MANAGEMENT TEAM

Sumit Aggarwal

President and CEO

Sumit Aggarwal
Sumit Aggarwal is Zikani’s President and CEO. He is leading the transformation of Zikani from an early-stage technology company to a clinical-stage rare disease and oncology focused organization. ...see moreUnder Sumit’s leadership, Zikani has concentrated its focus on demonstrating pre-clinical proof of efficacy across several disease states using its TURBO-ZM™ technology platform.

In his more than 20 years in pharmaceutical and biotechnology commercial operations, investment management, and management consulting, Sumit has been successful in transforming companies by re-invigorating innovation, growth and profitability, and raising capital for promising technology companies.

Prior to joining Zikani, he reinvigorated growth and profitability at Progenity, raised $125 million in capital, and built a novel drug delivery-based GI pipeline. He also held leadership roles in healthcare and biotechnology at Adage Capital and as an Associate Partner at McKinsey & Company in its 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.

...see less

Vijay Modur

Head of R&D, Chief Scientific and Medical Officer

Vijay Modur
Vijay Modur is Zikani’s Chief Scientific and Medical Officer and is leading the scientific efforts to transform medicines based on ribosomal modulation using Zikani’s proprietary TURBO-ZM™ technology platform....see more

In his more than 20 years in pharmaceutical and diagnostic roles in R&D he has successfully translated research discovery efforts into products that impacted medical practice.

Prior to joining Zikani, Dr. Modur led the venglustat rare disease program at Sanofi across multiple rare disease indications into phase 2 and phase 3 clinical development and also leading other early development programs. Prior to Sanofi, he held leadership roles in HTG Molecular, Novartis Oncology and Merck Research Labs.

Vijay obtained his MBBS from Karnatak University and his PhD from University of Utah. He was a resident in Clinical Pathology at Washington University School of Medicine where he also completed his post-doctoral fellowship.

...see less

Dan Geffken

Chief Financial Officer

Dan Geffken
Daniel Geffken serves as Zikani’s Chief Financial Officer, directing and advancing activities to enable investment and growth as a clinical research-based organization....see more

Daniel 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. As Co-founder and Managing Director of Danforth Advisors, Daniel leads a team of consultants to provide strategic CFO advisory, accounting and operational support for clients ranging from life science start-ups to publicly traded companies with $1 billion+ market capitalizations.

Over the course of his career, Daniel has served as CFO and executive-level advisor to numerous companies and has raised nearly $2 billion in equity and debt securities for life science companies. Prior to establishing Danforth, he served as CFO of Transkaryotic Therapies, where he negotiated and closed five equity transactions totaling $600 million. Daniel has been a board member and chairman of audit and compensation committees of both public and private life science companies.

Daniel received his MBA from Harvard Business School and a BS from The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.

...see less

Roger Clark, Ph.D.

Vice President, Discovery Sciences

Roger Clark, Ph.D.
Roger Clark, Ph.D., is the Vice President, Discovery Sciences at Zikani Therapeutics, responsible for hit and lead optimization for our target diseases using our TURBO-ZM™ platform....see more

Roger has accumulated more than 20 years of R&D experience spanning all phases of the discovery and pre-clinical development process. He is a co-author of 15 publications in peer-reviewed scientific journals and a co-inventor on 10 issued patents.

Prior to joining Zikani in 2015, 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.

...see less

STRATEGIC ADVISORS

Dr. Keith Flaherty

Dr. Keith Flaherty
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....see more

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.

...see less

Pedro Huertas

Pedro Huertas
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....see more

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.

...see less

David Bedwell

David Bedwell
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....see more

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.

...see less

Board of Directors

Sumit Aggarwal

President and CEO

Sumit Aggarwal
Sumit Aggarwal is Zikani’s President and CEO. He is leading the transformation of Zikani from an early-stage technology company to a clinical-stage rare disease and oncology focused organization. ...see moreUnder Sumit’s leadership, Zikani has concentrated its focus on demonstrating pre-clinical proof of efficacy across several disease states using its TURBO-ZM™ technology platform.

In his more than 20 years in pharmaceutical and biotechnology commercial operations, investment management, and management consulting, Sumit has been successful in transforming companies by re-invigorating innovation, growth and profitability, and raising capital for promising technology companies.

Prior to joining Zikani, he reinvigorated growth and profitability at Progenity, raised $125 million in capital, and built a novel drug delivery-based GI pipeline. He also held leadership roles in healthcare and biotechnology at Adage Capital and as an Associate Partner at McKinsey & Company in its 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.

