An experienced team of biotherapeutic innovators
Vesigen is led by an interdisciplinary team of seasoned professionals with deep experience in the discovery, development and commercialization of novel biotherapeutics.
Joseph Nabhan, Ph.D.
Chief Scientific Officer
VP, Corporate Development and Business Operations
Quan Lu, Ph.D.
Co-Founder, Vesigen Therapeutics
Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
Connie Cepko, Ph.D.
Harvard Medical School
Kate Fitzgerald, Ph.D.
University of Massachusetts Chan Medical School
Gerald Chan, Sc.D.
Lucio Iannone, Ph.D.
Leaps by Bayer
Leaps by Bayer
Chief Executive Officer
Paulash Mohsen is a seasoned biopharmaceutical executive who has served in a variety of roles across multiple disciplines. Prior to his appointment at Vesigen, he served as Chief Business Officer at Yumanity Therapeutics, and helped the company grow from a seed stage, research-based startup to a public company, with a lead clinical program in Parkinson’s disease. He was responsible for securing a strategic research collaboration and license agreement with Merck & Co. for two pipeline programs in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and frontotemporal lobar dementia. Before Yumanity, Paulash served as Country Manager in Canada for Cubist Pharmaceuticals (acquired by Merck), where he led the company’s first international operation from conceptualization through commercialization. In this role, he oversaw the approval and launch of two novel anti-infective therapeutics and led the company’s commercial, scientific and administrative functions. Paulash joined Cubist via acquisition of Optimer Pharmaceuticals, where he was Vice President, Strategy and Business Operations and helped establish the U.S. commercial infrastructure and led launch preparedness for DIFICID, an anti-infective. Preceding Optimer, Paulash held strategic and operational roles at Pfizer, including Vice President of Strategy and Vice President, Multi-Channel Management. Paulash holds a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Brown University, an M.S. in Chemical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and an MBA from Harvard Business School.
Co-Founder, Vesigen Therapeutics
Dr. Lu is Professor of Environmental Genetics and Physiology at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. He directs the Harvard Superfund Research Center and also co-directs the Molecular and Integrative Physiological Sciences Training Program at the Harvard Chan School.
His laboratory studies molecular mechanisms underlying complex gene-environment interactions in multigenic human diseases such as asthma, diabetes and neurodegeneration, focusing in part on the emerging role of extracellular vesicles in disease pathogenesis, prevention, and therapeutics. Research in Dr. Lu’s laboratory is supported by multiple NIH R01 grants and a Program Project grant as well funding from private foundations. Dr. Lu discovered ARMMs and is co-inventor of ARMMs-inspired technologies.
Center for Genomic Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital
Dr. Stephen J. Haggarty is an Associate Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School, an Associate Neuroscientist at Massachusetts General Hospital, and Director of the MGH Chemical Neurobiology Laboratory within the Center for Genomic Medicine. He is also a Senior Associate Member of the Broad Institute and Affiliate Faculty Member of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute. Dr. Haggarty’s research program operates at the interface of neurology and psychiatry with a focus on dissecting the role of neuroplasticity in health and disease using chemical biology. His efforts are guided by knowledge emerging from human genetics regarding the root causes of disease and have led to the discovery of novel chemical probes targeting the regulation of neurotrophic factor signaling, epigenetic regulation of neuronal gene expression, neurogenesis, synaptogenesis, and proteostasis networks, including most recently using the strategy of targeted protein degradation.
A major emphasis of Dr. Haggarty’s research program is the use of reprogramming technology to create patient-specific, induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) as ex vivo models of neurogenetic disorders and their use for characterizing chemical probes. The ability to differentiate human iPSCs into neural networks with the capacity to form synapses and regulate genes in an activity-dependent manner provides powerful new avenues for studies of neuroplasticity, for understanding the neurobiology of human disease, as well as for addressing the challenging goal of discovering novel targets and next-generation, disease-modifying therapies using the principles of genomic medicine.
Joseph Nabhan is Chief Scientific Officer at Vesigen Therapeutics. Prior to joining Vesigen, Joe held scientific and leadership positions in several pharmaceutical companies. Most recently, he headed an RNA biology group at Astellas Innovation Management in Cambridge, where he initiated numerous early drug discovery programs and external collaborations using multiple modalities. Previously, Joe held roles of increasing responsibility in the Rare Disease Research Unit of Pfizer, where he led several programs from early discovery through lead development and a number of external collaborations with biotech and academic labs. At Millennium Takeda, he was involved in target validation activities for cancer therapy.
