Our Team

Scott Johnson

Chief Executive Officer & Co-Founder

Scott is our CEO and co-founder of Comanche Biopharma. Prior to Comanche, Scott was a co-founder of The Medicines Company where he served as director (1996-2009) until he joined the management team as Chief Medical Advisor (2009-2021). In that role, he was responsible for evaluating the company’s long-range global strategy and for the licensing or acquisition of innovative products, including inclisiran, for which the company was purchased by Novartis. Previously, Scott was a founding General Partner at JSB Partners, L.P., an investment bank with a focus on mergers and acquisitions, private financings and corporate alliances within the healthcare sector. From September 1991 to July 1999, Scott served as a founder and managing director of MPM Capital, LLC, a venture capital firm.

Scott holds a B.S. in chemistry (Phi Beta Kappa) and an M.D. (Alpha Omega Alpha) from the University of Alabama. His academic career included faculty positions at Harvard Medical School, the University of Colorado Medical School, and the University of South Alabama. He has been Board Certified in Internal Medicine, Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine and Sleep Disorders Medicine. He currently is a Board member at Atalanta Therapeutics, a biopharmaceutical company focused on the application of RNA interference to diseases of neurodegeneration.

Mike Young

President & Co-Founder

Mike is Co-Founder and President of Comanche Biopharma where he is responsible for leading operations and building the company. Previous to Comanche, Mike was Vice President of Commercial Planning and Healthcare Provider Strategy at The Medicines Company (MDCO) where he was responsible for the global pre-commercialization, go to market planning, lifecycle, and competitive intelligence strategy for Leqvio (Inclisiran) through to its acquisition by Novartis in 2020. Mike held various other positions of leadership in his more than 11 years at MDCO, including Chief Learning Officer and Head of Marketing for the post-operative business unit. Mike has played a leadership role in the development, approval and launch of new therapeutics in the areas of acute cardiovascular, surgery, infectious disease, and anesthetics. Previously, Mike worked for Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and the Center for Integration of Medicine and Innovative Technology (CIMIT). Mike grew up in northern New Mexico.

Belen Vicente Blazquez

Program Director

Belen Vicente is Program Director and founding employee of Comanche Biopharma, where she is responsible for the operational management of the CMC and business development strategy. Previous to Comanche, she worked at AskBio, where she negotiated gene therapy development partnerships, led valuation strategy for its R&D portfolio and was part of the recent $4Bn acquisition by Bayer. Belen combines a solid bioengineering background with her experience in life sciences strategy and has acted as venture creation advisor to several life science startups at the Harvard Blavatnik Biomedical Accelerator and as Leader of the Healthcare Entrepreneurship Sector at MIT. Belen started her career as a bioengineer in Spain and then moved to consulting (McKinsey & Company) and industry (ISDIN), contributing to numerous deals and initiatives in corporate strategy, competitive intelligence, and market entry. She holds a B.S. in Biotechnology at the University of Salamanca and an MBA with a certificate in Entrepreneurship and Innovation from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. At MIT she focused on new business models to advance therapies for rare diseases.

John Richards

Head of Global Pharmacutical Development

John read Chemistry at St John’s College Oxford prior to completing a DPhil in Peptide Chemistry also at Oxford. Following his doctorate, John carried out post-doctoral research at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, working as a part of the team which developed the now almost universally utilised Fmoc-solid-phase synthesis methodology. Subsequent to further research as a staff scientist into neuro-transmitter peptides in the MRC Neurochemical Pharmacology Unit in Cambridge, John moved into industry, initially as a part of a start-up company formed by alumni of The Laboratory of Molecular Biology. Aside from his role at Comanche John is currently a Non Executive Director of Aptamer Group. Previously John was Senior Vice President at The Medicines Company, of which John had been a founding member in 1997 and led CMC drug development activities since the company’s inception.

