Our executive team has significant expertise covering both the discovery and development of therapeutic antibodies as well as the successful scaling of companies to support growth.
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.
Matthias Will joined Dren Bio as our CMO in October 2021. Dr. Will most recently served as VP 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 early stage CD70-NK cell program in collaboration with NKarta. Prior to joining CRISPR, Dr. Will was 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.
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 in Biochemistry from the University of Mississippi Medical Center.
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 CytomX Therapeutics, Ascendis Pharma, Kalobios, Novacea, and Connetics, as well as increasing levels of non-executive positions at Theravance, Elan, and Genentech. Mr. Democko began his career at the Battelle Memorial Institute (not for profit research institute) after obtaining his Bachelor of Science degree from the Ohio State University.
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.
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 2011.
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 antitumor immunity.
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) and Gynesonics.
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.
Sam Huang is an Principal at BVF Partners L.P., a San Francisco-based private investment firm that invests in biotechnology companies. Prior to joining BVF Partners L.P. in 2018, he worked with J.P. Morgan’s Healthcare Investment Banking team and co-founded a life-sciences focused MIT alumni angel group. He holds a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
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 corporation.
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.