While a postdoctoral fellow in Quan Lu’s lab at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Joe led the study that discovered a new class of microvesicles called ARMMs (ARRDC1 mediated microvesicles). He received his Ph.D. from McGill University.
Leaps by Bayer
Jürgen Eckhardt is SVP and Head of Leaps by Bayer, which is the strategic venture capital unit of Bayer. The mission of Leaps is to invest in breakthrough technologies and disruptive business models in the areas of healthcare and agriculture. Jürgen is currently a board member of BlueRock, Joyn Bio, Dewpoint, Khloris, Oerth Bio, Immunitas and eGenesis. Before joining Bayer in 2016, Jürgen was head of the venture capital franchise at Bellevue Asset Management in Switzerland.
Previously, he was a management consultant and Associate Partner with McKinsey & Co. in Zürich and New York and a member of the Healthcare Leadership Team. He began his career as a radiologist at the University Hospital of Basel, Switzerland. Jürgen received his M.D. from the University of Basel and his MBA from INSEAD in Fontainebleau, France.
Gerald Chan is the co-founder of Morningside, an investment group engaged in private equity and venture capital investments. Working with academic scientists, he has started more than two dozen biotech companies across diverse therapeutic areas of oncology, inflammation, ophthalmology, autoimmunity, diabetes, neurodegeneration, rare genetic diseases, and prophylactic vaccines.
Gerald is a board member of several privately held biotech companies. He is the chairman of two Nasdaq listed biotechnology companies: Apellis Pharmaceuticals and Stealth BioTherapeutics. From 2016 to 2020, he chaired the Innovation Advisory Committee of the Wellcome Trust. He is currently a trustee of the Scripps Research Institute and a member of the Dean’s Board of Advisors of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, which was renamed in honor of his father, Mr. T.H. Chan, following a gift from the Morningside Foundation in 2014.
Gerald was educated at UCLA, Harvard University, and Dana Farber Cancer Institute. He has been honored with six honorary degrees conferred by universities in the UK, Hong Kong and America. In 2017, he was elected to membership in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2019, he gave the Andrew Carnegie Lecture in University of Glasgow, Scotland and held a visiting fellowship at Trinity College, Cambridge University.
Stephen Bruso has served as an investment advisor at Morningside since 2019, and focuses on early stage life science opportunity evaluation and operational oversight of the portfolio. He serves as a director of Cognito Therapeutics and Kuzani Pharmaceuticals. From 2012-2017, Stephen worked in a series of molecular diagnostics companies before leading the development and launch of a B2B cloud software product. He received his MBA in health sector management from Boston University in 2019, graduating magna cum laude. He received his BA in Anthropology from Emory University in 2009.
Leaps by Bayer
Lucio Iannone is VP of Venture Investments Health at Leaps by Bayer. He is responsible for leading the investment team in the USA and deal execution. He is also involved in the sourcing, screening, and mentoring of companies with game-changing science.
As an investor, Lucio also serves as board member for AffiniT, Khloris Biosciences , Immunitas Therapeutics, Mozart Tx and Paratus . Before joining Leaps by Bayer, he had different roles in biotechnology companies. He has experience with molecular biology, cell and gene therapy technologies and their application in oncology, cardiovascular and other therapeutic fields.
Lucio obtained his Ph.D. in Medicine at the Imperial College of London.
Dieter Weinand is an experienced executive with over 30 years of experience in the pharmaceuticals and biotech industries. In addition to serving on Vesigen’s Board, Mr. Weinand presently serves as the Chairman of the Board of Directors of ZielBio and Replimune Group Inc. (NASDAQ: REPL). Previously, Mr. Weinand served as the Executive Vice President of Primary Care and was a member of the Executive Committee at Sanofi from November 2018 to March 2020. Before moving to Sanofi, he was CEO and Chairman of the Board of Management of Bayer Pharma AG and member of the Management Board at Bayer AG. Prior to his work at Sanofi and Bayer, Mr. Weinand held various positions in commercial, operational, and strategic areas of the pharmaceutical industry. These included responsibilities spanning various therapeutic areas and geographies for companies such as Pfizer, Bristol Myers Squibb, and Otsuka. Mr. Weinand is a former board member of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries & Associations (EFPIA), and the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers (IFPMA), and served as a member of the Board of Directors of HealthPrize Technologies.