Brad Zerler

Head of Global Preclinical Development

Brad has extensive experience in discovery research and development of new chemical entities and biologicals encompassing a broad range of therapeutic areas. Most recently, as Vice President, Nonclinical Development at The Medicines Company, Brad was responsible for the nonclinical development of compounds across the entire portfolio. His work contributed to the regulatory approvals of Kengreal, a P2Y12 platelet inhibitor, Orbactiv, an antibiotic for treatment of ABSSSIs, and inclisiran, a novel siRNA PCSK9 inhibitor for lowering LDL cholesterol. Prior to joining The Medicines Company, Brad was Vice President of Research at two small biotechnology companies that were acquired by big pharma following regulatory approval of therapeutics for periodontal (Periostat) and dermatological (Oracea and Hyphanox) disorders. Brad started his career at Bayer Pharmaceuticals where he led a discovery research group responsible for the development of therapeutic monoclonal antibodies, a Bone and Joint Research Group that transitioning several compounds into the clinic for the prevention and treatment of osteoarthritis, and ultimately became Director of the Biotechnology Division’s Extramural Research Funding Program. He also serves as an advisor to the i3 Asset Accelerator program at Mt. Sinai Innovation Partners. Brad received his PhD in Microbiology from New York Medical College and did his Postdoctoral Research at Cold Spring Harbor laboratories in the lab of Nobel Laureate, Richard Roberts.

Paul Antinori

Senior Vice President, General Counsel

Paul Antinori is General Counsel to Comanche Biopharma.

Previously, Mr. Antinori was Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary of The Medicines Company, a publicly traded pharmaceutical company. During his tenure, the company grew from $15 million in revenue generated from one product in one country to over $700 million from multiple products sold globally.

Prior to The Medicines Company, Mr. Antinori was General Counsel at Physician Computer Network, Inc., a publicly traded healthcare information technology company. Prior to his in-house positions, Mr. Antinori was a partner at the Gibbons law firm in Newark, NJ and, before Gibbons, at other major law firms in New York and New Jersey.

Mr. Antinori received his J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law and his B.A. from Boston College (Summa Cum Laude; Phi Beta Kappa).

Mandy Gervasio

Head of Global Quality Assurance

Mandy Gervasio joined Comanche in December 2021 bringing 20+ years of global Life Sciences industry experience. Mandy is an experienced Quality & Compliance leader with a demonstrated history of building, implementing and remediating Quality Systems. Mandy also shares a depth of expertise and practical experience in GxP cloud software technology & data analytics. Most recently, Mandy has led the charge for new start up ventures heading up the QA & QC organizational functions. Mandy has a passion for building, leading, and managing GxP programs that are fit for purpose and operationally effective. Mandy's experience spans a variety of technical niches including but not limited to sterile biologics, combination products and medical device software applications.

Mandy's fundamental belief is that a robust Quality Culture begins and ends with the People and an uncompromising focus on patient health. An effective Quality program must be founded upon a combination of applicable technical expertise, a passion for innovation & compassion for the patients in need. Mandy holds a MS Degree in Leadership from Northeastern University, a Bachelor's degree in Biology from UMASS and Post Grad professional certifications Six Sigma Lean, Risk Management & Data Analytics from Stanford University & MIT.

Adel Rafai Far

Vice President, Chemistry, Manufacturing, and Controls

Adel Rafai Far, PhD is Vice President, CMC at Comanche Biopharma, where he is responsible for developing and executing CMC strategies for drug substance and drug product development. He has over 20 years of industry experience in drug discovery and development and broad expertise including medicinal, analytical, bioanalytical and process chemistry; early stage formulation and pharmaceutical development. Dr. Rafai Far was most recently Principal Fellow, chemical and analytical development at Novartis and prior to this Senior Director, drug substance development at The Medicines Company, where, in particular, he has contributed to the development, regulatory approval and commercialization of Orbactiv® , a long-acting lypoglycopeptide for the treatment of gram positive infections and Leqvio®, a small interfering RNA for the treatment of hypercholesterolemia. Adel holds a PhD from the University of Toronto in organic chemistry and has conducted postdoctoral research at the Scripps Research Institute. He has over 20 published articles in peer-reviewed journals and over 13 patents and patent applications. He is a member of the American Chemical Society and of the Ordre des Chimistes du Quebec.

