Leadership

Executive Team

Ramani Varanasi

Co-Founder, President & CEO

M. Dominic Ryan

Chief Scientific Officer

Gregg Beloff

Chief Financial Officer

Board of Directors

Steve T. Issacs

Chairman, Board of Directors

Christopher Ray

Director, Board of Directors

Ramani Varanasi

Co-Founder, President & CEO

Scientific Advisory Board

John Mekalanos

Co-Founder, Chair of SAB

Stephen Lory

Co-Founder, Member of SAB

Thomas G. Bernhardt

Co-Founder, Member of SAB

Advisors

News

© 2018 X-Biotix Therapeutics, Inc. • All rights reserved.

Ms. Varanasi is a co-founder, President and CEO of X-Biotix. She is an accomplished business executive, with 24 years of biopharmaceutical industry experience and a distinguished track record in structuring, negotiating and executing successful strategic alliances, licensing agreements and M&A transactions as well as providing business development, management and strategic leadership to organizations. She has held Research and senior level positions in Business & Corporate Development including at Merck, Millennium (now Takeda), Momenta, and Checkmate Pharmaceuticals, to name a few. Over the course of her career, Ramani has been involved in the formation of strategic partnerships with companies and research organizations globally, including in emerging markets such as Asia - and continues to have a keen interest in bridging the research and business gap and fostering collaboration between enterprises in this global marketplace. Her broad experience in the areas of early stage company formation and financing, including dilutive and non-diluting funding initiatives, has enabled her to execute deals with total value in excess of several billion dollars. Ramani holds a B.Sc. and a M.Sc. from McGill University in Microbiology & Immunology and Biochemistry, respectfully, and an MBA in General Strategy from Northeastern University. She volunteers as a mentor to start-up companies in the biopharma area and also has an avid interest in the area of international healthcare, a sector in which she has been involved as a board member for two non-profit organizations.

Dr. Ryan serves as the Chief Scientific Officer at X-Biotix. He holds a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from McGill University and conducted postdoctoral work at Cornell University. Dominic brings 30 years of experience in drug discovery from medicinal chemistry and structural biology to computational and biophysical methods to high throughput screening. He held positions of increasing seniority at Millennium, GSK and most recently at Cubist, where he built and led Discovery Technologies, was co-head of Medicinal Chemistry, was a member of Cubist’s research management team, and where he also won the CSO award for innovation. In addition, while at Cubist, he led teams working on inflammation and neuroscience in addition to antibacterial research and helped advance their clinical candidates, including Zerbaxa. Throughout his career, Dominic has contributed to technology and drug research diligence within companies and for investment groups. More recently he has advised a number of companies, primarily in the antibacterial space, and also serves as member of the Scientific Advisory Board of Carb-X (Combating Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria Biopharmaceutical Accelerator), an organization promoting antibiotic research with competitive funding to advance antibiotic development programs.

Mr. Beloff serves as Chief Financial Officer at X-Biotix, and applies more than 20 years of experience in the life science and technology industries, ranging from venture-backed start-ups to publicly traded companies. He previously served as CFO of two public and three privately held companies, during which time he managed finance, accounting, corporate communications, human resources, information technology, facilities, legal, intellectual property, business development and manufacturing functions. Gregg’s core expertise includes operational management, strategic planning and corporate and business development, fundraising and mergers and acquisitions. Prior to his CFO roles, Gregg was a life science investment banker with Adams, Harkness & Hill, where he underwrote financings for and provided buy- and sell-side M&A counsel to biotechnology, medical device, and healthcare information technology companies. He began his career as a corporate attorney with Gaffin & Krattenmaker, a Boston-based law firm. Gregg holds a BA from Middlebury College, JD from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law and MBA from Carnegie Mellon University.

