Dr. Burns is Founder, President and Chief Executive Officer at VenatoRx Pharmaceuticals, a world leader in anti-infectives research and development. Dr. Burns has 30 years’ experience in the pharmaceutical industry including various corporate and R&D leadership positions at Protez/Novartis, ViroPharma, and Rhone-Poulenc Rorer (now Sanofi). Dr. Burns has appeared as co-author or co-inventor on more than 60 patents and publications and has served as Principal Investigator on more than ten awarded U.S. National Institute of Health (NIH) grants. He received a B.S. in Chemistry from St. Joseph’s University, and a Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) under Nobel-laureate Professor K. Barry Sharpless. Dr. Burns was named EY Entrepreneur of the Year in the Health and Life Sciences category in Greater Philadelphia, and Life Sciences Pennsylvania CEO of the Year in 2019. He currently serves on the Board of Directors at Life Sciences Pennsylvania and the Antimicrobials Working Group.
Dr. Pevear is Founder and Senior Vice President of Biology and Grants Development at VenatoRx Pharmaceuticals. He has over 25 years of experience in anti-infectives drug discovery and development, covering both anti-bacterials and anti-virals.
Prior to founding VenatoRx, Dr. Pevear was the Director of Biology at Protez Pharmaceuticals (a subsidiary of Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation) where he co-led the team who advanced a first-in-class beta-lactamase inhibitor into preclinical development. Prior to Protez, Dr. Pevear spent two years with Novartis Pharmaceuticals in Cambridge, MA, where he directed the billion dollar collaboration with Alnylam Pharmaceuticals on ground-breaking “RNA interference” technology. He has also worked with Progenics Pharmaceuticals (Tarrytown, NY) where he directed research efforts in both Human immunodeficiency virus and Hepatitis C virus. In 1994 Dr. Pevear was a scientific team founding member of ViroPharma Inc. (Exton, PA). As the Director of Biology at ViroPharma, Dr. Pevear led a team of over 30 scientists working on a variety of anti-infective targets. He also served on the team that advanced a first-in-class inhibitor for the common cold viruses through NDA filing. This compound was discovered by Dr. Pevear’s laboratory during his time with Sterling Winthrop Research Institute (1988–1994).
Dr. Pevear has been involved in the advancement of more than a dozen compounds from the lab bench into clinical development. He has published over 80 papers in peer-reviewed journals and has written more than a half dozen reviews. Dr. Pevear has served as the Principal Investigator and/or written 6 SBIR-Advanced Technology awards and contributed to several others. He also served as an NIH Center for Scientific Review Special Emphasis Panel Member for AIDS SBIR applications in 2005.
Dr. Pevear received his Ph.D. in Viral Immunology from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1984, and was a Postdoctoral Fellow of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society in the lab of Dr. Howard Lipton (Northwestern University Medical School, Chicago, IL) from 1985–1988.
Dr. Xerri is Founder, Senior Strategic Advisor and Head of Scientific Affairs at VenatoRx Pharmaceuticals. He was co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer of Protez Pharmaceuticals and was previously Director of Antimicrobial Disease Strategy at GlaxoSmithKline. He had responsibility for the appropriate risk assessment of the portfolio, aligning discovery with Business Development, and to fill gaps via in-licensing. During his 36 year career in antibacterials, he has led or been part of international teams for the pre-clinical and clinical development of cephalosporins (cefuroxime and ceftazidime), carbapenems (Sanfetrinem and Razupenem) and quinolones (ofloxacin, levofloxacin and grepafloxacin) and made key contributions to their commercialization strategies. Dr. Xerri holds a Laurea in Biology and Microbiology from the University of Bologna, Italy.
Mr. Felker is Chief Operating Officer at VenatoRx Pharmaceuticals, a world leader in anti-infectives research and development, having joined the Company in 2013 as Chief Business Officer. Mr. Felker has more than 20 years' experience in biotechnology, pharmaceutical, and diagnostics spanning business development, operations, and venture capital. Prior to joining VenatoRx, Mr. Felker was Vice President, Operations at NuPathe where he was responsible for commercial manufacturing, technical operations, and new product planning. He assumed this position in May 2011 after acting as Vice President, Business Development since January 2006. Previously, Mr. Felker served as an Entrepreneur in Residence at BioAdvance, where he advised on investment opportunities and provided assistance to portfolio companies. Prior to that, Mr. Felker served as Associate Vice President, BTG Ventures at BTG International. Mr. Felker was the founding investor in Protez Pharmaceuticals, which was subsequently acquired by Novartis. Additionally, Mr. Felker has served in business roles at Icagen (RTP, NC) and Athersys (Cleveland, OH), and worked as a protein chemist at Hybritech and Biosite Diagnostics in San Diego, CA. Mr. Felker is an active participant in the entrepreneurial community in Philadelphia. He serves on the Investment Advisory Committee of Ben Franklin Technology Partners and advises several biotech and medical device companies in Philadelphia. Mr. Felker holds a BS from the University of California, San Diego and an MBA from the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve.
