Leadership Team

Marcus-F-Boehm

Marcus F. Boehm, PhD

Chief Scientific Officer

Marcus F. Boehm co-founded Escient Pharmaceuticals in 2017 and joined the company in March 2018 as Chief Scientific Officer. Previously, he was a Co-Founder of Receptos Inc. where he served as Chief Technology Officer from 2009 to 2015 until its acquisition by Celgene Corporation. He was a member of the Receptos executive management team where he shared responsibility for the development of ozanimod for the treatment of multiple sclerosis and ulcerative colitis, and RPC4046 for treatment of eosinophilic esophagitis. He also directed early discovery research and development programs, chemical manufacturing and controls, and supported corporate financing and partnering activities. In 2001, Dr. Boehm was a founding member of Conforma Therapeutics, which was acquired by Biogen Idec in 2006. As Vice President of Chemistry at Conforma, he led a team that discovered and developed CNF2024 for treatment of solid tumors. Dr. Boehm started his industry career with Ligand Pharmaceuticals in 1991 where he held various positions with progressing responsibility. He directed chemistry efforts on multiple intracellular receptor (IRs) programs resulting in the discovery and development of Targretin for T-cell lymphomas and Panretin for treatment of cutaneous lesions in patients with AIDS-related Kaposi’s sarcoma. He is a co-author and inventor on over 100 patents and publications in the fields of oncology, autoimmune and metabolic diseases. Dr. Boehm received a B.A. in Chemistry from the University of California, San Diego, a Ph.D. in Chemistry from the State University of New York Stony Brook and completed a National Institutes of Health Postdoctoral Fellowship at Columbia University.

Aaron-Mishel

Aaron Mishel

Chief Financial Officer

Aaron Mishel joined Escient Pharmaceuticals in August 2022 as Chief Financial Officer. He brings to the company over twenty years of broad experience in the life sciences and financial services sectors. Prior to Escient, he served as CFO or Head of Finance for several venture-backed private healthcare companies: GenEdit (2021-2022), Magnetic Insight (2020-2021), and Modis Therapeutics (2018-2020), where he led financial strategy, fundraising, investor relations, financial planning, accounting, and administrative functions. At Modis Tx, he was a member of the executive team that led the company’s sale to Zogenix for $400M+ in late 2019. Previously, he worked in finance and business development at BioMarin Pharmaceutical from 2014-2018, most recently as a Director of Business & Corporate Development, leading the evaluation and execution of licensing and acquisition transactions. Before this he spent six years in Equity Research at two investment banks – Deutsche Bank and Thomas Weisel Partners – covering the specialty pharmaceuticals industry. Previously, he worked in Finance at CV Therapeutics (acquired by Gilead), leading the FP&A group, responsible for corporate-wide budgeting and financial planning. He began his career as a product development engineer in the medical device field, designing devices for minimally invasive cardiovascular procedures. He holds a B.S. in Biomedical Engineering and a B.A. in Economics from Brown University and an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

Veena-Viswanath

Veena Viswanath, PhD

Vice President of Translational Biology and Drug Discovery

Veena Viswanath joined Escient as Vice President of Translational Biology and Drug Discovery in September of 2020. Dr. Viswanath has over a decade of experience in the industry focused on translational medicine and understanding the drug development process from target identification through early-stage clinical development. Prior to her new role with Escient, Dr. Viswanath spent the past decade with Allergan, Inc., most recently serving as the Executive Director of Research Biology. Dr. Viswanath has an impressive track record of leading novel platforms from discovery through proof-of-concept and highly collaborative global project teams with cross-functional impact to advance the development pipeline across multiple ocular and neuroscience therapeutic areas. Additionally, she has experience in leading strategic in-licensed partnerships in neuroscience and ophthalmology early development. Dr. Viswanath served as the research group leader for the key therapeutic area of ocular surface diseases to build strategy and portfolio for dry eye disease and bridge clinical gaps through innovative biomarker discovery. She is the inventor of more than a dozen issued patents and author of many peer-reviewed research articles, and she is passionate about identifying and developing talent.

Dr. Viswanath earned her Ph.D. from the University of Southern California, where her research focused on characterization of the role of apoptosis and oxidative stress in neurodegenerative diseases. She continued her research as a postdoctoral and institute fellow at Genomics Institute of Novartis Research Foundation.

