Cell No. 4 Interpretation of a cancer cell, provided by Angela Canada Hopkins, daughter of a cancer patient.

Cell No. 4 Interpretation of a cancer cell, provided by Angela Canada Hopkins, daughter of a cancer patient.

Who We Are

Viracta is committed to advancing new medicines based on its viral gene activation therapy approach to benefit patients with viral-associated cancers and other serious diseases.

Viracta’s proprietary platform is a highly targeted combination therapy approach for virus-associated malignancies. Our initial focus is on cancers associated with the Epstein Barr Virus (EBV). We will also expand into additional applications to utilize this approach to benefit patients with a range of virus-associated diseases.

Our team possesses deep, cross-functional experience and longstanding commitment to develop new medicines to benefit patients.

Meet the Team

Senior Management

Ivor Royston, M. D. - Chief Executive Officer

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Ivor has been involved in the biotechnology industry since the founding of Hybridtech (acquired by Eli Lilly) and the founding of Idec Pharmaceuticals in 1986 (merged with Biogen). Since 1990, He has been instrumental in the formation of numerous successful public biotechnology companies, including: Applied Molecular Evolution (acquired by Eli Lilly); Corixa (acquired by GlaxoSmithKline); Genesys (merged with Somatix and acquired by Cell Genesys); LigoCyte (acquired by Takeda); Morphotek (acquired by Eisai); Syndax TargeGen (acquired by Sanofi-Aventis); and Triangle Pharmaceuticals (acquired by Gilead). Ivor was the Founding President and CEO of the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center and served on the faculty of the medical school and cancer center of the University of California, San Diego. He received B.A. and M.D. degrees from the Johns Hopkins University and completed post-doctoral training in internal medicine and medical oncology at Stanford University. In 1997, President Clinton appointed Ivor to a six-year term on the National Cancer Advisory Board.

Marshelle Smith Warren, M. D. - Chief Medical Officer

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As our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Warren directs our translational and development programs. Over her career, she has been instrumental in transitioning immunotherapy candidates utilizing diverse platforms (small molecule, biologics, RNA and cellular approaches) into the clinic and successful new blockbuster therapies like Enbrel to market. Most recently, Dr. Warren served at Atara Biotherapeutics as Vice President in the targeted cytotoxic T-lymphocytes programs for oncology and autoimmunity. Prior to that she held senior director positions in development at Amgen, Gilead Science and Ionis Pharmaceuticals. Dr. Warren received her B.S. degree from Baylor University and her M.D degree from the University of Nebraska. She completed her Immunology fellowship at National Jewish Hospital.

David Slack, M.B.A. - Chief Business Officer

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With over 20 years’ experience, David has a track record of innovation in business development and senior management roles at biotech as well as large pharma companies. His deal-making experience exceeds $1 billion in transactions and encompasses major corporate partnerships, spin-outs, start-ups and financings. David has provided corporate development, partnering, investment and Orphan drug commercialization advisory services to a range of organizations. In his consulting role with Novimmune, David repositioned the company for a major financing. David co-founded Kinagen, where he served as President, CEO. David also served as Vice President of Business Development for Ionis Pharmaceuticals and in senior roles at Rhone-Poulenc Rorer and Aventis Pharma. David received an M.B.A. from the Monterey Institute for International Studies, and Psychology and Molecular Biology degrees from California State University.

Board of Directors

James Woody, M.D., Ph.D. Chairman of the Board; General Partner at Latterell Venture Partners

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Jim brings over 25 years of pharmaceutical research and management experience. He is a General Partner at Latterell Venture Partners. Jim held senior roles within the industry, including that of Chairman and founding CEO of Oncomed Pharmaceuticals; President of Roche Bioscience; Chief Scientific Officer and Senior Vice President of Research and Development for Centocor (Janssen); and as Commanding Officer and Director of the US Naval Medical Research and Development Command. Jim has been responsible for a wide range of medical research and development activities ranging from transplantation research to infectious diseases. He was responsible for the surveillance, detection and therapy for all Biologic Warfare Agents and Infectious Diseases in the first Gulf War, and was awarded the US Navy Legion of Merit for his service. Jim holds a medical degree from Loma Linda University, trained in Pediatric Immunology at Duke University and Children’s Hospital in Boston (Harvard), and holds a Ph.D. in Immunology from the University of London, England. He has authored or co-authored over 140 publications.

Patrick Soon-Shiong, M.D., FRCS(C), FACS – Vice Chairman of the Board

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A physician, surgeon, researcher, philanthropist and scientist, Dr. Soon-Shiong is one of the country’s leading biopharmaceutical innovators. One of his many notable achievements was the development of the drug Abraxane, which is approved for the treatment of metastatic breast cancer, lung cancer and advanced pancreatic cancer. Dr. Soon-Shiong currently serves as Chairman and CEO of NantWorks, an ecosystem of companies aiming to create a transformative global health information system and next-generation pharma development network. Under the NantWorks umbrella, Dr. Soon-Shiong also serves as Chairman and CEO of NantKwest [NASDAQ: NK], and Chairman and CEO of NantHealth [NASDAQ: NH]. Dr. Soon-Shiong was instrumental in the formation of Cancer Breakthroughs 2020, a comprehensive collaboration of researchers, insurers, academic institutions and pharmaceutical companies that seeks to accelerate the potential of combination immunotherapy in the treatment of cancer. Over the course of his career, Dr. Soon-Shiong has pioneered novel therapies for both diabetes and cancer. He has published over 100 scientific papers, and has issued over 230 patents worldwide for groundbreaking advancements spanning myriad fields of technology and medicine.

Ivor Royston, M.D. – Director & Chief Executive Officer

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In addition to his roles and accomplishments, described above, Ivor was founding Managing Partner with Forward Ventures.

Richard Ghalie, M.D. – Director

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Richard brings over 20 years of drug development experience. He currently serves as Senior Vice President of Clinical Development at MEI Pharma. As a hematologist and oncologist, Richard has held several executive positions in the pharmaceutical industry, including Chief Medical Officer at Denovo BioPharma, HemaQuest Pharmaceuticals, Novalar Pharmaceuticals, and Favrille. He also served as Medical Director of the Bone Marrow Transplant Center of Rush University Medical Center. Richard holds a medical degree from the French School of Medicine in Lebanon, a M.S. from the University Paris XI and a M.B.A. from the University of Washington in Seattle. He has authored or co-authored more than 125 manuscripts, book chapters and scientific publications.

Senior Advisors

Douglas V. Faller, M.D., Ph.D. – Scientific Founder and Chairman, Scientific Advisory Board

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Douglas served as Director of Boston University Medical School’s Cancer Center and Vice-Chairman of the Division of Medicine. He was the scientific founder for HemaQuest Pharmaceuticals, and has served as an advisor to multiple biotech and pharmaceutical companies. His study of herpesviruses and their viral activation is preeminent in the field of hematology and oncology. Douglas holds a Bachelor of Sciences from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a medical degree from Harvard Medical School, and Ph.D. degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Postdoctoral Training from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and has published extensively.


Viracta collaborates with leading scientific and clinical researchers, philanthropic and patient advocacy groups, and corporate partners to advance application of tractinostat and the viral gene activation therapy platform for a broadening range of cancers and other serious diseases.

NantKwest, Inc.

Immunotherapy collaboration to combine tractinostat with natural killer (NK) cell therapies. Read More