Dr. Henkel has spent 20 years in the biopharmaceutical industry developing antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, immunomodulatory and oncology drugs. He has successfully developed biologics, small molecules and natural products in the US and Europe. Prior to joining VenatoRx, Dr. Henkel was Executive Vice President of Research and Development at Ceptaris Therapeutics (acquired by Actelion). Dr. Henkel was also Executive Vice President of Research and Development at Ception Therapeutics (acquired by Cephalon), Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer of Vicuron Pharmaceuticals (acquired by Pfizer), and Vice President of Worldwide Anti-Infective Clinical Development for SmithKline Beecham. Prior to joining SmithKline Beecham, Dr. Henkel was Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine and Infectious Diseases at Washington University in St. Louis, where he also earned his board certifications in both Internal Medicine and in Infectious Diseases.
Dr. Henkel received his M.D. degree and a Ph.D. in immunology from Washington University in St. Louis, and his B.S. in Chemistry and Biology from Rhodes College.
Dr. Meehan has been working with large public and venture backed start-up pharmaceutical companies for 25 years, including Merck, Johnson & Johnson, and TransForm Pharmaceuticals. Immediately prior to joining VenatoRx, he was Chief Operating Officer of TetraLogic Pharmaceuticals. Tony has played leadership roles across business development, corporate venture, finance, product development, and manufacturing. He has helped raise over $150MM in investment capital, and led teams responsible for the development of over 50 investigational molecules and 8 new product registrations, including GARDISIL®, RotaTeq®, and VIOXX®. Tony holds an M.B.A from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, a Ph.D. from Carnegie Mellon University and a B.S.E from the University of Pennsylvania.
Dr. Wittmer has more than 20 years’ experience and a demonstrated track record in leading development from early stages through to licensing, registration and commercialization of new therapeutics. At VenatoRx, Dr. Wittmer oversees nonclinical and clinical development, as well as global regulatory affairs.
Throughout her career, Dr. Wittmer has held executive and senior management positions in research & development, product strategy, regulatory strategy, scientific assessment, portfolio development and operations at established and emerging, public and private companies. Dr. Wittmer has achieved clinical trial approval, marketing authorization and new indications for more than fifteen currently marketed products. Additionally, she has completed diligence of over 100 pharmaceutical or biotech products, and advised on valuation and deal/partnership structures for product/company acquisitions.
Prior to joining VenatoRx, Dr. Wittmer founded Theorogen, LLC, a consulting company focused on emerging life sciences companies seeking strategic advice on their development, regulatory or partnering strategies. Previously, Dr. Wittmer was Chief Operating Officer and Director at AMO Pharma Ltd, a privately-held, start-up biopharmaceutical company focused on rare diseases; Partner at NeXeption LLC, a biopharmaceutical portfolio management company; and Vice President, Global Regulatory Affairs & Compliance at Ceptaris Therapeutics, a privately-held, mid-stage biopharma company focused on treatment of cutaneous T-cell lymphoma. Additionally, Dr. Wittmer was Vice President, Global Regulatory Affairs and R&D Due Diligence, followed by General Manager, for the Emerging Products Business Unit at Shire Pharmaceuticals, where she led several multidisciplinary teams in developing a portfolio of early and mid-phase specialty and rare disease therapeutic candidates.
Dr. Wittmer continues to support the life-science start-up community in Pennsylvania by serving as a Mentor-in-Residence at University of Pennsylvania's Center for Innovation and an advisor to Dreamit Ventures’ HealthTech program, which is focused on growth-stage digital health, medical device and diagnostic startups. Prior to being appointed a Howard Hughes Fellow at Duke University, Dr. Wittmer earned a Ph.D. in Molecular Biophysics and Neuropharmacology from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis; a M.S. in Chemistry from Washington University in St. Louis; and a B.S. in Chemistry and Mathematics from the University of Detroit.
