ISAN CHEN, MD
Dr. Chen is board-certified in internal medicine, hematology, and medical oncology. He has more than 20 years of experience in oncology and clinical trials, from first-in-humans through global Phase 3 studies designed to support regulatory registration. He also has experience interacting with regulatory agencies in the US and Europe. Prior to MBrace Therapeutics, Dr. Chen served as the EVP, Chief Medical & Development Officer of Mirati Therapeutics from September 2013 to May 2020, CMO of Aragon Pharmaceuticals which was acquired by Johnson & Johnson for $1Billion in 2013. At Aragon, Dr. Chen was responsible for the clinical development path of Apalutamide based on the novel endpoint of metastasis free survival for castration resistant prostate cancer, Vice President of Tumor Strategy, Pfizer Oncology in La Jolla and was responsible for the clinical development path that led to the successful approval of Sutent and Axitinib in renal cell carcinoma, Crizotinib in EML-ALK NSCLC and Palbociclib in combination with anti-estrogens in ER positive, HER2 negative breast cancer. Dr. Chen completed his hematology/oncology fellowship at University of California, San Diego and was an Assistant Professor at University of Texas, MD Anderson Cancer Center, GU Medical Oncology from 2001 to 2004.
Renata Pasqualini, PhD
Founder & Board Member
Dr. Pasqualini is the Inaugural Chief of the Division of Cancer Biology and Tenured Professor of Radiation Oncology at Rutgers University and Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey. Dr. Pasqualini serves as Founder and Chief Scientific Officer at MBrace Therapeutics. She earned her PhD in Biochemistry from the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research and the Institute of Chemistry at the University of São Paulo, Brazil. Dr. Pasqualini completed her research training at Harvard Medical School, the Harvard-Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston and at The Burnham Institute in La Jolla, CA. During her distinguished career, including 14 years at The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Dr. Pasqualini has won international acclaim for her scientific contributions in cancer biology and drug development. Working with her husband, Dr. Wadih Arap, in their joint laboratory, she developed novel diagnostic and imaging tools for cancer and obesity. Their research has long been supported by funding from the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Defense, and several philanthropic foundations including the American Association for Cancer Research, The Marcus Foundation, The Prostate Cancer Foundation, and the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. Dr. Pasqualini has published over 250 peer-reviewed scientific papers and holds or has applied for more than 300 patents worldwide. Among her many honors are the Susan G. Komen Career Development Award in Basic Cancer Research (1999), The V Foundation Award on Translational Cancer Research (2001), The Living Legend Faculty Achievement Award from M.D. Anderson Cancer Center (2005), the Edith and Peter O’Donnell Award from The Academy of Medicine, Engineering and Science of Texas (2009), and The Lombroso Award in Cancer Research from the Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel (2011). She has also been named as one of the nation’s “Top 400 Inventors.”
Wadih Arap, MD, PhD
Founder & Scientific Advisor
Dr. Arap is a physician-scientist and the Director of the Rutgers CINJ at University Hospital. He treats cancer patients and co-leads the Arap/Pasqualini Laboratory. Dr. Arap also serves as Founder and Head of Scientific Advisory Board at MBrace Therapeutics. Dr. Arap earned his MD degree from the University of São Paulo Medical School in Brazil and completed his clinical training at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York. He earned his PhD in Cancer Biology from Stanford University and the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research in La Jolla. Before his move to UNM in 2013, Dr. Arap spent 14 years at The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, where he first gained international recognition for his clinical expertise in prostate cancer treatment specifically with broader research interests focusing on the development of new cancer drugs and therapies that are precisely targeted to cancer cells. His research, supported by the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Defense, and several philanthropic foundations, has led to numerous patents worldwide and the publication of over 200 scientific articles. Among his many honors are The V Foundation Award on Translational Cancer Research (2001), The Edith and Peter O’Donnell Award from The Academy of Medicine, Engineering and Science of Texas (2009) and election to the American Society for Clinical Investigation.
Fernanda Staquicini, PhD
Fernanda I. Staquicini, Ph.D. is the Director of Research & Development for MBrace Therapeutics. Dr. Staquicini co-developed the SPARTA methodology along with Founders Drs. Arap and Pasqualini.
She has extensive experience with phage display technologies in animal models and human subjects and detection of protein-protein interactions in the context of in vivo and in vitro phage display.
Prior to joining MBrace Therapeutics, Dr. Staquicini held faculty positions at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, University of New Mexico Comprehensive Cancer Center, Rutgers University and Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey. Dr. Staquicini holds a B.Sc. in Biomedical Sciences and a Ph.D. in Immunology both from the Federal University of São Paulo, Brazil. She completed her post-doctoral research training at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center.
Mariana Mihalusova, PHD
Mariana joined Venrock in 2020 and focuses on biotech and pharmaceutical investments. She currently serves on the Board of Interdict Bio and is a Board Observer at MBrace Therapeutics, Mythic Therapeutics, and Ocelot Bio. Prior to joining Venrock, Mariana was Executive Director at Celgene Corporation, where she led global development for over a dozen drugs across hematology, oncology, inflammation/immunology, and neurodegenerative diseases – many of which she brought from development candidate nomination, through IND, to clinical proof-of-concept. Among the drugs in her portfolio were protein degraders (4th- and 6th-gen Aiolos/Ikaros, GSPT1), epigenetic modifiers (BETi, LSD1i), bispecifics (PD1xLAG3, CD47xCD20), and several CAR-Ts.
