Sunjeet is a seasoned pharmaceutical/biotechnology executive with more than 20 years’ experience all of which have been spent in the oncology area. He started his pharmaceutical career in clinical development moving then through global development, medical affairs and later transitioning into commercial leadership. He most recently served as the Senior Vice President, Head of the Oncology Franchise at Ipsen where he spent 3 years, previously leading the North, Central Europe & Middle East region. Prior to Ipsen Sunjeet successfully held senior commercial positions in two start up oncology biotech companies; leading both the UK & Ireland as well managing and building international partnerships across the globe. Earlier in his career he spent just over a decade at Novartis in senior medical and commercial roles across Europe and emerging markets. Sunjeet holds a BSc. Genetics from Queen Mary College, London & MSc. Immunology from The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
Mikko brings Rappta over twenty years of experience in helping create and execute on value-creation strategies. He initially worked in investment banking advising major corporate and private equity clients in mergers & acquisitions and capital market transactions. He rose to a leadership position in what was at the time a leading corporate finance advisory in Northern Europe before setting on an entrepreneurial track. For the past ten years Mikko has been active in the life-science field as a founder and shareholder in a handful of companies in the US and in Finland that work in radiation oncology, immune-oncology, antibody-drug conjugates and diagnostics. Mikko has an M.Sc. from Helsinki University of Technology (currently Aalto University, Department of Bioproducts and Biosystems) and M.B.A. in finance from the Helsinki School of Economics with studies at the Ross School of Business of the University of Michigan.
Chief Scientific Officer
Goutham is a physician scientist and trained as a medical geneticist in the care of high-risk cancer and medical genetics patients. A professor of the University of Michigan’s Department of Medicine, he is a pre-eminent PP2A scientist having published extensively on reactivation of PP2A and its potential therapeutic applications. Goutham’s research interests focus on understanding the role of protein phosphatases in driving human cancer development and progression. Clinically, he leads the Michigan Medicine’s Division of Genetic Medicine that cares for over 3000 high-risk cancer and medical genetics patients per year. He completed residency training in internal medicine and fellowship training in Medical Genetics at the Mount Sinai Hospital in New York.
Head of Chemistry
George brings Rappta more than thirty years of experience in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical Industries. He was Vice President of Oncology and Early Discovery Chemistry Bristol Myers Squibb Company with responsibility for all aspects of medicinal chemistry for the oncology area as well as hit-to-leads activities in support of all therapeutic areas. George has lead teams of over 100 scientists, and has advanced over 35 drug candidates into clinical development in a diverse spectrum of therapeutic areas including antivirals, cancer, neuroscience, and inflammation. Prior to BMS George was Executive Director for Medicinal Chemistry at Dupont/Dupont Merck Pharmaceuticals. His key contribution from that period was the discovery and commercial development of fluorescence-tagged chain terminators for use in automated DNA sequencing. This breakthrough technology was subsequently employed in the sequencing of the human genome, and In 2011, Trainor won the American Chemical Society’s Heroes of Chemistry Award for his work on DNA sequencing. Dr. Trainor did his undergraduate work at Stevens Institute of Technology, received his PhD in Organic Chemistry at Harvard University, and was an NIH Postdoctoral Fellow at Columbia University.
Head of Operations
Pekka brings Rappta with thirty years of experience from academia, biotech, pharma and FIMEA/EMA. While in Orion Pharma he played a key role in setting up oncology research. During his tenure as Head of Oncology Research his organization delivered more than ten clinical candidates. These include Darolutamide (Nubeqa®) now marketed globally castration-resistant prostate cancer, as well as other innovative targeted treatments that are under clinical phase I-II development for solid tumors. Before joining Rappta, Pekka worked at the Finnish Medicine Agency/EMA. His duties included the review of clinical trial applications and monitoring of clinical trials for oncology drugs, as well as providing scientific advice both at EMA and national level. He also assessed oncology marketing authorization applications for EMA. Pekka received his Ph.D. from University of Helsinki and was a postdoctoral fellow at Karolinska Institute (Cell and Molecular Biology, Medical Nobel Institute). He is Adjunct Professor of Cell and Molecular Biology at University of Helsinki.
Head of Structural Biology
Derek is a leading Cryo-EM scientist and his work has yielded many of the insights that Rappta uses in designing its compounds. He is an Associate Professor of Pharmacology and Biochemistry at Case Western Reserve University. Derek received his Ph.D. in Biochemistry/Chemistry from the University of California, San Diego. He was a Howard Hughes Medical Institute -sponsored postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Dr. Joachim Frank (Nobel ’17), where he learned cryo-electron microscopy and its application in structure determination of biological complexes. Derek then worked in Dr. Tom Cech’s (Nobel ‘89) group where he began to investigate the structure and function of telomere complexes. He has been recognized with a Research Scholar Award from the American Cancer Society and a prestigious Director’s New Innovator Award from the NIH.
