Leadership positioned to operationalize autophagy therapiesExplore team by:
- All Casmaniacs
- Board of Directors
- Founders & Scientific Advisors
Leadership positioned to operationalize autophagy therapiesExplore team by:
Andrea Ballabio, M.D.,
Founder & Scientific Advisor
Telethon Institute of Genetics and Medicine
University of Naples
Baylor College of Medicine
Beth Levine, M.D.
Founder In Memoriam
UT Southwestern Medical Center
Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Bob Tepper, M.D., is a partner of Third Rock Ventures, which he co‑founded in 2007, and focuses on the formation, development, and scientific strategy of Third Rock’s portfolio companies, as well as actively identifying and evaluating new investments. Prior to joining Third Rock, he served as president of research and development at Millennium Pharmaceuticals, Inc., (or Millennium). Before that, he served as principal investigator in the laboratory of tumor biology at the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center. Bob is also a founder and former member of the scientific advisory board of Cell Genesys/Abgenix Inc. Bob serves as an adjunct faculty member at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital and is an advisory board member of several health care institutions, including the research advisory council of the Massachusetts General Hospital and the external advisory board of the School of Graduate Biomedical Sciences at Tufts Medical School. Bob is a board member of Jounce Therapeutics, Inc., Allena Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Kala Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Constellation Pharmaceuticals, Inc., and Neon Therapeutics, Inc. He was previously a board member at bluebird bio, Inc. Bob received his M.D. from Harvard Medical School and A.B. in biochemistry from Princeton University.
Caren Block serves as a strategic business partner, coach, and mentor to the entire Casma organization. With a focus on growing and retaining talent and maintaining a healthy organization, Caren creates and sustains people programs that support the business. Specialties include creating and sustaining culture, providing thought leadership on organizational development, developing best practices, talent acquisition, supporting core values, creating performance management and career pathing programs, defining the company’s talent brand, and implementing scalable programs. Prior to joining Casma, Caren held the positions of senior vice president of people & culture at GNS Healthcare, head of human resources for Neon Therapeutics, vice president of human resources for Daktari Diagnostics, and human resources roles with The RMR Group, and Core2 Business Consulting. She has been a mentor with Women Unlimited, an organization that develops female corporate leaders. Caren holds a master’s degree in business & organizational communication from Emerson College and a bachelor’s degree in English-speech/theatre/media from Kean University.
Cary Pfeffer, M.D., has over 25 years of business development and transaction experience, along with a broad array of biotech product development experience. Cary leads Third Rock’s partner development efforts, including building and maintaining strong relationships to work with large biotech and pharmaceutical companies. Cary supports and advises on business development efforts across the Third Rock portfolio and has assumed active leadership roles in its portfolio companies, functioning as chief executive officer and chief business officer through the first 12-18 months after launch. Companies he has led and advised include: Rheos Medicines, Faze Medicines, Tango Therapeutics, Ablexis, Edimer, Neon Therapeutics, Jounce Therapeutics, Agios Pharmaceuticals, Eleven Biotherapeutics and Taris Biomedical. Before Third Rock, Cary founded The Pfeffer Group, a boutique consulting firm that provided business development and strategy advisory services, completing multiple transactions for leading biotechnology and life sciences companies. Prior to that, he spent more than a decade at Biogen, where he held several senior and executive level U.S. and global management roles focused on business and market development, product development and commercial operations. Previously, Cary spent several years in corporate finance in the health care investment banking group of Lehman Brothers. Cary earned his M.D. from the University of Pennsylvania, his M.B.A. from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and holds a B.A. in biochemistry from Columbia University.
Christian Grimm, Ph.D.
Colleen DeSimone has more than 25 years of strategic, financial and operational experience in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries. Most recently, she provided financial consulting services for Casma since its inception and for numerous early-stage biotechnology companies. Previously, Colleen served as vice president of finance and controller at Syros Pharmaceuticals. Colleen joined Syros from Takeda Pharmaceuticals, where she served as senior director, finance, and controller, responsible for all aspects of financial reporting, accounting, and internal controls of Takeda’s oncology business unit. She held several positions of increasing financial and operational responsibility at Millennium Pharmaceuticals before its acquisition by Takeda in 2008. Colleen began her career at Deloitte LLP in Boston, where she worked with a variety of public and private audit clients. Colleen serves on the board of the Joe Andruzzi Foundation, a non-profit organization that provides direct financial assistance to New England cancer patients and their families. She received a B.A. in economics – accounting from the College of the Holy Cross.
