About Us

Management 

Giovanni Ferrara, M.B.A.

Founder, Interim President & CEO

Mr. Ferrara is a Venture Partner with Novartis Venture Fund.  He joined NVF from portfolio company Sorbent Therapeutics where he was consulting Chief Business Officer.  Previously, he was a consultant to leading west coast venture capital firms and portfolio companies. Prior to consulting, Giovanni was General Partner and Managing Director at Burrill & Company, after beginning his venture capital and business development career at GeneChem Management.  In addition to his investing responsibilities at GeneChem, he held operating positions in portfolio companies, including CEO of Targanta Therapeutics.  He received his MBA and MSc from McGill University. Giovanni serves on the boards of Thesan Pharmaceuticals, E-scape Biosciences and NeuroVia.

Masoud Mokhtarani, M.D.

Chief Medical Officer

Dr. Mokhtarani has more than 15 years of clinical development experience working on Phase 1 through NDA and post-market studies as well as medical affairs and product launch in the orphan disease space. He most recently was Vice President of Clinical Development at Hyperion Therapeutics (acquired by Horizon Pharma), having responsibility for the clinical development of glycerol phenylbutrate (RAVICTI®) for the treatment of urea cycle disorders, which was approved in 2013 by the FDA and 2015 by the EMA. He established Hyperion’s Medical Affairs function and managed the pharmacovigilance group to support the successful RAVICTI launch in the US. He was previously Vice President of Clinical Affairs at Limerick Neuroscience, Director of Clinical Development at Rinat Neuroscience (acquired by Pfizer) and the Immune Tolerance Network at UCSF. Dr. Mokhtarani is a graduate of Tehran University of Medical Sciences and was a post-doctoral clinical research fellow at the Outcome Research Group at UCSF. He is co-inventor of multiple issued and/or pending patents.

John Henderson, M.D.

Chief Development Officer

Dr. Henderson has four decades of experience in drug development and Clinical Research and Medical Affairs. Since 2000 he has been consulting across the biopharmaceutical industry, including several board appointments, which have broadened his experience to include orphan drugs. Prior to 2000 he was with Pfizer Inc. for 27 years where he gained a broad-based experience in global clinical research and regulatory affairs, as well as having responsibility across all drug development disciplines. He ultimately became responsible for global Medical Affairs in 1993. Dr. Henderson is currently a member of the Board of Directors of Cytokinetics and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Myriad Genetics. Dr. Henderson holds a medical degree from the University of Edinburgh and is a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh and a Fellow of the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Medicine in the UK.

Catherine Norris

Director Clinical Operations

Ms. Norris has over 10 years of clinical operations experience working on Phase I through post-market studies. Her focus has been on facilitating new treatments for orphan diseases. Most recently, Ms. Norris was at Hyperion Therapeutics (acquired by Horizon Pharma), where she managed the Phase 1 and 2 clinical trials, and in her most recent role there as Associate Director of Medical Affairs she was instrumental in setting up the company’s medical affairs department and established a post-marketing registry. Her breadth of experience also includes time as a clinical research coordinator in both the pharmaceutical and medical device industries. Ms. Norris holds a Bachelor’s Degree from California State University, Fullerton.

Board of Directors

Daniel Bradbury

Dr. Bradbury is the former President, Chief Executive Officer and Director of Amylin Pharmaceuticals, a biopharmaceutical company based in San Diego, CA, focused on metabolic diseases. During his 18-year tenure at Amylin, the company launched three first-in-class medicines, including the first once-a-week therapy to treat diabetes and was listed on the Nasdaq 100. He served as Amylin’s Chief Executive Officer from March 2007 until its acquisition by Bristol-Myers Squibb Company for $7 billion in August 2012. Before joining Amylin, Dan worked in marketing and sales roles for ten years at SmithKline Beecham Pharmaceuticals. He serves on the board of directors of Biocon Limited (NSE: BIOCON), Corcept Therapeutics (NASDAQ: CORT), Geron Corporation (NASDAQ: GERN), Intercept Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ: ICPT), Castle Biosciences, Inc. (Private), DiaVacs, Inc. (Private), Equillium, Inc. (Private), Liquid Grids, Inc. (Private), Microdermis, Inc. (Private), NeuroVia, Inc. (Private), ProSciento, Inc., formerly known as Profil Institute of Clinical Research, Inc. (Private), Renova Therapeutics (Private), Sensulin, Inc. (Private) and Thesan Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Private). He also serves on the board of the Riecken Community Libraries, the board of trustees of the Keck Graduate Institute, the BioMed Ventures Advisory Committee, the University of California San Diego’s Rady School of Management's Advisory Council, the board of ADCY5.org, the Pharming Group N.V. Commercial Advisory Board, the ProLynx, LLC Advisory Board, the Arctic Aurora Life Science Advisory Board and is an advisor to Patricia Industries (a part of Investor AB).

Dan received a Bachelor of Pharmacy from Nottingham University and a Diploma in Management Studies from Harrow and Ealing Colleges of Higher Education in the United Kingdom.

Giovanni Ferrara, M.B.A

Mr. Ferrara is a Venture Partner with Novartis Venture Fund.  He joined NVF from portfolio company Sorbent Therapeutics where he was consulting Chief Business Officer.  Previously, he was a consultant to leading west coast venture capital firms and portfolio companies. Prior to consulting, Giovanni was General Partner and Managing Director at Burrill & Company, after beginning his venture capital and business development career at GeneChem Management.  In addition to his investing responsibilities at GeneChem, he held operating positions in portfolio companies, including CEO of Targanta Therapeutics.  He received his MBA and MSc from McGill University. Giovanni serves on the boards of Thesan Pharmaceuticals, E-scape Biosciences and NeuroVia.

Jason P. Hafler, Ph.D.