Maximilian Meanwell

Office & Operations Manager

Max serves as Comanche’s Operations Manager, managing business operations including budget, office management, vendor relations, real estate, and all other tangible assets as well as organizing and facilitating the in-person and virtual events. Before joining Comanche, Max had interned at the Senate Foreing Relations Committee for Chairman Robert Menendez and at DLA Piper’s government affairs department in Washington D.C.

Max has a BA in Government & Law from Lafayette College.

Jim Joffrion

Global Head of Clinical Operations

Jim Joffrion serves as Global Head of Clinical Operations for Comanche Biopharma. He has over 35 years of experience in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry developing robust clinical trial strategies and the creation and management of highly effective global clinical trial programs. He has directed or participated in the successful completion of over 400 Phase I, II, III and IV clinical trials in multiple indications including oncology, respiratory infections, asthma/allergy, cardiovascular, women's health, dermatology, ultra-rare indications, autoimmune disorders, hematology, critical care and gastro-enterology. He has been responsible for the strategic management of multi-million-dollar projects including domestic and international regulatory submissions resulting in the successful filing of over 20 INDs, 10 CTAs, numerous ANDAs and 2 NDAs which were ultimately approved. Jim has experience executing clinical trials in North, Central and South America, Eastern and Western Europe and the Asia/Pacific region. Jim has developed solid working relationships with world experts, key opinion leaders, and respected principal investigators throughout the world and leverages these relationships to ensure the proper design, staffing, implementation, and execution of various clinical programs in multiple indications. He has led teams of over 100 clinical research professionals. He is an expert in GCP guidelines as well as FDA and ICH rules and regulations. He has co-authored 18 research papers and presentations. Jim received a BS in biology at Lamar University, Beaumont, Texas and has been a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) since 2000.

Vignesh Hariharan

Director of Biology

Vignesh (Viggy) is a molecular biologist with expertise in siRNA discovery and pre-clinical pharmacology from the Khvorova Lab at the University of Massachusetts Chan Medical School. The focus of his work is the exploration of chemical space of siRNA conjugates for the purpose of characterization and improvement of extra-hepatic delivery. His contributions include optimization of siRNA chemistry for several clinically relevant organs, modulation of siRNA potency through backbone chemical modifications and the discovery of clinical quality lead sequences for novel siRNA targets. Viggy received his PhD from the Saini Lab at the Indian Institute of Science where he discovered a novel mechanism by which the Tuberculosis bacterium responds to stress and nutrient availability. He currently works as a post-doctoral research associate at the RNA Therapeutics Institute and is the Director of Biology at Comanche Biopharma.

Our Scientific Advisory Board

Craig Mello, Ph.D., Chair

Craig is the Blais University Chair in Molecular Medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School (UMMS). He was also designated an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in 2000, the third HHMI researcher selected at UMMS. HHMI is a $13 billion medical research organization that employs more than 350 eminent researchers at 72 medical schools, universities and research institutes worldwide. Craig and his colleague Andrew Fire, Ph.D., formerly of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, received the 2006 Nobel Prize in Medicine for their discovery of RNA interference (RNAi). They demonstrated that a certain form of RNA had the unanticipated property of silencing — or interfering with — the expression of a gene, ultimately halting the progression of the invading viral infection. Atalanta’s science is founded on this award-winning RNAi mechanism. Craig holds his B.S. in biochemistry from Brown University and his Ph.D. in cellular and developmental biology from Harvard University. He was a postdoctoral fellow at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center before coming to UMMS in 1995. He is also a 1995 Pew Scholar in the biomedical sciences.

