Our team possesses deep, cross-functional experience and shares a longstanding commitment to developing new medicines to benefit cancer patients.
Ivor Royston, M.D.
President and Chief Executive Officer
Dr. Royston has served as President, Chief Executive Officer, and Director of Viracta since 2015. From 1990 to 2017, Dr. Royston was a Managing Partner of Forward Ventures, a life science venture capital firm. From 1990 to 2000, Dr. Royston also held the position of Chief Executive Officer of the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center. Prior to that, Dr. Royston was the Director of Clinical Immunology at University of California, San Diego Cancer Center. Dr. Royston was the co-founder of Hybritech, Inc., which developed the PSA test for prostate cancer; and the co-founder of IDEC Corporation, which developed Rituxan, the first approved monoclonal antibody therapy for lymphoma, and which subsequently merged with Biogen to form Biogen Idec, now Biogen. Dr. Royston currently serves on the board of directors of Biocept, Inc. (NASDAQ:BIOC). Dr. Royston received his B.A. and M.D. degrees from Johns Hopkins University and completed post-doctoral training in internal medicine and medical oncology at Stanford University.
Lisa Rojkjaer, M.D.
Chief Medical Officer
Dr. Lisa Rojkjaer joined Viracta Therapeutics in May 2020 as Chief Medical Officer. Previously, Dr. Rojkjaer served as the Chief Medical Officer at Nordic Nanovector from November 2016 to April 2020. Prior to this, Dr. Rojkjaer held several senior management positions in biotech and global pharmaceutical companies. She was the Global Clinical Program Head for AML at Novartis Oncology from October 2013 to November 2016. Her previous roles also included Chief Medical Officer at Molecular Partners, and Vice President, Head of Clinical Development at MorphoSys AG. Dr. Rojkjaer received her medical degree from the University of Toronto, where she also completed her internal medicine and hematology training.
Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer
Mr. Chevallard has served as Chief Financial Officer of Viracta since July 2019 and Chief Operating Officer since March 2021. Previously, Mr. Chevallard served as the Chief Financial Officer and principal financial officer at Regulus Therapeutics from May 2017 to July 2019. Mr. Chevallard joined Regulus Therapeutics in December 2012 as Vice President, Accounting and Financial Reporting and served as Vice President, Finance from May 2013 to April 2017. Prior to joining Regulus Therapeutics, Mr. Chevallard held various senior roles in corporate finance, accounting and financial reporting including Controller and Senior Director, Finance of Prometheus Laboratories Inc. (acquired by Nestlé Health Science in July 2011). Prior to joining Prometheus, Mr. Chevallard spent approximately five years in public accounting at Ernst & Young, LLP in their assurance services practice. He received his Bachelor of Accountancy from the University of San Diego and is a Certified Public Accountant in the state of California.
Ayman Elguindy, Ph.D
Chief Scientific Officer
Ayman Elguindy, Ph.D., has over 23 years of experience studying the role of viruses in cancer and spent the last decade as a faculty member at Yale University School of Medicine, most recently as an Associate Professor in the Department of Pediatrics, Section of Infectious Disease, and the Department of Pathology. At Yale, Dr. Elguindy ran a laboratory focused on the involvement of herpesviruses in the etiology and prognosis of cancer. His group studied the fundamental role of herpesvirus protein kinases in viral pathogenesis and as potential targets for drug development. Additionally, he made seminal contributions to the understanding of oncogenic herpesvirus reactivation from latent to lytic state, the process of viral DNA replication, role of virally encoded cytokines in mediating cell proliferation, and temporal regulation of viral gene expression during infection. He has been awarded numerous grants from organizations such as the American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute to study the mechanisms regulating EBV gene expression and the role of viruses in cancer as both a Principal and Co-Investigator. Dr. Elguindy has authored over two dozen peer-reviewed publications and serves in editorial roles at the scientific journals Pathogens and Frontiers in Microbiology. He also serves as a reviewer for multiple journals including PloS Pathogens and the Journal of Virology. He received his Ph.D. and M.Ph. in Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry from Yale University and his M.Sc. in Biochemistry from Ain-Shams University (Egypt).
