Our Company

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Company
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Company

Overview

As a specialty therapeutics, clinical-stage biotech company, Inversago Pharma develops new generations of peripherally-acting cannabinoid-1 receptor (CB1) inverse agonists for the treatment of diabetic kidney disease, type 1 and type 2 diabetes, non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, complications of obesity, hypertriglyceridemia, as well as fibrotic indications such as progressive fibrosis – interstitial lung disease, including idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. The mechanism of action of Inversago’s molecules addresses the safety limits associated to first generation, centrally-acting CB1 blockers, allowing the company to exploit their full medical potential.

Leadership Team

François Ravenelle

François brings a comprehensive set of skills in pharmaceutical and business development, and a proven ability to move the company’s vision forward. As CEO and Founder, François played an integral part in Inversago’s recent $40 million raise in less than 24 months.

François’ experience represents nearly two decades of drug development, from early-stage development programs to clinical trials, with key contribution to one approved NDA.

François holds a PhD in Physical Chemistry from McGill University.

Glenn D. Crater

Glenn brings more than 20 years of experience in clinical development and medical affairs covering multiple aspects of drug development, including rare diseases. Prior to joining Inversago, Glenn held many executive positions at Theravance Biopharma, including Vice President, Clinical Development and Medical Affairs, where he led the recent launch of YUPELRI. Prior to joining Theravance, he was Vice-President at Aerocrine and also occupied senior roles at GSK, including Country Medical Director in Canada.

Glenn obtained his MD degree from the University of Tennessee and is Board Certified in Internal Medicine as well as in Pulmonary Diseases.

Michael D. Harvey

Michael is a senior executive with 20 years of experience in drug development. His expertise in various therapeutic areas includes musculoskeletal rare diseases, oncology, as well as infectious diseases. Michael has strong abilities in strategic planning, execution in a fast-paced environment and alliance management, including pharma partner collaborations.

Prior to joining Inversago, Michael was Vice President, Drug Development at Ipsen, after the acquisition of Clementia Pharmaceuticals Inc. where he brough Palovarotene to NDA.

Michael holds a PhD in Bioanalytical Chemistry from Concordia University.

Glenn S. Vraniak

Glenn’s career spans more than 20 years of financial and commercial experience in the life sciences industry. Before joining Inversago, he served as Chief Financial Officer of Evaxion Biotech A/S, an AI enabled immuno-oncology company and led the company through a successful IPO on Nasdaq in February 2021, and successfully raised follow-on capital later that same year. Prior to that, he served as the Chief Financial Officer of electroCore, Inc. and was a key member of the management team that led the company through a successful IPO on Nasdaq in June 2018. Additionally, Glenn served as an executive in various innovative healthcare and technology companies including GE Capital, where he served as Executive Vice President. 

Glenn received an Electronic Engineering Technology degree and a Managerial MBA in Finance from the Rutgers University Center for Management Development.

Micheline Beauvais

Micheline brings key financial expertise to Inversago, acquired throughout her career in the banking industry, as well as during her tenure as Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of Locus Dialogue Inc.

Since 2002, Micheline has been working as Acting-CFO for small venture-backed biotech startups. Her expertise is well-recognized throughout the biotech industry.

Well-versed in all aspects of financial management, she brings extensive experience in accounting, auditing, control, taxation and corporate policies.

A certified general accountant, Micheline successfully completed an executive MBA at Concordia University.

Jianmin Duan

Jianmin has more than 30 years of drug development experience, including 21 years in drug discovery and development at Boehringer Ingelheim, overseeing all preclinical drug development programs of the company. Jianmin is an expert in preclinical and clinical features of drug absorption, distribution, metabolism, excretion, pharmacokinetics and pharmacology.

His in-depth understanding of the pharmacology provides important guidance on development programs, including regulatory aspects related to toxicology and pharmacology.

Jianmin holds a PhD in Pharmacology from Dalhousie University.

Jeremy Green

Jeremy is an accomplished scientific and organizational leader, with a track record of building and delivering on drug R&D programs. He cumulates over 20 years pharmaceutical industry experience in a variety of roles, including department, functional and project leadership. He was previously head of chemistry at Vertex Pharmaceuticals (Boston) responsible for medicinal chemistry, lead generation, scale up and analytical functions.

He has extensive experience in early-stage discovery, lead generation and optimization, medicinal chemistry, intellectual property realization, scale-up, analytical chemistry, and outsourcing.

