At Ventus, we are pioneering a unique approach to structure-based drug discovery to address biologically validated, but difficult-to-drug targets.

Others are building towards a future transformation of the drug development process … for Ventus, that future is already here.

Our ReSOLVE™ platform integrates cutting-edge, structurally enabled, computational tools to identify and perfect new drug molecules for targets which have never been drugged or for which existing chemical matter leaves significant room for improvement.

We are differentiated by our unique methods for modelling the properties of protein and water in motion.  Optimal execution of these methods requires embedding our ReSOLVE platform with our world-class structural biology and chemistry teams.  As our pipeline demonstrates, the ReSOLVE platform can find previously unknown pockets, better characterize known pockets, and solve the limitations of virtual screening, accelerating medicinal chemistry and structure-activity relationship (SAR) optimization.

We are advancing a pipeline of new medicines to treat autoimmune and inflammatory diseases, neurological disorders, and cancer, and also generating a library of chemical matter for elusive targets for future pipeline needs and business development.

Our team includes experienced biopharmaceutical executives, scientists who have delivered multiple approved medicines, and luminary academics spanning the fields of structural biology, immunology, and computational chemistry.

 

Others are building towards a future transformation of the drug development process … for Ventus, that future is already here.

Ventus Team

 
 

Founders

Hao Wu, PhD Chair of the Ventus Scientific Advisory Board
Hao Wu, PhD

Dr. Wu is Asa and Patricia Springer Professor of Structural Biology in the Department of Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology at the Harvard Medical School and Senior Investigator in the Program in Cellular and Molecular Medicine at the Boston Children’s Hospital. She is internationally recognized for elucidating several fundamental themes in signal transduction of the immune system using structural biology approaches.

Prior to her appointment at Harvard, Dr. Wu was Professor at Weill Cornell Medical College. She completed postdoctoral training at Columbia University in the laboratory of Professor Wayne Hendrickson and her PhD in Biochemistry from Purdue University in 1992, working in the laboratory of Professor Michael Rossmann. Dr. Wu received her pre-medical training at Peking University and studied Medicine at Peking Union Medical College.

Dr. Wu has received a number of honors, including the Howard Hughes Medical Institute pre-doctoral fellowship, the Aaron Diamond postdoctoral fellowship, the Pew Scholar award, the Rita Allen Scholar award, New York Mayor’s Award for Excellence in Science and Technology, the Margaret Dayhoff Memorial Award from the Biophysical Society and most recently, the Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin Award from the Protein Society and the 2019 Seymour & Vivian Milstein Award for Excellence in Interferon and Cytokine Research. She serves on the Scientific Advisory Council of the Cancer Research Institute and the Editorial Board of Cancer Cell.

Richard Flavell, PhD, FRS
Richard Flavell, PhD, FRS

Dr. Flavell is Sterling Professor of Immunobiology at Yale University School of Medicine, and an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. His research is fundamental to our understanding of the molecular and cellular basis of innate and adaptive immunity.

Prior to returning to academia, Dr. Flavell was President and Chief Scientific Officer of Biogen Research Corporation for six years. Before Biogen, he was Head of the Laboratory of Gene Structure and Expression at the National Institute for Medical Research, Mill Hill, London and before that Assistant Professor at the University of Amsterdam. Dr. Flavell performed postdoctoral work in Amsterdam with Piet Borst and in Zurich with Charles Weissmann. He received his B.Sc. (Honors) and PhD in biochemistry from the University of Hull, England.

Dr. Flavell is a fellow of the Royal Society, a member of the National Academy of Sciences as well as the National Academy of Medicine. He is the recipient of several honors including The Vilcek Prize in Biomedical Science and The William B. Coley Award for Distinguished Research in Basic and Tumor Immunology. He was recently honored as Distinguished Fellow by the American Association of Immunologists.