Senior Vice President, Regulatory
Cheryl Madsen joins Viracta Therapeutics from Calithera Biosciences where she served as Vice President of Regulatory Affairs. Previously, Cheryl was the Vice President of Regulatory Affairs at Peloton Therapeutics where she facilitated the successful acquisition of their HIF2-α inhibitor (belzutifan) by Merck. Prior to that Cheryl served as Sr. Director at Medivation (acquired by Pfizer), where she played an instrumental role in the initial global regulatory filings, approval and launch of XTANDI® (enzalutamide) for the treatment of metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer. In addition to her regulatory responsibilities, she served as Project Team Leader for XTANDI from 2015-2016. Prior to Medivation, she held positions of increasing responsibility at several successful small- to medium-size biotechnology companies. Cheryl started her career at Genentech, and during her 13‑year tenure, was responsible for the original filing and approval of AVASTIN® (bevacizumab) for first-line metastatic colorectal cancer. She played a critical role in the parallel filing and approval of the HERCEPTIN® (trastuzumab) BLA for metastatic breast cancer and the HercepTest™ PMA, an in vitro diagnostic for HER2 expression and patient selection. Cheryl received her bachelors degree in Psychology from U.C. Santa Cruz and completed additional post-graduate work in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry at U.C. Berkeley. She holds U.S. and Global Regulatory Affairs Certifications from the Regulatory Affairs Professional Society.
Vice President, Operations and Strategic Alliances
Prior to joining Viracta, Robert conducted Business Development for a global clinical research organization, working closely with many biotech organizations. Robert’s experience includes roles in clinical operations and management of global clinical trials in rare disease and immunology related indications across all phases of development. Robert also conducted molecular biology and microbiology research at Wright State University and was the recipient of a fellowship from The Oak Ridge Institute for Science Education in areas of biodefense interest with The United States Air Force Research Laboratory.
Vice President, Legal Affairs and General Counsel
Mr. Mueller joins Viracta from Conatus Pharmaceuticals Inc., a company he joined in 2013, where he served most recently as Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary until its merger with Histogen, Inc. Prior to that, Mr. Mueller held positions of increasing responsibility at Apricus Biosciences, Inc. in the areas of intellectual property, business development and alliance management. Mr. Mueller has a Bachelor of Chemical Engineering from the University of Minnesota, a J.D. from Thomas Jefferson School of Law and an M.B.A. from San Diego State University.
Biljana Nadjsombati, Pharm.D.
Vice President, Pharmaceutical Development
Biljana Nadjsombati, Pharm.D., is an experienced chemistry, manufacturing, and controls (CMC) and technical operations executive with more than 25 years of experience across the pharmaceutical industry. She has contributed to the global development and commercialization of multiple pharmaceutical products and her areas of expertise include directing commercial and clinical production operations, process development, scale up and validation, product technology transfers, supply chain management, contract manufacturing oversight, and due diligence activities for new business development opportunities. Prior to joining Viracta, Ms. Nadjsombati served as Vice President, CMC, at Urovant Sciences, Inc., where she played an instrumental role in the registration filing, approval, and launch of GEMTESA®. Before joining Urovant, Ms. Nadjsombati held leadership roles within the R&D organization at Avanir Pharmaceuticals (acquired by Otsuka Pharmaceutical), most recently serving as Executive Director of Pharmaceutical Development and Supply Chain and was a key contributor to the registration and commercialization of NUEDEXTA® and ONZETRA® Xsail®. Prior to her time at Avanir, Ms. Nadjsombati held positions of increasing responsibility at Valeant Pharmaceuticals International, Ribapharm, and ICN Pharmaceuticals. Ms. Nadjsombati earned her Pharm.D. and completed additional postgraduate work in pharmaceutical technology at the University of Belgrade, School of Pharmacy in Serbia.
Patric Nelson, MBA
Senior Vice President, Business Development & Corporate Strategy
Patric Nelson, MBA, joined Viracta from Esperion Therapeutics, where he served as Vice President, Business Development and Alliance Management. At Esperion, Mr. Nelson led the company’s global business development strategy, closing over $2 billion in licensing transactions. Furthermore, he created Esperion’s alliance management function, where he led Esperion’s global partnerships with Daiichi Sankyo and Otsuka. Prior to his time at Esperion, he was a Program Therapeutic Leader at Ionis Pharmaceuticals, where he oversaw the clinical and lifecycle strategy for antisense oligonucleotide therapies. Additionally, Mr. Nelson previously held management positions at Amgen, Amylin Pharmaceuticals (acquired by AstraZeneca) and Allergan (acquired by Abbvie). During his tenure, he contributed to the development of multiple commercially available therapies such as Byetta®, Symlin®, Restasis®, Tegsedi®, and Evolocumab®. Mr. Nelson earned his MPH in Public Health from the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine and his MBA with distinction from the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business.