Karine Lalonde

Karine cumulates 20 years of experience in clinical research operations, in roles with increasing responsibilities. Prior to joining the leadership team, Karine Lalonde was most recently Senior Director, Clinical Operations at Inversago.

Before that, at Ipsen following the acquisition of Clementia Pharmaceuticals Inc, she contributed to bringing Palovarotene to NDA. Along her career, Karine acquired extensive experience in broad therapeutic areas ranging from Diabetes to Oncology and Musculoskeletal Rare diseases, including pediatric trials.

Karine holds a MSc in Clinical Pharmacology from Université de Montréal.

Board of Directors

Carlo Incerti

Carlo Incerti is currently Operating Partner at Forbion in Naarden, The Netherlands. As Chairman of the Board, he brings to Inversago over three decades of experience in the biopharmaceutical industry.

Prior to joining Forbion in 2019, he held the position of Senior Vice President, Chief Medical Officer and Head of Global Medical Affairs at Sanofi Genzyme. Before its acquisition by Sanofi in 2011, Carlo held a number of positions of increasing scope and responsibility at Genzyme Corporation, the company who pioneered the development of therapeutics for rare diseases, working first at the European Headquarters in the Netherlands before being appointed Senior Vice President of Global Market Access at the corporate headquarters in Boston, MA.

Carlo was previously a founding shareholder, Board member and Chief Executive officer at Biofil S.r.l., a start-up active in the development, manufacturing and commercialization of systems for leukocyte depletion of blood and derivatives, which was acquired by Fresenius Kabi of Germany in 1993. Prior to joining the industry, Carlo was an Associate Professor of Endocrinology at the University of Modena, with a main research focus on thyroid diseases and sex hormones.

In addition to his role at Forbion, Carlo is also Chairman of the Board of Azafaros B.V., a Dutch company developing small molecules for substrate inhibition in rare genetic diseases, and a Founding Member and on the Consortium Assembly of IRDiRC, the International Rare Diseases Research Consortium.

Carlo received his M.D. degree from the University of Modena, in Italy.

Patricia Allen

Patty Allen is Chief Financial Officer at Vividion Therapeutics, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Bayer using precision therapeutics against cancers and immune disorders. As a seasoned biotech and operations leader, she brings to Inversago valuable insight acquired in publicly-traded and private companies.

Prior to her current position, she served as Chief Financial Officer of Zafgen, Inc., now Larimar Therapeutics, from January 2013 until May 2020 where she led all aspects of finance, investor relations, communications, human resources, information technology, as well as facilities management and operations. She has helped raise capital and led or actively participated in successful initial public offerings at Alkermes, Alnylam, Zafgen and most recently Deciphera Pharmaceuticals.

Before working at Zafgen, Patty worked with biotechnology companies to provide consulting services for fund raising, strategic long-range planning, organizational structure, and business development. Previously, she held positions of increasing responsibility at Alnylam Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: ALNY), most recently serving as Vice President of Finance, Treasurer, and Principal Financial Officer.

Patty began working in the biotechnology industry at Alkermes, where she spent 12 years as director of finance, assistant secretary, and corporate controller. She was an audit manager at Deloitte & Touche where she began her career.

In addition to her current position, Patty serves on the board of directors and chairs the Audit Committee of Deciphera Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: DCPH), SwanBio Therapeutics, Yumanity and Anokion.

Patty graduated summa cum laude from Bryant College with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration.

Marco Boorsma

Marco Boorsma is General Partner at Forbion, headquartered in Naarden, The Netherlands, a leading venture capital firm he joined in 2007. As a key member of the investment team, Marco brings to Inversago an extensive knowledge of the biopharmaceutical industry as well as his background in molecular biology, operational and business development experience from both small and large businesses.

Marco was instrumental in the start-up of Dezima and served on its Board until Dezima was acquired by Amgen for up to USD1.5Bn in 2015. Marco also served on the Board of Akarna, which was sold to Allergan for up to USD 1Bn in 2016, and on the board of Prexton Therapeutics that was sold to Lundbeck in 2018 for up to USD 1.1Bn. Marco was observer to the Board of Exosome Diagnostics that was sold to Bio-Techne for up to USD 575M. He previously served on the board of Replimune (NASDAQ: REPL), RSPR Pharma, NorthSea Therapeutics, Milestone Pharmaceutical (NASDAQ: MIST), and was observer at Oxyrane.

