Highly experienced in anti-fibrotic drug discovery and development
Wendye Robbins, M.D.
President & CEO
Wendye is a biopharmaceutical entrepreneur with extensive operational and team building experience. She has made a career of building companies from the ground up. She co-founded early biopharmaceutical companies NeurogesX, Inc. (NASD: NGSX, sold to Acorda Therapeutics), Limerick BioPharma, Labrys Biologics (sold to TEVA 2014), and Blade Therapeutics.
Wendye has functioned as an outside advisor to investors and in this capacity served as development advisor to Rinat Neurosciences, supporting the 2006 Pfizer acquisition. She also managed diligence and development planning to enable spinout of a former Rinat / Pfizer biologic asset into Labrys Biologics. She has been a scientific and strategic advisor to many entrepreneurs, nascent biotechs, and pharmaceutical companies. Her expertise includes small and large molecule development from discovery through translational research through the clinic.
Wendye received her BS from the Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley and her MD from the Medical College of Pennsylvania. She completed postgraduate training in internal medicine at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and in anesthesiology and pain at the Johns Hopkins University Medical Institutions. She served as Assistant Professor of Anesthesiology at UCSF from 1995-2000 and has been teaching faculty at the Stanford University School of Medicine since 2002. She is board certified in anesthesiology.
Prabha Ibrahim, Ph.D.
Chief Technology Officer
Prabha Ibrahim, Ph. D has worked in biopharmaceutical/pharma (Amgen, CV Therapeutics, Plexxikon, Afferent Pharmaceuticals, Merck) industry for more than 24 years and has held leadership roles in drug discovery and development in multiple therapeutic areas with a track record of identifying NCEs and advancing them through pre-clinical and clinical development. Her record of success and scientific achievements includes contributions to the nomination of multiple development candidates and filing of 16 INDs with one approved drug (Zelboraf) and two compounds at Ph3 (Pexidartinib) or Ph3 ready (MK-7264/AF-219). She was instrumental in the discovery and development of Zelboraf, first in class BRAF inhibitor approved in 2011 for metastatic melanoma and late phase development of Pexidartinib (first-in-class CSF-1R inhibitor) and AF-219 (first-in-class P2X3 receptor antagonist).
Prabha was a Chief Technology Officer of Afferent Pharmaceuticals, Inc. from November 2015 and continued her responsibility with Merck, after acquisition, till March 2017. Prior to Afferent/Merck she held multiple positions at Plexxikon for 14 years with the last one being the Senior Vice President of Chemistry and Nonclinical Development. She led multidisciplinary teams and held multiple project and program leadership roles. Prior to Plexxikon, Prabha was a Senior Research Scientist and Group Leader at CV Therapeutics, where she was a project co-leader for cell cycle project and a lead chemist for the second generation Renexa program. She started her career as medicinal chemist at Amgen, where she played an integral role in small molecule drug discovery in inflammation. Dr. Ibrahim earned her Ph.D. at the University of Victoria, Canada, and was a Welch Foundation Fellow at Rice University, Houston. She received her M. Sc. Degree from The American College, Madurai, India, and her B.Sc. degree from RDM College, Sivaganga, India.
Chief Financial Officer
Ryan has over 16 years of biopharmaceutical executive financial leadership experience, and was previously Executive Vice President and CFO of Rigel Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Nasdaq - RIGL), which is a clinical-stage drug development company. During his tenure at Rigel, Ryan raised over $700 million through numerous follow-on public offerings, which supported Rigel’s research and development of small molecules inhibitors for auto-immune diseases and oncology, including their lead asset (Tavalisse) that is awaiting FDA approval for Immune Thrombocytopenia Purpura. Ryan serves on the board of Iovance Biotherapeutics (Nasdaq - IOVA), which is focused on cell therapy for oncology indications. He started his career at Ernst & Young LLP, and holds a B.S. in Commerce – Accounting from Santa Clara University.
Maria Fuentes, Ph.D.
Executive Vice President of Research
Dr. Fuentes has extensive drug discovery experience in Fibrotic, Inflammatory and Respiratory diseases. Before joining Blade Dr. Fuentes was Group Director, Fibrosis Discovery Biology at BMS. Her focus was to deliver small molecules and antibody therapeutics for the treatment of fibrotic diseases including IPF and NASH. Prior to BMS, Dr. Fuentes worked at Roche in Nutley, NJ and Palo Alto, CA, where she was leader of the Respiratory Diseases Group within the Inflammation Therapy Area. Her group advanced several projects to clinical trials. She has worked very closely with Early Development Groups to establish translational approaches that includes biomarker discovery and proof of mechanism studies.
Dr. Fuentes received her PhD from the Catholic University of Chile and worked as a Fogarty post-doctoral fellow in the Pharmacology Department, School of Medicine, University of California San Diego.
Brad Buckman, Ph.D.