Vice President, Finance
Ms. Vandertie joins Viracta from Conatus Pharmaceuticals Inc., having spent thirteen years there, most recently as Vice President, Finance. She served in senior financial consulting roles at several companies from 2002 to 2008. From 1998 to 2004, Ms. Vandertie held various positions, including Chief Financial Officer, at Althea Technologies Inc., which was acquired by Ajinomoto Co. in 2013. She held the position of Corporate Controller at Vical Incorporated, a publicly traded biotechnology company, from 1993 to 1997. From 1990 to 1993, Ms. Vandertie held the position of Corporate Controller at California Structures, a real estate development company. She served as an auditor with Ernst & Young from 1987 to 1990. Ms. Vandertie received her B.S. degree from the University of Northern Colorado.
Mark A. McCamish, M.D., Ph.D.
Dr. McCamish has significant leadership in the life science industry, most recently serving as President and Chief Executive Officer of Forty Seven Inc., which he led through IPO and multiple financings until the acquisition by Gilead for approximately $4.9 Billion. Dr. McCamish has also served as the Global Head of Biopharmaceutical Development of Novartis' Sandoz division, receiving Novartis's Chairman award each year from 2010-2015. Prior to his time at Novartis, Dr. McCamish was a Vice President and Chief Medical Officer at several companies including PDL BioPharma, Perlegen Sciences, and Facet Labs, which was acquired by Abbott Laboratories due in part to Dr. McCamish's work advancing multiple myeloma and multiple sclerosis therapies. Additionally, Dr. McCamish has also held senior research and development roles at Amgen Inc. and Abbott Laboratories.
Dr. McCamish received his PhD in Human Nutrition from Penn State University and his MD from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). He completed his residency and fellowship training at the University of California, Davis (UC Davis). Dr. McCamish has been named one of the top 50 global antibody industry influencers by the European Antibody Congress and has held professorships at UC Davis and The Ohio State University.
Board of Directors
Roger J. Pomerantz, M.D.
Chairman of the Board
Dr. Pomerantz has served as a member of the board of directors of Viracta since June 2020 and was appointed Chair in September 2020. Dr. Pomerantz has been President, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board of ContraFect Corporation (NASDAQ: CFRX) since April 2019. Previously, Dr. Pomerantz was a Venture Partner at Flagship Pioneering from 2014 through 2019. In addition, he served as the President, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board of Seres Therapeutics from 2014-2019, where he continues to serve as Senior Advisor to its Board of Directors. Previously, Dr. Pomerantz was Senior Vice President, Worldwide Head of Licensing & Acquisition at Merck & Co., Inc and prior to that was Senior Vice President and Global Franchise Head of Infectious Diseases at Merck. Prior to joining Merck, Dr. Pomerantz was Global Head of Infectious Diseases for Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceuticals. He also served as Chief Executive Officer of Tibotec Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Dr. Pomerantz currently serves on the boards of Intec Pharma Ltd. (NASDAQ: NTEC). Dr. Pomerantz received his B.A. in Biochemistry at the Johns Hopkins University and his M.D. at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. He received post-graduate training at the Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School and M.I.T. Dr. Pomerantz is Board Certified in both internal medicine and infectious diseases. He was Professor of Medicine, Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology, Chief of Infectious Diseases, and the Founding Director and Chair of the Institute for Human Virology and Biodefense at the Thomas Jefferson University and Medical School.
Thomas E. Darcy, CPA
Mr. Darcy previously was a cofounder and director of Tocagen Inc. from August 2007 until June 2020. Mr. Darcy also served as Tocagen Inc.’s Chief Financial Officer from August 2007 to February 2017 and as Tocagen’s Executive Vice President from August 2007 to May 2017. Prior to Tocagen, Mr. Darcy served for over five years as Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Science Applications International Corporation (“SAIC”), a Fortune 500 science and technology company. Mr. Darcy also served as a director and chairman of the audit committee of McAfee, Inc., a publicly-held technology company, for over three years until its sale to Intel Corporation in February 2011. Mr. Darcy also served as a director and audit committee member of Forte Biosciences, Inc. from June 2020 through May 2021 and currently serves as a director and chairman of the audit committee of Lytx, Inc., a privately-held technology company. Prior to SAIC, he was an audit Partner in the accounting firm of PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, where he served as the Managing Partner of both the West and Southwest Region Audit and Business Advisory Service Technology practices, as well as the Managing Partner of the San Diego office. Mr. Darcy is a Certified Public Accountant (inactive) in the state of California and graduated from San Diego State University with a B.S. in Accounting.