Mariana received her Ph.D. in Biochemistry from Harvard University, MBA from Harvard Business School, and Sc.B. in Biochemistry from Brown University.
Dianna DeVore, PhD, Jd
Corporate Counsel & SVP Corporate Development
Dianna DeVore, Ph.D., is General Counsel and SVP, Corporate Development for MBrace Therapeutics. Dr. DeVore has extensive experience developing and implementing product protection and commercialization strategies for life science and biopharmaceutical companies.
Prior to joining MBrace Therapeutics, Dr. DeVore was General Counsel and SVP, Corporate Development at Inscripta, Inc., a company developing CRISPR genome engineering solutions and Senior Vice President of Intellectual Property and Legal Affairs at Ariosa Diagnostics, Inc. (acquired by Roche Molecular Systems in 2015).
She has been in-house legal counsel for various companies including Complete Genomics, Cambridge Antibody Technology (a wholly-owned subsidiary of AstraZeneca) and Élan Pharmaceuticals. In 2002, Dr. DeVore co-founded the Australian Stem Cell Centre (ASCC) in Melbourne, Australia, the first Australian Biotechnology Centre of Excellence, where she served as Chief Operating Officer and VP, Cardiac Development.
Dr. DeVore holds a B.S. in Art History from Johns Hopkins, a Ph.D. in Genetics from Yale University, and a J.D. from Stanford Law School.
Bob More brings over 20 years of life sciences investing experience.
He currently manages investments in and serves on the board of Affinivax, eGenesis, Qihan Biopharmaceuticals, Tyra Biosciences, and Vir Biotechnology (NASDAQ:VIR). He was a founding board member of the Kauffman Fellows Program and is on the board of BIO (Biotechnology Innovation Organization).
Before joining Alta, Bob was a Senior Advisor for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Prior to that, Bob spent 5 years as a General Partner at Frazier Healthcare Ventures and 13 years at Domain Associates. Bob managed successful investments in and served on the boards of Cartiva (acquired by Wright Medical), ESP Pharma (acquired by Protein Design Labs), Esprit Pharma (acquired by Allergan), Glaukos Corporation (NYSE: GKOS), IntraLase (acquired by Advanced Medical Optics), Neothetics (merged with Evofem), NovaCardia (acquired by Merck), Oceana Therapeutics (acquired by Salix Pharmaceuticals) and Proxima Therapeutics (acquired by Cytyc Corporation). Bob was also an investor in Clovis Oncology (NASDAQ: CLVS), Encoded Genomics and Zeltiq Aesthetics (acquired by Allergan).
He received his B.A. from Middlebury College and an M.B.A. from the Darden School of Business Administration at the University of Virginia.
Yongjian Wu, PhD
Chief Development Officer & Head of CMC
Yongjian Wu, Ph.D., joined MBrace in April, 2022 as the Chief Development Officer and Head of CMC. Dr. Wu has over 21 years of experience in CMC development of biologics.
Before joining MBrace, he was Vice President of CMC at Ansun Biopharma, leading the CMC development of immune-oncology programs comprising oncolytic virus and NK cell therapy. Prior to Ansun, he was COO of MabPlex USA, a biologics CDMO specialized in ADC development and manufacturing. Before that, Dr. Wu held increasing responsibilities at Tanvex Biopharma as director, VP of R&D and CSO, leading biosimilar programs from preclinical to BLA filing.
Dr. Wu started his career in cell line development at Bayer and protein engineering at BioMarin. He spent six years in Analytical Development/QC at Genentech, first in bioassay development and then in protein analytical chemistry, contributing to a dozen INDs for MAbs and ADCs.
Dr. Wu obtained his B.Sc. in biochemistry, Ph.D. in Immunology, both from University of Toronto, and did postdoctoral research in the Department of Neurobiology at Stanford University.
Racquel Bracken joined Venrock in 2016 and focuses on pharmaceutical and biotech investments, as well as company creation. She currently serves on the Board of Cyteir Therapeutics, Prothelia and Federation Bio, a company she co-founded and initially served as CEO. She is also a Board Observer at Inscripta. Prior to Venrock, Racquel was an early employee of Clovis Oncology, a biopharmaceutical company focused on acquiring, developing and commercializing targeted small molecule therapies in combination with companion diagnostics. She held a variety of business development and commercial roles and was responsible for the acquisition of four pipeline products, and led the commercial launch efforts for the PARP inhibitor program in ovarian cancer.
Earlier in her career, Racquel was on the investment team at Domain Associates where she focused on early-stage healthcare investing. During her tenure there, Racquel also led business development at Calixa Therapeutics (acquired by Cubist Pharmaceutical). Prior to joining Domain Associates, she was a consultant with Easton Associates (now Navigant Consulting), a management consultancy dedicated to the medical industry.
Racquel is an avid backcountry skier, mountaineer, and mountain biker as well as a supporter of high school debate programs. She holds a bachelor’s degree in molecular and cellular biology from Harvard University and is also a member of the Kauffman Fellows.
Executive Assistant & Office Manager
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