Melissa Moore, Ph.D.

Moore is a biochemist and molecular biologist recognized for her work in eukaryotic RNA processing and metabolism. Moore was born and raised in New Market, Virginia. She graduated from the College of William and Mary in 1984 with a BS in Chemistry and Biology, and earned her PhD in Biological Chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1989. Following a Helen Hay Whitney Postdoctoral Fellowship at the MIT Center for Cancer Research, Moore joined the Brandeis University faculty in 1994, where she was named a Searle Scholar and Packard Fellow. In 2007, Moore moved to the University of Massachusetts Medical School (UMMS), where she served as a founding co-director of the RNA Therapeutics Institute and held the Eleanor Eustis Farrington Chair of Cancer Research. In 2011, Moore received the ASBMB William C. Rose Award for distinguished mentorship. Following a nineteen-year run as an HHMI Investigator (1997-2016), Moore resigned from HHMI to become the Chief Scientific Officer of the mRNA Research Platform at Moderna Therapeutics in Cambridge, MA. Moore maintains her academic affiliation with UMMS as a part-time faculty member.

Ananth Karumanchi, M.D.

Dr. Ananth Karumanchi, Medallion Chair in Vascular Biology, is Director of Renovascular Research in the Department of Medicine at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles. He completed his medical degree from Kilpauk Medical College, University of Madras, India (1992). He then completed his residency in Internal Medicine at the Henry Ford Hospital, Detroit (1996) and fellowship in Nephrology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School Boston (1999). His laboratory is focused on discovering pathogenic pathways and bringing therapies to patients in the areas of hypertensive disorders of pregnancy and chronic kidney diseases. Dr. Karumanchi’s research activities are vertically integrated, ranging from molecular and cell biological studies to animal models to first-in-class human clinical trials. Dr. Karumanchi has published >300 papers (with several publications in NEJM, Circulation, Nature, Nature Medicine, and JCI with H index = 110). For his work on pregnancy hypertension, he has received prestigious awards such as the American Heart Association – Established Investigator Award (2008), the International Society for the Study of Hypertension in Pregnancy – Chesley Award (2010), Outstanding Investigator Award from the American Federation for Medical Research (2010), and the Gregory Pincus Memorial Medal from Worcester Foundation for Biomedical Research (2021). He was also elected to the American Society for Clinical Investigation (ASCI) in 2007 and to Association of American Physicians (AAP) in 2015. Dr. Karumanchi’s research has been funded by the NIH, AHA, Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the Gates Foundation.

Anastasia Khvorova, Ph.D.

Anastasia Khvorova, Ph.D., has more than 20 years of experience developing oligonucleotide technology and therapeutics. She is the Remondi Family Chair in Biomedical Sciences and professor in the RNA Therapeutics Institute and Program in Molecular Medicine at the University of Massachusetts (UMass) Chan Medical School. Her lab brings together hardcore organic and oligonucleotide chemists with RNA biologists and pharmacologists to develop novel approaches and solutions to understanding natural and therapeutic RNA trafficking and delivery. Dr. Khvorova founded the UMass Nucleic Acid Chemistry Center, the only nonprofit facility in North America capable of gram-scale synthesis of modified oligonucleotides.

Prior to UMass Chan Medical School, Dr. Khvorova spent 12 years in industry in different executive positions. She has co-founded several biotechnology companies.

Dr. Khvorova is named as inventor on more than 150 patents and 300 patent applications and has authored more than 100 peer-reviewed publications, including seminal articles in Cell, Nature, and Nature Biotechnology, defining the field of RNAi drug design and development. She has served as a director of the Oligonucleotide Therapeutics Society and currently is Director-at-Large and Scientific & Research Council Chair of the American Society of Gene and Cell Therapy.

Ravi Thadhani, M.D.

