Arrakis is on a path to bring powerful new RNA-targeted small molecule (rSM) therapies to millions of patients.

Board of Directors

Michael Gilman, PhD, CEO and Chairman

Dr. Gilman is CEO of Arrakis and Chairman of the Board of Directors. In addition, Mike currently serves on the Board of Directors of Novartis Venture Fund, Obsidian Therapeutics, and Scholar Rock and on the Scientific Advisory Board of FutuRx. Previously, Mike was Chief Executive Officer of Obsidian Therapeutics, a venture-funded company focused on applying synthetic biology to gene and cell therapies. Prior to Obsidian, Mike was Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Padlock Therapeutics, a venture-funded company focused on autoimmune disease, acquired by Bristol-Myers Squibb in 2016. From 2012-2013, Mike served as Senior Vice President, Early-Stage Pipeline, at Biogen Idec, with responsibility for managing the company’s development programs through clinical proof-of-concept. He joined Biogen Idec in March 2012 following its acquisition of Stromedix, a venture-funded company focused on fibrosis and organ failure, where he was Founder and Chief Executive Officer. Prior to founding Stromedix in 2006, Mike served as Executive Vice President, Research at Biogen Idec, with responsibility for the company’s discovery research activities in Cambridge and San Diego. From 1994 to 1999, Mike was at ARIAD Pharmaceuticals, where he was Executive Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer. From 1986 to 1994, Mike was on the scientific staff of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York, where his research focused on mechanisms of signal transduction and gene regulation. Mike was a postdoctoral fellow with Dr. Robert Weinberg at the Whitehead Institute. He holds a PhD in Biochemistry from University of California, Berkeley, and a SB in Life Sciences from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Colleen Cuffaro, PhD, Principal, Canaan Partners

Dr. Cuffaro is a Principal on Canaan Partner’s healthcare investment team. She currently serves as the Market Research and Strategic Planning Associate at Antiva Biosciences and observes on the boards of Spyryx Biosciences, NextCure, and Arvinas. Previously she was a board observer at Novira Therapeutics which was acquired by Johnson & Johnson. She is a Visiting Research Scientist in the Department of Pharmacology at the Yale School of Medicine and helped to launch the Canaan-Yale Fellowship program. She is also an adviser to PITCH (Program in Innovative Therapeutics for Connecticut’s Health). Prior to joining Canaan in 2014, Colleen was a chemist at Pharmaceutical Manufacturing and Research Services (PMRS, Inc), where she worked with small and large pharma on drug product development, ranging from preclinical feasibility studies to commercial supply. She also served as a bioscience analyst for Entrepreneurship Lab NYC, an accelerator program for healthcare startups.Colleen holds a PhD in Cellular and Molecular Physiology from Yale University and a BA in Chemistry from the University of Pennsylvania.

Richard Gaster, MD, PhD, Principal, venBio

Dr. Gaster joined venBio with experience as a physician, entrepreneur, and life science investor. He currently serves as a board observer for Akero Therapeutics, Harmony Biosciences, and Impel NeuroPharma. Prior to joining venBio, Richard served as the head of translational medicine at Pliant Therapeutics. As a key member of the initial management team, Richard participated in the formation and launch of Pliant Therapeutics from Third Rock Ventures where he previously served as a Senior Associate. During his tenure at Third Rock Ventures, Richard was responsible for company creation to transform new areas of science into innovative drug discovery companies. He began his career as a resident physician in Harvard’s Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Program. Richard has published numerous articles in top-tier peer-reviewed journals including Nature Medicine and Nature Nanotechnology, holds more than a dozen patents, and was named one of Forbes “30 Under 30” in Science and Healthcare. Richard holds a BSE in Bioengineering from the University of Pennsylvania where he graduated summa cum laude. He received his MD and PhD in Bioengineering from Stanford University in the Medical Scientist Training Program.

Jakob Loven, PhD, Partner, Nextech Invest

Dr. Loven is Partner at Nextech Invest. A scientific entrepreneur and biotech venture capitalist, Jakob has extensive experience in creating, launching, and building early stage therapeutic companies in the US and most recently led the $57M launch of Relay Therapeutics from Third Rock Ventures, joining the company full time to lead corporate strategy, business development, and operations. Prior to Relay, Jakob was a Scientific Co-Founder of Syros Pharmaceuticals and was involved from its inception in April 2013 to advancing the pipeline to its first clinical candidate and growing the company to 30+ employees, culminating in its initial public offering in July 2016. Jakob holds a BA in Biomedical Sciences from the Anglia Ruskin University of Cambridge, earned his PhD in Medical Sciences from Karolinska Institutet, and conducted his postdoctoral fellowship at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research/MIT. Jakob currently serves as Director or Observer on the Boards of Arvinas, A2 Biotherapeutics, Turning Point Therapeutics, and has previously served as Board Observer for Autolus.

Raj Parekh, PhD, General Partner, Advent Life Sciences

Dr. Parekh joined Advent in 2005 bringing over 20 years of experience in biomedical research and as an entrepreneur and investor. After gaining an MA and DPhil from Oxford University, he pursued a successful academic career in molecular medicine before co-founding Oxford GlycoSciences (IPO on LSE and NASDAQ). Following its sale to UCB-Celltech, he became Chairman of Galapagos nv, a member of the Supervisory Board of the Novartis Venture Fund and a founding Director of Celldex Therapeutics. Since joining Advent, he has been involved with those portfolio Companies primarily engaged in the discovery of new medicines, including Avila, EUSA and Thiakis. Raj currently serves on the Board of several portfolio companies including Aura Biosciences and Levicept.

Nikola Trbovic, PhD, Principal, Pfizer Ventures

Dr. Trbovic is a Principal at Pfizer Ventures. He is responsible for making and managing equity investments aligned with the future directions of Pfizer and currently has responsibility for Pfizer’s investments in Arrakis, Artios, Complexa, Cydan, Jnana, Lodo, Nimbus and Palleon. Prior to his current role, Nikola held responsibilities for R&D technology investments, R&D strategy and early clinical portfolio management in Worldwide Research & Development at Pfizer. Nikola joined Pfizer from McKinsey Co., where he served as an Associate Principal and senior member of the Pharmaceuticals Practice, advising top pharmaceutical, biotech, and healthcare companies on a range of strategy, corporate finance and commercial topics across geographies and therapeutic areas. Nikola received a BS in Biochemistry from the University of Frankfurt, Germany, and holds a PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics from Columbia University.

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