Michael Huang, M.S., M.B.A.
Mr. Huang has served as a member of the board of directors of Viracta since 2019. He has been a managing partner at Taiwania Capital Management Company’s Life Science Fund since 2018. Prior to joining Taiwania, Mr. Huang was the Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of NeuroVive Pharmaceutical Asia, Inc. (NVP Asia). Prior to NPV Asia, Mr. Huang had served as head of investor relations for TWi Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a specialty generics company in Taiwan. Mr. Huang currently serves on the board of directors of Frequency Therapeutics (NASDAQ: FREQ), Elixiron Therapeutics, Inc., Regenacy Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Fractyl Laboratories, Inc. and Point Robotics Medtech, Inc. Mr. Huang earned a M.S. degree in Chemistry from the University of Texas at Arlington and an MBA degree from Rice University’s Jones Graduate School of Business.
Sam Murphy, Ph.D.
Dr. Murphy has served as a member of the board of directors of Viracta since January 2019. He has been a Vice President and Head of International Business Development for Shenzhen Salubris Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd. since 2017, and currently serves as Chief Executive Officer of its United States subsidiary, Salubris Biotherapeutics, Inc. Prior to joining Salubris, Dr. Murphy worked for ten years in strategy consulting and transaction advisory services across several global firms including IMS (now IQVIA) and Simon-Kucher & Partners. Dr. Murphy currently serves on the boards of GO Therapeutics, Inc. (chair) and MedAlliance S.A. Dr. Murphy earned a B.A. in Biochemistry, Ph.D. in Molecular Biology with a concentration in Virology and completed his Post-Doctoral Fellowship in Gene Therapy and Translational Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.
Nicole Onetto, M.D.
Dr. Onetto has served as a member of the board of directors of Sunesis since September 2019. Dr. Onetto is a medical doctor and independent consultant in oncology, drug development, and translational research. She was Deputy Director and Chief Scientific Officer at the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research from 2009 to 2016. From 2005 to 2009 she was Chief Medical Officer at ZymoGenetics, a biotechnology company developing protein therapeutics. From 2002 to 2005, she served at OSI Pharmaceuticals, a biopharma company developing targeted cancer therapies, first as Executive Vice President Oncology, and then as Chief Medical Officer. Her career in the pharmaceutical industry also includes senior management positions at Bristol- Myers Squibb, Nexstar Pharmaceuticals, which was acquired by Gilead Sciences, and Immunex. Previously, she served for eleven years as a board member of ImmunoGen. Dr. Onetto earned her BS from the University of Paris, and an MS in Pharmacology from the University of Montréal. She obtained her MD and a Hematology-Oncology Certificate from the University of Paris.
Gur Roshwalb, M.D.
Dr. Roshwalb has served as a member of the board of directors of Viracta since November 2020. He has been a Managing Director at aMoon since January 2019. Prior to joining aMoon, he was Chief Executive Officer and Director at several private and public biotech companies, including Akari Therapeutics Plc (NASDAQ: AKTX). Prior to his operational roles, Dr. Roshwalb was a Vice President at Venrock, where he was an investment professional on the healthcare team investing in both private and public companies. Dr. Roshwalb started his finance career at Piper Jaffray, where he worked as a vice president and equity analyst. Prior to Piper, Dr. Roshwalb was in private practice in New York following residency training in internal medicine at Mount Sinai Medical Center, where he served as Chief Resident. Dr. Roshwalb obtained his medical degree from Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University, his MBA from the NYU Stern School of Business and a B.A. from Columbia University.
Ivor Royston, M.D.
CEO, President, and Director
In addition to his roles and accomplishments as part of our Senior Management Team, Ivor was founding Managing Partner with Forward Ventures.
Stephen Rubino, Ph.D., M.B.A.
Stephen Rubino, Ph.D., MBA has over 30 years of commercial and strategic development experience in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries. He is currently the Chief Business Officer at Celyad Oncology SA and sits on the Board of Sermonix Pharmaceuticals. Previously, he was the Chief Business & Strategy Officer at Omega Therapeutics and Global Head of Business Development and Licensing and New Product Marketing for the Cell and Gene Therapies business unit at Novartis Pharmaceuticals. At Novartis, Dr. Rubino led growth opportunities including evaluation, licensure, strategy and commercial development of products across a wide range of therapeutic areas. He received his Ph.D. in virology from Cornell University and an MBA from Baruch College.