Ravi I. Thadhani, M.D., MPH, is Chief Academic Officer at Mass General Brigham. He is a Professor of Medicine and Academic Dean at Harvard Medical School. Previously, he served as Vice Dean of Research and Graduate Research Education at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles (2017-2019), Associate Director of Research at Mass General Brigham (2012-2017), and Chief of Nephrology at Massachusetts General Hospital (2013-2017).

In his role as Chief Academic Officer, Dr. Thadhani oversees a ~$1.8B research enterprise, graduate medical education, and continuing professional development for Mass General Brigham. Dr. Thadhani is a member of the Mass General Brigham executive leadership team under the direction of Anne Klibanski, M.D., President and Chief Executive Officer. Dr. Thadhani works with senior leadership across the Mass General Brigham system on a number of system strategic initiatives.

Dr. Thadhani also managed a successful research laboratory for approximately 25 years with continuous federal funding and employing data managers, operations directors, statisticians, nurses, research assistants, and laboratorians. He has published more than 300 manuscripts, including in the top Medical and Nephrology journals – New England Journal of Medicine, Journal of the American Medical Association, and Journal of the American Society of Nephrology. Dr. Thadhani has been inducted to several honor societies, including the American Society for Clinical Investigation, Association of American Physicians, American Epidemiological Society, and the American Clinical and Climatological Association. He has also received several distinguished national awards, including the Harold Amos Faculty Diversity Award from Harvard Medical School – the highest award for Fostering Diversity at Harvard Medical School; Alumni Award from the Harvard School of Public Health – a significant achievement, and the John P. Peters Award from the American Society of Nephrology – for Mentorship and Scientific Achievements.

Our Board of Directors

Muz Mansuri, Chair

Muz Mansuri joined F-Prime Capital in January 2020 as a Venture Partner and is based in the Boston office. Muz has more than 35 years of experience in various R&D roles as a senior executive within the global biopharmaceutical industry. Prior to joining F-Prime, Muz was a member of the Executive Committee at Sanofi, as Executive Vice President, Strategy, Business Development, and Licensing. Among other responsibilities, Muz headed the Strategy, Business Development, Alliance Management and the Venture Group for Sanofi. Before this, he was at Gilead Sciences as Senior Vice President, Research and Development Strategy and Business Development. In that capacity he led the R&D Strategy, Business Development, and M&A activities for the company. Muz has served as Chief Executive Officer of several biotech companies and as a General Partner at Flagship Ventures (now Flagship Pioneering). He began his career in the pharmaceutical industry as a bench medicinal chemist with Bristol Myers. Muz received his B.Sc. and Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University College London. He conducted postdoctoral research at UCLA and Columbia University.

Ketan Patel

Ketan Patel is a Partner with F-Prime Capital and has worked in the healthcare sector as an investor, consultant, and physician. Prior to joining F-Prime Capital in 2007, Dr. Patel advised biopharmaceutical and medical device companies on brand strategy, clinical development plans, and business development activities in the corporate consulting division of Leerink Swann & Company. Dr. Patel served as a physician at the VA Boston Healthcare System and at Weill Cornell Medical Center-New York Presbyterian Hospital and Memorial-Sloan Kettering Cancer Center where he completed his internal medicine training.

Dr. Patel focuses on investing in therapeutics and medical device companies and has served on the Board of Directors of ABK Biomedical, Aclaris Therapeutics (NASDAQ:ACRS), Avalyn Pharma, Caplin Steriles, Comanche Biopharma, Eywa Pharma, Ivenix (acquired by Fresenius Kabi), Laurus Labs (NSE:LAURUSLABS), Medwell Ventures, Menlo Therapeutics (NASDAQ:MNLO), NextWave Pharmaceuticals (acquired by Pfizer), NFlection Therapeutics, Pediatrix Therapeutics, Rallybio (NASDAQ:RLYB), and Vicept Therapeutics (acquired by Allergan).

Dr. Patel is a graduate of Tufts University School of Medicine, where he received both his MD and MBA as part of that institution’s Healthcare Management Program and was elected to the Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society. He completed his undergraduate studies in biology and economics with highest honors at Rutgers University.

