Our executive team has significant expertise covering both the
discovery and development of therapeutic antibodies as well as the successful scaling of companies to
Nenad Tomasevic, PhD
Nenad Tomasevic co-founded Dren Bio as CEO in May 2019 and has served on our board of
directors since inception. Dr. Tomasevic most recently served as Vice President of Research
for Allakos, a company he helped co-found after identifying the original opportunity for
developing therapeutic antibodies against Siglec-8. During his time at Allakos, he was
responsible for all research and nonclinical development functions. Prior to co-founding
Allakos, Dr. Tomasevic previously held positions at KaloBios and Nuvelo, where his focus was
on the development of therapeutic antibodies. Dr. Tomasevic began his career at Cytokinetics
after receiving his PhD in protein chemistry from the University of Belgrade and completing
his postdoctoral training at the National Institutes of Health (NIDDK, Genetics and
Biochemistry Branch) in Bethesda, Maryland.
Amit Mehta joined Dren Bio as our Chief Operating Officer and Chief Business Officer in
October 2023. Dr. Mehta most recently served as the Vice President and Head of Business
Development at Genentech.
In this role, Dr. Mehta was a core member of the Genentech Research and Early Development
(gRED) Leadership Team, Research Review Committee, Early Stage Portfolio Committee and led a
high-performing team that helped source and execute
several strategic partnerships. During his 18-year tenure at Genentech, Dr. Mehta held roles
of increasing responsibility that spanned process development, manufacturing, product
strategy and business development. He led multiple teams over the years that
made significant contributions to numerous early and late-stage programs, helped shape
therapeutic area strategies and established vital external partnerships across technology
platforms, personalized healthcare, and several therapeutic areas. Dr. Mehta earned
a B.E. in Chemical Engineering from Bangalore University and a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering
from Pennsylvania State University.
Matthias Will joined Dren Bio as our CMO in October 2021. Dr. Will most recently served as
of Clinical Development for CRISPR Therapeutics. During his time at CRISPR, he led the
development of the allogeneic CAR T programs targeting CD70 in lymphomas and RCC and the
stage CD70-NK cell program in collaboration with NKarta. Prior to joining CRISPR, Dr. Will
in charge of Clinical Development at CytomX, held roles of increasing responsibility in
Clinical Development at Gilead Sciences and Novartis Oncology, and worked for McKinsey &
Company where he strategically advised clients in the pharmaceutical industry. Dr. Will
received his Medical Degree from the Hannover Medical School and his training in
hematology/oncology at the University of Tȕbingen, Germany.
Charles Democko joined Dren Bio as our SVP of Regulatory Affairs and Quality in September
2021. Mr. Democko most recently served as SVP of Regulatory Affairs and Quality for Catalyst
Biosciences. During his time at Catalyst, he helped to build and lead their Regulatory and
Quality functions to support the Phase 3 development of their lead asset. Prior to joining
Catalyst, Mr. Democko previously served executive level regulatory and quality roles at
Therapeutics, Ascendis Pharma, Kalobios, Novacea, and Connetics, as well as increasing
of non-executive positions at Theravance, Elan, and Genentech. Mr. Democko began his career
the Battelle Memorial Institute (not for profit research institute) after obtaining his
Bachelor of Science degree from the Ohio State University.
Sridhar Viswanathan joined Dren Bio as our EVP of Process Sciences and Manufacturing
Operations in June 2021. Dr. Viswanathan most recently served as SVP of Process Sciences and
Manufacturing Operations for CytomX Therapeutics. During his time at CytomX, he helped
establish and lead their 30-person CMC team to advance CytomX’s pipeline based on a novel
Probody technology platform developing conditionally active biologics. Prior to joining
CytomX, Dr. Viswanathan co-founded a CMC consulting company, Fawkes Bio, and held executive
level process development and manufacturing operations positions at Perseid Therapeutics and
Maxygen. Dr. Viswanathan began his career at Rockefeller University after obtaining his PhD
Biochemistry from the University of Mississippi Medical Center.
Jennifer Richardson joined Dren Bio as our VP of Nonclinical Development in September 2021.