Judy Lieberman, MD, PhD
Judy Lieberman, MD, PhD

Dr. Lieberman is the Chair in Cellular and Molecular Medicine at Boston Children’s Hospital and Professor, Department of Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School. In addition to being at the forefront of developing RNAi-based therapeutics and using RNAi for genome-wide screening, Dr. Lieberman led a team that discovered the molecular basis for inflammatory cell death (pyroptosis) triggered by invasive bacteria and other danger signals.

Prior to her appointments at Harvard, she was a postdoctoral fellow in immunology at MIT. Before that she earned an M.D. in the joint Harvard-MIT Program in Health, Science, and Technology and trained in internal medicine and hematology-oncology at Tufts Medical Center. Dr. Lieberman received a PhD in physics from Rockefeller University and also served as a high-energy physicist at the prestigious Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. Dr. Lieberman earned her AB at Radcliffe College.

She has been widely recognized by the scientific and medical communities including being elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and named Special Fellow of the Leukemia Society of America and a Pew Scholar in the Biomedical Sciences.

Thomas Tuschl, PhD
Thomas Tuschl, PhD

Dr. Tuschl is Professor of Biochemistry, Biophysics, Chemical Biology and Structural Biology at Rockefeller University in New York. Dr. Tuschl is world-renowned for his research into the regulation of RNA, and has discovered small interfering RNAs (siRNAs), microRNAs (miRNAs) and piwi-interacting RNAs (piRNAs).

Prior to Rockefeller, Dr. Tuschl was Group Leader at the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry and a postdoctoral fellow at MIT and the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research. He earned his PhD from Max Planck Institute for Experimental Medicine in Göttingen and BS in Chemistry from Regensburg University.

Dr. Tuschl is a member of the German National Academy of Sciences and the recipient of numerous awards including NIH Director’s Transformative Research Project Award, Ernst Jung Prize, Max Delbrück Medal, Molecular Bioanalytics Prize, Meyenburg Prize, the Wiley Prize and the AAAS Newcomb Cleveland Prize.

Advisors

Laurent Audoly, PhD
Laurent Audoly, PhD

Laurent Audoly is a serial biotech entrepreneur and senior executive in the biotech/pharma industry. He has contributed to the identification and development of multiple novel drug approvals addressing unmet medical need across multiple disease areas generating more than $2B in annual sales (Xeljanz®, Hemangiol®, Braftovi®, Renflexis®, Brenzys®, Ontruzant®, Hadlima®). He is co-founder of Cytovia Therapeutics, a cell therapy development stage biotech focused on targeting NK cells against tumors; and founder/CEO of Parthenon Therapeutics, a precision oncology biotech focused on breaking down the tumor’s barriers that prevent immune cells from infiltrating and eliminating tumors. He also serves as a board member and advisor to a number of biotech/pharma organizations. Prior to Parthenon, Laurent was at the helm of Kymera as its founding CEO (Nasdaq: KYMR). Earlier in his career, he held positions of increasing leadership responsibilities at Pfizer, Merck, and biotech companies as CSO and head of R&D, contributing to the advancement of 21 drug candidates into and trough clinical development. Laurent has completed pharma/biotech transactions worth over $3B in biobucks and raised more than $250 million. He is an inventor and authored over 70 papers and patents. He studied chemistry and pharmacology (PhD) at Vanderbilt University and completed postdoctoral training at UNC/Chapel Hill and Duke University where he was the recipient of an American Heart Association Fellowship.

Christopher Bayly, PhD
Christopher Bayly, PhD

Christopher Bayly Heads up the Affinity group at OpenEye Scientific Software, developing massively parallel computational approaches used in OpenEye’s cloud-native Orion platform for routine estimation of ligand binding free energies. He is also an advisor to the Open Force Field Initiative, a broad-based collaboration to develop next-generation small molecule and biomolecular force fields, an effort he helped found while on sabbatical in 2016. Prior to his time at OpenEye, Christopher founded and led the computational chemistry group at Merck Frosst for 18 years; his group was an early adopter of routine use of Molecular Dynamics (MD) simulations in drug discovery. While there he led the development of AM1-BCC, now a widely used small-molecule charging method for ligand binding simulations, necessary at the time to address what was then a bottleneck in the routine use of MD in discovery.

