Kurt von Emster, CFA
Kurt joined Abingworth in January 2015 bringing over 25 years of experience in life science investment. He began his career as a biotechnology and healthcare analyst in 1990, and then was promoted to Vice President and Portfolio Manager at Franklin Templeton. Kurt then became a General Partner at MPM Capital in 2000. In 2009, he co-founded venBio, a US healthcare investment firm and most recently was a Partner in the San Francisco office. He holds board positions at CymaBay, Jasper Therapeutics, Orbus Therapeutics, SFJ Pharmaceuticals, Tizona Therapeutics, Trishula Therapeutics, Vaxcyte and Vera Therapeutics. He was formerly on boards at Aurinia, CRISPR Therapeutics, Cytos, Kesios, Facet and Somaxon. Kurt holds a Bachelor of Science in Business and Economics and is a Chartered Financial Analyst.
Halley Gilbert, J.D.
Former Senior Vice President, Corporate Development and Chief Administrative Officer, Ironwood Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
Ms. Gilbert has served on our board of directors since April 2020. From 2008 to February 2020, Ms. Gilbert served in various roles at Ironwood Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a biopharmaceutical company, including as Senior Vice President, Corporate Development and Chief Administrative Officer from March 2019 to February 2020, as Senior Vice President, Chief Legal Officer and Secretary from 2014 to March 2019 and as Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary from 2008 to 2014. Ms. Gilbert currently serves on the boards of directors of Arcutis Biotherapeutics, a medical dermatology company, and CytomX Therapeutics, a life sciences company. From November 2019 to February 2020, Ms. Gilbert served on the board of directors of Dermira, Inc., a medical dermatology company. From January 2017 to April 2019, Ms. Gilbert served on the board of directors of Achaogen, Inc., a biopharmaceutical company. Ms. Gilbert holds a B.A. from Tufts University and a J.D. from Northwestern University School of Law. Ms. Gilbert was selected to serve on our board of directors because of the depth of her biotechnology industry management and operations expertise and public company board of directors experience.
Patrick Heron, M.B.A
Managing General Partner, Frazier Healthcare Partners
Patrick is a Managing General Partner of Frazier Healthcare Partner’s Life Sciences team. He joined the firm in 1999 and opened Frazier’s Menlo Park office in 2003. Throughout his 12 years as a General Partner, Patrick has led or co-led investments across nearly 20 companies. Patrick has successfully partnered with entrepreneurs across a range of company types and stages, from early-stage anti-infectives companies to >$100M commercial-stage dermatology companies. Patrick has also been active in company formation around both early- and later-stage assets. He has led and served as director for many successful Frazier Life Sciences investments, including Tobira Therapeutics (acquired by Allergan), Marcadia (acquired by Roche), Calixa (acquired by Cubist), Cerexa (acquired by Forest), PreCision Dermatology (acquired by Valeant), MedPointe (acquired by Meda), and Collegium (NASDAQ: COLL). He currently serves on the boards of Imago BioSciences, Silvergate Pharmaceuticals, and Zavante Therapeutics. Prior to joining Frazier, Patrick helped develop McKinsey & Company’s West Coast biotechnology consulting practice, where he led projects involving mergers and acquisitions, product launches, sales force optimization, corporate partnering, and research prioritization. Patrick received his M.B.A. from Harvard Business School. He also holds a B.A. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate and Morehead Scholar.
Peter Hirth, Ph.D.
Former Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Plexxikon, Inc.
Dr. Hirth co-founded and led Plexxikon, Inc. as its CEO as it built a novel, structure-guided drug discovery platform that advanced several new chemical entities into the clinic, including Zelboraf, which was FDA approved and led to the company’s 2011 acquisition by Daiichi Sankyo for $935 million. Prior to Plexxikon, Dr. Hirth was President of SUGEN, Inc., where he was instrumental in building the company from its inception as well as advancing several kinase inhibitors through clinical trials, including Sutent, which was FDA approved and led to the company’s 1999 acquisition by Pharmacia & Upjohn, Inc. for $728 million. Prior to SUGEN, Dr. Hirth was Vice President of Research at Boehringer Mannheim where he successfully led the company’s erythropoietin program to approval in 1989, which was sold under the name Recormon. Before moving into industry, Dr. Hirth was a research scientist with the Max Planck Institute following his post-doctoral work at University of California, San Diego and obtaining his Ph.D. in molecular genetics from Heidelberg University, Germany.
Rob Hopfner, Ph.D.
