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


Michael Gilman, PhD, Chief Executive Officer

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.

Jennifer C. Petter, PhD, Founder and Chief Scientific Officer

Dr. Petter is the founding CEO and current CSO of Arrakis Therapeutics. Previously, Jennifer was Vice President of Drug Discovery at Avila Therapeutics and, upon the acquisition of Avila by Celgene in 2012, she became Celgene’s Vice President of Chemistry, a position she held until leaving to found Arrakis in 2015. Prior to Avila, Jennifer served as Vice President of Research at Mersana Therapeutics, Director of Small Molecule Drug Discovery at Biogen and as Section Head in Oncology Chemistry at Sandoz/Novartis. Prior to her career in industry, Jennifer was an Assistant Professor of Chemistry at the University of Pittsburgh. Jennifer holds an A.B. in chemistry from Dartmouth College and earned her PhD in organic chemistry at Duke University with Ned Porter. She was a post-doctoral fellow in Ron Breslow’s group at Columbia University.

James Barsoum, PhD, Senior Vice President, Research

Dr. Barsoum is Senior Vice President, Research at Arrakis. Jim is a PhD scientist and biopharmaceutical executive with nine years of academic research experience and thirty years of industry experience in drug discovery and development. Previously, he was the Chief Scientific Officer at RaNA Therapeutics, a biotechnology company using oligonucleotides to target noncoding RNA for the selective upregulation of gene expression to increase the levels of therapeutic proteins. Prior to that, he was Senior Vice President and Head of Research at Synta Pharmaceuticals, a company focused on small molecule drug discovery and development in oncology and inflammatory diseases. For many years, Jim held various leadership roles at Biogen, primarily focused on technology development and biological therapeutics (protein and gene therapies). Jim received a PhD in Biology from MIT and held postdoctoral fellowship positions at Stanford University and the Whitehead Institute at MIT.

Heather Lounsbury, Vice President, Business & Technical Operations

Ms. Lounsbury is Vice President, Business & Technical Operations of Arrakis Therapeutics. Heather is a proven leader with over 20 years in the biotech and pharmaceutical industry. Previously Heather served as the Executive Director of Strategy & Operations at Celgene Corporation following the acquisition of Avila Therapeutics, Inc. by Celgene in 2012. Heather was the Operational Site Head for Celgene’s team in Cambridge and led the integration efforts of first Avila and later Quanticel, into the global Celgene R&D organization. At Avila, Heather was the head of Project & Alliance Management, where she was responsible for a dynamic portfolio of programs including Avila’s clinical programs and strategic alliances with Clovis Oncology, Sanofi, and with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Prior to joining Avila in 2008, Heather was Director, Project Leadership at Praecis Pharmaceuticals until the acquisition of Praecis by GSK. From 1995-2003 Heather held positions of increasing responsibility at UCB Pharma, ranging from bench scientist to research operations to Development Project Leadership. Heather is a graduate of Colby College.

Gnanasambandam Kumaravel (Kumar), PhD, Vice President of Chemistry

Dr. Kumar is Vice President of Chemistry at Arrakis Therapeutics. Kumar has 25 years of experience in drug discovery and has delivered multiple small-molecule candidates for clinical testing in multiple therapeutic areas, including neurology, oncology, and immunology. Previously, Kumar was Vice President of Chemistry at Foghorn Therapeutics. Prior to that, he was Senior Director of Chemistry at Padlock Therapeutics, which was acquired by Bristol-Myers Squibb. For many years, Kumar held various leadership roles at Biogen, including Director of Medicinal Chemistry. Kumar earned his PhD from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, India, and has postdoctoral training from the University of Pittsburgh and Louisiana State University.

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