Board of Directors
Luke Evnin, Ph.D.
Chairman of the Board for BLADE
Luke Evnin, Ph.D., co-founded MPM with Ansbert Gadicke in 1997 and opened the San Francisco office in 1999. The MPM team they have led has been the inspiration and driving force behind building companies such as Biomarin (BMRN), CoStim Pharmaceuticals (acquired by Novartis:NVS) , Epizyme (EPZM), Idenix (acquired by Merck:MRK), Pacira (PCRX), Pharmasset (acquired by Gilead:GILD) and Radius (RDUS). MPM believes that these companies are among the biggest successes in biotech history – companies that ultimately resulted in helping thousands of patients live longer and with vastly improved lives. Luke was the lead investor and has served on the boards of several of MPM’s most successful investments including CoStim Pharmaceuticals, Idun Pharmaceuticals, and Pacira.
Prior to co-founding MPM, Luke honed his skills as a venture capitalist beginning in 1990 at Accel Partners where he focused on emerging healthcare companies. Luke’s passion for drug discovery began in college where he received his A.B. in Molecular Biology from Princeton University. He advanced his technical training and launched his interest in curing disease with his doctoral study in the Department of Biochemistry at the University of California-San Francisco. Luke’s passion for discovering and pushing forward groundbreaking drug discovery companies inspires his work and that of his team. Luke has devoted significant efforts since 2000 to working with the Scleroderma Research Foundation, serving as Chairman since 2002. Luke also devotes energy to the External Advisory Board at the Lewis-Sigler Institute for Quantitative Genomics at Princeton, serves on the External Advisory Boards for QB3 at UCSF, the Masters in Translational Medicine program at UCSF, and the Boston University Scleroderma CORT.
Jim Scopa, J.D., M.B.A.
Jim Scopa, J.D., M.B.A., joined MPM in 2005. Since joining the firm, Jim has led investments in biopharmaceuticals, medical devices and diagnostics. He has served on the boards of Peplin (acquired by LEO Pharmaceuticals), iPierian (acquired by Bristol Myers Squibb: BMY), True North Therapeutics, Semma Therapeutics, Blade Therapeutics and Conatus, among MPM’s therapeutics companies. Within the device and diagnostic sectors, Jim led the spinout from Boston Scientific (BSX) of TriVascular (TRIV), a pioneer in innovative technology to treat aortic aneurysms, sold to Endologix (2016). He has also served on the boards of Astute Medical and Nevro (NVRO).
Prior to joining MPM, Jim spent 18 years in health care investment banking, advising numerous emerging growth companies on public and private financings as well as mergers and acquisitions. Jim spent the bulk of his career at Alex. Brown and Sons, and following its acquisition by Deutsche Bank, served as Global Co-Head of Health Care Investment Banking from 1999 to 2002. From 2002 to 2005, Jim served as Co-Head of Health Care Investment Banking at Thomas Weisel Partners, where he was a member of the Investment Committee for the firm’s dedicated health care venture fund. Jim graduated from Harvard College and went on to complete a joint J.D. and MBA from Harvard Law School and Harvard Business School.
Cameron Wheeler, Ph.D.
Dr. Wheeler joined Deerfield in 2014 as a Principal on the Private Transactions team at Deerfield where he is focused on therapeutics companies. Prior to Deerfield, Dr. Wheeler worked for and on behalf of Eleven Biotherapeutics, Inc. as a director since 2009. Previous to Eleven Biotherapeutics, Inc., Dr. Wheeler was the Manager of the Business Development and Operations team at Constellation Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and a Senior Associate at Third Rock Ventures, LLC from 2008 to 2009. Dr. Wheeler holds a Ph.D. and S.M. in Biological Engineering and an S.B. in Mechanical Engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Mr. Slattery is a Partner on the Private Transactions team at Deerfield, which he joined in 2000. He began his professional career studying immune system complications associated with End Stage Renal Disease. Prior to joining Deerfield, Mr. Slattery was a senior healthcare analyst between 1990 and 2000 at Amerindo Investment Advisors overseeing biotechnology investments. He has held various positions in research including those at National Medical Enterprises, Johnson & Johnson, and HMSS. Mr. Slattery has a degree in Biology from State University of New York at Albany and completed coursework in Immunology at the Graduate School-New Brunswick, Rutgers University.
Rana Al-Hallaq, Ph.D.
Senior Director and Principal
at Pfizer Ventures
Rana Al-Hallaq, PhD is Senior Director and Principal at Pfizer Ventures. Rana leverages her preclinical, clinical, and business development experience to assess, invest in, and manage equity investments for Pfizer Ventures. She oversees the Pfizer Ventures investments in Mitokinin, Inc. (San Francisco, CA) and Blade Therapeutics (South San Francisco, CA). Prior to her current role, Rana was a Transactionalist in Worldwide Business Development at Pfizer where she was responsible for negotiating and transacting licenses, acquisitions, and partnerships across therapeutic areas. Rana joined Pfizer in 2015 as an Early Candidate Clinical Lead where she advised early clinical programs in CNS to ensure alignment with business strategies. Prior to joining Pfizer, she held roles at Allergan (formerly Actavis, formerly Forest Laboratories), first in Clinical Development Psychiatry as scientific and operational lead on Phase 2 and Phase 3 studies investigating novel treatments for Major Depressive Disorder and schizophrenia, and later in Business Development where she assessed and executed on a number of acquisitions and licenses across therapeutic areas. She began her training as a research fellow at the National Institutes of Health. Rana graduated Summa Cum Laude with a BA in Biology from Hamilton College and holds a PhD in Neuroscience from Georgetown University Medical Center.
Peter Van Vlasselaer, Ph.D.
Founder, CEO, and director
of ARMO BioSciences
Peter Van Vlasselaer, Ph.D. has over 20 years of experience in the biotech industry. He was Chief Executive Officer of iPierian, ARRESTO and AVIDIA. In addition to founding ARMO, Dr. Van Vlasselaer was a co-founder of Arresto, TrueNorth and ACIR BioSciences and he was a member of the start-up teams of InterMune (ITMN) and Dendreon (DNDN). He currently serves on the boards of ARMO, TrueNorth, and Blade Therapeutics. Dr. Van Vlasselaer has a degree in Zoology and a PhD in Immunology from the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium. He has authored several peer reviewed scientific publications and book chapters and he is an inventor on multiple patents.
Wendye Robbins, M.D.
President & CEO
Blade Therapeutics, Inc.
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.