Managing Partner, Pivotal bioVenture Partners
Rob Hopfner, RPh, PhD, MBA joined Pivotal in 2017, and brings a long track record of working successfully with entrepreneurs to get novel, important medicines through development and onto the market. Rob is currently a member of the Board of Directors of Inozyme Pharma (NASDAQ: INZY), Oculis SA, Rallybio LLC, and Vaxcyte (NASDAQ: PCVX). Rob brings a broad range of venture investing experience, from early / seed stage company building work through later stage investing. Current and past investments include Aciex Therapeutics (sold to Nicox S.A.), Arcutis Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: ARQT), Civitas Therapeutics (sold to Acorda Therapeutics), Cydan, Dermira (sold to Lilly), Hyperion Therapeutics (sold to Horizon Pharma), Imara Therapeutics (NASDAQ: IMRA), Iterum Therapeutics (NASDAQ: ITRM), Kezar Life Sciences (NASDAQ: KZR), Madrigal Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: MDGL), Merus BV (NASDAQ: MRUS), NextWave Pharmaceuticals (sold to Pfizer), Protez Pharmaceuticals (sold to Novartis), Vtesse (sold to Sucampo Pharmaceuticals) and Xeris Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: XERS). Rob was previously a Managing Director at Bay City Capital and prior to that worked in business development and investment roles at DuPont Pharmaceuticals and at Ag-West Biotech, respectively. Rob holds a PhD in Pharmacology from the University of Saskatchewan and an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. He completed his post-doctoral work at Harvard Medical School. Rob won numerous awards during his research career, including the Governor General of Canada Gold Medal Award in 2000, and he published several articles in top medical journals based on his work.
Heath Lukatch, Ph.D.
Founder and Managing Partner, Red Tree Venture Capital
Dr. Lukatch is Founder and Managing Partner of Red Tree Venture Capital, a life sciences venture capital firm. From 2015 to 2020, Dr. Lukatch worked at TPG where he was Partner, Managing Director and Life Sciences Investment Team Leader in TPG’s Biotech, Growth and RISE platforms. In 2006, Dr. Lukatch co-founded Novo Ventures’ San Francisco office, where he was a Partner through 2015. Prior to joining Novo Ventures, Dr. Lukatch was a Managing Director responsible for biotechnology venture investments at Piper Jaffray Ventures and SightLine Partners. Dr. Lukatch currently serves as Chairman of Engage Therapeutics, Inogen (INGN) and Satsuma Pharmaceuticals (STSA), and is a board member at Ceribell, Flexion (FLXN), Halo Neuroscience, Vaxcyte, ViaCyte and ViewPoint Therapeutics. Previously Dr. Lukatch was Chairman of Cianna Medical (acquired by Merit Medical) and Spinifex (acquired by Novartis), and served on multiple life sciences company boards, including: Amira (acquired by BMS), AnaptysBio (ANAB), Elevation Pharma (acquired by Sunovion), FoldRx (acquired by Pfizer), InSound Medical (acquired by Sonova) and Synosia Therapeutics (acquired by BioTie). Dr. Lukatch was also a board observer at Alios BioPharma (acquired by J&J), Dynavax (DVAX), Fluidigm (FLDM) and SI-Bone (SIBN). Prior to becoming an investor, Dr. Lukatch worked as a strategy consultant with McKinsey & Company and was co‐founder and CEO of AutoMate Scientific, a biotechnology instrumentation company. In addition, he was a bench scientist at Chiron, Roche Bioscience and Cetus, doing molecular biology, electrophysiology and protein chemistry, respectively. Dr. Lukatch received his Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Stanford University where he was a DOD USAF Fellow, and his B.A. with high honors in Biochemistry from the University of California at Berkeley.
William J. Newell
Chief Executive Officer, Sutro Biopharma, Inc.
Mr. Newell has over 24 years of senior management experience in the biotechnology industry. He joined Sutro Biopharma as CEO in January 2009. Previously, he served as the President of Aerovance, Inc., a venture-backed company developing clinical assets for respiratory diseases. Mr. Newell also was Chief Business Officer and Senior Vice President at publicly-traded QLT, Inc. and served in several senior management positions at public-traded Axys Pharmaceuticals, Inc. For the 16 years prior to joining Axys, Mr. Newell practiced corporate law in the San Francisco Bay Area. He is presently a member of the Board at Symic Bio, Inc. Mr. Newell is also a Board member on BIO’s Emerging Companies Section and the Chairman of the Board of the California Life Sciences Association.