Christopher has a BSc in Biochemistry from Bishop’s University, an MSc in Synthetic Bioorganic Chemistry from L’Universite de Sherbrooke, and a PhD in Theoretical Chemistry from the University of New Brunswick. This was followed by a postdoctoral term with Peter Kollman at UC San Francisco where he developed the RESP method still widely used to generate atomic partial charges. In 2006 he won the ACS Thomas Kuhn Paradigm Shift Award for his work in iterative focused screening for lead identification. He is an inventor on over 20 patents and an author on 70 papers.

Douglas Green, PhD

Dr. Green is Peter C. Doherty Endowed Chair of Immunology and Co-Leader, Cancer Biology Program at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. His seminal work has identified the fundamental molecular events directing the death of the cell.

Prior to his current role, he was Head of the Division of Cellular Immunology at the La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology. Dr. Green received his PhD in Immunology from Yale University, and following post-doctoral work in experimental surgery and marine biology, he joined the faculty at the University of Alberta in Edmonton. Green earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Immunology from Yale.

Dr. Green has published over 600 papers and reviews. He has earned recognition for his work including Wilbur Lucius Cross Medal for Alumni Achievement from the Yale Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and the Jurg Tschopp Prize for research on cell death. He is an honorary fellow of Trinity College in Dublin, an honorary Einstein Professor in China, a foreign fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, and an honorary PhD degree recipient from University Tor Vergata in Rome. His most recent book, “Apoptosis and Other Cell Death Mechanisms: Means to an End,” was published in 2018.

Tom Kurtzman, PhD
Tom Kurtzman, PhD

Tom Kurtzman, PhD, is a professor at Lehman College, City University of New York, where his research focuses on the development of computational methods that aid in the discovery and rational design of new drugs. Professor Kurtzman’s approach applies a combination of statistical mechanical theory and computer simulations to better understand the physical principles governing the molecular recognition between proteins and small molecule drug candidates.  His research contributions provide a framework to account for and quantify the role that water plays in molecular recognition.

Dr. Kurtzman’s honors and awards include the OpenEye Outstanding Junior Faculty Award from the Computational Chemistry Division of the American Chemical Society. Dr. Kurtzman earned a bachelor of arts degree in chemistry from the University of California, Santa Cruz, a doctor of philosophy degree in chemistry from Stanford University, and pursued postdoctoral research at Columbia University.

Dinshaw Patel, PhD

Dinshaw J. Patel is Member and Abby Rockefeller Mauze Chair in Experimental Therapeutics in the Structural Biology Program at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York city. He received his PhD from New York University in Chemistry in 1968, followed by postdoctoral training in Biochemistry at NYU Medical School and ATT Bell Laboratories. His independent career has included a permanent appointment as Distinguished Member of Technical Staff at AT&T Bell Laboratories (1970-1984), tenured Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics at Columbia University-Health Sciences (1984-1992) and his current appointment at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (1992-current). His research has focused on the structural biology of macromolecular recognition and regulation with an emphasis on applying NMR, x-ray and cryo-EM techniques to characterize structural and functional features mediated by protein-nucleic acid complexes. His research interests span the areas of riboswitches and ribozymes, RNA silencing, epigenetic regulation, cytoplasmic metazoan nucleic acid sensors, and CRISPR-Cas surveillance pathways.

Dr. Patel’s research achievements have been recognized through receipt of the AT&T Bell Laboratories Distinguished Technical Staff Award (1983), the Distinguished Alumnus Award of New York University (1997), the Lifetime Achievement Award of the American Association of Indian Scientists in Cancer Research (2019) and the inaugural Tan Jiazhen International Collaboration Prize (2019). He has served in the past on the Scientific and Medical Advisory Boards of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (1989-1996) and the National Cancer Institute (2000-2005). In recognition of his scientific contributions, Dr. Patel was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2009 and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2014.

