Management Team

Dr. Matthew Cooper
Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer

Dr. Matt Cooper completed a PhD in Chemistry in 1995 then spent 13 years in the UK, first at the University of Cambridge, then 9 years in start-ups and biotechnology companies. He returned to academia in 2009 to work on therapies that block inflammation via modulation of the innate immune system, novel antimicrobials, rapid diagnostics and modulators of the human microbiome.

He has advised and worked with venture capital, pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies worldwide, was a co-founder, CSO and Director of Akubio, and the Founder and Managing Director of Cambridge Medical Innovations (acquired by Alere). He is currently a co-founder and Director of Defensin Therapeutics, Chair of the Scientific Advisory Board of Adenium Biotechnology, and co-founder and Executive Director of Inflazome. He has more than 20 patents and 200 scientific papers.

Co-founder & Chief Executive Officer
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Dr. Reena Halai
Biology Program Manager

Reena completed her PhD in molecular and structural biology at The University of Queensland before continuing onto a post doc for six years. She then moved to the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Cambridgeshire as a research administrator and then project manager for the Human induced pluripotent stem cell initiative. Prior to her PhD, Reena had also spent time at GlaxoSmithKline and UCB biopharma.'

Biology Program Manager

Dr. Angus MacLeod
Vice President, Preclinical R&D

Angus began his industrial career at Merck in 1984 at its Neuroscience Research Centre in the UK.  At Merck, he was responsible for the management of multiple drug discovery programs leading to the nomination of pre-clinical drug candidates, and served on product development teams progressing compounds through to Phase I clinical trials.  In 2006, he joined BioFocus, part of the Galapagos group, as head of Medicinal Chemistry and DMPK, and continued in a broader management role as Executive Director following acquisition by Charles River Laboratories in 2014.  Angus has extensive experience across a wide range of therapeutic areas and drug target classes.  He is co-author of more than 60 papers and an inventor on more than 70 patent applications.

Angus studied Chemistry at the University of Glasgow in Scotland where he was awarded his Ph.D.  He performed his post-doctoral research at the University of Manchester institute of Technology in the lab of Prof. Bob Ramage.

Vice President, Preclinical R&D
 
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Dr. David Miller
Head of Medicinal Chemistry

David completed his PhD in heterocyclic chemistry at Hull University before going on to post-doc with Professor Chris Moody (Loughborough University) and then Professor Andreas Pfaltz (Max Planck Institute). His first industrial position was at Organon Laboratories in Newhouse, Scotland where he spent over 5 years as a chemistry and project team leader, working on schizophrenia, pain and depression programs. In 2002 David moved to Cambridge to take up a senior role at Amedis Pharmaceuticals, which subsequently merged with Paradigm Therapeutics and the combined company was later acquired by the Takeda Pharmaceutical Company. At Takeda, David was a parallel project leader, leading the team that delivered a compound into the clinic for a challenging CNS target. Upon leaving Takeda he was Associate Director within the Medicinal Chemistry department having with responsibility for analytical chemistry and DMPK. David currently has 16 scientific publications and is a named inventor on 9 patents.

Head of Medicinal Chemistry

Prof. Luke O'Neill
Co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer

Luke O’Neill is Inflazome’s Chief Scientific Officer as well as Professor of Biochemistry, Trinity College Dublin. His 18-person research lab focuses on the molecular basis to inflammation.  He is a world authority on innate immunity, which lies at the heart of inflammation, with a particular interest in Toll-like receptors, inflammasomes and metabolic reprogramming.

He was awarded the Royal Dublin Society / Irish Times Boyle Medal for scientific excellence in 2009, the Royal Irish Academy Gold Medal for Life Sciences in 2012  and the European Federation of Immunology Societies Medal in 2014.  He was elected a member of EMBO (European Molecular Biology Organisation) in 2005 and a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2016.

In 2014 Thomson Reuters named him as being in the top 1% in the world working in the areas of Immunology and Pharmacology.  

Co-founder & Chief Scientific Officer

Dr. Jeremy Skillington
Vice President, Business Development

Jeremy began is biotechnology career in the Business Development group of Genentech, Inc in 2002. At Genentech he was responsible for executing over 40 licensing, investment and collaboration transactions.  He then led Business Development and was a member of the Senior Management team at Opsona Therapeutics before becoming a founder and CEO of immuno-oncology company TriMod Therapeutics. He joined HS Lifesciences in 2014 to provide start-up and business development support to portfolio companies ImmunoQure AG and Ethris GmbH.

