Our mission is to develop and implement innovative precision medicine strategies for patients suffering from cancer.
Our vision is to help cancer patients live life to the fullest.
To make our vision a reality, our team is relentless, unshaken by obstacles, fiercely aware that someone needs us now and committed to harnessing tumor biology to develop vanguard therapies to treat patients. Live. Life. To the Fullest.
Avanish Vellanki, MBA
Chairman, CEO & Cofounder
Avanish Vellanki, MBA – Chief Executive Officer and Cofounder
Avanish Vellanki is passionate about offering cancer patients better treatment options, and he firmly believes that precision oncology strategies are the best manner in which to achieve that goal. He has 20 years of experience across the healthcare and investment banking sectors and began his career on Wall Street at Bear, Stearns & Co. in 2004 in equity research, covering small/mid-cap biotechnology companies. Following his time at Bear, Stearns, Avanish transitioned to Global Healthcare Investment Banking at Citigroup where he focused on large-cap global biopharmaceutical strategic and financing transactions. He subsequently moved to industry, joining Proteolix in 2009 prior to its acquisition by Onyx Pharmaceuticals, where he helped develop carfilzomib (Kyprolis(R)) for patients with multiple myeloma. Prior to founding Rain, Avanish was senior vice president and chief business officer at Aptose Biosciences. Avanish holds a BA from Carleton College, an MBS in biochemistry from the University of Minnesota and MBA from the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota.
Robert Doebele, MD, PhD
EVP, Chief Scientific Officer & Cofounder
Robert Doebele, MD, PhD – EVP, Chief Scientific Officer and Cofounder
Dr. Doebele is a pioneer physician-scientist and board-certified medical oncologist who lives and breathes new biology-based, tumor-agnostic strategies to offer hope. Dr. Doebele has expansive clinical and research expertise in targeted therapies and precision oncology strategies, having led research at the University of Colorado that launched the TRK field by demonstrating that that NTRK1/2/3 gene fusions represent a novel tumor agnostic target in cancer, a strategy that ultimately led to the approval of larotrectinib (Loxo) and entrectinib (Ignyta). Prior to joining Rain full time, Dr. Doebele was an associate professor of medicine in the division of medical oncology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. He also served as the director of the thoracic oncology research initiative at the University of Colorado Cancer Center; and was the principal investigator of the University of Colorado Lung Cancer Specialized Program of Research Excellence. He is also a senior editor of the AACR journal, Clinical Cancer Research. Dr. Doebele received his AB in molecular biology from Princeton University, and received his MD, PhD in immunology from the University of Pennsylvania. He conducted his internal medicine residency and a medical oncology fellowship at the University of Chicago.
Richard Bryce, MBChB
Chief Medical Officer
Richard Bryce, MBChB – Chief Medical Officer
Dr. Bryce has global biopharmaceutical experience, and joins Rain from Puma Biotechnology, where he served as chief medical and scientific officer since 2017. During his time at Puma from 2012 to 2021, Dr. Bryce led the company’s research and development plans for neratinib, a tyrosine kinase inhibitor, through U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval for the treatment of breast cancer. Prior to Puma, he served as the senior medical director of clinical science at Onyx Pharmaceuticals from 2008 to 2012. Before Onyx, Dr. Bryce was the senior director of medical affairs and oncology at ICON Clinical Research and spent time at Ergomed Clinical Research serving as executive vice president of medical affairs, president and managing director. Earlier in his career, he held senior clinical and medical roles at F. Hoffmann-La Roche, ILEX Oncology, Scotia Pharmaceuticals and Servier Laboratories. Dr. Bryce started his career as a medical officer and surgeon lieutenant commander, RN in the Royal Navy, where he served for eleven years. He received his medical degree (MBChb) from Edinburgh University in Scotland and is a member of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, American Society of Hematology, American Association for Cancer Research and the European Society for Medical Oncology.
