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.
Gary Patou, M.D.
Chief Medical Officer
Gary Patou joined Blade Therapeutics as Chief Medical Officer in October 2018. Dr. Patou’s experience as CMO includes his time at Chiasma, True North Therapeutics, Pacira Pharmaceuticals, and Peplin Ltd. He took a leading role in gaining FDA approval for EXPAREL™ and PICATO™. Dr. Patou was also previously Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer of Oscient Pharmaceuticals, Inc., following its merger with GeneSoft Pharmaceuticals in 2004. As President of GeneSoft, Dr. Patou was instrumental in obtaining FDA approval of FACTIVE™. Before GeneSoft, Dr. Patou worked at GlaxoSmithKline, as Senior Vice President & Director, Project and Portfolio Management, managing all of the company’s pharmaceutical development projects. Dr. Patou also served as Director and Vice President of Anti-Infective Development. Dr. Patou has held a number of academic appointments at University College & Middlesex School of Medicine in London and holds medical and medical Ph.D. degrees from University College, London.
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 commercial 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 Tavalisse that was approved by the FDA for Immune Thrombocytopenia Purpura in April 2018. 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.
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 of Clinical Research
Joanne Imperial joined Blade Therapeutics as Vice President of Clinical Research in February 2019. Dr. Imperial was previously at Conatus Pharmaceuticals as Senior Medial Director of Clinical Development and was instrumental in initiation and completion of several Phase 2b trials using the caspase inhibitor, emricasan, in the treatment of advanced liver disease secondary to NASH. Prior to Conatus, Dr. Imperial was at FibroGen as Senior Director of Clinical Development and began Director of the Liver Fibrosis Program, working with FibroGen’s monoclonal antibody, pamrevlumab. After several years with a focus on fibrosis, she assisted in the completion of the Phase 2b study of pamrevlumab in the treatment of locally advanced pancreatic cancer. Dr. Imperial’s experience in biotech began with Onyx Pharmaceuticals in 2010 where she was Medical Director in the Medical Affairs Division and was instrumental in expanding the scope of NEXAVAR for the treatment of HCC and involved in Phase 3 and Phase 4 programs. She also served on the legal medical review committee during and after the launch of carfilzomib for the treatment of multiple myeloma. Dr. Imperial held a number of academic appointments at both the University of California San Francisco, Stanford University and Harvard Medical school. Dr. Imperial has also been very involved in the Liver Forum and was Co-Moderator of the NASH Baseline Parameters for Clinical Trials Working Group and co-authored a 2017 publication in Gastroenterology. She received her MD at New York Medical College in Valhalla, NY.
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.