ABOUT

We are a San Francisco Bay Area-based research stage biopharmaceutical company aiming to discover, develop and commercialize innovative therapeutics for the treatment of rare and age-related diseases.  We are developing compounds to modulate molecular pathways that address the underlying causes of disease initiation and progression, such as oxidative, cellular and environmental stress. 

Our lead compounds are novel and highly selective therapeutics that potently inhibit the mTORC1 pathway. Genetic mutations and aging result in abnormal activation of mTORC1; normalization of its aberrant activity is, therefore, necessary to combat rare and age-related disease pathologies and enable therapeutic treatment. Addressing the mTORC1 pathway has been challenging to-date however, because chronic treatment with conventional, non-selective mTOR inhibitors, such as rapamycin and Everolimus, leads to off-target inhibition of mTORC2 which results in dose-limiting deleterious effects on metabolic health and immune function. The associated toxicity leads to severe clinical adverse events that significantly reduce treatment safety, decrease compliance, and compromise therapeutic efficacy. 

In contrast, by virtue of their selectivity, our compounds potently inhibit mTORC1, but avoid inhibition of mTORC2, and therefore are not expected to cause the mTORC2-related side effects that limit the conventional non-selective mTOR inhibitors. We believe that the exquisite selectivity of our compounds for mTORC1 will enable a significantly improved safety profile resulting in improved tolerability, patient compliance, and ultimately improved efficacy in treating mTORC1-mediated rare and age-related diseases. 

Our proprietary platform is supported by an extensive intellectual property portfolio, part of which has been obtained by assignment from the Buck Institute of Novato, California, the nation's first independent research facility focused solely on understanding the connection between aging and chronic disease. 

 
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LEADERSHIP TEAM

ALLISON J. HULME, PHD

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Chief Executive Officer

Dr. Hulme joined Aeovian in January 2020 as CEO, President and Board Member, bringing with her 30 years of experience in drug development and commercialization.  Prior to this, she was the Chief Operating Officer, Head of Research and Development and Board member at Sophiris BIO, establishing the company’s California operations and leading the Topsalysin program from IND to Phase 3 in BPH and prostate cancer.

Prior to joining Sophiris, Dr. Hulme was the Executive Vice President and Head of Global Development at Elan Corporation plc. She directed many of its key programs including the approval and commercialization of Natalizumab, Tysabri®, for Multiple Sclerosis and Crohn’s disease, a first in kind, multi-billion dollar treatment currently commercialized by Biogen. In addition, she led the Phase 3 development of Elan’s Alzheimer’s Immunotherapy Programs resulting in a strategic investment by Johnson & Johnson of approximately $ 1.5 billion (transaction value).

Before Elan, Dr. Hulme held several positions in clinical research at Glaxo Wellcome Pharmaceuticals and was Lecturer in cell biology at Luton University. Dr. Hulme holds a first-class honors Degree in Cell Biology from University of  Bedfordshire  and a Ph.D. from Cranfield Institute of Technology.

JOHN F. KINCAID

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Chief Scientific Officer

Mr. Kincaid joined Aeovian in March 2020 as Chief Scientific Officer. He brings 25 years of drug discovery experience where his teams have led several compounds into clinical trials.  He is an Inventor on over 50 patent applications.

Prior to joining, Mr. Kincaid was a scientific founder and acting Head of Discovery for Nflection Therapeutics, a company focused on novel therapies for patients with neurofibromatosis type 1. There he led a virtual discovery team that identified a novel MEK1 inhibitor for topical applications. He actively participated in Series A financing that raised $20 million with prominent venture capital firms.

Before Nflection, Mr. Kincaid was Managing Director of Synterys, Inc., a medicinal chemistry service provider and incubator with state-of-the art U.S-based facilities. He worked with virtual start-up companies, helping to establish their early stage discovery platforms to achieve value inflection points for additional financing and/or partnerships.

Mr. Kincaid also served as Senior Director of Drug Discovery at Renovis, a discovery and early stage clinical company in neurological and inflammatory diseases (acquired by Evotec, AG in 2008). There he invented novel P2X7 antagonists for the treatment of inflammatory disorders and novel antagonists of P2X2/3 with potential first-in-class treatments for inflammatory/neuropathic pain and urinary disorders. He also invented Novel TRPV1 antagonists, which were partnered with Pfizer, Inc. in a global collaboration and licensing deal representing $170 million of potential value. As a member of the joint Renovis-Pfizer Research Steering Committee, Mr. Kincaid oversaw cross-company activities across California, Nagoya, Japan, and Sandwich, U.K. sites.  

Prior to Renovis, Mr. Kincaid held multiple Discovery Science roles at ImClone Systems, Amgen Inc., and Abbot Laboratories. Mr. Kincaid received a BA in Chemistry from the Illinois Institute of Technology and was Research Assistant in Dr. Arun Ghosh’s lab at the University of Illinois at Chicago where he contributed to the design and synthesis of HIV protease inhibitors including Darunavir, approved by the FDA in 2006.

MATTHEW J. PLUNKETT, PhD

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Chief Financial Officer

Dr. Plunkett joined Aeovian in March 2022 as Chief Financial Officer.  He brings over two decades of biopharma finance and corporate development experience to the company.