VP, Head of Clinical Operations
Lucio Tozzi – VP, Head of Clinical Operations
Lucio has over 29 years of experience in global clinical trials spanning pharmaceuticals and medical devices in the therapeutic areas of oncology, gastrointestinal, renal, surgical morbidities, respiratory and central nervous system (CNS) diseases. He has led clinical operations teams with responsibilities for outsourcing and vendor oversight, project and site management, medical writing, and data management. Prior to joining Rain, he was vice president and head of clinical operations at Protagonist Therapeutics Inc. and senior director and head of clinical operations at Astex Pharmaceuticals Inc. Prior to that, he was director clinical operations at Baxter Healthcare for nine years, based in Belgium before moving to the U.S. in 2010. Lucio also led global clinical operations teams at ILEX Oncology and ConvaTec. He started his clinical research career in the United Kingdom managing international trials with ICON Clinical Research. Lucio graduated with a BSc (Hons) in biology from London University, Royal Holloway College, and holds a post-graduate diploma (DipM) (MCIM) in marketing from the Chartered Institute of Marketing.
Vijaya Tirunagaru, PhD
VP, Head of Biology & Non-Clinical Development
Vjaya Tirunagaru, PhD – VP, Head of Biology and Non-Clinical Development
Vijaya joined Rain Therapeutics in 2018 as vice president, head of biology and non-clinical development. Vijaya brings more than 18 years of experience working in the pharmaceutical industry across multiple therapeutic areas. Prior to joining Rain, she was associate vice president and head of discovery biology at GVK Biosciences, where she was responsible for overseeing a portfolio of 10 discovery programs across oncology, metabolic disorders and pain therapeutic areas. She began her pharmaceutical career at AstraZeneca where she was biology leader for project teams from concept to Phase 2, led discovery programs and was a member of psychiatry disease area strategy team. Vijaya received her PhD in biochemistry from the Center for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad, India.
Allan Wagman, PhD
EVP, Head of Chemistry & Technical Operations
Allan Wagman, PhD – EVP, Head of Chemistry and Technical Operations
Allan joined Rain Therapeutics in 2018 and is the executive vice president, head of chemistry and technical operations where he leads chemistry research and chemistry, manufacturing and controls (CMC). Previously, he was senior director, head of chemistry and CMC at 3-V Biosciences which advanced a novel FASN inhibitor TVB-2640 into Phase 2 oncology and NASH studies. Allan began his pharmaceutical industry career at Chiron, which became a division of Novartis, where he worked on oncology, metabolism and infectious disease programs and then joined Achaogen as director of chemistry. Allan earned a BS in organic chemistry at Carnegie-Mellon University, a PhD in synthetic organic chemistry and natural product synthesis at University of Texas at Austin and performed postdoctoral research at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
VP, Finance & Administration
Nelson Cabatuan – VP, Finance and Administration
Nelson Cabatuan has over 20 years of experience in building and optimizing processes in accounting and finance, financial planning and analysis, research and development, commercial launch and regulatory compliance-related processes and operations. Prior to joining Rain, he was vice president of finance and principal accounting officer at Rigel Pharmaceuticals, where he was a key player in fundraising initiatives of over $1B in follow on public offerings for the company. Before Rigel, he was a senior manager in audit and transaction advisory services at Grant Thornton LLP, where he provided assurance and advisory services to private and public companies from pre-IPO to large public global companies. Prior to Grant Thornton LLP, he worked in audit and advisory services and business advisory services at Ernst & Young Philippines, where he served as an engagement manager in external and internal audits of private and public clients. Nelson graduated with a BS in accountancy from the University of the City of Manila in the Philippines and holds professional certifications as a Certified Public Account (CA & Philippines), Certified Fraud Examiner and a Certified Internal Auditor.
Kolbot By, PhD
VP, Technical Operations
& Chemical Development
Kolbot By, PhD – VP, Technical Operations and Chemical Development
Kolbot is has over 25 years of experience in synthetic organic chemistry, solid-state chemistry, development and manufacturing of small molecules, late-stage development and validation, QbD-enabling CMC document preparation and CMO management. Prior to joining Rain, he was vice president of chemical development at Principia Biopharma, where he developed API manufacturing, invented and wrote patent applications for novel forms, supported Phase 1 studies and built a department of scientists to oversee all drug substance related manufacturing. Before Principia, he spent time in senior drug development roles at Corvus Pharmaceuticals, Onyx Pharmaceuticals and ARYx Therapeutics. Prior to working in the biopharma industry, he was an instructor at the University of California, Davis. Kolbot graduated with a BS in chemistry from the University of California, Santa Barbara and received a PhD in synthetic organic chemistry from the University of California, Davis.