Russell Vance, PhD
Russell Vance, PhD

Dr. Vance is a Professor and Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) investigator in the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology at the University of California, Berkeley. His lab is known for its work on innate immunity. Since establishing his lab at UC Berkeley in 2006, Dr. Vance has been interested in identifying the molecular mechanisms underlying innate immune recognition of bacterial pathogens. His lab is particularly well known for work on inflammasomes and the discovery that cyclic-di-nucleotides are direct agonists of STING (Stimulator of interferon genes.) Since 2013, he has been an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

Prior to his appointment at UC Berkeley, Dr. Vance’s postdoctoral work was with John Mekalanos and William Dietrich at Harvard Medical School. He obtained his PhD in Immunology from the University of California, Berkeley, under the mentorship of David Raulet. Dr. Vance grew up in Canada where he attended Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario for his undergraduate (Biochemistry) and Master’s (Philosophy of Science) degrees.

Dr. Vance is a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology, and is the recipient of a MERIT award from the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Merck Irving S. Sigal Memorial Award from the American Society for Microbiology.

Dennis Zaller, PhD
Dennis Zaller, PhD

Dennis Zaller has more than 30 years of experience in the biopharmaceutical industry. He is currently serving as the Chief Scientific Officer at ROME Therapeutics, a biotechnology company developing new therapies to treat debilitating diseases by leveraging insights into the biology of repeat elements. Prior to ROME, Dennis spent five years as Executive Director of Integrative Sciences at Celgene (later Bristol Myers Squibb). In this role, he provided scientific leadership across a large portfolio of external collaborations in immunology, fibrosis, oncology, and immuno-oncology. During his time at Celgene, Dennis participated in more than 20 Joint Steering Committees and Joint Research Committees that brought six novel molecules to the clinic. Prior to Celgene, Dennis spent 25 years at Merck Research Laboratories in a series of roles with increasing responsibility leading large drug discovery teams at Merck’s New Jersey and Boston sites. While at Merck, Dennis helped to advance 28 molecules into the clinic resulting in eight marketed drugs. Before joining industry, Dennis conducted academic research at the California Institute of Technology. Dennis has a BS from the State University of New York at Albany, and an MA, MPhil and PhD from Columbia University. He is an author of more than 60 manuscripts in leading journals covering a variety of scientific discoveries and is an inventor on nine patents.

Board of Directors

Jerel Davis, PhD, Chairman Managing Director, Versant Ventures
Jerel Davis, PhD, Chairman

Jerel is a Managing Director at Versant Venture Management, LLC, a healthcare investment firm. He has played a critical role in Versant’s company creation strategies and has been heavily involved in a number of public and private biotech companies such as Crispr (CRSP), BlueRock (sale), Repare (RPTX), Akero (AKRO), Graphite (GRPH), Chinook (KDKY), Inception 4 (sale), Inception 5 (sale), Northern (sale), Rayze, Ventus, Turnstone, and Tentarix.  Prior to joining Versant, Jerel was an Associate Principal at McKinsey and Company where he advised healthcare corporations in pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, medical device and molecular diagnostics. He has worked in a number of healthcare markets globally including the U.S., Europe, China, and Russia. Jerel earned his doctorate from Stanford University, where he also completed post-doctoral research.

Brendan Bulik-Sullivan, PhD Partner, GV
Brendan Bulik-Sullivan, PhD

Dr. Brendan Bulik-Sullivan is a partner at GV focusing on life sciences investments. Before GV, Dr. Bulik-Sullivan worked on applied statistics and machine learning research in genetics and biotechnology. Dr. Bulik-Sullivan led machine learning at Gritstone Oncology, where he designed machine learning models for personalized immuno-oncology therapeutics. Prior to that, he worked at the Broad Institute where he developed statistical methods for human genetics research. His research has been published in top journals including Nature, Science, Nature Biotechnology and Nature Genetics.

