Neil McDonnell, CEO and Co-Founder

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Neil has spent 25 years in drug development and executive leadership in small- and mid-size biotechs, global pharmaceutical companies and global health institutions.  Neil was most recently CEO of Metacrine, a venture-backed startup with programs in NASH and diabetes. Prior to Metacrine, Neil was Senior Vice President and Therapeutic Area Leader for Cardiovascular and Metabolic Diseases at Takeda Pharmaceuticals, responsible for R&D in those areas. Neil was previously Chief of Staff for the Global Health Program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation where he was involved with strategy development and interactions with senior officials from multilateral organizations and governmental agencies involved in global health.  Neil was Vice President of Program Management at the Seattle-based public biotech Zymogenetics, where he oversaw all program development teams, and began his biotech career at Immunex, an oncology and immunology company acquired by Amgen.

Artur Plonowski PhD, CSO and Co-Founder

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Artur has broad drug discovery expertise and 15+ year experience in both global pharmaceutical and small biotech companies. Most recently he held position of Director of Pharmacology at Akarna Therapeutics, Ltd., a NASH start-up that was acquired by Allergan in 2016 for $50 million and $1 billion in milestones, after less than two years in existence. Prior to Akarna, Artur led the Cardiovascular, Renal and Metabolic Disease Pharmacology group at Takeda Pharmaceuticals, and before that he worked for 10 years at Exelixis with scientific and leadership responsibilities in CV, metabolic, renal, oncology, and inflammation therapeutic areas. Artur has directly contributed to 12 IND filings, including two market launched products. He is author or co-author of more than 50 peer-reviewed scientific publications.

Kathleen Elias PhD, VP Research and Translational Medicine, Co-Founder

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Kathleen has over 25 years of drug development experience working in biotech and pharmaceutical settings. Dr. Elias previously worked at Takeda, as a Director of Preclinical Research, and led efforts to develop small molecule, antibody, and ADC oncology therapeutics, as well as immunological and metabolic therapies. Prior to that, she worked at Cytokinetics to establish and lead the cell biology and pharmacology efforts to identity and develop a myosin activator therapeutic for heart failure currently in Phase 3 with Amgen. At Genentech, she was a scientist working in endocrine and cardiac therapeutic areas. During her career Dr. Elias has contributed to multiple agents that have advanced to clinical development, and is an author on numerous publications and patents. She received a PhD from the University of Nebraska Medical Center, and was a post-doctoral fellow at the University of California, San Francisco.

David Brown PhD, Director, Chemistry

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David designs and manages the synthesis of novel ASK1 kinase inhibitors at Seal Rock Therapeutics. David has 20 years of experience in the biotechnology industry with a particular focus on kinase inhibition. He spent 12 years at Exelixis where his kinase work contributed to 5 clinical candidates in the areas of oncology and inflammation. More recently, David directed the medicinal chemistry team at Pathway Therapeutics which led to the selective PI3Kdelta kinase inhibitor PWT143/MEI-401 which in Phase 1b clinical trials. David graduated from Stanford University and holds a Ph.D. in Chemistry from UCLA.

Dan Burge MD, Chief Medical Officer

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Dan has participated in drug development since 1994 as an executive in biotech/pharmaceutical companies, as a consultant and as a principal investigator. Most recently, Dan was the SVP of clinical development at Dermira where he led the development of monoclonal antibodies for psoriasis and atopic dermatitis. Previous executive roles include Gilead (vice president, clinical development), Trubion Pharmaceuticals (senior vice president and chief medical officer), Amgen (vice president, clinical development) and Immunex (vice president, clinical development).
Additionally, Dan has provided clinical leadership as a consultant for many biotech/small pharmaceutical companies in multiple therapeutic areas, including rheumatology, neurology, and infectious diseases. Prior to joining industry in 1997, Dan was a practicing rheumatologist and a principal investigator in clinical studies

Terry Porter PhD, SVP Business Development

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Terry Porter has over twenty-five years of global R&D and business development experience within the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry. In over 12 years within the Worldwide Business Development group at GlaxoSmithKline he covered a broad range of business development roles covering platform technologies, discovery and clinical pipeline licensing as well as M&A. During this time he headed Oncology licensing, created and led the External Science and Technology group and co-led GSK’s $450 million acquisition of Domantis. As Managing Director of the corporate advisory group AquaPartners for three years Terry obtained direct sell-side experience by helping young companies with their business development needs. In his last role Terry spent 5 years as Vice President of Search & Evaluation within the Global Business Development at Takeda Pharmaceuticals contributing to the identification, evaluation, due diligence and successful completion of multiple licensing and M&A opportunities.

