Dr. Rodger Novak is an experienced pharmaceutical and biotechnology executive and former University Professor at the Vienna Biocenter in Austria. He brings a combination of scientific experience, gained through his academic career, and a proven track record of successfully translating technologies into pharmaceutical products.
In his most recent position, Rodger was Global Head, Anti-Infectives Research & Development at Sanofi, where he was responsible for small molecule and biologics R&D, including early drug discovery and clinical development. Before that he was a founder of Nabriva Therapeutics and served as its Chief Operating Officer for almost six years. He started his pharmaceutical career at Sandoz (Novartis), where he was appointed as the deputy head of the Antibiotic Research Institute.
Rodger received his M.D. from the Philipps University in Marburg, Germany in 1993 and his foreign medical license for the U.S. in 1994. He was a postdoctoral fellow at The Rockefeller University, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and the Skirball Institute NYU Medical Center. During his academic career Rodger authored numerous publications, among them articles in Nature, Nature Medicine and Molecular Cell. Rodger is co-inventor of five patents.
Dr. Ali Behbahani joined NEA in 2007 and is a Partner on the healthcare team. He specializes in investments in the biopharmaceutical, medical device, specialty pharmaceutical and healthcare services sectors. Prior to joining NEA, Ali worked as an intern and later as a consultant in business development at The Medicines Company, a specialty pharmaceutical company developing acute care cardiovascular products. He previously held positions as a Venture Associate at Morgan Stanley Venture Partners and as a Healthcare Investment Banking Analyst at Lehman Brothers. He conducted basic science research in the fields of viral fusion inhibition and structural proteomics at the National Institutes of Health and at Duke University.
Ali concurrently earned his M.D. degree from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and his M.B.A. degree from the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School, where he graduated with honors and was a Palmer Scholar. He graduated Summa Cum Laude and received his B.S.E., B.M.E. and E.E. degrees with distinction in biomedical engineering, electrical engineering and chemistry from Duke University.
Dr. Brad Bolzon brings more than 13 years of global pharmaceutical industry experience to Versant’s biotech investment team. He specializes in early-stage biotech investing, with a particular emphasis on new company start-ups.
Prior to joining Versant, Brad served as Executive Vice President, Global Head of Business Development, Licensing & Alliances with Roche. Under his leadership, Roche established alliances with over 75 biotech companies worldwide and significantly strengthened its product pipeline. Previously, Brad held executive roles at Lilly in drug discovery, clinical research, regulatory affairs and business development.
Brad received his Ph.D. and an M.S. in pharmacology from the University of Toronto. He conducted his post-doctoral research training at the Ottawa Heart Institute in Ottawa, Canada.
Dr. Cagnoni is currently the CEO of Rubius Therapeutics.
Over of the course of his career, Dr. Cagnoni has played a key role in the development, approval and/or commercialization of several life-changing medicines, including Afinitor®, Blincyto® Exjade®, Folotyn® Glivec®, Jakavi®, Kyprolis®, Signifor®, Tarceva®, Tasigna® and Zykadia®.
Most recently, Dr. Cagnoni served as President and CEO of Tizona Therapeutics, a privately held biotech company focused on developing novel treatments for cancer, and as Managing Director of MPM Capital. Previously, he was President of Onyx Pharmaceuticals where he had global strategic oversight and accountability of the business from early product development to commercialization of the Onyx portfolio. At the time of his departure, Onyx was on track to deliver yearly revenues in excess of $1B and had over 800 employees. Dr. Cagnoni joined Onyx in March 2013, as Executive Vice President, Global Research and Development and Technical Operations, and was named President in October 2013, when Onyx became an Amgen subsidiary. From 2009 to 2013, Dr. Cagnoni was Senior Vice President and Global Head of Clinical Development at Novartis Oncology, where he was responsible for all clinical development, clinical operations, clinical pharmacology and correlative sciences activities for the oncology development pipeline. From 2007 to 2009, he was Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer at Allos Therapeutics, and prior to that Chief Medical Officer of OSI Pharmaceuticals. Earlier in his career, he served as Assistant Professor of Medicine, University of Colorado Bone Marrow Transplant Program where he cared for patients undergoing stem cell transplants.
