About Zikani

About Zikani Therapeutics

Zikani Therapeutics is using its innovative chemistry technology platform to develop novel Ribosome Modulating Agents (RMAs). We are focused on developing and commercializing therapeutics for patients with limited treatment options.

Zikani’s TURBO-ZM platform allows rapid synthesis of novel compounds that can be optimized to modulate the ribosome in a disease specific manner.

Management Team


Sumit Aggarwal

Sumit has over 20 years of pharmaceutical and biotechnology commercial operations, investment management and management consulting experience. Before joining Zikani, Sumit was the President and CFO of Progenity where he helped raise $125million in capital and transformed the company into a highly profitable genetic services lab with a novel drug delivery-based GI pipeline. Previously, Sumit was a healthcare and biotechnology Portfolio Manager at Adage Capital and an Associate Partner in McKinsey & Company’s healthcare practice. Sumit has an MBA with distinction from the Johnson School, Cornell University and a Bachelor of Technology with Honors in Chemical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur.

President & CEO

Sumit Aggarwal is our President and CEO and was previously our Chief Financial and Chief Business Officer.
Karen LaRochelle

Previously, Karen was Chief Business Officer of PsiOxus Therapeutics and she has also provided multiple biotechnology companies with collaboration consulting services. Prior to that, Karen spent nearly 20 years with Bristol-Myers Squibb. Karen received her MBA from Columbia University and Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering from Lehigh University where she currently serves on the P.C Rossin School of Engineering Advisory Board.


Karen serves as our Chief Business Officer and brings over 25 years of industry experience in strategy and collaborations for pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies in the United States, Europe and China, including strategic collaborations and mergers & acquisitions.​
Dan Geffken

As Co-founder and Managing Director of Danforth Advisors, he leads a team of more than 90 consultants in strategic CFO advisory, accounting and operational support for over 100 clients, ranging from life science start-ups to publicly traded companies with $1 billion+ market capitalizations. He has served as CFO and executive-level advisor to numerous companies, including Apellis Pharmaceuticals, Cabaletta Bio, Cidara Therapeutics, Editas Medicine, Homology Medicines, Promedior, ProMIS Neurosciences and Stealth BioTherapeutics.

Over the course of his career, Daniel has raised nearly $2 billion in equity and debt securities for life science companies. Among his pre-Danforth roles, he served as CFO of Transkaryotic Therapies, where he negotiated and closed five equity transactions totaling $600 million – including the largest private placement in biotechnology history at the time. Daniel has been a board member and chairman of audit and compensation committees of both public and private life science companies, including Windtree Therapeutics. He holds a BS from The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, and a MBA from Harvard Business School.


Daniel Geffken is a proven leader of life science companies with more than 30 years of experience steering strategy, finance and operations across all stages of the corporate life cycle.
Roger Clark

Prior to joining, Roger was the Senior Director of Medicinal Chemistry at Tetraphase Pharmaceuticals where he contributed to the discovery and development of four clinical compounds, including Eravacycline. As a medicinal chemist, Roger has extensive experience across multiple therapeutic areas, including oncology and metabolic disorders (Bayer Pharmaceuticals) and inflammation (Critical Therapeutics). Dr. Clark received his Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from the University of Michigan and is a co-author of 15 publications in peer-reviewed scientific journals and a co-inventor on 10 issued patents.

Vice President, Chemistry

Roger Clark, Ph.D., is the Vice President of Chemistry at Zikani Therapeutics with 20 years of R&D experience spanning all phases of the discovery and pre-clinical development process.
Joe Newman

Prior to Zikani, Dr. Newman was the Head of Biology at Tetraphase Therapeutics and supported NDA and MAA submissions for Xerava® as well as other pipeline programs including TP-2846 a novel antileukemia agent. Prior to Tetraphase, Dr. Newman spent 10 years at AstraZeneca in various roles supporting early development and IND submissions for a number of agents currently in clinical development and at Triad Therapeutics working on BCT-297, an oral p38 MAP kinase inhibitor for COPD Joe received his his Ph.D. in Molecular Microbiology from the University of Rhode Island and has completed fellowships at Tufts Medical School and MIT.

Vice President, Early Development

Joe Newman, Ph.D., is our Vice President of Early Development. Dr. Newman has over 20 years of experience supporting all stages of drug development from lead optimization to clinical development.

Yoshi Ichikawa

Prior to joining, he held multiple roles at Discovery, Development, IP, and Business Development for out- and in-licensing at Cubist and Optimer Pharmaceuticals, and had worked on DIFICID® for C. difficile infections. He has extensive experience in Chemistry and Biology of Ribosome targeting molecules. He is an author of 100 peer-reviewed publications/book chapters and an inventor of more than 10 issued patents.