Prior to joining Forbion, Marco worked at DSM Pharmaceutical Products in positions with increasing responsibilities, up to the role of Director of Business Development and Licensing.

In parallel to his role at Forbion, Marco chairs the board of directors at Oxitope and serves on several boards, including Inflazome, Escalier Biosciences, VectorY and EnGene.

Marco holds a PhD in biotechnology from ETH Zurich, Switzerland.

Dennis Kim

Dennis Kim is a physician executive and currently the Chief Medical Officer at CymaBay, a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on liver and other chronic diseases. His experience and areas of expertise, including diabetes, liver and weight-related chronic diseases are of great value to Inversago’s board and leadership team.

Prior to CymaBay, he served in a variety of senior executive positions in the biopharma industry, most recently as Chief Medical Officer at Emerald, and prior to that as CMO at Zafgen, Inc. for 7.5 years, where he brought beloranib up to pivotal Phase 3 trial for the treatment of Prader-Willi Syndrome. He also served as Senior Vice President of Medical Affairs at Orexigen Therapeutics (public biotech company focused on obesity pharmacotherapy).

Prior to joining Orexigen in September of 2008, he was Vice President, Medical Affairs and Chief Medical Officer of EnteroMedics, Inc., a public medtech company developing implanted electrical weight-loss devices. He also held various senior management positions at Amylin Pharmaceuticals, Inc. over 7 years, including Executive Director of Corporate Strategy and the program medical lead for development and commercialization of Byetta® (exenatide) for the treatment of type 2 diabetes.

Dennis completed his fellowship in Endocrinology/Metabolism at University of California, San Diego (UCSD) during which time he investigated the pathophysiology of diabetes and metabolic syndrome. He is extensively published in top peer-reviewed medical and scientific journals with over 50 publications to his name. Dennis also received an MBA degree with honors from UCSD Rady School of Management with emphasis on biotech structure and strategy.

Tara Nickerson

Tara Nickerson is Chief Business Officer and Corporate Board Secretary at Maze Therapeutics. She brings to Inversago more than 20 years of experience building biotechnology businesses from start-up to commercialization. Known for leading company-building efforts, strategic partnering, corporate transactions and board of directors’ governance for life sciences companies, Tara has guided strategic development, partnering and corporate spinoff transactions.

Tara joined Maze from Prothena Corporation, where she served as Chief Business Officer and was on the core team that formed Prothena as a public company via a spin-off from Elan Pharmaceuticals. There, she led early market development for new products business development, manufacturing and global facilities & IT and executed the company’s collaboration agreements with Celgene and Roche.

Prior to Prothena, she held concurrent roles as vice president and head of business development at Elan Pharmaceuticals, and vice president and head of corporate development at Neotope Biosciences, a wholly-owned Elan subsidiary.

In parallel to her role at Maze,Tara is also an active member of Women in Bio and Canadian Entrepreneurs in Life Science.

Tara holds a Ph.D. in experimental medicine and a B.Sc. in biology from McGill University. She also holds an MBA from the University of California at Berkeley, Walter A. Haas School of Business.

François Ravenelle

François brings a comprehensive set of skills in pharmaceutical and business development, and a proven ability to move the company’s vision forward. As CEO and Founder, François played an integral part in Inversago’s recent $40 million raise in less than 24 months.

François’ experience represents nearly two decades of drug development, from early-stage development programs to clinical trials, with key contribution to one approved NDA.

François holds a PhD in Physical Chemistry from McGill University.

Jamie Stiff

Jamie Stiff is currently Managing Director at Genesys Capital. During his tenure with Genesys, he has been responsible for investments in many early-stage portfolio companies that cross a multitude of clinical disciplines and technology areas. His investment experience in many areas of life sciences, combined with an academic background in biology, provides valuable insight to Inversago.

Jamie joined Genesys Capital in 2002 and became partner at the firm in 2007, before being appointed Managing Director in 2016. Prior to joining Genesys, Jamie worked at the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute at Mount Sinai Hospital in the genetic diagnostics area.

Jamie holds a Bachelor of Science (Honours) from Queen’s University and an MBA from the Rotman School of Management.

Scientific Advisory Board

David Cherney

Dr. Cherney is currently Professor of Medicine at the University of Toronto and a Clinician Scientist at the University Health Network and Mount Sinai Hospitals, where he works as Senior Scientist and director of the Renal Physiology Laboratory. He is currently supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the JDRF, the Heart and Stroke Richard Lewar Centre of Excellence, the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada and the Banting and Best Diabetes Centre. Dr. Cherney is also supported by a Department of Medicine, University of Toronto Merit Award.