Dr. Condon has been engaged in the discovery and development of bioactive compounds for over 20 years. Dr. Condon joined VenatoRx in 2016 as Vice President, Chemistry. Prior to joining VenatoRx, Dr. Condon served in multiple roles at TetraLogic Pharmaceuticals where he led a team of scientists in the identification and evaluation of small molecule antagonists of the Inhibitor of Apoptosis (IAP) family of proteins. Together with an international team of collaborators, scientists at TetraLogic uncovered the central role of the cellular IAP proteins in TNF signaling, inflammation, and tumor cell death that led to the discovery of birinapant, a first-in-class bivalent IAP antagonist. Prior to TetraLogic, Dr. Condon was Group Leader in Medicinal Chemistry at ViroPharma where his team invented the first HCV NS5B inhibitor to demonstrate efficacy in the humanized mouse model of HCV infection. Dr. Condon began his professional career at Rhône-Poulenc Rorer. His team at RPR determined the bioactive conformation of human parathyroid [1-34] and developed a number of anabolic peptides for the treatment of post-menopausal osteoporosis. Dr. Condon received his doctoral degree from the University of Pennsylvania following his dissertation with Professor Amos B. Smith III on the total synthesis of rapamycin and demethoxyrapamycin.
Ms. Ellis has more than 25 years of GCP/GMP quality assurance experience, having worked in and set up analytical chemistry and quality control laboratories. Ms. Ellis has experience creating quality control and quality assurance systems for small biotech companies and has extensive experience managing contract-manufacturing facilities for drug substance and drug product manufacture, including injectable and solid oral dosage forms.
Prior to joining VenatoRx, Ms. Ellis was Head of Quality Assurance at TRACON, and Vice President of Quality Assurance at Trius Therapeutics, Inc. (acquired by Cubist Pharmaceuticals, Inc.) where she led the GxP Quality activities for development and commercialization of SivextroTM. SivextroTM was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in June 2014. Ms. Ellis started her career as an analytical chemist at Alliance Pharmaceuticals, and then moved to leading analytical and CMC project teams at Pfizer, Inc. In her career, she has led CMC and Quality groups in the development of compounds in a variety of therapeutic areas.
Ms. Ellis received a B.A. in Chemistry from the University of Delaware.
Dr. Emeigh Hart is Vice President, Non-Clinical Safety at VenatoRx Pharmaceuticals, where she leads the Company’s nonclinical efforts across discovery, preclinical and clinical stage programs. She is an experienced nonclinical drug development scientist with >25 years of experience in preclinical drug development, including the design, conduct and supervision of toxicology, pathology, toxicokinetic/ADME, pharmacology, and mechanistic/derisking studies performed internally, through contract research organizations and through academic collaborations, preparation of submission documents (IND through NDA/BLA) and interaction with regulatory authorities. She has held numerous senior management and executive level positions in established global pharmaceutical companies and small biopharmaceutics firms, where she has managed non-clinical drug development programs and regulatory submissions (IND through NDA/BLA) for small molecules and monoclonal antibodies as well as unusual biopharmaceuticals (peptides, aminosterols, oligonucleotides, non-antibody, non-recombinant proteins and gene therapy products) across a wide variety of therapeutic areas, including cardiovascular/metabolic diseases, anti-infectives, oncology, CNS, rheumatology/orthopedics, and ophthalmology.
Prior to joining VenatoRx, Dr. Emeigh Hart was the Director of Experimental Pathology in the Nonclinical Drug Safety (US) department at Boehringer Ingelheim, where she managed the Development and Molecular Pathology groups and the Clinical Pathology and Histology laboratories that performed pathological evaluations in support of new chemical entities and biologics from Discovery through full Development. Before Boehringer Ingelheim, Dr. Emeigh Hart was the Vice President, Preclinical Development at Intrexon Corporation; Senior Director, Non-Clinical Development at Auxilium Pharmaceuticals; Senior Director, Safety Assessment at Genaera Corporation and held various roles at AstraZeneca, Bristol-Myers Squibb, DuPont Pharmaceuticals and Pfizer. Dr. Emeigh Hart is board certified in both Anatomic and Clinical Pathology through the American College of Veterinary Pathologists and in General Toxicology through the American Board of Toxicology; she is also a Eurotox Registered Toxicologist (peer recognized expert in toxicology through the UK Registry of Toxicology). She holds a Ph.D. from The University of Connecticut, a V.M.D. from the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, and a B.S., Animal Science from The Pennsylvania State University. Dr. Emeigh Hart is an Adjunct Associate Professor (Pathology) at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine.