Jeremy studied Biochemistry at the National University of Ireland, Galway where he was awarded his Ph.D.  He performed his post-doctoral research at the University of California, San Francisco in the lab of Prof Rik Derynck.

Vice President, Business Development
 
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Dr. Laura Trespidi
Head of Product Development

Laura Trespidi is a dedicated and energetic professional with 25 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry. She was Head of Technical Regulatory Affairs with Mundipharma UK, responsible for the company’s international CMC strategy. Before this at Shire Pharmaceuticals she covered diverse senior R&D roles working on multiple drug development programs from candidate selection to market launch. She has also worked with GSK, NicOx, AAI Pharma and Dompe’. Laura has experience in specialty drug delivery systems and scale-up of complex dosage forms. She has also extensive expertise in the management of business involved in the provision of services to Biotech and Pharma companies. She holds a degree in Pharmaceutics from the University of Milan, Italy, an MBA from the Open University, UK and a degree in Medicinal Chemistry from the University of North Carolina, Wilmington USA.

Head of Product Development
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Joanna Tufnell
Head of Regulatory Affairs

Joanna has over 30 years of experience in regulatory affairs for pharmaceutical companies while working in the UK regulatory agencies. She has worked on hundreds of applications for drug approvals in the global regulatory markets. Joanna’s experience covers drug development, from first in man to phase 4, submitting INDs, gaining approval CTAs and obtaining scientific advice from Regulators for small molecules and biotechnology.

Joanna has held senior positions as the Global Regulatory Lead for various therapeutic areas including vaccines, oncology and HIV products, she has extensive experience with US and EU paediatric submissions and Orphan Designations. She has previously had both permanent and interim roles as Head of Regulatory for start-up and established companies.

While working for the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), Joanna was senior assessor responsible for Biotechnology applications considered by the Committee on Human Medicinal Products (CHMP).

Joanna has held board level positions and has been involved with fund raising for start-up companies, as well as writing business plans.

Joanna is a member of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, a Fellow of The Organisation for Professionals in Regulatory Affairs (FTOPRA), a Fellow of the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (FRSA) and Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine (FRSM). Joanna has a BSc Pharmacy (Hons) and a first class degree in Law.

Head of Regulatory Affairs
 

 
 

 

Board of Directors

Dr. Manus Rogan

Dr. Manus Rogan is a Managing Partner and co-founder of Fountain Healthcare Partners. He has over 27 years of investment and operating experience in the life science sector in both the US and Europe. Manus earned a PhD in chemistry from the University of York (sponsored by GlaxoSmithKline) and an MBA from Trinity College Dublin.

Manus began his career in product development at GlaxoSmithkline in the UK and in 1996 joined Elan Corporation's business development group. For four years he was responsible for licensing products and drug delivery technologies in Europe and Japan. In 2001, Manus joined Elan's Corporate Venture Capital group in New York where he invested in private and public biotechnology companies. Investments included Sirna (acquired by Merck, 2006) and Beyond Genomics (IPO, 2011). In his 7 years at Elan, Manus concluded over twenty five investment and technology licensing transactions involving companies in the US, Europe and Japan.

Manus led Fountain's investment in Innocoll Inc. and currently serves on the board of Opsona Therapeutics, Mainstay Medical (IPO, 2014), Neuromod Devices and Inflazome Ltd. He was formerly Chairman of the Irish Venture Capital Association ('IVCA') and previously represented Fountain on the board of Amarin Corporation.

Managing Partner, Fountain Healthcare Partners

Dr. Matthew Cooper

Dr. Matt Cooper completed a PhD in Chemistry in 1995 then spent 13 years in the UK, first at the University of Cambridge, then 9 years in start-ups and biotechnology companies. He returned to academia in 2009 to work on therapies that block inflammation via modulation of the innate immune system, novel antimicrobials, rapid diagnostics and modulators of the human microbiome.

He has advised and worked with venture capital, pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies worldwide, was a co-founder, CSO and Director of Akubio, and the Founder and Managing Director of Cambridge Medical Innovations (acquired by Alere). He is currently a co-founder and Director of Defensin Therapeutics, Chair of the Scientific Advisory Board of Adenium Biotechnology, and co-founder and Executive Director of Inflazome. He has more than 20 patents and 200 scientific papers.