Dr. Bulik-Sullivan holds a B.A. in mathematics from the University of California, Berkeley and a PhD in statistical genetics from Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.

Steven P. James Biopharmaceutical Executive
Steven P. James

Steven James has over 30 years of biopharmaceutical experience and has been involved in building and leading numerous successful companies and the discovery and development of important approved drug products. Currently, Mr. James is Chief Executive Officer and director of Pionyr Immunotherapeutics. Previously, he was president and CEO of Labrys Biologics until it was acquired by Teva Pharmaceuticals. Prior to Labrys, Steve was president and CEO of KAI Pharmaceuticals which was acquired by Amgen. He has held leadership positions at Exelixis, Sunesis Pharmaceuticals, Ionis Pharmaceuticals, and began his career at Eli Lilly. He holds a Masters in Management from the Kellogg School of Northwestern University and an undergraduate degree in neuroscience from Brown University. He serves as a trustee of Middlebridge School in Rhode Island. Steve is currently chairman of Antiva Biosciences and Soteria Therapeutics and a director of Allakos Inc. He was formerly a director of Ocera Inc. (acquired by Mallinkrodt) and Cascadian Therapeutics (acquired by Seattle Genetics).

Josh Resnick, MD Managing Director, RA Capital Management
Josh Resnick, MD

Josh Resnick is a Managing Director at RA Capital Management. Josh’s primary responsibility at RA Capital is to lead early-stage private investments in and oversee the creation of new companies developing drugs, medical devices, diagnostics, and research tools. Josh holds a BA in Chemistry from Williams College, an MD from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, and an MBA from the Wharton School of Business. He has more than 15 years of experience in investing, company formation, and company leadership across all stages of drug development, from discovery through commercialization. Josh was previously co-lead of SV Health Investors’ US Biotech practice where he was responsible for SV’s US venture creation activities, including its incubator, Brahma Discovery. Before SV, Josh was President and Managing Partner at MRL Ventures Fund, the early-stage therapeutics-focused corporate venture fund within Merck & Co. Prior to MRL Ventures, Josh was a Venture Partner with Atlas Venture and a Partner at Prism Venture Partners, focusing on company formation and seed and Series A investing. Josh is currently a faculty member at Harvard Medical School and continues to practice medicine as an attending physician in the Department of Emergency Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Dolca Thomas, MD Executive Vice President, Head of Research and Development and Chief Medical Officer at Equillium
Dolca Thomas, MD

Dr. Thomas is the Executive Vice President, Head of Research and Development and Chief Medical Officer at Equillium and an independent director at Chinook Therapeutics.  She served as Principia’s Chief Medical Officer from 2018 until the Sanofi acquisition in September 2020. Prior to Principia, Dr. Thomas was Vice President and Global Head of Translational Medicine for Immunology, Inflammation, and Infectious Disease at Roche; Vice President of Clinical Development and Clinical Immunophenotyping at Pfizer and Vice President and Chief Development Officer of the Biosimilars Research and Development Unit at Pfizer. Dr. Thomas began her industry career at Bristol-Myers Squibb as Director of Global Clinical Development in Immunology, where she was involved in late stage clinical drug development including the approval of the immunomodulatory drug, Belatacept.

Prior to her career in drug development, Dr. Thomas was a tenured track faculty member at Weill Cornell Medicine’s Department of Nephrology and Transplantation Medicine. Dr. Thomas received a B.A. in sociology and a M.D. from Cornell University. Dr. Thomas resides in the San Francisco, Bay Area in California.