Brendan Bulik-Sulivan

Brendan Bulik-Sullivan is a partner at GV, where he focuses on life sciences investments. Before GV, Brendan’s career focused on applied statistics and machine learning research in genetics and biotechnology. He designed machine learning models for personalized immuno-oncology therapeutics at Gritstone Oncology and developed methods for statistical genetics research at the Broad Institute. Brendan’s work has been published in journals including Nature, Science, Nature Biotechnology, and Nature Genetics. In his free time, Brendan enjoys reviewing data and reading scientific journals. Brendan is interested in innovative therapeutic biotechnology and diagnostics across all stages and therapeutic areas.

Brendan has a B.A. in mathematics from the University of California, Berkeley, and a Ph.D. in statistical genetics from Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.

Clive Meanwell

Clive Meanwell founded Population Health Partners in 2020 and has served as the Executive Chairman and a Managing Partner since its inception.

Clive was deeply involved in the development and commercialization of many biopharmaceutical products – including Neupogen®, a leading oncology product; Angiomax®, the top-selling anticoagulant for cardiac procedures in US hospitals; and Leqvio® for cholesterol lowering – throughout a career spanning four decades.

Clive is also Vice Chairman of BB Biotech, a listed investment corporation which invests in mainly public biotech firms, and a director of Fractyl Health, Comanche Biopharma, EQRx, and Hugo Health.

After a series of senior executive positions with Roche in Switzerland and the US in product development, regulatory affairs, and marketing, he founded, built, and led The Medicines Company, a biopharmaceutical company focused on acute hospital care, before pivoting the firm to the population health challenges of cardiovascular disease. The Medicines Company was sold to Novartis for $9.7 billion in January 2020.

Clive trained in medicine, with post-graduate specialization in cancer research, clinical trials, statistics, and epidemiology. He holds MB ChB and MD cum laude degrees from the University of Birmingham, UK.

Art Levin

Arthur Levin is a key opinion leader in the RNA therapeutics field. He serves as the Chief Scientific Officer at Avidity Biosciences. Previously, he held Senior levels positions at mRiragen, Santaris Pharma, and Ionis Pharmaceuticals. He played key roles in developing numerous oligonucleotides, including the first approved antisense drugs and the first microRNA-targeted therapeutic in clinical trials. He has three decades of experience in drug development from discovery through drug registration and has experience in rare muscle diseases, cardiology, metabolic diseases, infectious diseases, and oncology. Dr. Levin has published over 70 scientific articles and several of the most cited reviews in the field. He is scientific advisor to multiple institutions and sits on the Board of Directors of Stoke Therapeutics. Dr. Levin received a doctorate in toxicology from the University of Rochester.

Scott Johnson

Scott is our CEO and co-founder of Comanche Biopharma. Prior to Comanche, Scott was a co-founder of The Medicines Company where he served as director (1996-2009) until he joined the management team as Chief Medical Advisor (2009-2021). In that role, he was responsible for evaluating the company’s long-range global strategy and for the licensing or acquisition of innovative products, including inclisiran, for which the company was purchased by Novartis. Previously, Scott was a founding General Partner at JSB Partners, L.P., an investment bank with a focus on mergers and acquisitions, private financings and corporate alliances within the healthcare sector. From September 1991 to July 1999, Scott served as a founder and managing director of MPM Capital, LLC, a venture capital firm.

Scott holds a B.S. in chemistry (Phi Beta Kappa) and an M.D. (Alpha Omega Alpha) from the University of Alabama. His academic career included faculty positions at Harvard Medical School, the University of Colorado Medical School, and the University of South Alabama. He has been Board Certified in Internal Medicine, Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine and Sleep Disorders Medicine. He currently is a Board member at Atalanta Therapeutics, a biopharmaceutical company focused on the application of RNA interference to diseases of neurodegeneration.