Head of Business Development
Erkki brings Rappta 25 years of expertise in high technology start-up companies, fundraising, business development and commercialization of drug development and MedTech projects. He started his career in life-sciences by co-founding Contral Pharma that developed a drug against alcoholism. The company was later listed on the Helsinki Stock Exchange subsequently sold to a US acquirer in a public tender offer. Erkki has later co-founded several companies developing radiation therapy equipment and anti-cancer pharmaceutical technologies.
Head of IP
Jukka brings Rappta twenty years of IP transactional experience and skills in life science IP portfolio management. Jukka has successfully developed and strategically implemented IP policies that maximize the value of biotech company's intellectual property worldwide. He is fluent from patentability searches and analyzing third-party patent positions via educating and mentoring stakeholders with IP matters to patent drafting, competitor intelligence and managing IP disputes. Jukka has Ph.D. from University of Helsinki, Institute of Biotechnology and Department of Biosciences and M.B.A. from the Graduate School of Business, University of Cape Town, South Africa with studies at the ESSEC Business School, Paris, France.
Beat is a Principal at the Novartis Venture Fund in Basel, Switzerland. Prior to joining NVF, he worked at Novartis Pharmaceuticals in commercial roles in the US and in Switzerland launching several products mainly in the cardiovascular area. Beat joined Novartis from Wellington Partners Venture Capital where he worked with biotech and medical device startup companies. Prior to that, he was at McKinsey & Company in Zurich working with clients in the pharmaceutical industry. Beat is a Swiss-trained physician having focused in cardiovascular surgery and intensive care. He graduated from the University of Zurich Medical School and qualified as a Medical Doctor in Basel. Beat holds an MBA with distinction from INSEAD.
Jeroen Bakker joined Novo Seeds in 2018 and is now a Principal. Prior to joining Novo, Jeroen worked at M Ventures, the corporate venture capital arm of Merck, where he focused on early-stage healthcare investments in Europe, United States and company creation for the Israel Incubator. He has served on several boards (Vaximm, Artsavit) and is now acting as either director or observer for Antag Therapeutics, Inthera Biosciences, IO Biotech, Macrophage Pharma and BiOrigin, the Entrepreneur-in-Residence program of Novo Seeds. Before M Ventures, Jeroen was active as a consultant where he was instrumental in acquiring over EUR 10 million in non-dilutive funding for biotech and translational academic research. Jeroen started his career in biotech at Syntaxin (acquired by Ipsen) working on target identification. Jeroen holds a PhD in Immunology from the University of Amsterdam and an MSc degree in Biomedical Sciences from the Leiden University with a specialization in entrepreneurship. Jeroen was chair of the Dutch Platform for Young Researchers in Nephrology and is part of REBBLS, a networking organization focusing on young biotech entrepreneurs in Denmark.
Raj is a General Partner at Advent Life Sciences. He joined Advent in 2005 bringing over 20 years of experience in biomedical research and as an entrepreneur and investor. After gaining an MA and DPhil from Oxford University, he pursued a successful academic career in molecular medicine before co-founding Oxford GlycoSciences (IPO on LSE and NASDAQ). Following its sale to UCB-Celltech, he became Chairman of Galapagos nv, a member of the Supervisory Board of the Novartis Venture Fund and a founding Director of Celldex Therapeutics. Since joining Advent, he has been involved with those portfolio Companies primarily engaged in the discovery of new medicines, including Avila, EUSA and Thiakis. In addition to Rappta Therapeutics, Raj currently serves on the Board of several of Advent’s portfolio companies including Arrakis, Aura Biosciences and Levicept.
Chairperson of the Advisory Board
Bill is the William Rosenberg Professor of Medicine at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School and an Institute Member of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. He is the Chief Scientific Officer and interim Chief Operating Officer at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Bill’s lab focuses on how oncogenes cooperate to program cancer initiation and progression. He and his colleagues showed that dysregulation of both phosphatases and kinases play a key role in cell transformation. His laboratory has pioneered the use of integrated functional genomic approaches to identify and validate cancer targets. The tools, models and approaches that his laboratory has developed are widely used worldwide to discover and validate molecularly targeted cancer therapies. Bill has served as the President of the American Society for Clinical Investigation and has been elected to the Association of American Physicians. Dr. Hahn has been the recipient of many honors and awards including the Wilson S. Stone Award from M.D. Anderson Cancer Center (2000), a Howard Temin Award from the National Cancer Institute (2001), the Ho-Am Prize in Medicine (2010), the Richard and Hinda Rosenthal Award from AACR (2015) and the Claire and Richard Morse Award (2019).