Co-founder & Chief Executive Officer

Florent Gros

Florent Gros is a Managing Director in Basel, Switzerland. Prior to joining NVF, he worked in various global leadership positions in intellectual property and transaction matters at Nestlé, Pasteur Merieux Connaught (Sanofi Pasteur) and Novartis, in Europe and North America. Florent is a Kaufmann Fellow (2012) and holds a Biotechnology Engineering Masters Degree from France, and did his diploma thesis on vaccines at GSK in Belgium. He also holds European and French patent lawyer degrees and a Masters in Private Law. Florent serves on the boards of AIT, Adicet, Atlas Genetics, Gensight Biologics, Immune Targeting Systems, Kanyos, Merus, MyoPowers, Opsona, Altimmune and Anokion SA. 

Managing Director, Novartis Venture Fund

Prof. Luke O'Neill

Luke O’Neill is Inflazome’s Chief Scientific Officer as well as Professor of Biochemistry, Trinity College Dublin. His 18-person research lab focuses on the molecular basis to inflammation.  He is a world authority on innate immunity, which lies at the heart of inflammation, with a particular interest in Toll-like receptors, inflammasomes and metabolic reprogramming.

He was awarded the Royal Dublin Society / Irish Times Boyle Medal for scientific excellence in 2009, the Royal Irish Academy Gold Medal for Life Sciences in 2012  and the European Federation of Immunology Societies Medal in 2014.  He was elected a member of EMBO (European Molecular Biology Organisation) in 2005 and a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2016.

In 2014 Thomson Reuters named him as being in the top 1% in the world working in the areas of Immunology and Pharmacology.  

Co-founder & Chief Scientific Officer

Dr. Dhavalkumar Patel

Dhaval is an Independent Director of Inflazome, based in Basel, Switzerland. He received an MD and PhD (Microbiology and Immunology) from and further clinical training in Internal Medicine, Rheumatology, and Allergy and Clinical Immunology at Duke University. He was an Eminent Professor of Medicine, Chief of Rheumatology, Allergy and Clinical Immunology, and Director of the Thurston Arthritis Research Center at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill prior to joining industry in 2006. During a 10 year career at Novartis, he led Research in Europe and the Autoimmunity, Transplantation and Inflammation Disease Area which contributed to the registration of secukinumab (Cosentyx), fingolimod (Gilenya), canakinumab (Ilaris) and everolimus (Zortress/Certican, Affinitor) in multiple indications. He was also an Entrepreneur in Residence at the Novartis Venture Fund.

Indepedent Director
 

Scientific Advisory Board

Trinity College Dublin

Prof. Frances Balkwill OBE FMedSci

Frances Balkwill is Professor of Cancer Biology at Barts Cancer Institute, Queen Mary University of London where she leads the Centre for Cancer and Inflammation. She studies the links between cancer and inflammation being especially interested in translating knowledge of cancer biology into new biological treatments for cancer, the role that inflammatory cytokines play in cancer promotion and novel ways of modelling the human tumour microenvironment. Fran runs a research centre of approximately 30 scientists, postgraduate students and clinicians. Fran is an author on 250+ scientific papers and reviews and has written and edited a number of academic books on her subject. In 2006, she was made a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences and has served on its Council. Fran is a frequent plenary and keynote speaker at international meetings.

Fran is also actively involved in communication of science to non-specialist audiences, especially young people. Fran is Director of the Centre of the Cell, a biomedical science centre for children, educational website and outreach project in East London. There have been more than 150,000 participants in Centre of the Cell activities since opening in September 2009. Fran's science communication work has been recognised by the award of the 2004 EMBO prize for communication in the Life Sciences and the 2005 Royal Society Michael Faraday Prize. In 2017, she was awarded the Cancer Research UK Inspiring Leadership in Research Engagement Prize.

Together with illustrator Mic Rolph, Fran has also produced thirteen science books for children on cell and molecular biology with titles such as Enjoy Your Cells, The Egg and Sperm Raceand You, Me and HIV. These books have been translated into at least twelve foreign languages with over half a million copies sold worldwide.

Fran is a non-parliamentary board member of the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology, POST, and serves on Wellcome, MRC and ERC grant committees. Fran was awarded an OBE in the 2008 Queen’s Birthday Honours list. In 2015 Fran was awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Science honoris causa by the University of Bristol where she studied as an undergraduate.

