidiary of Zeneus Pharma Ltd., (acquired by Cephalon, Inc., in 2007); and co-founder and CEO of Niiki Pharma Inc (acquired by Intezyne Technologies in 2013). During his business career in the pharmaceutical industry he has participated and closed on M&As, global licensing deals and numerous regional and university deals. He currently also advises Novateur clients on global business development and market positioning of oncology and infectious disease products.
Dr. Aarthi Jayanthan
Chief Operating Officer
Dr. Jayanthan received her PhD from the University of Calgary under the mentorship of Dr. Aru Narendran, a leader in his field of paediatric oncology. Working under his tutelage, she contributed to numerous preclinical studies of experimental therapies in childhood cancers, including leukemia, AT/RT as well as neuroblastoma and lymphoma and provided support in Phase I clinical trials sponsored by Pediatric Oncology Experimental Therapeutics Investigators Consortium (POETIC). She has an extensive publication record, with over 20 peer reviewed journal articles, of which 7 are as first author. She has received several accolades and awards for her work including the Dean’s Doctoral Scholarship from the University of Calgary in 2012, the CIHR Training Program Studentship from Alberta’s Children’s Hospital from 2011-2013 and was awarded for her outstanding work with the Graduate Student Research Excellence Award in 2010.
Aarthi commenced her Postdoctoral Fellowship under Dr. Sandra Dunn in 2014. During this time, she investigated the effect of targeting the RSK/YB-1 pathway with targeted therapies on the survival and migration of pediatric glioblastoma (GBM) and has broken new ground by discovering a new way of stopping brain cancer cells from growing and spreading by blocking a protein called RSK. She is currently heavily involved in research to identify and test new compounds that are most effective in blocking the RSK pathway.
Dr. Terry Rugg
Consulting Chief Medical Officer
Terry is an Oncologist with 25+ years of cancer specific industry drug development experience, having occupied both international and US focused positions in both large and small pharmaceutical companies. His comprehensive expertise ranges from early (pre-IND) development through all the clinical phases including post marketing approval Phase IV development support. Terry commenced his career with Eli Lilly, and was extensively involved in the successful development of Gemcitabine, both in Non Small-Cell Lung cancer as well as Pancreatic cancer. Over a 25 year career, in addition to Eli Lilly, Terry has worked in the small company sector (British Biotech, Ilex oncology and SGX Pharmaceuticals) as well as large companies, including Zeneca, Sanofi-Aventis and Genentech. Terry’s focus has always been in the Oncology drug development arena, with diverse experience involving over 30 compounds including virtually all major classes of anti-cancer drugs.
Beyond Gemcitabine, Terry has been intimately involved in the successful registration of both CAMPATH (CD52 targeted monoclonal antibody indicated for CLL) and Clofarabine (indicated in pediatric leukemias). During his career, Terry has acquired FDA (IND, NDA and BLA) EMEA (CTX, DDX and MAA) and other regulatory experience, has been involved in both in- and out-licensing activities, participated in due diligence assessments, and has headed key development groups including biostatistics & data management, project management, regulatory affairs, toxicology, early CMC, and Medical Affairs. His most recent industry position was Vice President, Bio-Oncology Medical Affairs at Genentech, where he lead a department of approximately 90 staff in the world’s most successful Oncology company. In April 2014 Terry left Genentech to attain a more desirable work life balance. Professionally, Terry undertakes strategic consulting through his California based company (Oncology Consulting Services) in support of organizations involved in cancer drug development. He also spends a significant proportion of his time actively working in the Human Trafficking field, where he serves as Board Chair for a 501(C)3 non-profit organizations involved in the provision of humanitarian assistance and rehabilitation services to women survivors of sex trafficking.
Dr. Grace Furman
Toxicologist - San Diego Operations
As CEO/President and founder of Paracelsus, Inc., Dr, Grace Furman has been providing professional toxicology services to the pharmaceutical industry as an independent consultant since 2007. Her area of professional expertise relates to regulatory toxicology as applied to development of small molecule therapeutics, including novel agents for cancer and other serious and life-threatening diseases. She has extensive experience in helping her clients develop efficient research programs to enable investigational new drug (IND) applications and champions IND applications to the Food and Drug Administration with precision. From 1999 to 2006, Grace worked in several management and senior roles with Agouron Pharmaceuticals, Inc., that developed into her primary role as Senior Director of Regulatory Safety Assessment within the Drug Safety department of Pfizer’s Global R&D division (La Jolla, CA site). In this position, she led the group which provided the functional interface between the La Jolla Drug Safety and Worldwide Regulatory Affairs departments.