Mr. Isaacs has served as the Chairman of X-Biotix’s Board of Directors since April 2018. He has more than 40 years of corporate leadership and scientific management experience within the biopharmaceutical sector, and has served as the Chairman, President & CEO of Aduro Biotech, Inc. since 2008. Prior to Aduro, Steve founded Cerus Corporation in 1991, a biomedical products company commercializing the Intercept Blood Systems. The Intercept systems are now globally available and used to prevent a variety of diseases from blood transfusion. He served as President and Chief Executive Officer of Cerus from 1991 to 2004. Prior to Cerus, Steve founded and served as Chief Executive Officer and President of HRI Associates and HRI Research, both biotechnology companies focusing on research and development in various areas. He held a non-teaching faculty position in the Department of Chemistry at the University of California Berkeley from 1978 to 1986. Mr. Isaacs has published over 20 peer-reviewed scientific articles and is an inventor on over 40 issued patents.

In addition to leading multiple biotechnology companies, Steve has spent considerable time on the African continent working on various non-profit activities. With his family, he founded “A Better Education” (ABE) Club, which provides educational opportunities, microfinance training and healthcare for remote villagers in the south of Kenya.  More recently, he founded the Alliance for Global Health and Science with the Department of Public Health at UC Berkeley, which undertakes capacity building at universities and medical schools in Uganda and Zimbabwe.  He also established the Immunotherapeutics and Vaccine Research Initiative at UC Berkeley, which is an Aduro-sponsored campus-wide organization to promote immunological research for cancer and infectious disease, and has been widely recognized in the industry as an innovator and leader, forging deep ties between biotech and academia with the goal of discovering breakthrough technologies to make an impact on global health. Steve holds an undergraduate degree in biochemistry from the University of California at Berkeley, where he also pursued Ph.D. studies in organic chemistry.

Mr. Ray serves as a Director on X-Biotix’s Board of Directors. He has over 20 years of experience in private equity and in working closely with many start-ups and growth companies, including in the roles of investor, advisor, and Board member. Christopher is currently an Advisory Partner in the private equity firm NGP Energy Capital Management, where he has held various positions over the past 15 years in roles including firm management, investment evaluation, portfolio management, and transaction structuring and negotiation for NGP’s portfolio companies. Prior to joining NGP, he was a Partner in the law firm of Thompson & Knight, LLP. He practiced in the Corporate and Securities group in Dallas for approximately eight years, working on hundreds of investment and corporate financing transactions, including the formation and capitalization of investment funds, portfolio company investments and exits, mergers and acquisitions, securities law compliance and public and private debt and equity offerings. Christopher received a B.S. in Accounting with distinction in 1992 and a J.D. in 1995, both from The University of Virginia.

Ms. Varanasi is a co-founder, President and CEO of X-Biotix. She is an accomplished business executive, with 24 years of biopharmaceutical industry experience and a distinguished track record in structuring, negotiating and executing successful strategic alliances, licensing agreements and M&A transactions as well as providing business development, management and strategic leadership to organizations. She has held Research and senior level positions in Business & Corporate Development including at Merck, Millennium (now Takeda), Momenta, and Checkmate Pharmaceuticals, to name a few. Over the course of her career, Ramani has been involved in the formation of strategic partnerships with companies and research organizations globally, including in emerging markets such as Asia - and continues to have a keen interest in bridging the research and business gap and fostering collaboration between enterprises in this global marketplace. Her broad experience in the areas of early stage company formation and financing, including dilutive and non-diluting funding initiatives, has enabled her to execute deals with total value in excess of several billion dollars. Ramani holds a B.Sc. and a M.Sc. from McGill University in Microbiology & Immunology and Biochemistry, respectfully, and an MBA in General Strategy from Northeastern University. She volunteers as a mentor to start-up companies in the biopharma area and also has an avid interest in the area of international healthcare, a sector in which she has been involved as a board member for two non-profit organizations.