Queen Mary University of London

Dr. Douglas Golenbock

Douglas Golenbock is Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases and Immunology in the Department of Medicine at the University of Massachusetts. He holds a joint appointment in the Department of Microbiology and Physiological Systems. The goal of his laboratory is to characterize phagocytic receptors that recognize the presence of microbes in the context of infectious illnesses. As the mechanisms of inflammation in infectious diseases are similar to those associated with sterile inflammation, his group also studies Alzheimer's Disease. Dr. Golenbock has made several pioneering contributions to the field of innate immunity, specifically in the field of Toll-like receptors in infection and inflammation. Most recently, he has focused on neuroinflammation in Alzheimer’s Disease, identifying with colleagues in Bonn the NLRP3 inflammasome as an important component of neuronal injury due to beta amyloid.

Dr. Golenbock has been elected as a member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation, the American Association of Physicians, the Brazilian Academy of Sciences (for his work in malaria there) and most recently received the first Pillar Chair in Biomedical Research.

University of Massachusetts Medical School

Dr. Veit Hornung

Veit Hornung studied medicine at the University of Munich (Germany) and conducted his postdoctoral training at the University of Munich and the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester (USA). From 2008 to 2015 he was faculty at the University of Bonn (Germany) and in 2015 he was recruited to become the chair of Immunobiochemistry at the Gene Center of the Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich. Veit’s research focuses on the mechanisms of non-self recognition by the innate immune system and its functional consequences in microbial infection as well as sterile inflammation. His group was involved in the identification and characterization of several receptor molecules, their ligands, and their downstream signaling cascades. More recently, his group has focused its efforts on the dissection of innate signaling pathways in human immune cells employing genome-engineering technologies.

Since 2014 Veit has been listed as a Thomson Reuters Highly Cited Researcher in the field of immunology. In 2015 he was elected to become an EMBO member and in 2016 he was appointed a member of the German Academy of Sciences, Leopoldina. His current research is funded by the European Research Council and the German Research Foundation.

Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich

David Morris, MD

Dave joined Novartis in Basel in 2009 to develop new medicines for patients with serious medical conditions. From 2010-2014, he was the Development Franchise head for Respiratory and Primary Care where he and his team were responsible for the clinical development, regulatory approvals and lifecycle management of multiple Novartis medications including new treatments for serious respiratory diseases (COPD, asthma, pulmonary hypertension), diabetes, and hypertension. In June, 2014, he was appointed the Global Head of Clinical Operations, Analytics and Regions with overall responsibility for global clinical operations, quantitative sciences, digital innovation, development informatics, and global clinical research capabilities development for Novartis Global Drug Development. In September, 2016, he moved over to the Novartis Venture Fund to leverage his basic and clinical scientific background and operational experience to better speed the discovery and development of new medicines by working closely with external entrepreneurs and venture backed start-ups.

Dave received his Bachelor of Sciences with honors in Neurosciences and his MD with honors in research from the University of Rochester in the US. His clinical training in internal medicine was at the Massachusetts General Hospital followed by a fellowship in Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. He was subsequently a faculty member at UCSF and, thereafter, Yale University where he led the interstitial lung disease clinical and research units. His research work in respiratory cell and molecular biology, immunology and translational sciences was at the National Institutes of Health, the UCSF Cardiovascular Research Institute, the Lung Biology Center and Yale University School of Medicine. Prior to joining Novartis, Dave led the respiratory research and then translational medicine groups at Roche in Palo Alto, California. His basic and clinical research work has been published in Nature, PNAS, Journal of Immunology, and AJRCCM among others. He has contributed to several major textbooks of respiratory medicine in the areas of interstitial lung diseases and the genetics of lung diseases.

Novartis Venture Fund

Prof. Mihai G. Netea

Mihai Netea completed his PhD at the Radboud University Nijmegen, The Netherlands, on studies investigating the cytokine network in sepsis. After working as a post-doc at the University of Colorado, he returned to Nijmegen where he finished his clinical training as an infectious diseases specialist, and where he currently heads the division of Experimental Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine, Nijmegen University Nijmegen Medical Center. He is a leading authority on infectious diseases, sepsis, primary immunodeficiencies in innate immunity and has pioneered work on the study of the memory traits of innate immunity. He has won numerous awards for his research including most recently the European Society for Clinical Investigation Award for Translational Research. He has published extensively on his research in journals of the highest rank, including Science and the New England Journal of Medicine.

