Management


Dinesh V. Patel, Ph.D.
President & CEO

Dr. Patel has served as a member of our board of directors and as our President and Chief Executive Officer since December 2008. Dr. Patel has more than 30 years of executive, entrepreneurial, and scientific experience spanning the pharmaceutical, biotechnology and biopharmaceutical industries. Prior to joining Protagonist, Dr. Patel served from 2006 to 2008 as the President and Chief Executive Officer of Arête Therapeutics, a privately held company focused on the development of drugs for metabolic syndrome. Prior to that, he was the President and Chief Executive Officer of Miikana Therapeutics, an oncology based company, from 2003 until it was acquired by Entremed (later renamed CASI Pharmaceuticals) in 2005. Prior to Miikana, Dr. Patel held positions of increasing responsibility at Versicor from 1996 to 2003 (later renamed Vicuron and which was acquired by Pfizer in 2005 for $1.9 billion), most recently as Senior Vice President of Drug Discovery and Licensing. Prior to Vicuron, Dr. Patel was a director of chemistry at the combinatorial chemistry company Affymax, from 1993 to 1996. Dr. Patel was a medicinal chemist at Bristol-Myers Squibb from 1985 to 1993. Dr. Patel received his Ph.D. in Chemistry from Rutgers University, New Jersey and his B.S. in Industrial Chemistry from S. P. University, Vallabh Vidyanagar, India.

Back to top

David Y. Liu, Ph.D.
Chief Scientific Officer, Head of Research & Development

Dr. Liu has served as our Chief Scientific Officer (CSO) since May 2013 and has served as CSO and Head of Research and Development since February 2016. Prior to Protagonist, Dr. Liu was the Chief Operating Officer and a co-founder of Trenovus, Inc., from 2010 to 2012. Prior to Trenovus, Dr. Liu was Vice President of Research at FibroGen Inc., from 2002 to 2010. Prior to Fibrogen, Dr. Liu served as Director of Inflammation Research at Scios, Inc., now part of Johnson & Johnson, from 1992 to 2002. Dr. Liu held a position as an academic researcher at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School and was Instructor and Assistant Professor in the Department of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, from 1976 to 1986. Dr. Liu received his Ph.D. in microbiology and immunology from Michigan State University, and his B.S. in chemistry from The University of Chicago.

Back to top

Samuel Saks, M.D.
Chief Development Officer

Dr. Saks has served as our Chief Development Officer since May 2018. Prior to joining Protagonist, Dr. Saks served as Chief Development Officer and board member at Auspex Pharmaceuticals until the time of its acquisition by Teva Pharmaceuticals. Before his tenure at Auspex, Dr. Saks was a co-founder of Jazz Pharmaceuticals where he also served as Chief Executive Officer. Earlier in his career, Dr. Saks held positions as company group chairman of ALZA Corporation and member of the Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical Operating Committee. Dr. Saks has also held leadership and management positions at Schering-Plough, Xoma and Genentech. Dr. Saks serves on the boards of directors of PDL BioPharma, Velocity Pharmaceutical Development and NuMedii. Dr. Saks received a B.S. in Biology and his M.D. from the University of Illinois.

Back to top

Richard S. Shames, M.D.
Chief Medical Officer

Dr. Shames has served as our Chief Medical Officer since August 2015. He currently also serves as Adjunct Associate Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at Stanford University. Prior to joining Protagonist, he served as Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer at Aldea Pharmaceuticals, from 2013 to 2015. Prior to Aldea, Dr. Shames was Distinguished Scientist, Clinical Research and Early Biologics Lead (Immunology) at Merck & Co., Inc., from 2009 to 2013. Prior to joining Merck, Dr. Shames held positions of increasing responsibility at Facet Biotech (formerly PDL BioPharma), from 1999 to 2009, most recently as Therapeutic Head of Immunology and Senior Medical Director. Prior to Facet, Dr. Shames held full time clinical faculty positions in Pediatric Allergy and Clinical Immunology at Stanford University, from 1996 to 1999, and the University of California, San Francisco Schools of Medicine, from 1993 to 1996. Dr. Shames received his M.D. from University of California, Davis School of Medicine and received a B.S. in Biological Sciences from Stanford University.

Back to top

Tom O’Neil
Chief Financial Officer

Mr. O’Neil has served as our Chief Financial Officer since February 2016. From March 2015 to October 2015, Mr. O’Neil served as Chief Financial Officer of Arcadia Biosciences, Inc., a biopharmaceutical company. From January 2014 to July 2014, Mr. O’Neil served as Chief Financial Officer of Sorbent Therapeutics, Inc., a biopharmaceutical company. From September 2011 to December 2013, Mr. O’Neil served as a consultant to Sorbent and a variety of health care and technology companies. From December 2009 to August 2011, Mr. O’Neil served as Vice President of Finance & Administration of ChemGenex Pharmaceuticals Ltd., a biopharmaceutical company. From March 2007 to May 2009, Mr. O’Neil served as Vice President of Finance & Administration of Nodality, Inc., a biotechnology company. Mr. O’Neil holds a B.A. from Pomona College in International Relations and an M.B.A. from the University of California at Los Angeles.

Back to top

Carter King
Vice President of Business Development

Mr. King joined Protagonist as Vice President of Business Development in September 2018. Prior to Protagonist, Mr. King was a Business Development Consultant for Achaogen, Inc. from 2016 to 2018. Previously, Mr. King was Vice President of Finance and Corporate Development at Omniox, Inc. from 2015 to 2016, and held several management roles, including Vice President of Corporate Development for AcelRx Pharmaceuticals from 2006 to 2015. Earlier in his career, Mr. King worked in corporate development and finance at ALZA Corporation and Coulter Pharmaceutical. Mr. King received an M.B.A. with honors from Columbia Business School and a B.A. in Business Economics from U.C., Santa Barbara.

Back to top

Mark Smythe, Ph.D.
Vice President of Technology

Dr. Smythe is the founder of Protagonist and has served as our Vice President of Technology since 2013, having previously served as our Chief Scientific Officer from 2009 to 2010 and our Chief Executive Officer from 2001 to 2009. He has extensive experience in industry-based research management and technology commercialization. Prior to Protagonist, he was Principal Investigator at the Centre for Drug Design and Development, now the Institute for Molecular Bioscience in Brisbane, Australia, from 1994 to 2001. Dr. Smythe earned a Ph.D. in Medicinal Chemistry from Melbourne University and a B.Sc (Hons) in Synthetic Organic Chemistry from James Cook University.

Back to top