Dinesh V. Patel, Ph.D., President & CEO
David Y. Liu, Ph.D., Chief Scientific Officer
Mark Smythe, Ph.D., Vice President of Technology & Alliances
Thamil Annamalai, M.S., Senior Director of Preclinical Development
Ashok Bhandari, Ph.D., Director of Chemistry
Larry Mattheakis, Ph.D., Director of Biology
Gregory Bourne, Ph.D., Research Fellow, Chemistry
Tran Trung Tran, Ph.D., Research Fellow, Drug Design
Dinesh Patel has 27 years of executive, entrepreneurial, and scientific experience spanning big pharma, biotech, and the biopharmaceutical industry. He was previously (2006-08) the President & CEO OF Arête Therapeutics, a privately held company with $51 million in VC funding and a focus on first-in-class drugs for metabolic syndrome. He was the President, CEO & Co-founder (2003-05) of Miikana Therapeutics, an oncology based company that was acquired by Entremed in 2005. One of Miikana’s asset (ENMD2076) has progressed into phase 2 POC trials for ovarian and hematological cancers in 2010 and continues to generate multiple milestone payments for its shareholders. Dr. Patel was a co-founder of the anti-infective Company Versicor (later renamed Vicuron) wherein he held positions of increasing responsibility (1996-2003) leading to Senior VP of Drug Discovery & Licensing, and was an active participant in various rounds of private financing including the IPO road show in 2000. The Vicuron team generated numerous INDs during its long term collaborations (7 plus years) with Pharmacia and Novartis, and independently filed two NDAs—Eraxis is now a marketed anti-fungal drug, and Dalbavancin has formed the basis of a recent spin-out (Durata therapeutics, DRTX). Vicuron was acquired by Pfizer in 2005 for $1.9 billion. Prior to Vicuron, Dr. Patel was a director of chemistry at the combinatorial chemistry company Affymax (1993-96) which was acquired by GSK for $533 million in 1995. He started his career as a medicinal chemist at Bristol-Myers Squibb in 1985. He received his Ph.D. in chemistry from Rutgers University, New Jersey and conducted post-doctoral research at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and has more than 100 patents and publications to his credit.
A 26-year veteran of the biotechnology industry, Dr. Liu is a former Vice President of Research and a Corporate Officer at FibroGen Inc. with deep rooted knowledge and expertise in the fields of inflammation and fibrosis. David Y. Liu was most recently Chief Operating Officer and co-founder of Trenovus, Inc., as well as a strategic advisor to several other biotechnology companies. Prior to that he spent more than seven years at FibroGen, Inc. with management responsibility for all therapeutic research and drug discovery, including interim leadership of the Clinical Development department. These efforts resulted in two first-in-class drugs currently in phase 3 clinical trials for the treatment of anemia and in phase 2 for the treatment of deep organ fibrosis. Prior to that, he spent 10 years as Director of Inflammation Research at Scios, Inc., now part of Johnson & Johnson. Dr. Liu’s career began with Cetus Corporation (since acquired by Chiron and now Novartis), COR Therapeutics (since acquired by Millenium/Takeda). He additionally spent 10 years 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. Dr. Liu received his Ph.D. in microbiology and immunology from Michigan State University. He has more than 80 publications and patent filings and has been involved in the filing of 17 INDs and NDAs for over 10 clinical indications.
Dr. Mark Smythe is the founder of Protagonist and has led the company's development as both Chief Scientific Officer and Chief Executive Officer. Since Protagonist's inception, Mark has been responsible for raising venture capital funding and negotiating Protagonist's alliances with biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies. Mark was originally trained as a medicinal chemist, obtaining a Ph.D. from Melbourne University. He was member of a team that discovered the marketed drug Relenza. He has extensive experience in industry-based research management and technology commercialisation. Prior to establishing Protagonist, he was Principal Investigator at the Centre for Drug Design and Development, now the Institute for Molecular Bioscience. He managed an almost 10 year research contract with GlaxoSmithKline. Prior to this he was a postdoctoral fellow at Washington University with Prof Garland Marshall.