Board of Directors

Most recently, Ms. Glaub has been an advisor to a number of biotechnology companies, including directing financing, business development and overall corporate development strategies. She is currently a director for the boards of IO Biotechnology, and executive chair and co-founder for CuraSen Therapeutics. She has previously served as a director for Afferent, Aligos and Codexis, and an advisor to Bailard Healthcare Fund. In 2013, she joined the board of Afferent Pharmaceuticals, Inc., and subsequently, in August 2014, was appointed chief executive officer of the company. Ms. Glaub led the advancement of the company’s lead molecule, AF-219, through a full complement of mid-stage clinical trials in chronic cough and to Phase 3 readiness. She also led the buyout of the company by Merck in 2016 for $1.25 billion, including $500 million upfront. Merck initiated Phase 3 clinical trials of AF-219/MK-7264 in March 2018 and submitted an NDA to FDA in December 2020. Previously, Ms. Glaub co-led Plexxikon Inc. as president for 12 years, until May 2013. In this role, she led the business and financing strategy for the company, including negotiating six partnerships generating over several hundred million in non-equity funding, and the company’s buyout by Daiichi Sankyo for nearly $1 billion cash in 2011. She also was instrumental in Plexxikon’s advancement of multiple novel molecules to the clinic, as well as advancement of ZelborafTM, a targeted treatment for melanoma, along with its companion diagnostic to market approval in 2011. She has over 30 years in executive-level corporate development, financing and company-building experience with technology and innovation-based companies, including as SVP & CFO of Cell Genesys, Treasurer of Genentech, and various finance and treasury roles with Intel Corporation. Ms. Glaub received her MBA from Northwestern University, and her BA from the University of California, Berkeley.

CEO, IDRx

Ben Auspitz has worked in biotechnology for two decades as an entrepreneur, operator and investor. He has been involved in the funding and founding of more than 20 companies, which have currently generated six approved drugs.

Prior to IDRx, Ben was a partner at F-Prime Capital, where he focused on Series A and company formation. At F-Prime, Ben led first venture investments in Ultragenyx, Modis Therapeutics, REGENXBio, Symbiomix, Orchard Therapeutics, Precision Biosciences, Xilio Therapeutics and Atalanta Therapeutics, among others.

Ben holds a B.A. from Harvard University.

Joshua Grass, Chief Executive Officer, joined Escient in December 2021. Most recently, Josh was Chief Executive Officer from 2017 to 2019 of Modis Therapeutics, a company developing a treatment for a rare mitochondrial disease. As an Entrepreneur in Residence at F-Prime Capital, Josh led a $30M series A financing (F-Prime Capital and Orbimed Advisors) of ModisTx in March of 2018. ModisTx was acquired by Zogenix for $400M in total consideration ($250M upfront) in September of 2019. From 2002 to 2017 Josh was a member of the BioMarin senior executive management team, during most of that time leading Business and Corporate Development reporting to the CEO. Over these 15 years at BioMarin, Josh led the acquisition and divestiture of many technologies and products, and also participated in the global development and launch of many products to treat rare genetic diseases. Josh started his career in biotech as a scientist at Cerus corporation from 1993 to 1998 after which time held roles in finance and equity research at boutique investment banks. Josh earned a B.S in Biology from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo and an MBA in Finance and Entrepreneurship from William E. Simon School of Business at the University of Rochester.

Jason currently serves as the Managing Director of Sanofi Ventures. Prior to Sanofi, Jason was the Director of Corporate Development at Translate Bio (f.k.a 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. 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. Dr. Hafler graduated with honors from Bowdoin College and holds a Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge.

Matt joined NEA in 2018 and is currently a Partner on the healthcare team. He focuses on biopharma investments.

Prior to NEA, Matt was a Principal at F-Prime Capital Partners. During his five years at F-Prime, he was responsible for closing investments in more than 20 private biopharma companies, and served on the board of more than 10 portfolio companies. Prior to F-Prime, he was a management consultant in the health and life sciences practice at Oliver Wyman, a biotech equity research analyst at Robert W. Baird, and a healthcare investment banker at JP Morgan. He also conducted lipid metabolism research at the National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Disorders. Matt is a board member of AviadoBio, Escient Pharma, and Recludix Pharma.

Matt received a BA with Honors in Biological Sciences from the University of Chicago, an MD from the University of Illinois, and an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

Jayson Punwani is a Managing Director at Abingworth with more than 20 years of experience in venture investing, start-up leadership, technology transfer, and academic research within the life sciences industry.