Dr. Mekalanos is a professor at Harvard Medical School and has served as chair of the Department of Microbiology and Immunobiology (formerly Microbiology and Molecular Genetics) for twenty years (1996-2016).  He is a co-founder of X-Biotix and Chair of its Scientific Advisory Board.  John received his Ph.D. at the University of California in 1978 and after postdoctoral training at Harvard joined its faculty in 1981. His research investigates multiple facets of bacterial pathogenesis, with an emphasis on using functional genomics to explore pathogen-host interactions, virulence regulation, and antibiotic target identification. One of the important practical benefits of this research has been the development of live attenuated vaccines effective against cholera and the discovery of the first anti-virulence drug (virstatin).  He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1998 and has received many honors, including the Eli Lilly Award (1991), AAAS Newcomb Cleveland Prize (1993), the City of Medicine Award (1997), Drexel Medicine Prize in Infectious Disease (2012), and the Sanofi-Institut Pasteur Award for Biomedical Research (2012).  Dr. Mekalanos has been a member of the FDA Advisory Committee on Vaccines and Related Biologics and has also advised numerous governmental and private agencies including the National Institutes of Health, the World Health Organization, U.S. Department of Defense, U.S.-Japan Cooperative Medical Science Program, and the Ragon Institute.  He has been an active consultant in the pharmaceutical industry, and served as head of microbiology at Vicuron just prior to its purchase by Pfizer.  John has co-founded two biotechnology firms that are now publicly traded, including Avant Immunotherapeutics and PharmAthene, and was sole scientific founder of Matrivax, a vaccine research and development company that recently completed a successful Phase I trial on novel technology he invented at Harvard.

Dr. Lory is a scientific co-founder and a member of X-Biotix’s Scientific Advisory Board, and has been a Professor of Microbiology at Harvard Medical School since 2000. He received his Ph.D. in Microbiology (UCLA) in 1980, and spent four years at the postdoctoral fellow at Harvard Medical School, before joining the faculty at the University of Washington in Seattle where he remained for 15 years. Steve was the recipient of a MERIT Award from the NIH, a Fulbright Fellowship and was a Research Scholar of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Throughout his academic career, he has worked on various topics related to infections caused by the opportunistic human pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa and directed research projects in virulence, antibiotic resistance, host response and genome evolution of this organism. Additional projects in Dr. Lory’s laboratory include work on regulatory networks active during infection both at the transcriptional and post-transcriptional levels. In addition to continuing his work on non-coding small RNAs, the lab is also involved in the development of new anti-Pseudomonas drugs targeting outer membrane biogenesis of Gram-negative bacteria and their efflux pumps. Steve has served on the advisory committees of several research funding agencies including the NIH and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and was a member of the Institut Pasteur’s Scientific Council. He has been also a consultant to several biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies. Over the course of the past 30 years, Dr. Lory has trained numerous students and post-doctoral fellows who are currently independent investigators at universities or are team leaders in biotechnology companies.

 

Dr. Bernhardt is a scientific co-founder of X-Biotix and a member of the company’s Scientific Advisory Board. Tom is an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute based in the Department of Microbiology and Immunobiology at Harvard Medical School, where he studies the mechanisms of cell wall assembly in both Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacteria. Work in the Bernhardt lab has provided fundamental insights into the process of cell wall biogenesis and how best to target the process for antibiotic development. He is a molecular geneticist by training with additional expertise in bacterial cell biology and cell wall biochemistry. Tom received his Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Biophysics from Texas A&M University and performed postdoctoral studies at Case Western Reserve University. He has received multiple awards for his research, including the Nat Sternberg Thesis Prize, a Career Award in the Biomedical Sciences from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute/Simons Foundation Faculty Scholar Award. In addition to his academic research, Dr. Bernhardt has had a long-standing interest in antibiotic development and has consulted for or collaborated with several industry groups in this area before joining the X-Biotix team.

Dr. Dougherty received his Ph.D. in Microbiology from Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, PA.  He spent 8 years at the Rockefeller University Alexander Tomasz’s laboratory, working on NIH funded studies of the role of Neisseria gonorrhoeae penicillin binding proteins in antibiotic mechanism of action and beta-lactam resistance. Tom has over 25 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry in the antibiotic R&D groups at Bristol-Myers Squibb, Pfizer, and AstraZeneca. His lab was engaged in work that supported drug discovery, including microbial genetics & physiology, high throughput screening, and antibiotic mechanisms of action and mechanisms of resistance.  In his industrial roles, Dr. Dougherty worked on cefepime, cefprozil, garenoxicin, and a number of early stage discovery programs for novel antibiotics, and while at Pfizer, wrote the pre-clinical pharmacology section of the IND for a novel ketolide that entered Phase I.  At AstraZeneca, in addition to his laboratory leader role, he was part of the Antibiotic Leadership Team.  He has spent the past 5 years in Professor Steve Lory’s lab in the Department of Microbiology & Immunobiology Harvard Medical School researching compounds that inhibit the lipoprotein pathway in the periplasm, in an attempt to pharmacologically compromise the outer membrane integrity of Gram-negative bacteria. Tom has served on the Editorial Board of Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy for the past 14 years, and was a contributor to the 2015 Pew Trust Report on “A Roadmap for Antibiotic Discovery”.  He serves on the Scientific Advisory Board of Macrolide Pharmaceuticals, and is a reviewer for applications to Carb-X (Combating Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria Biopharmaceutical Accelerator), an organization promoting antibiotic research with competitive funding to advance antibiotic development programs.