Thamil Annamalai has 25 years of R&D experience including more than a decade of drug discovery from lead identification to IND submission to NDA approval. Since 2001, Ms. Annamalai served as manager/director/senior director in preclinical development at Xenoport and was a member of the development team for its flagship product HorizantTM, a prodrug of gabapentin that received FDA approval in 2011 for treatment of restless leg syndrome. Four additional drugs arising from internal R&D efforts at Xenoport are currently in preclinical or clinical development in areas of neuropathic pain, spasticity, Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis. Ms. Annamalai was previously manager of Preclinical research at Intrabiotics Pharmaceuticals (1997-2001) focused on novel antimicrobial peptids. Prior to that, she was a research pharmacologist at Microcide pharmaceuticals (1994-97), research scientist at Nycomed Salutat (1991-94), and toxicologist at Sola Barnes-Hind (1989-90). Ms. Annamalai received an M. Phil in human physiology from the Institute of Basic Medical Science and an M.S. in Zoology from Pachaiyappas college, both institutions affiliated with University of Madras, India.
Dr. Ashok Bhandari has over 16 years of experience in biotech industry and brings a unique blend of expertise in Medicinal, Combinatorial and Peptide Chemistry. Prior to joining Protagonist, he served as Associate Director of Chemistry at Affymax. Over the course of 14 years of his career at Affymax, he worked on variety of drug discovery programs and technologies. He has extensive experience with different peptide drug discovery and preclinical development programs on targets of protein-protein interactions. Ashok has broader knowledge and expertise in peptide drug lead optimizations leading to new chemical entities, designing and executing novel peptide constructs and modifying peptides to improve their pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic properties. He received his Ph.D. in chemistry from Indian Institute of Chemical Technology, India and conducted post-doctoral research at University of California, Santa Barbara and has over 40 publications to his credit.
Dr. Larry Mattheakis has nearly 20 years of experience developing small molecule and peptide based therapeutics. Most recently at Exelixis, he led preclinical development of XL499—a small molecule inhibitor of PI3K delta for treating autoimmune and oncology diseases. Prior to Exelixis, he led a multidisciplinary group at Cytokinetics that built an automated cellular phenotyping technology for predicting hepatotoxicity. Dr. Mattheakis began his career at Affymax, where he pioneered the development and applications of ribosome display for screening large peptide libraries. He has extensive experience in cell biology and receptor signaling pathways and is the author of numerous publications and inventor on key patents. Dr. Mattheakis received a Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and trained as a post-doctoral research fellow in the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics at Harvard Medical School.
Dr. Greg Bourne has over 20 years experience in Medicinal an Peptide Chemistry. After receiving a PhD in chemistry at Cambridge University, he started his career at Parke-Davis Neuroscience Centre. (Cambridge, U.K.), followed by the Cancer Research Institute (Arizona, USA) and then the Institute for Molecular Bioscience (University of Queensland, Australia). More recently (2005/2006) he was employed as a Senior Scientist at the Medical School, Washington University (St Louis, USA) before joining Protagonist Therapeutics Inc. He has broad medicinal chemistry expertise and has been involved in numerous commercial projects with GlaxoSmithKline and NovoNordisk.
Dr. Tran Trung Tran has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Molecular Biology and Genetics with honours, Graduate Diploma of Computer Studies and a P.hD. in Medicinal Chemistry from the University of Melbourne. Prior to joining Protagonist, he has worked as a Research Assistant at Monash University and has 4 years programming experience in a scientific environment at the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research. He has broad computational experience including algorithm development, software development, database development, chemo- and bioinformatics as applied to drug discovery. From the practical perspective he has been the lead drug designer on target focussed projects with GlaxoSmithKline and Novo Nordisk.