Previously, Jayson was a Senior Partner at Takeda Ventures, the corporate venture capital arm of Takeda Pharmaceuticals, where he focused on early-stage biotech investments. He led investments in, and was on the board of, VelosBio (acquired by Merck), Xilio (NASDAQ: XLO), StrideBio, and Coho Therapeutics. He also served as a member of the board of directors for Armagen (acquired by JCR) and Palleon Pharmaceuticals. Prior to Takeda, Jayson was a Senior Principal at Pappas Ventures where he played a key role in investments in CoLucid (acquired by Eli Lilly), Aura Biosciences (NASDAQ: AURA), Lumena Pharmaceutics (acquired by Shire), and Glycomine. He started his career as a research scientist in the cardiovascular drug discovery group at Bristol Myers Squibb.

Jayson earned his M.B.A. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, his Ph.D. in biology from the University of Utah, and his B.S. in Biology from the College of New Jersey.

Kevin Raidy is the Managing Partner of Cowen Healthcare Investments. Mr. Raidy is currently a member of the Board of Directors of Escient Pharmaceuticals, NodThera Ltd., Aro Biotherapeutics, Neuron23, and is a Board Observer for Evox Therapeutics. Mr. Raidy previously served as a Board Member or Observer of PGDx, Semma Therapeutics, Repare Therapeutics, Pliant Therapeutics and Orchard Therapeutics.

Prior to his role at Cowen Healthcare Investments, Mr. Raidy was Cowen’s Head of Investment Banking and prior to that he served as co-head of Cowen’s equity capital markets group, which is responsible for the origination and execution of all equity capital-raising transactions. Before that, Mr. Raidy was a managing director at Cowen Investment Management (formerly known as Ramius LLC), where he was portfolio manager for direct investments and convertible bonds. Mr. Raidy also was the founder of H4 Capital Management LLC.

Mr. Raidy’s sell-side experience includes ten years at Shipley Raidy Capital Partners LP, a boutique investment banking firm that he co-founded, where he was responsible for sourcing, evaluating, and structuring numerous debt and equity financings and performed M&A advisory services.

Prior to founding Shipley Raidy, Mr. Raidy was an associate at Philadelphia First Group. He started his career at Cantor Fitzgerald before moving to Merrill Lynch as an analyst in the municipal finance group.

Mr. Raidy holds a BS in Economics with a concentration in finance from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

Andy Schwab is a Founder and Managing Partner of 5AM Ventures. Prior to founding 5AM in 2002, Mr. Schwab was a Principal at Bay City Capital where he was involved with companies such as Cubist, PTC Therapeutics and Syrrx. Previously Mr. Schwab was Vice President of Business Development at Digital Gene Technologies and a Vice President in the life science investment banking group of Montgomery Securities. At 5AM, he has led the firm’s investments in and served on the Boards of Bird Rock Bio, Blue Light Therapeutics, Camp4 Therapeutics, Cleave Therapeutics, DVS (acquired by Fluidigm), Enliven, Escient Pharmaceuticals, Flexion Therapeutics (NASDAQ: FLXN), Ikaria (acquired by Mallinckrodt and spun-out), Ilypsa (acquired by Amgen), Novome, Pear Therapeutics (NASDAQ: PEAR), Precision NanoSystems (acquired by Danaher), Purigen and TMRW. Mr. Schwab also serves on the Boards of Trustees of the California Academy of Sciences and Davidson College. He received a B.S. with Honors in Genetics & Ethics from Davidson College and was a member of its 1992 Final Four soccer team. Mr. Schwab is based in the San Francisco, CA office.

Peter Svennilson founded The Column Group (TCG) in 2007, a biotech VC group based in San Francisco with $3.5B in commitments that has started and invested in 45 biotech companies so far. He has worked in venture capital and finance for 37 years. He was the Chairman of Aragon from startup until it was sold to Johnson & Johnson in 2013 and was the Chairman of Seragon until it was sold to Genentech/Roche in 2014.

Mr. Svennilson currently serves as a Board Director of Carmot and Escient. He has been a Board Director of biotech companies such as: NGM (“NGM”), Constellation (“CNST”), Revolution Medicine (“RVMD”), RAPT (“RAPT”), ORIC (“ORIC”), Immune Design (“IMDZ”), Rosetta (“RSTA”), PTC (“PTCT”), Chemocentryx (“CCXI”), Tercica (“TRCA”) and Somalogic (“SLGC”). He was also a Board Observer of Arcus (“RCUS”).