Lorien Moore is Vice President, Corporate Development and Business Operations at Vesigen Therapeutics. Lorien has experienced all stages of pharmaceutical development, from pre-clinical through to commercialization, including international expansion.
Prior to joining Vesigen, Lorien was VP, Program Management and New Product Planning at Yumanity Therapeutics, where she was instrumental in the asset sale to Janssen and reverse merger with Kineta. She was also interim head of Business Development, Clinical Operations and CMC. Lorien has previously worked in corporate development, program management, new product planning, strategy, and in various commercial roles at Constellation, Flexion, Seres, Merck and Cubist. A number of her roles have involved company and asset acquisitions, integrations, and collaborations.
Prior to her experience in the pharmaceutical industry, Lorien spent 10 years working in consumer products companies (Ford, Gillette and P&G), with roles in finance, marketing, and sales. Lorien holds a B.A. from the University of Illinois and an MBA from the MIT Sloan School of Management.
Dr. Cepko is the Bullard Professor of Genetics and Neuroscience at Harvard Medical School in the Department of Genetics and in the Department of Ophthalmology. She co-directs the Leder Human Biology and Translational Medicine Program for PhD students at Harvard University. Her ground-breaking research has advanced understanding of the development of the central nervous system (CNS) and mechanisms of retinal degeneration. A Howard Hughes Investigator and author of over 230 peer-reviewed publications, Dr. Cepko has earned distinguished honors for her work, ranging from induction to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1999 to receiving a Leading Women Award in 2003, presented by the Patriots’ Trail Girl Scout Council in Boston. Dr. Cepko was also elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2002. She trained in virology at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) with Dr. Phillip Sharp where she earned her PhD and later was a postdoctoral fellow at the MIT Whitehead Institute with Dr. Richard Mulligan, where she created some of the first retroviral vectors. Her laboratory is developing gene therapy to treat retinal degenerative diseases, such as retinitis pigmentosa and age-related macular degeneration.
Dr. Fitzgerald is Professor and Vice Chair of Medicine, Chief of the Division of Innate Immunity, and the Worcester Foundation in Biomedical Sciences Research Chair at the University of Massachusetts Chan Medical School. Her work is focused on the innate immune system aimed at understanding the molecular basis of the inflammatory response during Infection and in autoinflammatory diseases. The long-term goal of her work is to determine how innate immune sensing and signaling contribute to infectious, inflammatory, and autoimmune diseases in humans.
Dr. Fitzgerald completed all of her education in Ireland. She received her B.Sc. in Biochemistry in 1995 from University College Cork, Ireland and her PhD in Biochemistry in 1999 from Trinity College Dublin, Ireland. After pursing a post-doctoral fellowship at Trinity College Dublin, she joined UMass Chan as Instructor where she has been since 2001. She is currently a tenured Professor of Medicine.
Dr. Fitzgerald is an elected fellow of the American Society of Microbiology and an elected member of the Royal Irish Academy, the National Academy of Sciences (USA) and the National Academy of Medicine (USA). She is the recipient of several awards including the Thermo-Fischer Meritorious Career Award (from the American Association of Immunology), the Saint Patrick’s Day Medal (from the Irish Government and Science Foundation Ireland) and the Milstein Award for Excellence in Interferon and Cytokine research (from the International Cytokine and Interferon Society), amongst others.
She has extensive service both locally at UMass Chan and nationally including service on local and national advisory boards (e.g., Massachusetts Center For Pathogen Readiness, NIAID Board of Scientific Councillors, Burroughs Wellcome Fund Pathogenesis of Infectious Diseases and the Cancer Research Institute). She was also the recent past President of the International Cytokine and Interferon Society.
Rakhshita Dhar is Senior Director of Venture Investments Health at Leaps by Bayer. She joined the team in 2021 and is responsible for search & evaluation and healthcare focused investment for Leaps. She currently sits on the board of Deka Biosciences, Gro Bio, and Edifice Health.
Prior to joining Leaps, Rakhshita was Director of Business Development at Roche Pharmaceuticals. She also spent a few years at MassBio developing an accelerator program for life-science start-ups.
She got her Undergraduate degree in Biochemistry from Mumbai University and her Masters in Molecular Biology from Georgetown University.