Sara L. Zaknoen, M.D., has served as a director since May 2021. Since June 2014, through her company, Zed Strategic Consulting, Dr. Zaknoen has worked as a clinical drug development consultant with large pharma and biotech companies across multiple disease indications. Previously, Dr. Zaknoen held Chief Medical Officer positions at several biotechnology companies, including Ignyta, Inc., Polynoma LLC, Tragara Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and Cabrellis Pharmaceuticals Corporation. Prior to that, Dr. Zaknoen served as Executive Director of Phase 2/3 Clinical Oncology Research at Novartis Pharmaceutical Corporation, where she provided oversight for a number of important marketed therapies, such as Gleevec®, Tasigna® and Exiade®. This included supervising the execution of clinical studies, including registrational trials, and involvement with new drug applications and label expansion activities. As Director of Clinical Oncology Research at Schering-Plough (now Merck) she was the lead physician on the Temodar® program, supporting its approval and launch. Additional professional experience includes: Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center; Director of Experimental Therapeutics at the Western Pennsylvania Hospital, Western Pennsylvania Cancer Institute; and Medical Staff Fellow at the National Cancer Institute. Dr. Zaknoen completed her residency, internship and fellowship in hematology/oncology at the University of Minnesota. She received her M.D. from Indiana University School of Medicine and her B.S. in chemistry and biology from Valparaiso University.
Leslie Nangle, Ph.D., has served as our Vice President, Research since January 2021. Dr. Nangle has served in scientific research roles at aTyr since joining the company in 2007, including most recently as Sr. Director and Head of Research. Dr. Nangle has over 20 years of experience in research dedicated to extracellular tRNA synthetases. Throughout her tenure at aTyr, she has co-developed and implemented the company’s discovery platform to generate an intellectual property estate of over 300 potential therapeutically relevant proteins and has overseen research leading to the discovery of a splice variant of histidyl-tRNA synthetase that has been shown to modulate the immune system, providing the basis of aTyr’s lead program, ATYR1923. Prior to joining aTyr, Dr. Nangle received a Ph.D. in Macromolecular Cellular Structure and Chemistry from The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, CA, studying the emerging linkage between mutations in tRNA synthetases and inherited neuropathies under the mentorship of Dr. Paul Schimmel, who co-founded aTyr in 2005. Dr. Nangle received a bachelor of science in biology from the University of California at Santa Barbara. She is co-author or co-inventor of over 75 publications and issued or pending U.S. patents.
Peter Villiger has served as our Vice President, Corporate Development since January 2020. From May 2016 to December 2019, he served as our Sr. Director, Corporate Development. Prior to joining aTyr, Mr. Villiger worked at The Medicines Company from 2008 to 2016, in business development and program management. Mr. Villiger completed a range of deals while at The Medicines Company, including the divestment of six marketed products, regional outlicensing deals in China and Japan, and two company acquisitions. During his time as a program manager, he oversaw programs across all stages of development, including the regulatory filings and FDA and EMA approvals for oritavancin, an anti-infective for complicated skin infections. Mr. Villiger has degrees in Finance from the University of Auckland in New Zealand, and Biomedical Engineering from the University of Sydney in Australia.
Sanjay S. Shukla, M.D., M.S. has served as our President and Chief Executive Officer and as a board member since November 2017. Dr. Shukla served as our Chief Medical Officer from March 2016 to November 2017. From April 2015 to March 2016, Dr. Shukla worked in an advisory capacity for a number of companies, including as a consultant to aTyr from January 2016 to March 2016. Prior to that, from October 2012 to April 2015, Dr. Shukla served as Vice President and Global Head of Integrated Medical Services for Novartis, a biopharmaceutical company, where he led global medical affairs operations, with oversight for all pharma general medicines therapies, both inline and in development. Dr. Shukla served as Chief Executive Officer of RXMD, a clinical development consultancy that assisted in advancing proof of concept for early stage drug candidates, from April 2009 to September 2012. Prior to that, Dr. Shukla served in a variety of clinical development, data analytics and drug safety roles at Vifor Pharma, a biopharmaceutical company, and Aspreva Pharmaceuticals (acquired by Vifor Pharma). Dr. Shukla received his M.D. from Howard University College of Medicine and his Bachelors of Science in Microbiology and Master of Science in Epidemiology and Biostatistics from the University of Maryland.