Dan Baird is a highly experienced researcher and Sr Director of Drug Discovery at Casma Therapeutics, with a deep understanding of biochemistry and structural biology. He earned his PhD from Cornell University, where he began his graduate work as a Physical Chemist, but soon found himself drawn to the study of cellular signaling and molecular pathways. After completing postdoctoral studies in Scott Emr’s lab at HHMI/UCSD and Cornell, where he focused on lipid signaling, Baird fully dedicated himself to drug discovery. He spent 9 years at Novartis, working in the Chemical Biology and Therapeutics department, gaining expertise in a wide range of disease areas, from oncology to ophthalmology. However, his passion for molecular pathways, and autophagy in particular, never wavered, and he ultimately left Novartis to help establish Casma’s drug discovery unit, where he continues to unlock the potential of autophagy as a therapeutic pathway.
Finny Kuruvilla, M.D., Ph.D., serves as the chief investment officer for Eventide Funds, lead portfolio manager on the Eventide Gilead Fund, and portfolio manager on the Eventide Healthcare & Life Sciences Fund. Dr. Kuruvilla has a unique background in healthcare, statistics, and investing. Concurrent with Eventide, he was a principal at Clarus Ventures, a leading healthcare and life sciences venture capital firm. Before that, he was a research fellow at the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, a clinical fellow at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Children’s Hospital Boston, and a postdoctoral scientist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dr. Kuruvilla holds an M.D. from Harvard Medical School, a Ph.D. in chemistry and chemical biology from Harvard University, a master’s degree in electrical engineering and computer science from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a bachelor’s degree from California Institute of Technology in chemistry.
Frank Gentile, Ph.D., brings nearly 25 years of experience working with pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies. He is also a venture partner at Third Rock Ventures since 2015 where he is focused on research and development opportunities throughout the portfolio. Previously, Frank has spent 12 years at Tekla Capital Management LLC (formerly Hambrecht & Quist Capital Management LLC), where he most recently served as senior vice president overseeing and executing investments in public and private biotechnology and health care companies and served as a member of the board of directors in several private companies. Prior to Tekla, Frank was a vice president of technology program management at Millennium Pharmaceuticals overseeing research and development and a was a vice president of product development at Curis. Before that, Frank served as vice president of program management at Reprogenesis, Inc., responsible for all program management, partnership and intellectual property functions. Earlier in his career, Frank held roles of increasing responsibility at CytoTherapeutics, Inc. and was an adjunct associate professor of pharmacology and biotechnology in the division of biology and medicine at Brown University. Frank competed his post-doctoral work at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich and received his Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he was a G.E. Fellow. Additionally, Frank holds a B.E. in chemical engineering from The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art.
Gladys Nunez serves as Director of Business Development at Amgen. Gladys is responsible for venture investments activities including leading investment diligence, deal execution and board observer roles for several portfolio companies including Celsius, Kernal Bio, DJS Antibodies, Ribometrix, and Obsidian. Gladys joined Amgen in 1997. Gladys has over 25 years’ experience in pharma/biotech experience including 8 years in Amgen Ventures and 12 years in the business development group. Prior to joining business development Gladys worked 7 years in in R&D, concurrent between Amgen and AstraZeneca. During her time in R&D Gladys worked on oncology and inflammation programs and Aranesp /Epogen assay release protocols. Based in Amgen’s Cambridge, Ma site she is a member of the external outreach committee and a member of the cross-site leadership team. Gladys holds an MSc in Biochemical Pharmacology from the University of Southampton in England, and BSc from Marist College in Pre-Med. She also serves as board member for Latinos in Bio and is a member of the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association (HBA), Bioscience & Investor Inclusion Group and mentor for VC University promoting career development for underrepresented people in the life sciences.
Herbert “Skip” Virgin, M.D., Ph.D.
Hiromichi Kimura, Ph.D., has more than 20 years R&D experience. Dr Kimura serves multi-dimensional R&D activities, especially Oncology as a PhD Scientist and Investor, Board Director/DEM Biopharma (Don’t Eat Me/Eat Me signals), Casma (Autophagic degradation), NeoPhore (DNA Mismatch Repair), Stealth mode company (Spliceosome), and Board Observer (7 companies), Investor advisory board member of many venture capital funds across US, EU/UK and Asia, Academic appointments (The University of Tokyo).