Board of Directors
Avanish Vellanki, MBA Chairman
Franklin Berger, CFA
Franklin Berger, CFA
Franklin is managing director at FMB Research as well as a consultant to the biotechnology industry, including major biopharmaceutical firms, mid-capitalization biotechnology companies, specialist asset managers and venture capital companies, providing business development, strategic advisory, financing, partnering and royalty acquisition advice. Franklin is also a biotechnology industry analyst with over 25 years of experience in capital markets and financial analysis at Sectoral Asset Management, NEMO Fund and J.P. Morgan Securities. Franklin received a BA in international relations and an MA in international economics, both from Johns Hopkins University and an MBA from the Harvard Business School.
Aaron Davis, MA
Aaron Davis, MA
Aaron is cofounder and chief executive officer of Boxer Capital, LLC, the healthcare arm of the Tavistock Group. After joining Tavistock Group as Portfolio Manager, Aaron scaled Tavistock’s healthcare investing activities and formed Boxer Capital. Aaron leads Boxer Capital’s research team, deal structuring and portfolio management. He is currently chairman of the board of CiVi Biopharma and is a member of the board of directors of iTeos Therapeutics, Mirati Therapeutics, Inc., Odonate Therapeutics, Sojournix, Inc. and Tango Therapeutics. Aaron received an MA degree in biotechnology from Columbia University and a BBA degree in finance from Emory University.
Gorjan Hrustanovic, PhD
Gorjan Hrustanovic, PhD
Dr. Hrustanovic is principal at BVF Partners L.P., where he has been leading both public and private biotechnology investments since 2015. Prior to joining the BVF Partners L.P., Dr. Hrustanovic obtained his PhD in cancer biology and cell signaling at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), with a primary focus on precision medicine and resistance to targeted therapies in lung cancer. While at UCSF, he also cofounded a small biotech-focused investment fund. His graduate research led to publications in leading scientific journals such as Nature Medicine, Cell Reports and others. Dr. Hrustanovic also and serves on the board of Olema Oncology, Kymera Therapeutics and is a board observer at 4D Molecular Therapeutics. Dr. Hrustanovic holds a BS degree in molecular biology, and a BS in economics and management science from the University of California, San Diego.
Tran Nguyen, MBA
Tran Nguyen, MBA
Tran is the chief operating officer and chief financial officer of Prothena. He has over 20 years of finance experience in the healthcare, banking and private equity industries. Prior to joining Prothena, Tran was chief financial officer at Metabasis Therapeutics, Inc. and chief financial officer of Somaxon Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Earlier in his career, Tran was part of the healthcare investment banking group at Citi Global Markets, Inc., and served in various capacities as a healthcare investment banker at Lehman Brothers, Inc. Tran currently also serves on the board of directors of Sierra Oncology, Inc., a clinical-stage oncology company. Tran earned his BA in economics and psychology from Claremont McKenna College and his MBA from the Anderson School of Management at the University of California, Los Angeles.
Peter Radovich, MBA
Peter Radovich, MBA
Peter is the chief operating officer of Mirum Pharmaceuticals. Prior to joining Mirum, he was senior vice president, operations of Global Blood Therapeutics. Before that, he served as vice president of program leadership at Onyx Pharmaceuticals, Inc., which was acquired by Amgen, Inc. He was previously senior director at Onyx, where he led the company’s global, cross-functional product team responsible for the development and commercialization of Kyprolis®. Prior to that, he held a variety of roles of increasing responsibility in Onyx’s commercial organization. Previous to Onyx, Peter was at Chiron Corporation (now Novartis AG) in product marketing. Peter holds a BA in biology and chemistry from Texas Christian University and an MBA from Washington University.