Raj Dua, Director of Chemistry, Manufacturing, and Controls


Raj manages the CMC and manufacturing functions within Seal Rock Therapeutics in the areas of process development, manufacturing, and drug supply. He has over 20 years of experience in product development and bringing biologics and pharmaceutical candidates from research laboratory into clinical development and commercialization. He was most recently Vice President, Pharmaceutical Operations at Alder Bio-Pharmaceuticals where he oversaw all the process development, manufacturing and supply chain management functions for their monoclonal antibody based products. Prior to that, he was Senior Director of Product Development at Trubion Pharmaceuticals and Director of Process and Assay Development at Xcyte Therapies.  He received his PhD at the University of Georgia and his MBA at the University of Washington. He has published several scientific articles and is the inventor on numerous patents.

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Brian Rogers PhD, Director of Toxicology


Brian has over 30 years of industrial toxicology experience the vast majority spent in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry. During this time he has interacted extensively with the FDA and authored hundreds of INDs and over two dozen NDA and BLA nonclinical sections on behalf of clients. Prior to co-founding Pacific BioDevelopment, Brian was a Scientist/Toxicologist at Genentech and prior to that a Toxicologist/Study Director at Chevron. He holds a Ph.D. in Toxicology from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC and a B.S. in Environmental Toxicology, University of California, Davis, CA (UCD). He is a Diplomate of the American Board of Toxicology (since 1993) and also holds an MBA from and was an adjunct professor at the UCD School of Management. an adjunct professor at the UCD School of Management. He serves as a Business and/or Scientific advisor to several companies, including Senzagen, Inc., a provider of in vitro immunotoxicology services..

Jeff Fellows, Director of Regulatory Affairs


Jeff supports the global regulatory affairs efforts for Seal Rock and brings over 30 years of drug development experience in the pharmaceutical industry. During this period, he has worked in large and small biotech/pharmaceutical companies developing products across multiple therapeutic areas and product platforms. Through successful interactions with global health authorities, he has a proven track record of moving compounds into the clinic and subsequent stages of product development resulting in multiple product approvals.  Jeff’s corporate regulatory experience includes project lead and management roles in Regulatory Affairs at NeoRx, Synergen, Amgen and Cell Therapeutics. For the past 13 years Jeff has been providing support to development stage companies as an independent consultant.  Jeff has a B.S. in Microbiology from Oregon State University.

Jade Brown, Director of Business Development

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Jade supports our business development and partnering efforts.  Jade's 27 years of industry experience and deal success first started at Eli Lilly and Company (12 years) where he was a Director of Business Development / Brand Leadership where he received Lilly's highest individual achievement recognition for his business development accomplishments - the President's Award.  Jade later was Chief Business Officer and Vice President of Business Development for companies including Cell Therapeutics, Xencor, and Nastech Pharmaceuticals.  In these roles, Jade has year after year driven a variety of high value and creative licensing transactions of great value to his companies.  Jade holds a Masters in Business with honors from Harvard Business School and a Bachelors of Science from Indiana University.

Elsa Johnson, Director of Program Management


Elsa Johnson is the principal for Goal Management and Consulting, a consulting company assisting small pharmaceutical startups in Seattle and the Bay Area develop and execute on their development plans, since December 2018.  She was previously Sr. Director, Program Management at Acerta and part of the initial management team that led to a successful Astra Zeneca acquisition and subsequent CALQUENCE® approval. Prior to that she held various increasing levels of Project Management responsibility including HemaQuest Pharmaceuticals, Nastech Pharmaceuticals, and Corus Pharma.  In addition to program management, she is experienced in Clinical Data Management, Clinical Research, Clinical Operations and Clinical Project Management. Ms. Johnson received her B.S. in Economics from Southern Methodist University and M.B.A. from Lake Forest Graduate School of Management.

Eli Wang, Director of Finance


Eli has 10 years of experience working in accounting and finance roles and currently is the Principal and Founder of Ninebark Group LLC, a consulting company assisting startups in the West Coast region of the US in matters of accounting and finance. Eli was previously an Accounting Manager at Juno Therapeutics, a publicly traded biopharmaceutical company with a pipeline of cancer immunotherapy drugs, now a part of Bristol-Myers Squibb. At Juno Eli helped successfully lead the establishment and maintenance of operational and financial accounting and compliance processes. Prior to Juno, Eli worked in the audit function at EY where he performed and lead integrated financial audits of public and private clients in the technology, biotechnology, and manufacturing sectors.