Dr Kimura reviews, supervises and executes each equity investment to private company in life science BioVenture world, and leads many strategic LP investments in a corporate-wise with creative initiatives, resulting in highly competitive accomplishment last couple years. Before joining Astellas Venture Management in 2018, he served as Head of Alliance & Management Group in Drug discovery research at Astellas Pharma Inc. including Research leadership of post-merger integration of Biotech and Venture (Ganymed Pharmaceuticals, Ogeda, SA, Quethera, Ltd.). Dr Kimura co-founded Kyoto University-Astellas incubator research station in Kyoto University. Dr Kimura conducted drug discovery as Research Manager, Oncology research unit, Astellas Pharma Inc. and also led many global research collaborations with CRUK, Crick institute and Beatson Institute, and MDACC etc. since he joined Astellas in 2014. Prior to Astellas, Dr Kimura served as Research head, Head of Pharmacology in Oncology Drug Discovery Unit, Takeda Pharmaceutical Company, and Drug Discovery department in Millennium: Takeda Oncology Company. In this capacity of an officer with high responsibility, Dr Kimura was responsible for drug discovery from early to late stage including innovative platform technologies at Japan facility as well as global drug discovery initiatives and generated first-in-class projects and programs. Dr Kimura also served the number of academic lectures with academic appointments. Prior to his tenure at Takeda, Dr Kimura was dedicated to conducting basic research and developing Drug Discovery and Translational Research as a Senior Postdoc Research leader in St Jude Children’s Research Hospital (led by Dr Tom Curran, FRS, currently Executive Director and Chief Scientific Officer of the Children’s Research Institute, Children’s Mercy Hospital), collaborated with Genentech (Dr Fred de Savage, Vice President) and Curis (Dr Lee Rubin, CSO, currently Professor at Harvard University). Achievements published are designated as the first invention of live animal pharmacokinetics/dynamics imaging system. The activity contributed the project to launching as Hedgehog antagonist, Vismodegib®. Dr Kimura is appointed a unique academic position in Japan top-tier graduate school program in the University of Tokyo since 2018. Dr Kimura received a Ph.D. with distinction in Epigenetics, Cellular Molecular Biology/Veterinary Medical Sciences from the University of Tokyo.
James Hurley, Ph.D.
Founder & Scientific Advisor
Jeff Saunders, Ph.D., brings over 25 years of drug discovery, team building and leadership experience in start-up and early-stage discovery organizations, pioneering and leading development of outsourcing models for effective and highly productive drug design teams. Prior to joining Casma, Jeff served as a vice president of chemistry at Nuvalent Therapeutics and was previously a co-founder of Resilience Therapeutics, a company developing therapies for anxiety- and trauma-related disorders. Prior to that, he was vice president of small molecule drug discovery at Ember Therapeutics. Before that, Jeff was the vice president of chemistry at Agios. He also worked as a consultant at Elixir Pharmaceuticals, where he managed all chemistry and related intellectual property for five years. Prior to this, he held the position of principal investigator at Vertex Pharmaceuticals. Previously, he was a research scientist at the Squibb Institute for Medical Research. Jeff received his Ph.D. in synthetic organic chemistry at the University of South Carolina and held an NIH postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania. He holds an A.B. in chemistry from Hope College in Michigan.