Dr. Cagnoni earned his medical degree from the University Buenos Aires School of Medicine, and he completed his fellowship in Hematology and Oncology at The Mount Sinai Medical Center, New York and a fellowship in Stem Cell Transplantation at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center.
Dr. Cagnoni is currently on the board of directors of Harpoon Therapeutics and he is Executive Chairman of Blade Therapeutics, both private biotechnology companies.
Mr. Kurt von Emster currently serves as Managing Partner at Abingworth LLP, where he has been employed as a Partner since January 2015. He also has served as a member of the board of directors of SutroVax, a biopharmaceutical vaccine company, since July 2015 where he is currently Chairman, and CymaBay Therapeutics, Inc., a biotechnology company, since April 2009. Mr. von Emster previously served on the board of directors of the following companies: Kesios Therapeutics, a biotherapeutics company, from November 2015 to December 2016, Cytos Biotechnology AG from November 2012 to January 2016 (merged and renamed Kuros Biosciences in January 2016), Aurinia Pharmaceuticals Inc. from February 2014 to March 2015, Facet Biotech Corporation (acquired by Abbott Laboratories in April 2010) from February 2009 to April 2010, and Somaxon Pharmaceuticals (acquired by Pernix Therapeutics in March 2013) from September 2005 to January 2013.
In addition, Kurt co-founded venBio LLC, a health-care focused investment firm, in 2009, and served as Partner until 2014. Prior to that, he was General Partner at MPM Capital, Inc., a biotechnology private equity firm, from 2001 to 2009. Kurt was also a Biotechnology and Healthcare Analyst and Portfolio Manager at Franklin Templeton Group from 1989 to 2000. He received a B.S. in Business and Economics from the University of California, Santa Barbara and is a Chartered Financial Analyst, or CFA.
Dr. Simeon George joined SR One in 2007 and leads SR One’s investment activities on the West Coast. Prior to joining SR One, Simeon was a consultant at Bain & Company and an investment banker at Goldman Sachs and Merrill Lynch.
Simeon received his B.A. in neuroscience from the Johns Hopkins University, where he graduated Phi Beta Kappa. Simeon received his M.D. from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and his M.B.A. (Mayer Scholar) from the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School.
Dr. Samarth Kulkarni has significant expertise in strategy and operations in biotech and a wide range of related cutting-edge therapeutic technologies. He joined CRISPR in the early stages of the company and was responsible for setting the company's corporate strategy, supporting the financing and establishing the Bayer and Vertex partnerships. Sam was previously a Partner at McKinsey and Company, where he had a leading role in the Pharmaceutical and Medical products practice. While at McKinsey, he co-led the biotech practice and served a number of biotechnology companies on topics ranging from strategy to operations. Additionally, he led initiatives in areas such as personalized medicine and immunotherapy, where he co-authored several publications. Sam also serves as a member of the Casebia Board of Directors.
Sam received his Ph.D. in bioengineering and nanotechnology from the University of Washington and a B. Tech. from the Indian Institute of Technology. While at the University of Washington, he conducted research in the delivery of biological drugs and in the field of molecular diagnostics, and published in numerous leading journals.
Dr. Tom Woiwode has been with Versant Ventures since 2002, serving as a Venture Partner since 2008 and a Managing Director since 2014. Tom has served in a number of operating roles over this time, most recently as the Chief Operating Officer of Okairos, a biopharmaceutical company developing genetic vaccines for major infectious diseases. Tom led the process that culminated in the sale of Okairos to GlaxoSmithKline for $325M. Prior to his role with Okairos, Tom co-founded EuroVentures, a wholly owned biotech incubator within Versant Ventures, and in this role, served as the founding Chief Business Officer for three biotech companies created within Versant: Flexion (public), Synosia (public, merged with BioTie), and Amira (acquired by Bristol-Myers Squibb for up to $475M). Prior to his role as a Venture Partner, Tom was a Principal at Versant Ventures and served on the boards of Antipodean, Metabolex and Saegis. Tom was a research scientist at XenoPort before joining Versant.
Tom currently serves on the boards of Annapurna, Anokion, Audentes, CRISPR, Gritstone, Therachon and Kanyos Bio.
Tom earned his PhD in Organic Chemistry as an NSF Fellow at Stanford University and graduated summa cum laude with a BA in English and received the Departmental Citation for his B.S. in Chemistry from UC Berkeley.