David is the F. Palmer Weber Professor of Medical Research, Emeritus in the Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Cancer Biology at the University of Virginia School of Medicine. His research on cell signaling and protein phosphorylation focuses on the biochemistry of protein Ser/Thr phosphatases. He has published more than 240 scientific articles that have been cited nearly 20,000 times. He serves as a scientific advisor for research programs and centers at Virginia and other Universities and was previously program leader and executive committee member for the UVA Cancer Center. He was a founding member and subsequently chairman of the Molecular and Integrative Signal Transduction (MIST) study section at NIH. He has more than 30 years experience as a consultant for pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, and he created and supported commercial distribution of over a dozen licensed research reagents. David Brautigan received his B.A. degree with honors in chemistry at Kalamazoo College, his Ph.D. in biochemistry from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois and was postdoctoral fellow with Nobel laureate Edmond H. Fischer at the University of Washington, Seattle. He was a Professor of Medical Science at Brown University before being recruited to Virginia in 1994.
Arul is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, American Cancer Society Research Professor, and S.P. Hicks Endowed Professor of Pathology and Urology at the University of Michigan. He is also a member of the University of Michigan Rogel Cancer Center. He is the founding Director of the Michigan Center for Translational Pathology (MCTP) which is comprised of a multi-disciplinary team of investigators focused on translating “-Omic” technologies to patient care in terms of biomarkers and novel therapeutics. He has co-authored over 450 manuscripts and has been designated an A. Alfred Taubman Medical Research Institute Scholar, is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (AAAS), the National Academy of Medicine, the Association of American Physicians (AAP), the American Society for Clinical Investigation (ASCI) the National Academy of Inventors (NAI). He serves on the Board of Scientific Advisors for the National Cancer Institute. Dr. Chinnaiyan has received a number of awards including the Basic Science Research Award awarded by the University of Michigan Medical School Dean’s Office, the AMGEN Outstanding Investigator Award, the Pew Biomedical Scholar Award, the Burroughs Welcome Foundation Award in Clinical Translational Research, the 2006 Benjamin Castleman Award, the 2007 Ramzi Cotran Young Investigator Award and was appointed as an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Dr. Chinnaiyan was also elected as a member of the American Society of Clinical Investigation and the Association of American Physicians.
Donald McDonnell is Professor and Chairman in the Department of Pharmacology and Cancer Biology at Duke University, Glaxo-Wellcome Professor of Molecular Cancer Biology in the School of Medicine. His research focuses on the development and application of mechanism-based approaches to identify novel therapeutics for use in the treatment and prevention of hormonally responsive cancers. Specifically, the pharmaceutical exploitation of the estrogen and androgen receptors as therapeutic targets in breast and prostate cancers and in defining how these receptors influence the pathogenesis of these diseases. From these studies have emerged several drugs that are at various stages of clinical development. He received his PhD from Baylor College of Medicine, and his BSc in Biochemistry at the National University of Ireland, Galway. He is a member of the National Academy of Medicine.
Rosalie Sears is a professor at OHSU in the Department of Molecular and Medical Genetics and holds the Krista L. Lake Chair in Cancer Research. She is Co-Director of the OHSU Brenden-Colson Center for Pancreatic Care and a senior member in the Knight Cancer Institute. She has received funding from the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Defense, the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, the Susan G. Komen Foundation, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Foundation, as well as several other private foundations. She has received both research and business innovation awards in the areas of cancer biology, therapeutics, and technology advancement. Rosalie’s research is focused on cell signaling pathways that drive cancer progression with a particular interest in the role of phosphatase deregulation in this process. She is working on novel therapeutic strategies to re-activate tumor-suppressive phosphatases in an effort to develop treatments for patients suffering from cancer.
Sinikka started her 20 year career at Dow Chemical where she held various roles in treasury, business and asset management with geographical responsibility for Europe, Middle East and Africa. Following this, she founded Ortec Finance Switzerland, a specialist strategic asset allocation and risk management advisor to large institutional investors. She has served as a Venture Partner at Nextech Invest - a life science fund specialising in Oncology and is now a board member, strategic advisor and an investor for biotech and tech companies and asset managers with focus on private equity, venture capital and impact investing. She has a Master of Science in Economics from the Business School of Helsinki and is a Certified Financial Analyst.