Keith Dionne, Ph.D., is an industry veteran with over 20 years of experience leading U.S. and international biotechnology companies. Prior to joining Casma, he was president and chief executive officer of Constellation Pharmaceuticals. Prior to joining Constellation, Keith was an entrepreneur-in-residence at Third Rock Ventures. Before that, he served as the chief executive at Surface Logix, Inc. (which was acquired by Nano Terra, Inc). Keith was the president and chief executive of Alantos Pharmaceuticals, leading the company’s acquisition by Amgen for more than $300 million in 2007. Prior to that, Keith was with Millennium Pharmaceuticals (now Takeda) holding positions of increasing responsibility as vice president of business development and general manager of technology business. Before that, Keith led implantable drug delivery research at ALZA Pharmaceuticals spearheading the development of Viadur™, a 12-month implantable treatment for prostate cancer. He has also served as an adjunct professor in the biomedical department at Brown University. Keith received both his Ph.D. in chemical engineering and his M.S. in technology policy from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Leon Murphy, Ph.D., brings nearly 20 years of drug discovery and development experience in cancer, neurodegeneration and metabolic and inflammatory disorders in both academic and industry settings. He is an industry-leading expert in autophagy, mTOR and PI3-Kinases. Prior to joining Casma Therapeutics, Leon was an entrepreneur-in-residence at Third Rock Ventures, where he helped in the discovery and launch of new companies including Casma. Before that he was at the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research as a director of chemical biology and therapeutics and led a global drug discovery team focused on both rare genetic disorders and common diseases and also advanced multiple programs from target and lead discovery through optimization, nomination of development candidates and first-in-human clinical trials. Prior to joining Novartis, Leon was an instructor and research fellow in the department of cell biology at Harvard Medical School, where he led projects on RAS-MAPK, functional genomics and an external partnership with large pharma. Leon earned his B.S. in biochemistry from The Queen’s University of Belfast in Northern Ireland and his Ph.D. in biomedical science from Creighton University School of Medicine in Omaha.
Martin Kampmann, Ph.D.
UC San Francisco
Millie Ray, Ph.D., is a principal on the investment team at The Column Group. At The Column Group, Millie is active in all elements of company formation including sourcing new ideas, recruiting key scientific talent and founders, developing scientific, business, and operating plans, and taking on interim scientific and operational roles. Before that, she helped develop and launch Foghorn Therapeutics working in business development and scientific strategy. Millie also serves as a director on the board of Hexagon Bio. Millie was instrumental in establishing one of the first onsite next-generation sequencers for Ebola viral surveillance via Harvard University and the Broad Institute in West Africa. She also traveled to Kenya with Seeding Labs and Harvard University to facilitate the transfer of surplus lab equipment to universities adopting research. Concurrently, Millie completed her doctoral studies on the effects of long non-coding RNAs on chromatin regulation and has studied epigenetic regulation in embryonic stem cells. Millie received her Ph.D. in genetics and genomics from Harvard University and holds an S.B. in mathematics and in biology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Nagesh Mahanthappa Ph.D., M.B.A., is a distinguished entrepreneur with extensive executive experience, most recently the founding president and chief executive officer of Scholar Rock, Inc.. During his initial eight-year tenure, Nagesh took the company public and lead two distinct drug candidates into clinical testing; he subsequently served as interim CEO guiding the company’s lead program into pivotal trials. His previous experiences include being the founding employee and vice president of corporate development at Avila Therapeutics, Inc. (acquired by Celgene), and previously a founding employee of Alnylam Pharmaceuticals where he rose to the position of vice president of scientific & strategic development. Before that, he served as manager of business development at Vertex Pharmaceuticals and had several positions with scientific and strategic responsibility at Ontogeny (now a part of Curis, Inc.). Nagesh started in the biotechnology industry as a staff scientist at Cambridge NeuroScience, and was a founder of TwistDx, a DNA diagnostics company acquired by Inverness Medical Innovations (now a part of Abbott Laboratories). Nagesh currently serves on the boards of Abata Therapeutics, Exo Therapeutics, and Kojin Therapeutics. Nagesh completed his post-doctoral training at E.K. Shriver Center for Mental Retardation (then an affiliate of Massachusetts General Hospital) and Harvard Medical School after receiving his Ph.D. in neurobiology from the California Institute of Technology. Nagesh received his B.A. in biology and chemistry from the University of Colorado, and his M.B.A. from the F.W. Olin Graduate School of Management at Babson College.
Pietro De Camilli, M.D.
Yale School of Medicine
Sascha Martens, Ph.D.
University of Vienna
Sharon Tooze, Ph.D
The Francis Crick Institute
Steven Gygi, Ph.D.
Harvard Medical School
Tomotaka Okino, Ph.D., is an Investment Director of OVI since May 2020. Prior to joining OVI, he has been responsible for planning and managing research collaborations with biotech companies and academia to accelerate and/or complement research activities at Ono Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. for more than 10 years. He planned and managed numerous collaborations in the US, Europe and Japan for variety of indications and modalities. Dr. Okino has earned a PhD degree in pharmaceutical sciences in 2005 from Kyoto University in Kyoto, Japan.