Vice President, Platform and IP

Yoshi Ichikawa, Ph.D., is our Vice President, Platform and IP at Zikani Therapeutics and has over 30 years of medicinal chemistry, molecular biology and drug development experience.

Strategic Advisors

Alan Walts

Alan is also a Board Observer at Amylyx Pharmaceuticals, Arrakis Therapeutics and Aura Biosciences. Alan was a Business Advisor to Henri Termeer from 2013 – 2017, and worked closely with Henri on founding and investing in early stage companies. He continues to advise the Termeer Estate on its portfolio of investments and is a Director of the Termeer Foundation. Alan has over 25 years of industry experience at Genzyme in business development, business strategy, research and development, general management, and venture capital.

Prior to leaving Genzyme in 2013, Alan most recently managed Genzyme’s corporate venture fund, Genzyme Ventures (now Sanofi Ventures). Alan received a Ph.D. in chemistry from MIT in 1985, carried out post-doctoral research in biochemistry at MIT with Professor Christopher Walsh, and completed the executive Program for Management Development at Harvard Business School.

Alan is a US-based Venture Partner with Advent Life Sciences, and serves as Executive Chairman of PIC Therapeutics and of Artax Biopharma.
Keith Flaherty

As described in the more than 300 peer reviewed primary research reports he has authored or co-authored, Dr. Flaherty and colleagues made several seminal observations that have defined the treatment of melanoma when they established the efficacy of BRAF, MEK and combined BRAF/MEK inhibition in patients with metastatic melanoma in a series of New
England Journal of Medicine articles for which Dr. Flaherty was the first or senior author.

 Dr. Flaherty also has been a leader in assessing and identifying mechanisms of de novo and acquired resistance to BRAF inhibitor therapy and clinically evaluating next generation inhibitors, work that has had implications for resistance to targeted therapy regimens used to treat other malignant diseases.  He is the principal investigator of the NCI MATCH trial, the first NCI-sponsored trial assigning patients to targeted therapy independent of tumor type on the basis of DNA sequencing detection of oncogenes. He serves ECOG as chair of the Developmental Therapeutics Committee and in 2013 was appointed as ECOG Deputy Chair for Biomarker Science. Dr. Flaherty joined the NCI Board of Scientific Advisors in 2018 and AACR Board of Directors in 2019.  He serves as editor-in-chief of Clinical Cancer Research.

Dr. Keith Flaherty is a senior advisor to the company and chair of our Scientific advisory Board. Dr. Flaherty is Director of Clinical Research at the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center, and Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School.
David Bedwell

One disease currently under active investigation is cystic fibrosis (CF). Roughly 10% of CF patients carry a PTC in the CFTR gene. We have identified compounds that suppress termination at PTCs in the CFTR gene by promoting the insertion of an amino acid at the site of the PTC. We are examining these so-called “readthrough” agents in various experimental models, including cultured CF cells, transgenic and knock-in CF mice, and CF patients. We
have also identified the amino acids that become inserted during the suppression of PTCs in mammalian cells and are using that information to develop strategies to enhance the CFTR activity restored by PTC suppression using CFTR correctors and potentiators.

Other diseases we are using to study the utility of this approach include neurofibromatosis,
FOXG1 deficiency, Rett syndrome, and Hurler syndrome. Ultimately, successful development
of this therapeutic approach will allow us to treat a broad range of human genetic diseases
caused by PTCs.

A major goal of my lab is to develop therapies to treat genetic diseases caused by premature termination codons (PTCs). We are using a combination of genomics, genetics, biochemistry, and cell biology to better understand the molecular details of translation termination to develop viable therapeutic strategies aimed at suppressing PTCs and restoring expression of full- length, functional protein.
Pedro Huertas

He recently was the Chief Medical Officer at Sentien Pharmaceuticals and before that held the same position at Eloxx Pharmaceuticals where he developed designer aminoglycosides as translational read-through agents for genetic
diseases caused by nonsense mutations. In addition, Dr. Huertas has worked for leading orphan drug developers such as Genzyme, Shire and Amicus and has experience working with small molecules, biologics and cellular therapies across
multiple therapeutic categories, including cardiology, nephrology, hematology and ophthalmology.

Dr. Huertas trained at Massachusetts General Hospital and holds several advanced degrees, including an MD from Harvard Medical School and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (HST Program), a PhD in cell and developmental biology from Harvard University, an MS in biochemistry from Stanford University, and an MS in management from the Sloan School of Management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Dr. Huertas serves as the Chief Medical Officer for Inozyme Pharma. He brings more than 30 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry and has extensive experience in research and development and medical and regulatory affairs, especially regarding rare disorders and enzyme replacement therapies.

Board of Directors

Sumit Aggarwal

President and CEO

Joe Zakrzewski

Chairman Of The Board


Advent Life Sciences


Christopher Viehbacher

Gurnet Point Capital


Anja Harmeier

Roche Venture Fund