Over the last 13 years he has served as CFO or CBO for several biopharma companies.  In addition to leading finance and corporate development activities, at various times he has also held responsibility for leadership of functional areas such as manufacturing, quality, program management, regulatory, and corporate communications and investor relations.  At Nkarta Therapeutics, he led the efforts for that company’s $290 million Nasdaq IPO, one of the largest-ever for a preclinical stage biopharma company.  Over a five year tenure at CTI Biopharma, he completed two large development and commercialization partnerships that brought in $141 million, as well as a series of equity and debt financings that raised $246 million to fund three Phase 3 trials for CTI.

Previously, Dr. Plunkett served for nine years in positions of increasing responsibility as a biotech investment banker at CIBC World Markets and its U.S. successor Oppenheimer, most recently as Managing Director and Head of West Coast Biotechnology.  During that time, he advised clients on over 70 completed transactions, raising over $4.3 billion in equity and equity-linked transactions and nearly $1 billion deal value in M&A and other financial advisory transactions.

Dr. Plunkett holds a B.S. in Chemistry from Harvey Mudd College and a Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley.

STELIOS T. TZANNIS, MS, PHD

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Chief Operating Officer

Dr. Tzannis is Aeovian’s Founder and Chief Operating Officer and has over 25 years of pharmaceutical industry experience from target selection, drug discovery to advanced clinical development. 

Prior to Aeovian, he was an EIR & Director of Clinical Sciences at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging; founder & CEO of ARdaix Pharmaceuticals SAS and co-founder & COO of Theralpha SAS. Both of these roles focused on the development of novel therapeutics for the management of acute and chronic pain. 

Leading to that, Dr. Tzannis served as Vice President of Pharmaceutical R&D and Executive team member at AcelRx Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Vice President of R&D at iMEDD Inc., Director of R&D and Licensing & Acquisitions at Nektar Therapeutics, and Research Scientist at Alza Corporation. 

He holds MS/PhD and Dipl.Eng. degrees in Chemical Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (Troy, NY) and NTUA (Athens, Greece), respectively.
 

 

RICHARD GASTER, MD, PHD

BOARD OF DIRECTORS

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Director & Chairman

Dr. Gaster joined venBio with experience as a physician, entrepreneur, and life sciences investor. He currently serves on the board of Arrakis Therapeutics and as a board observer for Akero Therapeutics, Harmony Biosciences, and Impel NeuroPharma. Prior to joining venBio, Richard served as the head of translational medicine at Pliant Therapeutics. As a key member of the initial management team, Richard participated in the formation and launch of Pliant Therapeutics from Third Rock Ventures where he previously served as a Senior Associate. During his tenure at Third Rock Ventures, Richard was responsible for company creation to transform new areas of science into innovative drug discovery companies. He began his career as a resident physician in Harvard’s Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Program. Richard has published numerous articles in top-tier peer-reviewed journals including Nature Medicine and Nature Nanotechnology, holds more than a dozen patents, and was named one of Forbes “30 Under 30” in Science and Healthcare. Richard holds a BSE in Bioengineering from the University of Pennsylvania where he graduated summa cum laude. He received his MD and PhD in Bioengineering from Stanford University in the Medical Scientist Training Program.

JENS ECKSTEIN, PHD

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Director 

Jens is Managing Partner at Apollo Health Ventures with more than 15 years of venture capital experience in biopharma and 10 years of operational experience in drug discovery and development. He is a Kauffman Fellow and a mentor for life science entrepreneurs and start-up teams in the area of innovative life science and healthcare IT companies.  Before joining Apollo, Jens served as President of SR One for eight years. He is also co-founder and Managing Director of Action Potential Venture Capital (APVC). Previously, Jens was a General Partner at TVM Capital leading early-stage investments in Boston and was CEO and President of SelectX Pharmaceuticals. Before his investment career, Jens was leading research teams and pharma collaborations at Enanta Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: ENTA) and Mitotix.

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LARS EKMAN, MD, PHD

Director

Dr. Ekman is an experienced global R&D executive and drug developer with over 30 years of experience in senior executive, scientific, and clinical functions. He is currently the Chairman of Amarin (AMRN), Prothena (PRTA), Afyx Therapeutics, and also serves on the board of Ultragenyx (RARE). 

Prior to joining Sofinnova in 2008, Lars held the position of President of Research and Development at Elan. He joined Elan in January 2001, and he is credited with advancing Elan’s drug discovery pipeline and under his leadership, Elan received approval for four U.S. New Drug Applications, three European Marketing Approval Applications, and five Investigational New Drug Applications. These efforts resulted in advancing Elan’s immunotherapeutic approach into Phase III and bringing to market three innovative neuroscience-based products, including Tysabri for MS. Prior to joining Elan, he was Executive Vice President, Research and Development at Schwarz Pharma AG beginning in 1997. From 1984 to 1997, Dr. Ekman was employed in a variety of senior scientific and clinical functions at Pharmacia, now Pfizer.

 

Dr. Ekman is a board-certified surgeon with a PhD in Experimental Biology and has held several clinical and academic positions in both the United States and Europe.

