Srinivas Akkaraju, M.D., PH.D.
Srinivas Akkaraju, M.D., Ph.D., is Founder and Managing General Partner of Samsara BioCapital, a biotech investment fund focused on translating cutting-edge biology into new therapies to treat patients with unmet medical needs. Before starting Samsara, Dr. Akkaraju was a General Partner of Sofinnova Ventures and held managing director roles at New Leaf Ventures and Panarama Capital LLC, a firm he co-founded. Prior to that, he was a partner at JP Morgan Partners and also worked in business and corporate development at Genentech. Dr. Akkaraju serves as a director of Intercept Pharmaceuticals, Syros Pharmaceuticals, Chinook Therapeutics, Tentarix Biotherapeutics, Graphite Bio, Dewpoint Therapeutics, and several other private companies. Previously, Dr. Akkaraju served as a director on the Boards of Seattle Genetics, Principia Biopharma (acquired by Sanofi), Barrier Therapeutics (acquired by Stiefel Laboratories), Eyetech Pharmaceuticals (acquired by OSIP), ZS Pharma (acquired by AstraZeneca), Synageva Biopharma Corp. (acquired by Alexion Pharmaceuticals), Aravive, Inc., and Amarin Corporation.
Dr. Akkaraju received his M.D. and a Ph.D. in Immunology from Stanford University, and holds undergraduate degrees in Biochemistry and Computer Science from Rice University.
Rekha Hemrajani has been our Chief Executive Officer since our inception in August 2020 and serves on our Board of Directors. Ms. Hemrajani is an experienced strategic leader helping biotech companies with corporate strategy and corporate finance, as well as building product pipelines through corporate development. She has extensive senior management experience within public and private biopharmaceutical companies, and bulge bracket investment banks. Ms. Hemrajani recently served as President & Chief Executive Officer of Aravive, Inc. Ms. Hemrajani previously served as Chief Financial Officer & Chief Operating Officer of Arcus Biosciences, leading finance, investor relations, corporate communications, business and corporate development, strategic planning, and human resources. Prior to Arcus, Ms. Hemrajani served as Chief Operating Officer of RAPT Therapeutics, Chief Financial Officer of Sagimet Biosciences, VP – Head of Licensing and M&A at Onyx Pharmaceuticals (acquired by Amgen), and VP of Business Development at Exelixis. Prior to Exelixis, Ms. Hemrajani was VP, Healthcare Investment Banking at Lehman Brothers and worked at Credit Suisse First Boston as well. Ms. Hemrajani is currently on the Board of ALX Oncology.
Ms. Hemrajani holds an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and a Bachelor of Science from University of Michigan.
Mayank Gandhi, MD
Mayank Gandhi, M.D. is our VP, Corporate Development and brings with him nearly 15 years of biopharmaceutical industry and capital markets experience. From 2013 to 2020, Mayank worked at Genentech/Roche in several strategic and operational roles spanning business development, commercial operations, and medical affairs. Prior to joining Genentech, Mayank was an equity research analyst covering biopharmaceutical and medical technology companies at Citigroup, Cowen & Co, and Avet Capital.
Mayank earned his medical degree from University of Mumbai, India and MBA from Case Western Reserve University.
Cory S. Freedland, PH.D.
Cory S. Freedland, Ph.D. is our Chief Investment Officer and also serves as a Principal at Samsara BioCapital. At Samsara, he has led several of the firm’s investments in the biotechnology sector and serves as a director on a number of private company boards. Dr. Freedland was previously a Principal at Sofinnova Ventures, Principal at Novo Ventures, and a Vice President in the healthcare investment banking practice at Morgan Stanley. Prior to Morgan Stanley, Dr. Freedland led a preclinical research group focused on novel targets for central nervous system diseases at Roche.
Dr. Freedland received his Ph.D. in Pharmacology from Wake Forest University School of Medicine, an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, and a B.A. in Psychology and Religious Studies from Connecticut College.
Richard Van Doren
Richard Van Doren is our Chief Financial Officer and also serves as the Chief Financial Officer of Samsara BioCapital, where he is responsible for the firm’s financial & back office operations, business management, compliance, and investor relations. Prior to joining Samsara, Mr. Van Doren was the Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer of Pacific Grove Capital. Prior to Pacific Grove, Mr. Van Doren was the Chief Financial Officer of Marcato Capital Management where he was responsible for building out the front and back office, accounting & finance, trade operations, firm compliance program, and was an instrumental team member in the successful growth of AUM to $2.6 billion. From 2002 – 2010, Mr. Van Doren was the Chief Financial Officer of Cannell Capital where he was responsible for multi-state business operations, finance, compliance, and investor relations.
Mr. Van Doren graduated from the University of San Francisco with a B.S. in Finance and earned a Graduate Certificate in Tax from Golden Gate University. He serves on the Board of Regents at Saint Junipero Serra High School and is a member of the Dean’s Circle at the University of San Francisco School of Business Management.