Nijmegen University

Dr. Roberto Solari

Roberto is currently working at the National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College London, on the molecular mechanisms of Rhinovirus replication. He is an advisor to Imperial Innovations and Brandon Capital, and sits on the Science Advisory Board of Astex Pharmaceuticals, the Crick Institute Translation Advisory Group and the Babraham Institute Science and Impact Advisory Committee. He is also chairman of Auspherix, an antibiotic drug discovery company. He was previously Vice President in GSK’s Respiratory Therapy Area based in Stevenage, UK where his role covered drug discovery from target identification through to proof of concept studies in man. Before joining GSK, Roberto was CEO of the UK Medical Research Council’s technology transfer arm, MRCT, creating spin out companies and developing an internal drug discovery group. He has advised and worked in venture capital firms Apax Partners and Abingworth following a period at Glaxo and GlaxoWellcome, and academic positions at the Institut de Biochimie, Universite de Lausanne and Liverpool University. He has a PhD in Physiology and Cell Biology from Nottingham University.

Imperial College London
 

Senior Advisors

Dr. Philip Bentley


Philip Bentley is currently Principal Consultant at Toxicodynamix International LLC. He spent 35 years working for Ciba-Geigy, later Novartis Pharmaceuticals where he held various management positions with responsibility for Investigative Toxicology; Drug Metabolism; Drug Metabolism and Toxicology; Preclinical Safety Europe; Drug Metabolism and Pharmacokinetics; Toxicology/Pathology USA; Preclinical Safety USA and Global Preclinical Safety. In these positions he had responsibility for various preclincal aspects of drug discovery and development projects and contributed to the registration of more than 45 marketed drug products and the preparation of several hundred IND’s.

He has vast experience in the areas of drug metabolism and disposition, toxicology/pathology, genetic toxicology, pharmacokinetics/toxicokinetics and all aspects of investigative toxicology. He is well grounded in biochemistry, cell biology, molecular biology and pharmacology with the ability to integrate data from the different preclinical disciplines to enable translation to determine the clinical relevance of the findings. He is very familiar with global drug registration requirements and working on global projects.

He has authored more than 80 scientific publications, has lectured in toxicology at the University of Basel for more than 30 years, and is a past President of the European Society of Biochemical Pharmacology and the Swiss Society of Toxicology. He was a member of the PhRMA/IQ Preclinical Leadership (DruSafe) Committee for 16 years, a member of the advisory board of the PSTC Biomarker consortium and a member of the expert working group for revision of the ICH S2 guidance on genotoxicity testing and the PhRMA expert group on genotoxic impurities.

He has a BSc and PhD in Biochemistry from the University of Hull, UK and held Post-Doctoral Fellowships at the University of Basel, Switzerland and Mainz, Germany.

Pharmaceutical Development

Dr. Paul Leeson


Paul Leeson is a medicinal chemistry consultant with >35 years’ experience in major pharmaceutical companies: Smith Kline and French, Merck Sharp and Dohme, Wyeth (USA), AstraZeneca, and GlaxoSmithKline. Since 2014 he has advised large and small pharmaceutical companies, start-ups, and academia. At AstraZeneca (1997-2011), Paul was head of medicinal chemistry at the Charnwood site, where his Department invented >40 candidate drugs, with one marketed. He led AstraZeneca’s Global Chemistry Forum, which managed global activities and implemented improved practices in hit-to-lead, lead optimisation, prediction, synthesis and outsourced chemistry. Paul’s drug discovery contributions have been in the cardiovascular, neuroscience, respiratory and inflammation therapy areas. He has a special interest in compound quality, recognised in 2014 by the receipt of the Nauta Award from the European Federation of Medicinal Chemistry. Paul has a PhD from the University of Cambridge and holds an honorary professorship at the University of Nottingham.

Medicinal Chemistry

Dr. Peter Nussbaumer

Peter has more than 30 years of industry experience in drug discovery and early drug development. Currently, he is Managing Director and Head of Medicinal Chemistry at the Lead Discovery Center GmbH (LDC) in Dortmund, Germany. In this function Peter has been co-responsible for building-up and running this unique translational drug discovery organisation founded by the Max Planck Society, working at the interface of academia and industry. He is member of the PreSeed and Seedfinancing board of the austria wirtschaftsservice and of several international scientific advisory boards and serves as advisor to venture funds and public European funding bodies.

Before joining LDC, Peter was Executive Director at the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research in Vienna, Austria, heading the Chemistry Department. During his time at Sandoz/Novartis, he held various positions in the area of medicinal chemistry and interdisciplinary project management. Peter has a Dr. degree from the Vienna University of Technology, Austria.

Drug Discovery
 
 

Investors