Board of Directors
Jim Audia, Ph.D.
Executive Director, Chicago Biomedical Consortium
Dr. Audia currently serves as Executive Director of the Chicago Biomedical Consortium (CBC), a collaborative effort of Northwestern University, The University of Chicago and The University of Illinois-Chicago, focused on enhancing biomedical innovation in the greater Chicago area. He joined the CBC after a nearly seven-year tenure as Constellation Pharmaceuticals’ chief scientific officer, where he oversaw the successful evolution of the company’s R&D efforts from a strong scientific base to a robust portfolio of clinical-stage assets and pre-clinical programs. Dr. Audia joined Constellation in January 2011 following a highly productive career in drug discovery at Eli Lilly and Company. He held several key leadership roles during his 23-year tenure at Lilly. As a Distinguished Lilly Scholar, the highest level of the company’s scientific ladder, he made seminal technical and strategic contributions to the Lilly drug pipeline. Over the course of his career, Dr. Audia’s scientific work has contributed to more than 17 development candidates, including transformative contributions to the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease through his discovery of both the first gamma secretase inhibitor and an industry-leading beta secretase inhibitor. Dr. Audia is a named inventor on more than 100 issued U.S. patents and has published and presented extensively.
Dr. Audia received his Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from the University of South Carolina and completed postdoctoral training at Yale University before joining Lilly. He currently serves as a board member for Constellation Pharmaceuticals, a scientific advisor for the Tau Consortium of the Rainwater Foundation and participates on the Executive Advisory Board for UICentre (UIC), the NewCures Advisory Board at Northwestern and the Joint Steering Committee for Lakeside Discovery, a joint venture between Northwestern and Deerfield.
Anja König, Ph.D.
Global Head of the Novartis Venture Fund
Dr. Anja König is the Global Head of the NVF in Basel, Switzerland. Previously, she was a Managing Director at NVF and prior to joining NVF, she was an Associate Partner at McKinsey and Company in New York. Anja holds a Ph.D. in physics from Cornell University.
She is serving or has served on the boards of Bicycle Therapeutics, Forendo, Ribon, and previously Anaveon, Covagen, Heptares, Nabriva, and other companies. She is active in the Swiss startup ecosystem as a member of the board of the University of Zurich Life Sciences Fund and the Steering Committee of the Bridge Grant program of the Swiss National Science Foundation and the CTI.
Marian Nakada, Ph.D.
Vice President, Venture Investments at Johnson & Johnson Innovation
Marian is Vice President, Venture Investments at Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JJDC Inc. and is based in Boston. She focuses on pharmaceutical investments in East Coast companies that are in areas of strategic interest to Johnson & Johnson. Marian previously held roles at Centocor R&D, Janssen R&D, and Janssen Business Development. She has a B.A. in Biology from Harvard College and a Ph.D. in Pharmacology from the University of Pennsylvania. Marian currently sits on the Boards of Navitor Pharmaceuticals, Artizan Therapeutics, Twentyeight-Seven Therapeutics, Ribon Therapeutics, and the New England Venture Capital Association.
Victoria Richon, Ph.D.
President and CEO, Ribon Therapeutics
Dr. Richon is a scientifically trained executive with decades of leadership experience in small biotechnology companies, global pharmaceutical companies and academia. Before joining Ribon, Dr. Richon was the Vice President and Global Head of Oncology Research and Translational Medicine at Sanofi where she led the company’s early oncology efforts. Prior to Sanofi, Dr. Richon was Vice President of Biological Sciences at Epizyme, Inc., a biotechnology company pioneering therapeutics based upon epigenetics. Earlier in her career, she was Founder and Executive Director of Aton Pharmaceuticals which was acquired by Merck in 2004. Aton was formed to develop HDAC inhibitors, including vorinostat, an HDAC inhibitor that Dr. Richon developed during her tenure at Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and vorinostat was the first HDAC inhibitor approved by the FDA while she was at Merck.
Dr. Richon received her Ph.D. in Biochemistry at the University of Nebraska Medical Center and a B.A. in Chemistry at the University of Vermont.
Jonathan Root, M.D.
General Partner, US Venture Partners
Dr. Root spent nine years in clinical practice before joining USVP in 1995 as an Ewing Marion Kauffman Fellow in venture capital, and became a general partner in 1997. Before USVP, Dr. Root was on the faculty and clinical staff at The New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center in New York City. There he was an assistant professor of neurology and director of the neurology-neurosurgery special care unit. He is board-certified in neurology. Dr. Root is currently on the boards of USVP portfolio companies of Cleave Biosciences, eFFECTOR Therapeutics, Inari Medical, Omada Health, Ribon and Route 92 Medical. Dr. Root is a former board member for the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA).
Dr. Root holds a B.A. in economics from Dartmouth College, an M.D. from the University of Florida College of Medicine and an M.B.A. from Columbia University.
Peter Svennilson, M.B.A.
Managing Partner and Founder, The Column Group
Mr. Svennilson is a Founder and Managing Partner of The Column Group (TCG) and has worked in venture capital and finance for over 30 years. He was the Chairman of Aragon Pharmaceuticals from startup until it was sold to Johnson & Johnson in 2013 and Seragon Pharmaceuticals until it was sold to Genentech/Roche in 2014. Mr. Svennilson is currently a board director of Constellation Pharmaceuticals, Gritstone Oncology, NGM Biopharmaceuticals, ORIC Pharmaceuticals and Ribon Therapeutics. Prior to TCG, he was the Founder and Managing Partner of Three Crowns Capital where he helped finance large parts of the venture capital for biotech companies such as Tularik, Rosetta, PTC, Chemocentryx, Rinat, Tercica, Somalogic, Infinity and Five Prime. Prior to Three Crowns Capital, he was the Associate Managing Director in charge of European Investment Banking Origination at Nomura in London. Mr. Svennilson is a Trustee at The Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey.
Mr. Svennilson received an M.B.A. from the Stockholm School of Economics and Finance.
Cameron Wheeler, Ph.D.
Partner, Deerfield Management
Dr. Wheeler is a Partner on the Private Transactions team at Deerfield. He joined Deerfield in 2014 and focuses on therapeutics companies. Prior to joining Deerfield, he was at Eleven Biotherapeutics for more than five years, where he was responsible for corporate development and commercial strategy. Dr. Wheeler was instrumental in the founding, building, and the eventual public offering of Eleven Biotherapeutics. Prior to Eleven, he was at Third Rock Ventures, a Boston-based venture capital firm focused on launching and building life science companies. While at Third Rock, Dr. Wheeler gained business development and operating experience as a member of the founding team of Constellation Pharmaceuticals.
Dr. Wheeler holds a Ph.D. and an M.S. in Biological Engineering and a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).