Prior to TCG, he was the Founder and Managing Partner of Three Crowns Capital where he helped found and/or finance large parts of the venture capital for biotech companies such as: Tularik (“TLRK”), Rosetta (“RSTA”), PTC (“PTCT”), Chemocentryx (“CCXI”), Rinat, Tercica (“TRCA”), Somalogic (“SLGC”), Infinity (“INFI”) and Fiveprime (“FPRX”).

Prior to Three Crowns Capital, he was the Associate Managing Director in charge of European Investment Banking Origination for Nomura in Europe.

Mr. Svennilson is a Trustee at The Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. He received an MBA from the Stockholm School of Economics with further studies at the MBA programs at INSEAD in Fontainebleau and London Business School.

Scientific Advisory Board

Dr. Charles Zuker is a Professor of Biochemistry and of Neuroscience at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, and an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Dr. Zuker is recognized for his work on GPCR signaling, and his studies on how the brain represents our sensory experiences and transforms reception into perception. Dr. Zuker is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Medicine, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He was a scientific co-founder of Aurora Biosciences, Senomyx, and of Kallyope.

Alex Dorenbaum, M.D.  is the Chief Medical Officer at Reneo Pharmaceutical. He is a board-certified allergist-immunologist with over 25 years of experience in drug development and clinical trials. Alex has expertise in small molecules, biologicals, and vaccines in allergy, HIV/AIDS, pulmonary, immunological, cardiovascular, metabolic (including genetic), and pediatric diseases. He has Management experience including people and program leadership, and business development (US, Europe, Japan). Prior to Reneo, Alex was a Clinical Professor, Pediatrics, Immunology and Allergy at Stanford University School of Medicine, Consultant, Clinical Development at Balance Therapeutics Inc., Chief Medical Officer at Allakos Inc., Senior Consultant at Shire Pharmaceuticals, Chief Medical Officer, Lumena Pharmaceuticals Inc., Group Medical Director US Medical Affairs – Immunology Team at Genentech, Senior Director (and Director), Clinical Development at BioMarin Pharmaceutical Inc., Director, Clinical Development at Chiron Corporation, and Assistant Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at UCSF. Alex received his M.D. from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, and was a Fellow at the Baylor College of Medicine.

Most recently, Don was a Senior Vice President in R&D at Allergan where he led an organization responsible for research and preclinical functions, clinical pharmacology, and the scientific arm of business development. He was a member of the CEO’s Operational Leadership Team, the R&D leadership team, and co-chair of the governance body for all pre-POC clinical programs. He reshaped the research strategy and elevated more than 10 programs into development, primarily in ophthalmology, dermatology and aesthetics, and neuroscience. He also made major contributions to quickly rebuilding the R&D pipeline through completion of over 25 business development deals. Prior to joining Allergan, Don was Vice President of Emerging Scientific Innovations at AstraZeneca, Chief Scientific Officer of the Indications Discovery Unit at Pfizer, VP Biology, St Louis site, at Pfizer, and Vice President of Neuroscience Discovery at Pharmacia. Don has served on the Board of Directors for Stealth Newco, Pandion Therapeutics, and AGN Holdco. Don earned a Ph.D. in Biochemistry from McGill University in Montreal, Quebec and completed a post-doctoral fellowship in Pharmacology and Neuroscience at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, MO. He has published many peer reviewed articles and is author of the book Drug Repositioning: Bringing New Life to Shelved Assets and Existing Drugs.

Ethan A. Lerner, MD, PhD is the director of the Program in Itch at Massachusetts General Hospital and is an associate professor of dermatology at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts. Dr Lerner earned his bachelor’s degree in chemistry at the University of Pennsylvania and both his PhD in immunology and his Doctor of Medicine degree from Yale University. He is a member of the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) and the Society for Investigative Dermatology. He serves on the board of directors for the New England Dermatological Society and the International Forum for the Study of Itch (IFSI) and is the editor-in-chief of the journal Itch. Dr Lerner has been honored with several awards including being named a Lucille P. Markey Scholar, received the Itch Research Award during the Fifth World Congress on Itch, serves on the NIAMS council and is a trustee of the renowned Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. Dr Lerner has authored more than 100 papers.