Paul Schimmel, Ph.D. has served as a director since September 2005. Dr. Schimmel is currently a director of Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a biopharmaceutical company, as well as a director of several private companies. Dr. Schimmel is an Ernest and Jean Hahn Professor at The Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology at The Scripps Research Institute. He was formerly the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics in the Department of Biology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dr. Schimmel holds a B.A. in biochemistry and biophysics from Ohio Wesleyan University and a Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Dr. Svetlana Lucas has 18 years of experience in strategy, commercialization, and business development leadership, with a particular expertise in oncology and immunology. She currently serves as a Chief Business Officer at a newly formed biotechnology company. Prior to her current role, she served as Senior Vice President, Business Development at Tizona Therapeutics, Inc. (Tizona), a clinical stage immunotherapy company, where she was responsible for the company’s business development strategy and transactions, including global strategic collaboration with AbbVie Inc. Before joining Tizona, Dr. Lucas was Head of Oncology and Inflammation at Amgen Inc. (Amgen), where she oversaw business development activities, including Amgen’s strategic cancer immunotherapy research collaboration and licensing agreement with Kite Pharma, and collaborated with Amgen Ventures on several investments in oncology and inflammation. Dr. Lucas joined Amgen following the acquisition of Onyx Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Onyx), where she spearheaded the company’s oncology partnering strategy and due diligence of new opportunities. Prior to Onyx, she held positions of increasing responsibility in strategy, business development and strategic marketing at Amgen, PDL BioPharma/Facet Biotech (acquired by AbbVie), and XOMA Corporation. She began her career as a strategy consultant in the Life Sciences practice of McKinsey & Company, Inc. Dr. Lucas received her Ph.D. in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry from California Institute of Technology, and an undergraduate degree in Biology from Moscow State University.
Dr. Jane Gross is an accomplished executive with more than 28 years of experience leading research and development in the design and development of therapeutics for the treatment of autoimmune, inflammatory diseases and cancer. Dr. Gross has deep experience in research and development, partnering and alliance management of multiple internal and co-development programs. She currently serves as Chief Scientific Officer, Senior Vice President, Research and Development of Aptevo Therapeutics Inc. (Aptevo), a position she has held since September 2016. In this role, Dr. Gross led the discovery of novel protein therapeutics based on the ADAPTIR™ platform in immuno-oncology, leading research efforts in molecular biology and protein engineering, immunology, protein and cell sciences, pharmacology and translational research. Prior to joining Aptevo, Dr. Gross served as Vice President, Applied Research and Non-Clinical Development at Emergent BioSolutions Inc. and Vice President, Immunology Research at ZymoGenetics, Inc., where she led efforts in discovery and development of therapeutics from novel genes. Dr. Gross holds a Ph.D. in Immunology from the University of California, Berkeley under Jim Allison (2018 recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine) and a Post-Doctoral Fellowship from the University of Washington in Immunology.
Nancy Denyes has served as our General Counsel since February 2019 and as our Corporate Secretary since January 2015. Ms. Denyes served as our Vice President, Legal Affairs from October 2014 to February 2019. And provided consulting services to us from 2013 to 2014. Ms. Denyes practiced law in the corporate department at Cooley LLP and was named partner in 2000. Her practice at Cooley was focused on securities and corporate matters, including private financings, public offerings, mergers and acquisitions and corporate governance and disclosure issues. Ms. Denyes holds a J.D. from University of California, Berkeley School of Law and B.A. in Economics and Business from the University of California, Los Angeles.
Dr. Williams is President and CEO of Codiak Biosciences. He previously served as Biogen’s Executive Vice President, Research and Development from January 2011 to July 2015. Dr. Williams joined Biogen from ZymoGenetics, where he was CEO and member of the Board of Directors. ZymoGenetics was acquired by Bristol Myers Squibb during his time as CEO for $985 million. Previously, he held leadership positions within the biotechnology industry, including Chief Scientific Officer and Executive Vice President of Research and Development at Seattle Genetics Inc., and Senior Vice President and Washington Site Leader at Amgen Inc.
Dr. Williams also served in a series of scientific and senior leadership positions over a decade at Immunex Corp., including Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, Senior Vice President of Discovery Research and Vice President of Research and Development. Prior to joining Immunex, Dr. Williams served on the faculty of the Indiana University School of Medicine and the Department of Laboratory Medicine at the Roswell Park Memorial Institute in Buffalo, New York. Dr. Williams has served on numerous boards of directors for companies in the biotechnology industry and currently is a director of Ironwood Pharmaceuticals, Regulus Therapeutics and Ovid Therapeutics.
Dr. Wierenga currently serves on boards for several biotechnology companies, including Concert Pharmaceuticals, Apricus Biosciences, Ocera Therapeutics, and Cytokinetics where he is also a director. He also serves on the scientific advisory board for Ferring Pharmaceuticals Research Institute. Most recently, Dr. Wierenga was the executive vice president R&D at Santarus from 2011 until its acquisition by Salix in 2014. Prior to that he held the positions of: executive vice president of R&D at Neurocrine Biosciences, chief executive officer at Syrrx (acquired by Takeda), senior vice president of worldwide pharmaceutical sciences, technologies and development at Parke-Davis/Warner Lambert, and held multiple positions at Upjohn Pharmaceuticals. He has led or participated in the research and development of more than 70 INDs, 15 NDAs and 15 marketed products, including Lipitor®, Neurontin®, Lyrica®, Cognex®, Ruconest®, Uceris® and Cerebyx®. He earned a B.A. from Hope College and a Ph.D. in chemistry from Stanford University.