Perry Karsen is a Venture Partner at Samsara BioCapital and currently serves as Executive Chair of Autobahn Labs, as Chair of the Board of Directors of Jounce Therapeutics, Executive Chair of the Board of Directors at Nitrome Biosciences, and a member of the Boards of Directors for Intellia Therapeutics, ESCAPE Bio, Graphite Bio, and the Gladstone Foundation. He also has been a Board member and a member of the Executive Committee of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) and the Alliance for Regenerative Medicine (ARM). Mr. Karsen served as the Chief Executive Officer of the Celgene Cellular Therapeutics division (CCT) of Celgene Corporation, a global biopharmaceutical company and as Executive Vice President and Chief Operations Officer at Celgene Corporation. Mr. Karsen was also the President and Chief Executive Officer of Pearl Therapeutics, Inc., a private biotechnology company acquired by AstraZeneca plc. Mr. Karsen previously held executive positions at Human Genome Sciences, Inc., Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., Genentech, and Abbott Laboratories. He previously served as a general partner at Pequot Ventures, a venture capital firm.
Mr. Karsen earned an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, an M.A. in the teaching of Biology from Duke University, and a B.S. in Biological Sciences from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.
Pamela Klein, MD
Dr. Pamela Klein is a medical oncologist and seasoned biotechnology executive with 20 years of experience in drug development. She is Founder and Principal of PMK BioResearch offering advisory and strategic consulting for the biotechnology industry and venture firms. She is a member of the Board of Directors of Argenx, Patrys, Spring Bank Pharmaceuticals, and I-Mab Biopharma as well as a member of several Scientific Advisory Boards. Dr. Klein is currently Chief Medical Officer of Olema Oncology and previously served in that role for multiple successful biotech companies including Intellikine which was acquired by Takeda. From 2001-2008, Dr. Klein held increasing positions of responsibility at Genentech lastly as Vice President, Development, where she led the development for a portfolio of drugs including Herceptin®, Rituxan®, Perjeta®, and Tarceva®. Prior to this, Dr. Klein was Research Director for the National Cancer Institute-Navy Breast Care Center that she co-founded and led until leaving the NCI.
Dr. Klein received her bachelor’s degree in biology from California State University and her Medical Degree from Stritch School of Medicine, Loyola University Chicago. She trained in internal medicine at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles and medical oncology at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland where she served as Chief Fellow.
Daniel Spiegelman currently provides consulting and board services to various life sciences companies, including Tizona Therapeutics, where he is Board Chairman and Myriad Genetics, Spruce Biosciences, and Opthea Limited where he serves as a member of the Board of Directors and Audit Committee Chairman. From May 2012 to January 2020, Mr. Spiegelman was the Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer of BioMarin Pharmaceutical. Prior to that, he was the Chief Financial Officer of CV Therapeutics, Inc., a biopharmaceutical company that developed and marketed novel cardiovascular drugs prior to its sale to Gilead Sciences. From 1991-1998, Mr. Spiegelman served in various roles at Genentech, including as Treasurer. Mr. Spiegelman has been a director of a number of biopharmaceutical companies in the past, including Cascadian Therapeutics (merged with Seattle Genetics), Relypsa (merged with Galenica AG), Anthera Pharmaceuticals, Affymax, Omeros Corporation, and Cyclacel Pharmaceuticals.
Mr. Spiegelman received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Stanford University and an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business.
Steve Kelsey, MD
Dr. Steve Kelsey is President of Research and Development at Revolution Medicines, a precision oncology company based in Redwood City, California. Dr. Kelsey has more than 20 years of experience in the biopharmaceutical industry, working with conventional small molecules, beyond rule of five molecules, antibodies, antibody-drug conjugates, DNA oligonucleotides, and mRNA platforms, and has driven multiple industry and industry-academia collaborations to provide better drugs for patients with cancer. Prior to joining Revolution Medicines, he was President of Onkaido Therapeutics, a Moderna Venture focused on the discovery and development of mRNA therapeutics for cancer. Dr. Kelsey is the former Head of Research and Development and Chief Medical Officer of Geron, where he led the development of imetelstat, a first-in-class telomerase inhibitor for hematologic myeloid malignancies. He previously served as Vice President of Hematology/Oncology at Genentech where he played a significant role in the development of key products including Perjeta®, Kadcyla®, and Erivedge® as well as other molecules in the company’s oncology portfolio, and led clinical development for Pharmacia/SUGEN’s Sutent®.
Dr. Kelsey graduated with a Bachelor of Medicine and a Bachelor of Surgery degrees (MB ChB), as well as a Doctorate of Medicine (MD) from the University of Birmingham, U.K. He is a fellow of both the Royal College of Physicians (FRCP) of London and the Royal College of Pathologists (FRCPath), U.K. He has over 100 peer-reviewed publications spanning cell biology, drug discovery, drug development, and patient care, and is a named inventor on several patents.
Graham is a seasoned biopharma executive who has successfully led numerous transaction teams through company acquisitions, co-development and co-promotion deals, compound in and out licensing, product disposals, research collaborations, patents licenses and other strategic transactions. Graham recently retired from Bristol Myers Squibb where he was Senior Vice President, Business Development and ran the BD Transactions Group for almost 20 years. Prior to joining BMS, he was Senior Vice President, Corporate Development at 3-Dimensional Pharmaceuticals, a drug discovery company and before that Vice President, Worldwide Business Development at SmithKline Beecham Pharmaceuticals, where he spent 10 years.
Graham is a fellow of the Chartered Association of Certified Accountants, United Kingdom.