Heather Hunter is Vice President, Communications at VenatoRx Pharmaceuticals where she is responsible for all internal and external communications for the company. Heather is an executive-level communications, marketing and investor relations professional who has been a champion for entrepreneurs, start-ups and growth-stage companies for 20 years. She has experience working in a variety of industries including venture capital, healthcare (specialty pharmaceuticals, medical devices, diagnostics, digital health), technology (adtech, martech, fintech) and commercial real estate with public and private, early-, growth- and late-stage companies.
Heather came to VenatoRx from Safeguard Scientifics (NYSE:SFE), where she implemented integrated marketing, communications and investor relations strategies that augmented business development initiatives and fostered strategic partnership opportunities and M&A transitions at premium valuations for 100+ companies valued at $4+ billion, in aggregate. Notable success stories include Advanced BioHealing (acquired by Shire), Alverix (acquired by Becton Dickinson), Avid Radiopharmaceuticals (acquired by Eli Lilly), Clarient (acquired by GE Healthcare), Laureate Pharma (acquired by Saints Capital), NuPathe (acquired by TEVA), Portico Systems (acquired by McKesson), Putney (acquired by Dechra Pharmaceuticals) and ThingWorx (acquired by PTC).
Prior to Safeguard, Heather was Vice President of Corporate Communications at W. P. Carey Inc. (NYSE:WPC), a publicly traded real estate investment trust (REIT), where she developed and executed communications and marketing strategies for sale-leaseback transactions totaling $8+ billion, in aggregate. In addition, she managed the launch, branding and marketing for four public non-traded REITs which raised $2+ billion in equity, as well as the merger of six public non-traded REITs, which consisted of large portfolios of high-quality, net-leased properties.
Heather has been a Board Member for the Arts & Business Council (ABC) of Greater Philadelphia, Philadelphia Alliance for Capital and Technologies (PACT) and Philadelphia Photo Arts Center. She graduated from Yale University with a B.A. in History and was named to the Philadelphia Business Journal’s ’40 Under 40' List in 2017.
Dr. Larsen is a globally recognized leader in the area of public health preparedness with more than 20 years’ experience. As Vice President, Strategic Portfolio Development at VenatoRx Pharmaceuticals, Dr. Larsen is responsible for identifying new growth opportunities and translating the company’s rich internal programs toward strategic public and private partnerships.
Prior to joining VenatoRx, Dr. Larsen was Senior Vice President of Life Sciences at Strategic Marketing Innovations (SMI), a government relations and consulting firm. At SMI, Dr. Larsen represented clients in the antibacterial product, drug, and diagnostic sectors, providing technical support in product development and aiding companies in securing non-dilutive funding from the U.S. Government.
Prior to SMI, Dr. Larsen served as Director of the Division of CBRN Medical Countermeasures within the Biomedical Advanced Research Development Authority (BARDA). In that role, he oversaw a $2.8B fund for the late-stage development and procurement of medical products for use during public health emergencies and a $530M annual advanced research and development fund. Additionally, Dr. Larsen supported the development and regulatory approval for a novel smallpox antiviral drug, two novel antibiotics, and a cytokine therapy to treat the hematopoietic effects of acute radiation exposure. He also led the establishment of Project Bioshield programs to develop vaccine and therapeutics to safe guard the American public from future Ebola virus outbreaks. Dr. Larsen was the lead for BARDA’s work on combating antibiotic resistant bacteria and was an executive member and founder of CARB-X, a novel $450M public private partnership focused on promoting innovation in antibacterial drug development. Dr. Larsen has also been involved in discussing potential reforms to the economic incentive structures for antibacterial drug development.
Previously, Dr. Larsen served as Chief of the Broad Spectrum Antimicrobials program at BARDA. In that role, Dr. Larsen oversaw a portfolio of approximately $1.2B in programs that supported the development of novel antibacterial and antiviral drugs. Dr. Larsen also served as the BARDA representative on the U.S. Transatlantic Task Force on Antimicrobial Resistance, and as a Senior Science and Technology Manager at the Joint Science and Technology Office for Chemical and Biological Defense (JSTO-CBDP) within the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA).
Dr. Larsen was an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) fellow at the Department of Homeland Security. Additionally, he was a 2005 National Academy of Science Christine Mirzayan fellow with the Board of Life Sciences. Dr. Larsen received his Ph.D. in Microbiology from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences and his B.A. with honors from the University of Kansas.
Dr. McGovern has 20 years of Infectious Diseases experience including 13 years in anti-infective drug development. As Vice President, Medical Sciences at VenatoRx Pharmaceuticals, Dr. McGovern serves as the primary scientific and medical advisor to the company’s clinical teams, providing medical input to all aspects of product development and to drug discovery teams. Additionally, Dr. McGovern is involved in the planning, implementation, analysis and interpretation of clinical studies, and provides medical expertise necessary to advance development programs to the filing of INDs and NDAs.