Dr. Richardson most recently served as VP of Pharmacology and Toxicology for CytomX
Therapeutics. During her time at CytomX, she led pharmacology, toxicology and bioanalysis
functions in support of discovery research and product development for a portfolio of
conditionally active antibodies. Prior to joining CytomX, Dr. Richardson held Director of
Preclinical Development roles at ARCA Biopharma, Nuvelo, Abgenix and was a Senior Scientist at
Millennium Pharmaceuticals. Dr. Richardson began her career at Harvard University Medical
School and Dana Farber Cancer Institute after obtaining her PhD in Molecular Genetics from the
University of Leicester and has been a Diplomat of the American Board of Toxicology since
Jeff Macfarland joined as our SVP of Finance in May 2021. Mr. Macfarland most recently served
as VP of Finance for Allakos. During his time at Allakos, he helped raise over $900 million
dollars in private and public company financings, including their initial public offering in
July 2018. Prior to joining Allakos, Mr. Macfarland provided finance and accounting consulting
services to early stage, pre-IPO life science companies, including work on multiple S-1
filings. Mr. Macfarland began his career at Deloitte, one of the Big Four accounting firms,
after obtaining his Bachelor of Science degree in accounting from the State University of New
York at Albany.
Lewis L. Lanier is an American Cancer Society Professor and the J.
Michael Bishop MD
Distinguished Professor and Chairman of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at
the University of California San Francisco and is Leader of the Cancer Immunity Program of
the UCSF Helen Diller Comprehensive Cancer Center and Director of the Parker Institute for
Cancer Immunotherapy at UCSF. Dr. Lanier received his Ph.D. in Microbiology and
Immunology from the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill. After postdoctoral studies,
first at the Lineberg Cancer Center at the UNC – Chapel Hill and then as a Damon Runyon –
Walter Winchell Cancer Research Fellow at the University of New Mexico, he joined the
Research & Development Department at the Becton Dickinson Monoclonal Center in
Mountain View, California, advancing to Associate Director of Research and was a Becton
Dickinson Research Fellow.
In 1990, he joined the DNAX Research Institute of Molecular and
Cellular Biology in Palo Alto, California, where he advanced to Director of Immunobiology.
In 1999, Dr. Lanier joined the faculty of UCSF. His research group studies Natural Killer
(NK) cells, which recognize and eliminate cells that have become transformed or infected by
viruses. In recognition of his scientific contributions he was awarded the William B. Coley
Award for Distinguished Research in Basic Tumor Immunology from the Cancer Research
Institute in 2002, in 2005 was given the Rose Payne Award for contributions to the field of
Immunogenetics by the American Society for Histocompatibility and Immunogenetics, in 2010
was elected to the US National Academy of Sciences, and in 2011 was named a Fellow of the
American Academy of Microbiology and elected to the American Academy of Arts and
Sciences. He was awarded the 2017 Excellence in Mentoring Award from the American
Association of Immunologists, served as President from 2006-2007, and named an AAI
Distinguished Fellow in 2019. Dr. Lanier serves on the Scientific Advisory Board of several
pharma and biotech companies and research institutes and Editorial boards of scientific
Miriam Merad, M.D.; Ph.D. is the Director of the Precision Immunology
Institute at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York and the Director of the Mount Sinai Human
Immune Monitoring Center (HIMC).
Dr. Merad is an internationally acclaimed physician-scientist and a
leader in the fields of dendritic cell and macrophage biology with a focus on their contribution to
human diseases. Dr. Merad identified the tissue resident macrophage lineage and revealed its distinct
role in organ physiology and pathophysiology. She established the contribution of this macrophage
lineage to cancer progression and inflammatory diseases and is now working on the development of novel
macrophage-targeted therapies for these conditions. In addition to her work on macrophages, Dr. Merad
is known for her work on dendritic cells, a group of cells that control adaptive immunity. She
identified a new subset of dendritic cells, which is now considered a key target of antiviral and
Dr. Merad leads the Precision Immunology Institute at the Icahn School
of Medicine (PrIISM) to bring immunology discoveries to the clinic. PrIISM integrates immunological
research programs with synergistic expertise in biology, medicine, technology, physics, mathematics
and computational biology to enhance our understanding of human immunology. She also founded the Human
Immune Monitoring Center at Mount Sinai, one of the world’s most sophisticated research centers, which
uses cutting-edge single-cell technology to understand the contribution of immune cells to major human
diseases or treatment responses.