Stefani has over 33 years of experience in the biopharmaceutical industry and joins the Rain team from Principia Biopharma, where she served as chief development officer and formerly senior vice president of strategy and operations. During her four years at Principia, she generated and spearheaded successful clinical development strategies as she led clinical, manufacturing and technical operations, regulatory and medical affairs, and commercial and communications functions. She also worked at Onyx Pharmaceuticals, where she was vice president of development and global project team leader, Genentech, Inc., where she had increasing roles of responsibility over her 13-year tenure, and at Eli Lilly & Co., where she served as product manager, market analyst, hospital and retail sales for over nine years. Ms. Wolff earned her bachelor’s degree in chemistry and pharmacy from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Scientific Advisory Board
Robert Doebele, MD, PhD Chairman
Lori Kunkel, MD
Lori Kunkel, MD
Dr. Kunkel currently serves on the board of directors of Loxo Oncology, Inc., Curis, Inc., Maverick Therapeutics, Inc. and Tocagen, Inc. Previously she has served as acting chief medical officer of Loxo Oncology, Inc., Pharmacyclics, LLC and Proteolix, Inc. and vice president of clinical development at Xencor, Inc. Prior to her career in biotechnology, Lori spent a decade in academic medicine as a faculty member at the bone marrow transplant unit in the division of hematology/oncology at University of California, Los Angeles. Lori has held board certifications in hematology and oncology and holds a BA in biology from the University of California, San Diego and an MD from the University of Southern California.
Chris Kirk, PhD
Chris Kirk, PhD
Dr. Kirk is cofounder, president and chief scientific officer of Kezar Life Sciences. Dr. Kirk has worked in the biotechnology industry since 2001 and has held numerous positions in drug discovery and development. Prior to forming Kezar, Dr. Kirk was the vice president of research at Onyx Pharmaceuticals, where he played a key role in the discovery and development of two proteasome inhibitors, carfilzomib (KYPROLIS™) and oprozomib. Dr. Kirk joined Onyx via the acquisition of Proteolix in 2009, where he was one of the first scientific hires after their Series A funding. Dr. Kirk received his BS from U.C. Davis and his PhD in cellular and molecular biology from the University of Michigan in 1999.
Trever Bivona, MD, PhD
Trever Bivona, MD, PhD
Dr. Bivona is a professor in residence and an attending physician in thoracic oncology at UCSF, and serves on the advisory boards for AstraZeneca, Novartis, Array Biopharma, Revolution Medicines, Inventiva, Takeda and Jazz Pharmaceuticals. As a physician-scientist with training in medical oncology and a PhD in cell and molecular biology, he directs a laboratory-based research program in basic and translational oncology at UCSF. He has successfully translated six laboratory-based discoveries into clinical trials over the last eight years in the form of investigator-initiated (6) and company-sponsored (2) clinical studies. His areas of interest include cancer, lung, kinases, oncogenes, tyrosine kinase inhibitors, genomics and signal transduction. Dr. Bivona has served as an ad hoc reviewer for over 20 professional publications and has supervised/mentored a multitude of predoctoral students, postdoctoral fellows/residents and faculty members. Dr. Bivona received his BS with honors in molecular biology at Vanderbilt University, his PhD in molecular and cell biology at NYU School of Medicine in 2004 and his MD at NYU School of Medicine in 2005. He was a clinical fellow at Harvard, a fellow of oncology at Memorial Sloan-Kettering and postdoctoral fellow at Memorial Sloan-Kettering. He is board certified in internal medicine and medical oncology.
Simon N. Powell, MD, PhD
Simon N. Powell, MD, PhD
Dr. Powell is the Enid A. Haupt professor and chairman of the Department of Radiation Oncology at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. He is also a member of the Molecular Biology Program of the Sloan-Kettering Institute, and Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences. His primary interests are DNA repair, breast cancer, cancer specific defects in DNA repair and the DNA damage response pathway. Dr. Powell has deep expertise specifically on the role of RAD52 in mediating the DNA damage response pathway, where his lab is one of the leading research centers in the field, and Dr. Powell has co-authored several peer-reviewed publications elucidating the potential of RAD52 as a therapeutic target for cancers characterized by BRCA1/2 deficiencies. Through this work, Dr. Powell contributed to the discovery of synthetic lethality in cancer cells lacking the function of the BRCA1-BRCA2 pathway, which has both mechanistic implications as well as applications for therapeutic strategies. Dr. Powell was an undergraduate at Oxford University and received his doctoral training in both medicine and science from the University of London.
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