Prior to VenatoRx, Dr. McGovern was Vice President, Clinical & Medical Affairs at Paratek Pharmaceuticals; Senior Director at Actelion Clinical Research; and Director of Vaccine Research and Clinical Affairs for Infectious Diseases at Wyeth/Pfizer.??Dr. McGovern received his B.S. from the University of Notre Dame, his M.D. from Northwestern University, and completed his Internal Medicine and Infectious Diseases training at the University of Pennsylvania.
Dr. Moeck is Vice President, Microbiology at VenatoRx Pharmaceuticals where he is responsible for ensuring comprehensive and timely characterization of investigational agents via clinical microbiology studies. He has spent over 15 years in antibacterial drug discovery and development, leading cross-functional teams or as a team member advancing the long-acting lipoglycopeptide oritavancin through nonclinical IND-enabling studies and Phase 1, 2 and 3 clinical studies, leading to its regulatory approval as Orbactiv® in the U.S. in 2014 and the European Union in 2015. Dr. Moeck's microbiology team also contributed to the successful regulatory filing of meropenem/vaborbactam which was approved as VabomereTM by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2017. Prior to joining VenatoRx, Dr. Moeck was Vice President, Biology at The Medicines Company (acquired by Melinta Therapeutics) and Senior Director of Biology at Targanta Therapeutics (acquired by The Medicines Company).
Dr. Moeck has published over 50 papers in peer-reviewed journals, co-authored three book chapters, and is co-inventor on four patents relating to methods of treatment of bacterial infections. He received his Ph.D. in Microbiology and Immunology from McGill University in Montreal, Quebec and conducted post-doctoral research at the University of Paris XI on iron acquisition in gram-negative bacterial pathogens as a Fellow of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, France.
Jennifer Nelson, PMP is Vice President, R&D Program Management at VenatoRx Pharmaceuticals where she has responsibility for the delivery of R&D programs across VenatoRx's portfolio, including its lead asset, VNRX-5133, which is currently in clinical development. Ms. Nelson has over 20 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry spanning discovery, pre-clinical, early- and late-stage development across various therapeutic areas including anti-infectives, cardiovascular, respiratory/inflammation, and neuroscience. Prior to joining VenatoRx, Ms. Nelson was a Director in Project Management at AstraZeneca where she managed and led several cross-functional teams in support of clinical development and NDA/MAA submissions, change management, data standardization, and data transparency policy initiatives. Prior to AstraZeneca, Ms. Nelson worked as a Project Manager and a medicinal chemist at DuPont Pharma. Ms. Nelson has a B.S. in Chemistry from Ursinus College and holds a Project Management Professional (PMP) certification.
Dr. Rosen joined VenatoRx in 2015 as Vice President of Pharmaceutical Product Development. In this role, he is responsible for developing and executing CMC strategies for drug substance and drug product, spanning from preclinical development to commercialization. Prior to joining VenatoRx, Dr. Rosen spent 22 years at Merck where he contributed to the development and registration of seven products approved for the treatment of Human Immunodeficiency Virus, Hepatitis C Virus, Type 2 Diabetes, cardiovascular disease and insomnia. Dr. Rosen received Ph.D. and M.A. degrees from Princeton University and B.S.E. from the University of Pennsylvania, all in Chemical Engineering. He is a member of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers and the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists, and currently serves on the Editorial Advisory Board of the Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences.
Ms. Tornetta has more than 15 years of experience as an accomplished regulatory leader in the private, public and government sectors with broad knowledge of drug discovery, pre-clinical, clinical (early/late) and post-approval drug development through to commercialization. At VenatoRx Pharmaceuticals, Ms. Tornetta is responsible for developing and leading all regulatory strategies and activities, including regulatory submissions.
Prior to VenatoRx, Ms. Tornetta was Vice President, Head of Regulatory Affairs at Galera Therapeutics; Director of Regulatory Affairs and Global Team Lead at Pfizer; and Director, Regulatory Affairs at Endo Pharmaceuticals. Ms. Tornetta began her career as a Senior Research Associate at Nabi Biopharmaceuticals and subsequently as Regulatory Project Manager of the Division of Anesthesia, Analgesia, and Rheumatology Products at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Ms. Tornetta received her M.B.A. in Biotechnology from John Hopkins University, Carey Business School and her M.S. in Biomedical Chemistry from Thomas Jefferson University.