Dr. Craig W. Lindsley has over 22 years experience in drug discovery and development in both industry (Eli Lilly, Merck) and academia (Vanderbilt, WCNDD). A proven track record of delivering results; involved in the discovery of over 15 preclinical candidates, with 6 successfully entering clinical trials and several still in various stages of clinical development. At Merck, heI was responsible for a group of 22 BS/MS/PhD medicinal chemists and delivered six preclinical candidates for CNS and oncology programs. Currently, he is the Director of the WCNDD, and oversees 95 BS/MS/PhD scientists across medicinal chemistry, molecular pharmacology, DMPK, behavioral pharmacology and biomarkers, as well being responsible for raising a >$25 million dollar annual budget. While a leader in the WCNDD, he delivered 10 clinical candidates (with 3 more to be declared in 2021). He is the inventor of 109 issued US patents and 247 patent applications, author of >540 scientific journal papers, and invited speaker at over 100 international conferences. Craig is the Founding Editor-in-Chief of ACS Chemical Neuroscience (2009-2020), interim Editor-in-Chief of ACS Pharmacology & Translational Science (2020-2021) and current Editor-in-Chief of Journal of Medicinal Chemistry. He is the Recipient of major awards from ACS and ASPET, including induction into the ACS MEDI Hall of Fame (2021), and named a Fellow of the Royal Society for Chemistry, the National Academy of Inventors and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Craig received his B.S. in Chemistry from California State University, Chico, Chico, CA, his Ph.D. from the University of California, Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA, and was a Postdoctoral Fellow at Harvard University, Cambridge, MA.

Bryan L. Roth MD, PhD is the Michael Hooker Distinguished Professor of Pharmacology at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill School of Medicine. Dr. Roth received his MD and PhD (Biochemistry) from St. Louis University in 1983 and subsequently trained in pharmacology (NIH), molecular biology (Stanford) and Psychiatry (Stanford). Prior to coming to UNC, Dr. Roth was a Professor of Psychiatry and Biochemistry at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine where his clinical specialty was treatment-resistant schizophrenia. Dr. Roth has published nearly 500 papers in the general areas of molecular pharmacology, structural biology and synthetic biology including 28 papers published in Science, Nature and Cell over the past decade. Scientific highlights include creation of the widely used chemogenetic platform dubbed ‘DREADDs’ and the elucidation of the structures of LSD and antipsychotic drugs to their molecular targets. Dr. Roth was elected to the National Academy of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences in 2014 and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2019. He has received many honors including the Goodman and Gilman Award for Receptor Pharmacology, the PhRMA Foundation Excellence in Pharmacology Award, a NARSAD Distinguished Investigator Award and the IUPHAR Analytical Pharmacology Lectureship. Dr. Roth also given more than 40 named lectures including the 2017 Martin Rodbell Lecture and a Presidential Special Lecturer at the 2018 Society for Neurosciences meeting. 

Guy Servant, PhD is currently the Vice President of Biology at Firmenich Inc. and previously at Senomyx Inc. where he has spent the last 20 years focusing on the development of small molecule modulators for GPCRs and ion channels.  Dr. Servant has significant research experience in the fields of receptor pharmacology, molecular pharmacology, cellular signaling, assay development and high throughput screening. Dr. Servant obtained is PhD from the University of Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada then from 1997 to 2000, he was a post-doctoral fellow at the University of California, San Francisco in the laboratory of Henry Bourne MD where he pioneered approaches to study the spatiotemporal aspect of receptor signaling. Dr. Servant has authored and co-authored more than 140 scientific publications and issued patents.

Renato T. Skerlj, Ph.D. is an R&D executive/entrepreneur with over 25 years of experience and leadership in the discovery and development of small molecule drugs to treat cancer, infection, rare and neurodegenerative diseases. He is currently the Chief Executive Officer at Expansion Therapeutics. Before Expansion Therapeutics, he held positions at X4 Pharmaceuticals, LTI, Genzyme, AnorMED, Merck, and Johnson Matthey. He is an accomplished drug hunter with two approved drugs and three drugs currently in clinical development. Renato sold an option deal to Allergan in 2017, as part of the executive team at Lysosomal Therapeutics, on a preclinical Parkinsons’s disease asset resulting in significant returns ($100M upfront, $50M runway) to LTI shareholders. He founded and raised capital for X4 Pharmaceuticals and Noliva Therapeutics and utilized high throughput screens (HTS), phenotypic screens, fragment-based drug design (FBDD) and structure-based drug design (SBDD) for multiple programs at Genzyme/Sanofi resulting in 4 IND programs. He was also a member of executive team that grew a start-up into a successful midsize biotech resulting in the company acquisition in November 2006 for $585 million. He is the author of 69 publications and inventor of 52 patents. Renato received his BS.c with honors from the University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand and his Ph.D., Synthetic Organic Chemistry, from the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada. He was also a Postdoctoral Fellow with the University of Oxford, Oxford, England as well as Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, USA.