Dr. Merad has authored more than 200 primary papers and reviews in high
profile journals. Her work has been cited several thousand times. She receives generous funding from
the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for her research on innate immunity and their contribution to
human disease, and belongs to several NIH consortia. She is an elected member of the American Society
of Clinical Investigation and the recipient of the William B. Coley Award for Distinguished Research
in Basic and Tumor Immunology. She is the President-elect of the International Union of Immunological
Societies (IUIS). In 2020, she was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in recognition of her
contributions to the field of immunology.
Stefano Ricagno, PhD. is an Associate Professor of Biochemistry, PI of the
Aggregation laboratory at the Department of Biosciences at the University of Milan (Italy) and senior PI
and responsible for the laboratory of Structural Biology at the Institute for Molecular and
Translational Cardiology at the IRCCS Policlinico San Donato, Milan (Italy).
After his master in Biological Sciences at the University of Pavia
(Italy), he moved to Sweden where he accomplished his PhD in protein Crystallography at the Department
of Medical Biochemistry and Biophysics, Karolinska Institute Stockholm. He worked as postdoctoral fellow
at the “Architecture et Fonction des Macromolécules Biologiques” at the CNRS in Marseille, France. Then
in 2006 Ricagno became senior postdoctoral fellow at the Department of Biomolecular Sciences and
Biotechnology, University of Milan. In 2010 Ricagno obtained a position as Assistant Professor and then
in 2015 he became associate professor at the Department of Biosciences at the University of Milan.
Ricagno’s scientific interest has been always focused on protein
structures, structural enzymology and protein folding and misfolding. Since he moved to the University
of Milan, he specifically focused on the structural bases of systemic amyloidoses. The study of the
native fold of amyloidogenic proteins, the biophysical properties of aggregation propensity, amyloid
aggregation and the structures of amyloid fibrils are to date the main topics of Ricagno’s research. AL
amyloidosis, dialysis related amyloidosis, familial systemic amyloidosis due to D76N beta-2
microglobulin, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis are the main diseases Ricagno’s labs are focusing on.
He is member of the Editorial Board of Scientific Reports and Life (Basel)
and acting as reviewers for many scientific journals such as Journal of American Chemical Society,
Nature Communications, Science Advances.
Board of Directors and Investors
We are well-funded and supported by leading healthcare investors that
share Dren Bio’s vision of discovering novel therapies for patients with unmet needs
Rajeev joined SR One in 2004 and is an alum of the Kauffman Fellows Program. His prior and
current investments include Adheron, iPierian, True North, Propeller Health, Concert
Pharmaceuticals, CyDex Pharmaceuticals, NeuroTherapeutics Pharma, Tranquis Therapeutics,
IlluminOss Medical and Avhana Health. Rajeev also spent time with GSK’s competitive excellence
group, where he worked on company-wide strategic projects and operational projects. Prior to
SR One, Rajeev worked at Genentech, where his role included technology and clinical
development, and at Bio-Rad Laboratories in a product development role. Rajeev received his
B.A. in chemistry and mathematics from Knox College, his MBA from the Wharton School of the
University of Pennsylvania and his Ph.D. in chemistry from Stanford University.
Mr. Sakae Asanuma established Taiho Ventures as the founding President in 2016. Prior to this
position, he was President and CEO at Astellas Venture Management and U.S. Head of Astellas
Innovation Management from 2011–2015. Before joining Astellas, he worked for Yasuda
Enterprise, a Japan/US-based VC firm from 2000–2011. He has invested in more than 50 biotech
companies since 2000 and majority of which achieved IPOs or M&As. During his tenure at Taiho
and Astellas, Mr. Asanuma closed dozens of research collaborations with academia and biotech
ventures, including several build-to-buy or spin-out deals.
Alex Kolicich focuses on IT and Bio-IT investments.