Senior Vice President, Drug Discovery and Medicinal Chemistry
Brad has over 20 years of pharmaceutical industry experience including successful management of an integrated drug discovery research department with capability to simultaneously prosecute multiple drug discovery efforts. His record of success and scientific achievement in drug discovery and medicinal chemistry includes contribution to more than ten clinical candidates, and four tested in the clinic.
Brad received his B.A. at Cornell University and his Ph.D. at Brandeis University in Chemistry. He joined Berlex Biosciences and worked in multiple cardiovascular, immunology and oncology programs including kinase, GPCR, serine- and metallo-protease targets. His work at InterMune included serving as project leader for multiple HCV discovery programs and re-focusing discovery efforts to fibrosis leading to two IND development candidates in less than three years.
Felix Karim, Ph.D.
Executive Vice President, Business Development
Felix Karim Ph.D. has worked in the biopharmaceutical industry for more than 15 years and has held leadership roles in business development and R&D management in both public and private biopharma companies, including Compugen, Amgen, KAI Pharmaceuticals, Celera and Exelixis.
Felix has led multidisciplinary teams across a variety of therapeutic programs that have attracted major pharmaceutical partnerships. While at KAI, Felix led the discovery team for KAI-4169 (Parsabiv™/etelcalcetide), which was recently approved in Europe for the treatment hyperparathyroidism in chronic kidney disease. He also served as Vice President of Business Development at KAI where he led the partnering efforts, including a license with Ono Pharmaceuticals for development and commercialization of KAI-4169 in Japan and the sale of KAI to Amgen in July 2012 for $315 million.
Felix received his BA in Biochemistry from University of California, Berkeley and his PhD from the Human Genetics Department at University of Utah, and returned to UC Berkeley where he did post-doctoral training.
Vice President, Finance
Asha has 30 years of experience in public accounting and private industry including leadership positions at PriceWaterhouse Coopers, Abbott Laboratories, Genesoft and as consultant to many bay area life science start-ups. She has provided financial and accounting leadership for companies at every stage of growth from young driven entrepreneurial venture backed companies to large multinational firms. She has extensive experience leading companies through complex transactions including private and public financings as well as mergers and acquisitions. At Genesoft, Asha participated in directing the reverse merger with Oscient Pharmaceuticals in 2004. Most recently Asha was part of the team which led the successful public filings of Protagonist and MyoKardia. Asha received her BSBA in Accounting from the University of Texas and is a licensed CPA in California.
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, DRUG DISCOVERY
Ravi is an in-vitro biologist with 11 years of industry experience in small molecule drug discovery. His broad range of expertise includes leading discovery projects involving target-based (GPCRs, kinases, proteases etc), phenotypic and follow-on strategies. He has built and led both internal and CRO-based biology teams that have consistently delivered assay solutions to advance programs. He also led a clinical study to define human microdose pharmacokinetics of a development candidate.
He began his career in industry with Celera Genomics in South San Francisco. There as a biochemist, he supported Celera’s hepatitis C programs by identifying and characterizing viral protease and polymerase inhibitors. He then moved to InterMune to support their hepatitis C and fibrosis drug discovery. His efforts have directly contributed to the identification of 6 IND development candidates.
Ravi holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in chemistry from Loyola College and the Indian Institute of Technology (both in Chennai, India). He obtained his Ph.D. in biochemistry from The Ohio State University under the guidance of Prof. Dehua Pei. Thereafter, he moved to Pennsylvania State University to perform post-doctoral research in the laboratory of Prof. Stephen Benkovic. Over the course of his career, Ravi has co-authored 26 scientific publications including first and senior author publications. He has also delivered 21 poster and oral presentations at various scientific conferences.
Caralee Schaefer, Ph.D.
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, IN VIVO PHARMACOLOGY
Caralee is a translational research scientist with 15+ years of pharmacology and drug development experience, with a particular focus on inflammation, autoimmunity, and fibrosis research. She has extensive in vivo proof-of-concept and target validation experience, including the establishment of robust and reproducible animal models for evaluating novel therapies for multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, and fibrotic diseases. She has a demonstrated track record of success in project management; including the selection, partnership, and management of collaborations with CROs and academic research investigators. She has been a board member of the Inflammation Research Association since 2010, and in 2015 was elected as an officer (Secretary).
Caralee received her BA at Adrian College in Biology, and her PhD at Wayne State University in Immunology. After a post-doctoral fellowship at Parke-Davis/Warner Lambert, she joined Berlex Biosciences (1999-2007) and was responsible for leading a group of pharmacologists that evaluated novel therapeutics for inflammation, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, and inflammatory bowel disease. Caralee then joined Intermune (2008-2015), where she developed in vivo screening platforms for evaluating novel therapeutics for pulmonary, hepatic, dermal, and renal fibrosis. She coordinated a diverse team of scientists from several functional areas (chemistry, PK/ADME, cell biology, formulations, and toxicology) to accomplish in vivo proof-of-concept and target validation studies for multiple fibrosis projects. In 2015, Caralee joined Blade Therapeutics as the Senior Director of Pharmacology.