Grace received her Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences with a specialization in toxicology from Northeastern University in Boston, MA. She also holds a B.S. in toxicology and is a Diplomate of the American Board of Toxicology. Grace began her professional career in Cincinnati as a divisional toxicologist in Procter & Gamble’s Health Care Sector (1992-1994). In 1994, she accepted a position with DepoTech Corporation in San Diego, where she was instrumental in building the preclinical development group (1994-1999).
Dr. Erik Flahive
CMC-API Consultant – San Diego Operations
Erik is an independent CMC-API consultant, and brings over 18 years of API manufacturing, CMC and process R&D experience from his prior roles at Pfizer-La Jolla, Ardea Biosciences and Trius Therapeutics. In his roles at the latter two companies, he successfully delivered the commercial API manufacturing route used for new, FDA-approved medicines for treatment of gout (Zurampic®) and MRSA skin infections (Sivextro®). At Pfizer, he led research teams that delivered projects in oncology (Inlyta® (axitinib), pelitrexol), anti-viral and ophthalmology disease areas. Before Pfizer, Erik was a faculty research associate at the Cancer Research Institute (Arizona State University), where he obtained his Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry, and worked on the synthesis of several anti-cancer, marine natural products. He received a B.S. in Chemistry (Biology minor) from Georgetown University. Since 2014, Erik has successfully operated a San Diego-based consultant business, and has worked with more than eight clients on projects ranging from pre-IND programs to NDA-stage programs, including support of route registration/validation/launch activities, on-site manufacturing technical oversight, and regulatory filing support.
Dr. John Van Drie
Chief Technology Officer
Dr. John Van Drie is a veteran drug-hunter, with over 25 years experience in drug discovery, at Novartis, Vertex, and Pharmacia. Internationally recognized as a leader in Computer-Aided Drug Discovery (CADD), he was also one of the pioneers of virtual screening and pharmacofore-based methods. He is currently President of Van Drie Research, a Boston- based company he founded in 2007, to provide in silico services and advice to drug discovery organizations, mainly biotechnology companies working on small-molecule drugs. John has contributed to the discovery of HIV-protease inhibitors, oxazolidinone antibiotics, Hepatitic C protease inhibitors, and Cystic Fibrosis protein-folding correctors. He was trained as a theoretical chemist at Caltech, and also studied as a BAEF Fellow at the Univ. Libre de Bruxelles and was Chair of the Gordon Conference on Computer-Aided Drug Design in 2003.
Amy N. Conrad
Public and Investor Relations - San Diego Operations
Ms Amy N. Conrad is an experienced public relations expert, with expertise in growing biotechnology companies through IPO and beyond. Over the last decade, Ms. Conrad has been responsible for creating significant value for multiple biotechnology companies (Anadys, acquired by Roche in late 2011 and Regulus Therapeutics, IPO in Oct. 2012) through strategic investor relations, corporate communications and media planning, fostering deep relationships with market-moving analysts, key bankers and institutional investors, and playing a key role in raising over $225M in capital. Ms. Conrad founded Juniper Point, Inc., a start-up company with headquarters in San Diego, focused on creating value for biotech companies from the inside out.
Dr. Lesley Esford
VP of Investor Relations
Dr. Lesley Esford has worked with over 100 entrepreneurs developing drugs, medical devices, and diagnostics addressing a wide array of medical diseases at every stage of the innovation process from concept to commercialization since 2006. She has a strong and varied background related to company innovation and commercialization with over 17 years in academia, industry and government in positions supporting the growth of the biotechnology sector. This includes 9 years as Industrial Technology Advisor (ITA), for the National Research Council, Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC-IRAP). Lesley holds two undergraduate degrees in Biology and Business Administration, and Ph.D. in Microbiology and Immunology from the University of British Columbia. Rounding out her career, she is in the final stage of completing her Kauffman Fellowship a program dedicated exclusively to the world of innovation investing.