Markus Warmuth, MD Chief Executive Officer, Monte Rosa Therapeutics
Markus Warmuth, MD

Markus brings over 20 years of experience in data-driven drug discovery and precision medicine to Monte Rosa Therapeutics. He joined Monte Rosa Therapeutics from Third Rock Ventures, where he worked as an Entrepreneur-in-Residence and played an integral role in the venture capital firm’s formation of new biotech companies. Prior to his role at Third Rock Ventures, Markus spent seven years as the Chief Executive Officer of H3 Biomedicine, a biopharmaceutical company that specializes in the discovery and development of genomics-based precision oncology treatments. Markus has also previously served in multiple roles at the Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research (NIBR) and the Genomics Institute of the Novartis Research Foundation (GNF), including as the Director of Kinase Biology, Head of Oncology Pharmacology. While at Novartis, he and his teams were involved in the development of Ceritinib and Ribociclib as well as the discovery of allosteric inhibitors of SHP2 and Abl, amongst others. He also currently serves as a Venture Partner at Versant Ventures. He earned his M.D. from Ludwig Maximilian University, in Munich, Germany, and currently resides in Boston, MA.

Marcelo Bigal, MD, PhD President and Chief Executive Officer
Marcelo Bigal, MD, PhD

Dr. Bigal is the President and CEO of Ventus Therapeutics. He is also a Venture Partner at Versant Ventures. He brings over 15 years of pharmaceutical experience spanning R&D, medical and scientific affairs. Marcelo held multiple leadership roles in industry including Head of R&D, CSO and CMO at TEVA. Before joining Teva, Marcelo was CMO at Labrys, where he led the team that developed fremanezumab and other medicines in neurology, psychiatry, pain and respiratory diseases approved in the US, Canada and EU. Prior to Labrys, Marcelo worked at Merck.

Prior to his work in the pharmaceutical industry, Marcelo was a faculty member at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Department of Neurology, as well as the Director of Research at New England Center for Headache and Director of Research at Montefiore Headache Center. He has authored around 335 papers in peer-reviewed journals, and is the recipient of multiple recognitions including the prestigious American Academy of Neurology Harold-Wolff John Graham Award for outstanding achievements in neurology research.

He holds a Medical Doctorate degree from the College of Medicine at the University of São Paulo, Brazil, where he also obtained a Masters in Science and a PhD in Neurosciences. He completed his post-doctoral research at the New England Center for Headache in CT.

Board Observers

Eli Casdin Casdin Capital
Eli Casdin

Eli Casdin founded Casdin Capital in 2011 after nearly ten years spent focused on disruptive technologies and business models in life sciences and healthcare, including authoring the black book, The Dawn of Molecular Medicine. He leads Casdin Capital to have a combination of long-term vision and strong industry relationships to keep it focused on the investing in great ideas and great teams. Prior to founding Casdin Capital, Eli was a Vice President and Analyst at Alliance Bernstein and a member of its “thematic” based investment group, responsible for researching and investing in the implications of new technologies for the life science and healthcare sectors. Eli’s early experience includes time at Bear Stearns and at Cooper Hill Partners, one of the earliest biotechnology focused investment firms. Eli earned his B.S. from Columbia University and his MBA from Columbia Business School and serves on the Columbia University School of GS Board of Directors.

Nathaniel Horwitz Principal, RA Capital Management
Nathaniel Horwitz

Nathaniel is a Principal on the Venture Team at RA Capital Management. Nathaniel’s primary responsibility at RA Capital is to identify compelling opportunities to help facilitate new company creation or investments in emerging seed-stage companies. He previously served as the Founder & CEO of Nivien Therapeutics. Nathaniel graduated from Harvard University with a BA in Molecular and Cellular Biology.

Kanishka Pothula Managing Director, BVF Partners
Kanishka Pothula

Mr. Pothula is a Managing Director at BVF Partners L.P. Prior to joining BVF, Mr. Pothula was at BroadOak Capital Partners, a life sciences focused investment bank. He also was a Research Associate at the University of California, San Diego’s Medical School conducting primary research on apoptotic modeling on T-lymphoma cancer cells. Mr. Pothula holds an M.S. in Biotechnology from Georgetown University and a B.S. in Bioengineering from the University of California, San Diego.

Investors

Versant Ventures
RA Capital Management
BVF Partners L.P.
Casdin Capital
Cormorant Asset Management
Fonds de solidarité FTQ
GV
Alexandria Venture Investments