Orphagen Team

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Scott Thacher, Ph.D., CEO and Director

founded Orphagen in 2001.  He has 30 years of experience in life sciences research and pharmaceutical R&D. Scott led Orphagen to its first partnership in 2008 with JT Pharma and created first-in-class discovery programs for two other orphan nuclear receptors, steroidogenic factor-1 (SF-1) and ROR-beta. Scott has been awarded 15 SBIR and other grants to support drug discovery at Orphagen. 

Prior to founding Orphagen, Scott directed programs in acne, psoriasis, hyperlipidemia, and diabetes at Allergan, focusing on nuclear receptor-based therapeutics, served on management teams for strategic collaborations in dermatology and diabetes, and supported the successful NDA filing for Tazorac® (tazarotene), a topical retinoid for psoriasis and acne. He is author on 30 publications in cell biology and pharmacology, including the discovery of transglutaminase type 1 (TGase1). Scott was previously on the biochemistry faculty at the Texas A&M College of Medicine (1986-1993) and holds a Ph.D. in biophysics from Harvard University and a B.S. in physics (Stanford). Scott is also a co-founder of Io Therapeutics and co-founder and first President of the San Diego Entrepreneurs Exchange.


 PaulCrowe

Paul Crowe, Ph.D., Director of Biology

was previously Senior Director of Pharmacology and Lead Discovery at Neurocrine Biosciences (San Diego, CA) where he managed internal drug discovery programs in CNS, autoimmunity, and metabolic disease. While at Neurocrine, Paul led a joint research collaboration with Janssen Pharmaceuticals to discover and develop corticotropin releasing factor (CRF) receptor antagonists for depression and other mood disorders. He joined Orphagen in 2008 and holds a Ph.D. in Pharmacology and Therapeutics from the University of South Florida.


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Neil Raheja, Ph.D., Director of Chemistry

 was most recently a Group Leader of Chemistry at Celgene San Diego and was responsible for multiple programs in the Oncology and Inflammation therapeutic areas.  Prior to Celgene, Neil held multiple positions at Pfizer in Groton, CT and Ann Arbor, MI.  As a project leader and/or Director, Neil has advanced 10 programs to clinical development in the Oncology, Inflammation, and Dermatology therapeutic areas. Neil earned a Ph.D. in organic chemistry under Prof. Carl Johnson and did an NIH Postdoctoral Fellowship under Prof. Ralph Hirschmann and Prof. Amos Smith III at The University of Pennsylvania.  Neil is also a co-founder of January Therapeutics.

Board of Directors

 

Scott Thacher, Ph.D.,

CEO and Director founded Orphagen in 2001. He has 30 years of experience in life sciences research and pharmaceutical R&D and led Orphagen to its first partnership in 2008. Prior to founding Orphagen, Scott directed programs in acne, psoriasis, hyperlipidemia, and diabetes at Allergan and served on management teams for strategic collaborations in dermatology and diabetes. Scott was previously on the biochemistry faculty at the Texas A&M College of Medicine (1986-1993) and holds a Ph.D. in biophysics from Harvard University and a B.S. in physics (Stanford).

Robin Jackman, Ph.D.,

Director, is CEO of Leading BioSciences and previously President and CEO of Zacharon Pharmaceuticals where he successfully led the startup from financing through new orphan drug program development, multiple new partnerships, and on to a sale of the company to BioMarin Pharmaceuticals in 2013. Previously Dr. Jackman was Senior Vice President at Vical in oncology division, where he was responsible for clinical trials. After earning a Ph.D. at Harvard Medical School, Robin joined the life-science unit at BankAmerica Robertson Stephens as an investment banker.

Len Post, Ph.D.,

Director, was Vice President of Discovery Research at Parke-Davis and later Senior Vice President of Research and Development at Onyx. He led the Onyx team that developed Nexavar®, a treatment for advanced kidney cancer, in collaboration with Bayer AG. Dr. Post is currently Vice President of Drug Discovery at BioMarin and was Chief Scientific Officer of LEAD Therapeutics, based in Burlingame, CA, immediately prior. Dr. Post received a Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of Wisconsin and is the author of 55 publications.

George (Ben) Thornton, Ph.D.,

Director, is an independent consultant and former Vice President of Technology at Pain Therapeutics, Inc. Prior to that he spent nine years at Apovia as Founder and Head of R&D. Dr. Thornton was previously Director of Research of the J&J Pharmaceutical Research Institute responsible for research centers in La Jolla, CA and Sydney, Australia. Dr. Thornton received his Ph.D. from the University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences (Houston) and was a post-doctoral fellow at the Roche Institute of Molecular Biology.

Gönül Veliçelebi, Ph.D.,

Director, is CEO and Founder of Camino Pharma and previously CEO and Founder of Calcimedica. Dr. Velicelibi was formerly VP of Research and Drug Discovery at TorreyPines Therapeutics, responsible for all discovery programs, including genetics-based target discovery, and preclinical development of gamma-secretase modulators. Dr. Velicelebi received her Ph.D. in biophysical chemistry from Yale University, and completed her postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard University.

Scientific Advisors

 

Casey Weaver, M.D.

Wyatt and Susan Haskell Professor of Medical Excellence in the Department of Pathology at University of Alabama, Birmingham (UAB). Dr. Weaver is an immunologist and a pioneer in T cell pathways that protect against infection and cancer. He was winner of 2009 HudsonAlpha Prize for Outstanding Innovation in the Life Sciences for his work on the discovery of a new class of immune call called Th17. Dr. Weaver was also a scientific co-founder of Eleven Biotherapeutics.

Troy Randall, Ph.d.

J. Claude Bennett Professor of Medicine at UAB in the Department of Rheumatology and Immunology. His laboratory studies regulatory mechanisms within the immune system. In cancer, he has a special interest in mechanisms of tumor metastasis to the omentum in ovarian cancer and in CD8 T cell responses to cancer.

RObert pierce, M.D.

Scientific Director, Experimental Pathology at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Program in Immunology, in Seattle. Dr. Pierce is also the former CSO of OncoSec Medical and the current Chair of its Scientific Advisory Board. He was also Executive Director, Department of Pathology at Merck during clinical development of the checkpoint inhibitor Keytruda.