Barry J. Simon, M.D.
Barry J. Simon, M.D., is a healthcare executive with more than 30 years of experience spanning the public and private sectors. He previously served on Viracta’s board from July 2017 to November 2020 and has been serving as Director and CCAO of Immunity Bio, Inc. since March 2021. Prior to this, he served as President and Chief Administrative Officer of Nantkwest, Inc. since 2015 and as its President and CEO since 2007. Dr. Simon also serves on the boards of Cue BioPharma and Brink Biologics Inc. He has broad experience in public and private companies, having led private and public equity offerings, product and portfolio divestitures and acquisitions, strategic licensing and joint ventures, as well as commercial product launches, IND and BLA regulatory filings, human-enabling programs, and manufacturing, quality control and life cycle management projects. Previously, he held Vice President, senior level and advisory positions at F. Hoffmann-La Roche, Roche Labs, Connetics Corporation, Immunomedics, Immusol, HealthPro BioVentures, LLC, and NorthSound Capital, LLC.
In his prior roles, Dr. Simon worked across several therapeutic areas including oncology, virology, ophthalmology and dermatology on product launches including Xeloda®, Pegasys®, Fortovase®, Tamiflu®, Camptobell®, Boniva®, Fuzeon®, Valcyt®, and Accutane®. Dr. Simon attended corporate training programs by the London School of Business and the Amos Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College. He received his M.D. from the SUNY Downstate Health Sciences Center in New York and trained clinically in infectious diseases, anesthesiology, and internal medicine at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, The Mount Sinai Medical Center and New York University, respectively.
Scientific Advisory Board
Douglas V. Faller, M.D., Ph.D.
Scientific Founder and Chairman, Scientific Advisory Board
Dr. Faller is the Scientific Founder of Viracta Therapeutics and serves as the Chair of the Scientific Advisory Board. Previously, Dr. Faller served as the Interim Chief Medical Officer and Interim Chief Scientific Officer for Viracta. Dr. Faller is a Professor of Medicine at Boston University Medical Center, and previously served as the Director of the Cancer Center and held the Grunebaum Chair for Cancer Research. He has founded a number of biotechnology companies and holds or has held several senior management positions in biotech and global pharmaceutical companies. Dr. Faller received his medical degree from the Harvard University where he also served on the faculty of Brigham and Womens Hospital, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and Boston Childrens’ Hospital. He received his PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Robert Baiocchi, M.D., Ph.D.
Professor and Head of the Lymphoma Program at Ohio State University, and member of Blood and Marrow Transplant Clinical Trials Network.
Corey Casper, M.D., MPH
Chief Medical Officer at Infectious Disease Research Institute (IDRI), and Co-Director of University of Washington/Fred Hutch Center for AIDS Research.
Charles Cobbs, M.D.
Director of the Ivy Center for Advanced Brain Tumor Treatment in Seattle; pioneered the concept of the potential role of cytomegalovirus in cancer pathogenesis and therapy.
Carl June, M.D.
Richard W. Vague Professor in Immunotherapy, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine; Director of the Center for Cellular Immunotherapies; Director of Translational Research, Abramson Cancer Center at the University of Pennsylvania.
Ronald Levy, M.D.
Professor and Director of the Lymphoma Program at Stanford University School of Medicine; Associate Director of Translational Science for the Stanford Cancer Institute; former Chief of the Stanford Division of Medical Oncology; member of the National Academy of Medicine and the National Academy of Sciences.
Pierluigi Porcu, M.D.
Director of the Hematologic Malignancies and Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation Division in the Department of Medical Oncology for Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center at Thomas Jefferson University.
Hao Shen, Ph.D.
Professor of Microbiology at Penn Institute for Immunology at University of Pennsylvania bringing expertise in viral models of immune responses, epigenetics and T cell exhaustion.
Daniel D. Von Hoff, M.D., F.A.C.P. FASCO, FAACR
Physician-in-Chief and Distinguished Professor at the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen); Professor of Medicine, Mayo Clinic; Senior Consultant-Investigations, City of Hope; member of President Bush’s National Cancer Advisory Board and past President of the American Association for Cancer Research.
Lawrence Young, Ph.D.
Vice President and Director of the Warwick Cancer Research Centre at University of Warwick, UK, distinguished by work in the roles of the Epstein-Barr virus in nasopharyngeal carcinoma and other cancers; Fellow of the UK Academy of Medical Sciences.