Jason joined Sanofi-Genzyme BioVentures in 2014 with a background in early stage biotech investing and transactions. Prior to SGBV, Jason was the Director of Corporate Development at RaNA Therapeutics, LLC a company co-founded by his previous firm Atlas Venture. While at Atlas, Jason was an Associate in the Life Sciences group and a Board Observer for several portfolio companies. Previously, he was a Flagship Ventures Entrepreneurial Fellow, and consulted for the technology transfer company at the University of Cambridge while performing his doctoral research. Before his time at Cambridge, Jason was an analyst at JSB Partners LP, an investment banking firm, focusing on advisory and business development activities in the life sciences space.

Jason serves on the Board of Directors for NeuroVia Inc., is a Board Observer for Navitor Pharmaceuticals and is on the Board of Directors for two additional SGBV-backed seed stage companies. In addition, he is on the Board of Trustees at the Buckingham Browne and Nichols school and on the Board of Directors of The Magdalene College Foundation.

Jason graduated with honors from Bowdoin College, and holds a Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge.

Edward M. Kaye, M.D.

Dr. Kaye was previously the Chief Executive Officer of Sarepta, as well as the Chief Medical Officer, from 2011 to 2017, and continues to serve as a board member and Special Regulatory and Scientific Advisor to the company. Prior to joining Sarepta, Dr. Kaye was employed by Genzyme Corporation for ten years, holding various senior management positions, the most recent of which was Group Vice President of Clinical Development, in which he supervised clinical research in lysosomal storage disease programs and genetic neurological disorders. Previously, Dr. Kaye served as Chief of Biochemical Genetics at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and Associate Professor of Neurology and Pediatrics at the University Of Pennsylvania School Of Medicine. Dr. Kaye serves as a Neurological Consultant at the Children’s Hospital of Boston and is on the editorial boards of a number of medical journals. He is also a member of several scientific advisory boards, including United Leukodystrophy Foundation, Spinal Muscular Atrophy Foundation, CureCMD, CureDuchenne and Prize4Life. Dr. Kaye received his medical education and pediatric training at Loyola University Stritch School of Medicine and University Hospital, child neurology training at Boston City Hospital, Boston University, and completed his training as a neurochemical research fellow at Bedford VA Hospital, Boston University.

Henry Skinner, Ph.D., Founder

Dr. Skinner is a Managing Director of Novartis Venture Fund in Cambridge, MA, USA. Prior to joining NVF, he worked as Executive Director & Global Head Strategic Alliances at the Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research where he led a team responsible for identification, negotiation and management of collaborations and licenses for Novartis’ therapeutic technology areas. Prior to joining Novartis he was CEO of SelectX Pharmaceuticals and President and CEO of NeoGenesis Pharmaceuticals, which was acquired by Schering-Plough. He was Director of Technology Acquisitions for Pharmacia & Upjohn and managed business development and licensing for research platforms and therapeutic areas worldwide. Prior to Pharmacia, he was Director of Business Development at Lexicon Genetics. He was a postdoctoral fellow at Baylor College of Medicine and earned his PhD in Microbiology and MS in Biochemistry from the University of Illinois. Henry serves on the boards of AMP Therapeutics, Galera, Macrolide Pharmaceuticals, Proteostasis and Quartet Medicine.

Scientific Advisory Board

Thomas Scanlan, Ph.D.

Founder, Chair of Scientific Advisory Board

Dr. Scanlan is a professor of physiology and pharmacology, and director of the Program in Chemical Biology at the OHSU School of Medicine in Portland, Oregon. Previously, he served as professor of chemistry, pharmaceutical chemistry and cellular and molecular pharmacology at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF, 1991-2006). Scanlan’s research focuses on thyroid hormone action. He is a nationally recognized leader in the design, synthesis and biological characterization of thyroid hormone analogs. Scanlan’s laboratory has discovered and characterized thyromimetic agonists such as sobetirome (NV1205), thyroid hormone antagonists, and a novel class of biogenic amine thyroid hormone metabolites. Scanlan has held a number of roles in the biopharmaceutical industry, including founder of Serra Pharmaceuticals (acquired by Karo Bio AB in 1996) and consultant to Karo Bio, Kosan Biosciences, Hoffman LaRoche, Ikaria, and Lycera. For his contributions to the thyroid field, he was recognized as the Waldstein Lecturer and invited to present a number of plenary and keynote national and international lectures, and for his contributions to medicinal chemistry and chemical biology with the Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award from the American Chemical Society. Scanlan's career contributions to biomedical research and mentoring have been recognized by the John A. Resko Faculty Research Achievement and Mentoring Award. He has authored more than 165 research papers and is an inventor on 16 patents.

Johannes Berger, Ph.D.

Dr. Berger is Professor for Pathobiology of the Nervous System at the Center for Brain Research, Medical University of Vienna. He was formerly associate Professor for Molecular Biology at the Institute of Neurology, University of Vienna. He performed his PhD at the Sandoz Research Institute (now Novartis), Department of Antiretroviral Therapy for training in molecular biology and biochemistry.  His current research activities concentrate on the role of peroxiosmes in the nervous system for health and disease. A main focus concerns the molecular mechanisms underlying X-linked Adrenoleukodystrophy and the development of novel therapeutic strategies to compensate peroxisomal dysfunction in the nervous system. He served as a coordinator in the EU projects “X-linked Adrenoleukodystrophy:  pathogenesis, animal models and therapy” with 6 contractors (1.8M€) and for the EU project “Integrated project to decipher the biological function of peroixosmes in health and disease” with 18 participating research units form 9 countries (8M€). Since 2006 he is coordinator of the PhD program neuroscience at the Medical University Vienna. Dr. Berger has authored more than 100 research papers.

Investors