...see less

Alan Walts

Executive Chairman

Alan Walts
Alan Walts, PhD, was appointed as Executive Chairman of Zikani in May 2020 having previously navigated through the transformation of Zikani as a senior advisor to the company. Alan also serves as Executive Chairman of PIC Therapeutics and Artax Biopharma, is a Board Observer at Amylyx Pharmaceuticals, Arrakis Therapeutics and Aura Biosciences, and a Director of the Termeer Foundation....see more

Dr. Walts is a US-based Venture Partner with Advent Life Sciences and is an Advisory Board member of the ALS Investment Fund. He has over 25 years of industry experience at Genzyme in business development, business strategy, R&D, general management, and venture capital. Prior to leaving Genzyme in 2013, Dr. Walts most recently managed Genzyme’s corporate venture fund, Genzyme Ventures (now Sanofi Ventures). He received a PhD 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.

...see less

Raj Parekh

Advent Life Sciences

Raj Parekh
Raj Parekh is a General Partner at Advent Life Sciences LLP, which he joined in 2006. During an academic career at Oxford University, he co-founded Oxford GlycoSciences plc, where he served as Chief Scientific Officer and Chief Executive Officer from 1988 until its sale to Celltech Group plc (now UCB SA) in 2003....see more He has founded or served on the boards of several life sciences companies in the United States and Europe including AMT Holding NV (formerly uniQure), Arrakis Inc., Aura Inc., Avila Therapeutics, Inc., Biocartis NV; EUSA Pharma Limited, and Galapagos nv where he has been Chairman of the Board since 2004. Raj received his MA in Biochemistry and DPhil in Molecular Medicine from the University of Oxford, where he has also been a Senior Research Fellow and Professor.

...see less

Monique Schiersing

Roche

Monique Schiersing
Monique is a Senior Investment Director at the Roche Venture Fund. Former roles include serving as the Chief Operating Officer at Inthera Bioscience AG, a previous Director position at Roche Venture Fund from 2009 to 2018, and a principal position with BankInvest’s BioMedical Ventures Group in Copenhagen....see more

In addition, Monique’s background includes several years in Roche’s Pharma business development group,and various other positions in academia, biotech and venture capital, both in Switzerland and the San Francisco Bay Area. Monique holds aM.Sc. in microbiology from the University of Zurich (Switzerland) and an MBA from the University of San Francisco.

...see less

Christopher Viehbacher

Gurnet Point Capital

Christopher Viehbacher
Chris Viehbacher is the Managing Partner of Gurnet Point Capital. Gurnet Point is a Boston based investment fund associated with the Bertarelli family and has a $ 2 billion capital allocation. ...see moreHe is also a member of the boards of a number of companies including PureTech Health plc. He is a member of the Board of Trustees of Northeastern University and a member of the Board of Fellows of the Stanford Medical School.

Chris is the former CEO and Member of the Board of Directors of Sanofi, a Fortune 50 Biopharmaceutical company based in Paris. He was also the Chairman of the Board of Genzyme in Boston.

Prior to joining Sanofi, Chris spent 20 years with GlaxoSmithKline in Germany, Canada, France and, latterly, the US as President of GSK North America. Current and past advocacy roles include:

Former Co-chair with Bill Gates, the CEO Roundtable on Neglected Diseases

Chairman of the CEO Roundtable on Cancer.

Chairman of the Board of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America in Washington

President of the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations in Brussels.

Chair of the Health Governors at World Economic Forum and Co-chair of a WEF initiative to create a Global Charter for Healthy Living.

Member of the International Business Council.

Chris has in the past served on various advisory groups at MIT, Duke University and Queen’s University at Kingston, Ontario.

...see less

KEY Collaborators

  • Cystic Fibrosis (CF) Foundation
  • Hubrecht Institute of Technology
  • Rina Arbesfeld
    KOL FAP/APC, Tel Aviv University
  • Annemieke Aartsma-Rus
    KOL DMD, Leiden Univ. Medical Ctr.
  • Dr David Sidransky
    KOL, Johns Hopkins, Advaxis, Champions Oncology
  • Dr Andrew South
    PhD , Associate Professor, Thomas Jefferson University
  • Dr Mei Chen
    PhD, Professor of Dermatology, University of Southern California

INVESTORS

  • Roche
  • Gurent Point Capitol
  • Advent Life Sciences