ALLISON J. HULME, PHD

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Director

Dr. Hulme joined Aeovian in January 2020 as CEO, President and Board Member, bringing with her 30 years of experience in drug development and commercialization.  Prior to this, she was the Chief Operating Officer, Head of Research and Development and Board member at Sophiris BIO, establishing the company’s California operations and leading the Topsalysin program from IND to Phase 3 in BPH and prostate cancer.

Prior to joining Sophiris, Dr. Hulme was the Executive Vice President and Head of Global Development at Elan Corporation plc. She directed many of its key programs including the approval and commercialization of Natalizumab, Tysabri®, for Multiple Sclerosis and Crohn’s disease, a first in kind, multi-billion dollar treatment currently commercialized by Biogen. In addition, she led the Phase 3 development of Elan’s Alzheimer’s Immunotherapy Programs resulting in a strategic investment by Johnson & Johnson of approximately $ 1.5 billion (transaction value).

Before Elan, Dr. Hulme held several positions in clinical research at Glaxo Wellcome Pharmaceuticals and was Lecturer in cell biology at Luton University. Dr. Hulme holds a first-class honors Degree in Cell Biology from University of  Bedfordshire  and a Ph.D. from Cranfield Institute of Technology.

 

JACQUELINE A. FRENCH, MD

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Medical Advisor

Dr. French is a professor in the New York University (NYU) Department of Neurology and Comprehensive Epilepsy Center. She is also founder/director of the Epilepsy Study Consortium, and the Chief Scientific Officer for the Epilepsy Foundation. She trained in neurology at Mount Sinai Hospital (NY) and did her fellowship training at Mount Sinai hospital and Yale University. She is the past president of the American Epilepsy Society (AES) and is the 2005 recipient of the AES Service Award and the 2013 Epilepsy Foundation Hero award. She has served on the AES board and is the past Secretary of the American Society of Experimental Neurotherapeutics. Dr. French focused her research efforts on the development of new therapeutics for epilepsy and new methodologies for clinical trials.  She has authored over 200 articles and chapters, is the editor of three books, and lectures internationally on clinical trials and use of antiepileptic drugs.

 

ADVISORY TEAM

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DAVID A. LOWE, PHD

Scientific Advisor

Dr. Lowe was member of the founding team of Aeovian. He is president and CEO of NeuroAssets Sarl, a Swiss-based neuroscience-focused consulting firm providing advisory services to pharmaceutical, venture capital and biotechnology companies throughout the world. Previously he was the chief scientific officer (CSO) at PsychoGenics Inc.; CSO at Memory Pharmaceuticals (acquired by Roche); executive vice president and CSO at Fidelity Biosciences Group in Boston; president, CEO and director of Envivo Pharmaceuticals (now Forum Pharmaceuticals); vice president and therapeutic area head at Roche Bioscience in Palo Alto; vice president and global therapeutic area head at Bayer AG.; and head of CNS Biology and deputy head of CNS Research at Sandoz Ltd (now Novartis). Dr. Lowe has more than 35 years of experience in pharmaceutical drug discovery and product development, with an established track record of generating diverse clinical candidates. He received his PhD in neurobiology from the University of Leeds, UK and has published over 60 papers in peer-reviewed journals.

DUDLEY LAMMING, PHD

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Scientific Advisor

Dr. Lamming is an Assistant Professor of medicine in endocrinology, diabetes, and metabolism at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health, where he also co-directs the Mouse Metabolic Phenotyping Platform. He has a joint appointment as a research health scientist in the VA Non-Clinician Intramural Research Program at the William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital in Madison, Wisconsin. He is a renown expert in the field of mTOR biology and the 2018 recipient of the prestigious Nathan Shock New Investigator Award awarded by the Gerontological Society of America (GSA). His research focuses on the basic cellular biology of aging, including regulation of lifespan and healthspan by regulatory deacetylase proteins and the mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR) signaling pathway. He has published primary research reports in several prestigious journals, including Science and Nature. He is the principal investigator on several current research grants, including multiple projects funded by the National Institute on Aging. Dr. Lamming serves on the Board of Directors for the American Aging Association.

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IAN J. MASSEY, MA, PHD

Drug Development Advisor

Dr. Massey has over 30 years of pharmaceutical industry experience in all phases of research and development, from target selection through to NDA approval. Dr. Massey has founded, built and successfully exited several biotech companies. His primary focus has been in small molecule and protein therapeutics in multiple therapeutic areas. Dr. Massey has a D.Phil. from the University of Oxford (England) and performed post-doctoral work with Carl Djerassi at Stanford. He is the CEO of Gaba Therapeutics and was formerly Head of Research and Early Development at Roche Pharmaceuticals (Palo Alto), founder and CEO of Synosia Therapeutics, President of Biotie Therapeutics and CEO of StemCell Inc.

 "We need a better response rate and less high-dose mediated side effects in the treatment of seizures. Current mTOR inhibitors, despite their positive efficacy in certain epilepsies, have a lot of issues, the most significant of which is safety..."

David N. Franz, Cincinnati Children's Hospital

 

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