Prior to joining 8VC, Alex was a Partner at Formation 8. Alex has also worked with Peter
Thiel as a Principal at Mithril Capital Management, a growth-stage venture fund, where he
helped lead investments in AppDirect, C2FO and Helion Energy.
Preceding his venture career, Alex worked as engineer and early-product advisor at Clarium,
Palantir, and Google. He was an early member of the Clarium Capital quantitative engineering
team (with Joe Lonsdale) and close advisor/collaborator with the early Palantir team;
advising on product design and contributing to the product. At Google Research, Alex worked
on Google Street-Views before and during launch. Preceding Street-Views, also at Google, he
worked on the development and launch of the Google Checkout product.
Chandra P. Leo joined the Private Equity Team of HBM Partners in 2007. His board and
investment experience includes biotech and medtech companies such as ChemoCentryx (IPO
NASDAQ), ESBATech (acquired by Alcon/Novartis), Homology Medicines (IPO NASDAQ), ObsEva (IPO
NASDAQ), Symbiomix Therapeutics (acquired by Lupin), CardiacAssist (acquired by LivaNova)
Prior to HBM, Chandra served as a postdoctoral scientist at Stanford University Medical
Center, as a physician at the University Hospital Leipzig (Germany) and as a principal in
the life sciences team at Wellington Partners. He completed his medical studies in Berlin
and London and holds a doctoral degree from the Freie Universität Berlin (Charité) and an
MBA degree with distinction from INSEAD.
Dr. Schiff joined Aisling in 2000 and serves as one of the Managing Partners. Prior to
Aisling, Dr. Schiff practiced internal medicine for six years at the New York Presbyterian
Hospital, where he maintains his position as a Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine.
Dr. Schiff currently serves as a director of Aclaris Therapeutics and Monte Rosa
Therapeutics. His prior board service includes Adams Respiratory Therapeutics (acquired by
Reckitt Benckiser), Agile Therapeutics, ArgiNOx Pharmaceuticals, ARMGO Pharma, Barrier
Therapeutics (acquired by Stiefel Laboratories), Bioenvision (acquired by Genzyme),
CardioKine (acquired by Cornerstone), Cempra Pharmaceuticals, F2G, Harmony Biosciences,
Miramar Labs (acquired by Sientra), Myogen (acquired by Gilead Sciences), PowerVision
(acquired by Alcon), Quintiles (now IQVIA), SkinMedica (acquired by Allergan), Sirion
Therapeutics (licenses acquired by Alcon), TransEnterix, Zavante Therapeutics (acquired by
Nabriva) and ZELTIQ Aesthetics (acquired by Allergan). He is a longtime supporter and board
member of the Visiting Nurse Service of New York.
Dr. Schiff received his M.D. from Cornell University Medical College, his M.B.A. from
Columbia Business School, and his B.S. with honors in Neuroscience from Brown University.
Amol Punjabi is a Principal at BVF Partners L.P., a San Francisco-based biotechnology
investment firm, and holds an AB in Mathematics from Harvard College. He is a board observer
at Structure Therapeutics, Septerna, Alpha-9 Theranostics, and Dren Bio. Prior to joining BVF,
he was an Investment Associate at Bridgewater Associates and conducted computational chemistry
research at Vertex Pharmaceuticals and D. E. Shaw Research. Amol has patented and authored
peer-reviewed publications in ACS Nano and ACS Macro Letters on drug delivery technology for
cancer and neurodegenerative disease.
Robert is a passionate biotechnologist with a diverse skillset spanning business, life
science, engineering and intellectual property. Robert Blazej has 10 years of operational
experience both as a successful entrepreneur and as a leader within an international
Robert was CEO of Allopartis Biotechnologies, a company he co-founded with the vision that
mircrodoplets would transform the scale and pace of life science research. Allopartis was
acquired by Novozymes in 2013. After the acquisition, Robert directed Novozymes’ Digital
Biotechnology unit in San Francisco and lead global biotechnology scouting efforts.
Robert earned his Ph.D. in Bioengineering jointly from UC Berkeley and UC San Francisco. He
is a published contributor to the human, drosophila, and canine genome projects.