Leadership Team

Peter Van Vlasselaer, PhD

Founder, President, Chief Executive Officer and Director

Herb Cross

Chief Financial Officer

Joseph Leveque, MD

Chief Medical Officer

Martin Oft, MD

Founder and Vice President of Pre-Clinical and Clinical Development

Russell Kawahata, PhD

Vice President of Technical Operations


Peter Van Vlasselaer, PhD

Founder, President and Chief Executive Officer

Peter Van Vlasselaer, Ph.D. is our co-founder and has served as our president and chief executive officer and as a member of our board of directors since December 2012. Previously, Dr. Van Vlasselaer served as the interim president, chief executive officer and on the board of directors of iPierian, Inc. from April 2011 to August 2011, and continued to serve on the board of directors until April 2014. From March 2007 to January 2011, Dr. Van Vlasselaer was the president and chief executive officer of Arresto BioSciences, Inc. Previously, Dr. Van Vlasselaer was the chief executive officer of Avidia, Inc. from May 2004 until it was acquired by Amgen Inc. in October 2006. Prior to that he served as senior vice president of technical operations of InterMune Inc. from November 1999 until May 2004. He served as vice president of development of Dendreon Corp. from June 1993 to August 1999. From July 2013 to its acquisition in June 2017, Dr. Van Vlasselaer served as the executive chairman of the board of directors of True North Therapeutics, Inc. Dr. Van Vlasselaer also serves on the board of directors of Blade Therapeutics, Inc. and as the chairman of the board of directors of TM3 Therapeutics B.V., both of which are private biopharmaceutical companies. Dr. Van Vlasselaer received a B.S. in Zoology and a Ph.D. in Cellular Immunology from the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium.

Herb Cross

Chief Financial Officer

Herb Cross has served as our chief financial officer since November 2017. From November 2010 to June 2013, Mr. Cross served as chief financial officer of Affymax, Inc., a biotechnology company. From October 2013 to November 2015, Mr. Cross served as chief financial officer of KaloBios Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a biotechnology company, and interim chief executive officer from January 2015 to November 2015. In December 2015, KaloBios filed a voluntary petition for relief under Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code. KaloBios emerged from Chapter 11 in July 2016. From February 2016 to November 2017, Mr. Cross served as chief financial officer of Balance Therapeutics, Inc., a biotechnology company, where he led all investor relations, strategic finance and administrative functions. Mr. Cross received a B.S. in Business Administration from the University of California, Berkeley and is a certified public accountant, currently inactive, in the state of California.

Joseph Leveque, MD

Chief Medical Officer

Joseph Leveque, M.D. has served as our chief medical officer since October 2017. Dr. Leveque was senior vice president and chief medical officer at EMD Serono, a business of Merck KGaA from September 2015 to September 2017. From September 2011 to September 2015, Dr. Leveque served as a vice president and head, US medical-oncology, at Bristol-Myers Squibb and from July 2009 to September 2011 as vice president, medical and scientific affairs, at Onyx Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Dr. Leveque has also previously held various positions at Amgen and Cephalon, and was involved in the development and commercialization of the first generation of immuno-oncology (IO) therapeutics, including Bavencio®, Opdivo® and Yervoy®. Dr. Leveque received his B.S. in Biology and Mathematics at Santa Clara University, his M.D. from the University of Texas Medical School in Houston, Texas, and his M.B.A. from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

Martin Oft, MD

Founder and Vice President of Pre-Clinical and Clinical Development

Martin Oft, M.D. is a co-founder and has served as our vice president of pre-clinical and clinical development since December 2012. From June 2010 to December 2012, Dr. Oft was our founding chief executive officer. Prior to our founding, Dr. Oft was a fellow at DNAX Research Inc. of Schering Plough (now called Merck Research Labs) from July 2001 to December 2010. From September 1999 to July 2001, Dr. Oft was at University of California, San Francisco from September 1997 to August 1999. From August 1997 to October 1999, Dr. Oft was an associate scientist at Onyx Pharmaceuticals Inc. From July 1993 to July 1997, Dr. Oft was a postdoctoral fellow at Boehringer-Ingelheim GmbH. Dr. Oft received his M.D. from the University of Erlangen, Germany.

Russell Kawahata, PhD

Vice President of Technical Operations

Russell Kawahata, Ph.D. has served as our vice president of technical operations since August 2016. Previously, Dr. Kawahata provided independent chemistry, manufacturing and controls consulting services to various organizations in the biopharmaceuticals industry from October 2012 to August 2016. Prior to that, Dr. Kawahata was vice president of pharmaceutical science at NeurogesX, Inc. from October 2007 to October 2012. Prior to that, Dr. Kawahata served as vice president of technical operations at InterMune, Inc. from 2003 to 2007. While at Xoma Corporation from 1982 to 1993, Dr. Kawahata was a director of process development. Dr. Kawahata was also a director of process development at Systemix, Inc. from 1993 to 1997 and a senior director of pharmaceutical sciences during his time at Connetics Corporation from 1997 to 2002. After earning a B.S. in Biochemistry from the University of California, Berkeley, Dr. Kawahata received a Ph.D. in Pharmacology and Toxicology from the University of California, Davis.