Dr. Robins is an instructor in the Microbiology Department at Harvard Medical School. He received his Ph.D. degree in Molecular Biology at the University of Texas at Austin in 2008 while studying bacteriophage biology and the role of bacterial transcription. In 2009, Bill joined the John Mekalanos laboratory as a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard Medical School to study Vibrio cholerae infection and spent much of this training investigating the genomics of V.cholerae epidemic strains, virulence gene expression, and bacterial genes that confer a fitness advantage in the microbial community. He is a molecular biologist and bacterial geneticist with training in bioinformatics. Much of his current research focuses on Gram-negative pathogenic bacteria and identifying key interactions between pathogens and both the host and other bacteria in the microbiome using genomics and high-throughput genetic screens. Other tangential projects focus on the interrogation of antibiotic resistant proteins using peptides and mutagenic screens to develop novel strategies for developing new antibacterial molecules. Bill advocates that these methodologies that identify new important interactions and decipher their molecular mechanisms will reveal additional and even nonintuitive targets for future drug discovery.

Dr. Gobec is Professor of Pharmaceutical Chemistry and the Head of the Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry in the Faculty of Pharmacy at the University of Ljubljana in Slovenia. Dr. Gobec received both his M.Sc. in Pharmacy and a Ph.D. in the field of Medicinal Chemistry from the University of Ljubljana. His specific research interests include structure-based in-silico design, synthesis and evaluation of small-molecule enzyme inhibitors, agents acting on central nervous system, inhibitors of bacterial cell wall biosynthesis, anti-tumour agents, and synthesis of mimetics of natural compounds, including peptidomimetics, glycomimetics, lipidomimetics. Stanislav’s areas of expertise include drug discovery, medicinal and pharmaceutical chemistry, in-silico drug design, virtual high-throughput screening, enzyme inhibitors, and organic chemistry and molecular pharmacology. From 2007 to 2011, he was a Dean in the Faculty of Pharmacy, and a member of the Ljubljana Senate – and during his tenure at the University of Ljubljana, has engaged in a collaboration with a multi-national pharmaceutical company on aspects of ongoing research effors in his lab. Dr. Gobec has been an author or co-author on more than 180 publications in important peer-reviewed journals and has several granted patents and patent applications. He has also written two comprehensive book chapters in Houben-Weyl Science of Synthesis and has given multiple interviews for the popularization of science.

Dr. Pollastri earned his bachelor’s degree from the College of the Holy Cross, a master’s degree from Duke University and his doctorate from Brown University. Following completion of his master’s degree in 1998, he joined Pfizer Global Research & Development, earning his Ph.D. while moving up the ranks within the medicinal chemistry organization, eventually leading the Chemical Technologies group at the Research Technology Center in Cambridge, MA. Michael remained with Pfizer until 2007, when he accepted a research faculty position in the Boston University Department of Chemistry. There, he led the establishment of the Center for Molecular Discovery, a University resource that encompassed a combination of high-throughput screening and medicinal chemistry optimization capabilities. In 2009, he joined the faculty in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Northeastern University, where his research has been focused on discovery of new therapeutics for infectious diseases. Dr. Pollastri was appointed department chair in 2016 and promoted to full professor in 2017, and in addition, currently serves as the interim director of the Barnett Institute of Chemical and Biological Analysis.