Dr. Cherney’s research program focuses on physiological factors that initiate renal disease in patients with diabetes, such as renal hyperfiltration and inflammation, and the role of the cardiorenal axis in diabetes. His research group is also involved in early and late phase clinical trials in the cardiorenal-metabolic field, including several primary renal outcome trials in patients with and without diabetes. Dr. Cherney’s research program is closely aligned with his integrated and multidisciplinary cardiac-renal-endocrine clinic at the University Health Network, which maintains a strong emphasis on the prevention of diabetic nephropathy and cardiovascular disease.

In 2019, he received the American Society of Nephrology (ASN) Distinguished Researcher Award for outstanding contributions to nephrology. The same year, he also received the Diabetes Canada/CIHR – Institute of Nutrition, Metabolism and Diabetes (INMD) Young Scientist Award.

Following his clinical training in Nephrology, Dr. Cherney completed his PhD in human renal physiology at the Institute of Medical Science, University of Toronto in 2008. 

Jean-Pierre Després

Dr. Després is a professor in the Department of Kinesiology at the Faculty of Medicine of Laval University in Quebec City, Canada. In 2018, he was appointed Scientific Director of the Research Center of Primary Care and Services at Laval University (now VITAM – Research Center in Sustainable Health). In October 2014, Laval University appointed him Director of Science and Innovation for Alliance santé Québec, whose goal is to unite the Quebec City region around all aspects relevant to health. Since 2005, he’s also Scientific Director of the International Chair on Cardiometabolic Risk at Laval University.

Dr. Després’ research interests focus on obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and their prevention through physical activity and healthy eating. More than 25 years ago, he was the first to report in medical publication that excess of abdominal fat was particularly unhealthy (a condition he named “visceral fat”).

Dr. Despres is a recipient of numerous awards, including those from the American College of Sports Medicine, the Canadian Diabetes Association, the Canadian Cardiovascular Society, the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology, the Canadian Conference on Cardiovascular lipoproteins and the North American Association for the Study of Obesity. He is a Fellow of the American Heart Association and is President of the Council on Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health of the American Heart Association (formerly NPAM). He gave the prestigious D. Bruce Dill Historical lecture of the American College of Sports Medicine in 2012. 

Dr. Després obtained a Ph.D. in Exercise Physiology at Laval University in 1984. From 1984 to 1986, he completed postdoctoral studies in the Department of Medicine at the University of Toronto.

John J.P. Kastelein

Dr. John Kastelein is founder and CSO of New Amsterdam Pharma and part of the Executive Board. He’s also Emeritus Professor of Medicine at the Department of Vascular Medicine at the Academic Medical Center of the University of Amsterdam, where he held the Strategic Chair of Genetics of Cardiovascular Disease.

He has published over 1,320 research papers in peer-reviewed journals, including Nature Genetics, The Lancet, New England Journal of Medicine, JAMA, and Circulation and had a Hirsch index of 122 in January 2020. His citations reached over 680 in 2020 and in total over 74,800.

Dr. Kastelein is a member of steering committees of numerous lipid-lowering and cardiovascular intervention trials. His main interest is in the development of novel therapies for cardiovascular diseases and the genetic basis of dyslipidemia. He’s also CEO of the Vascular Research Network (VRN), a site maintenance organization comprised of 50 hospitals in the Netherlands, involved in clinical trials for cardiometabolic diseases.

Dr. Kastelein is president of the Dutch Atherosclerosis Society and the National Scientific Committee on Familial Hypercholesterolemia and a Fellow of the European Society of Cardiology (FESC). In 2010, he was awarded the prestigious Dutch Heart Association prize of EUR 1 million and, in 2011, the ZonMw Parel for his research in the field of gene therapy.

Dr. Kastelein was awarded a doctorate in medicine (with honors) from the University of Amsterdam and trained in internal medicine at the Academic Medical Center of the University of Amsterdam, as well as in lipidology and molecular biology at the University of British Columbia, in Vancouver.

Rohit N. Kulkarni

Dr. Rohit N. Kulkarni has been on the Faculty of the Joslin Diabetes Center since 1999 and is currently a Senior Investigator and Co-Head of the Section on Islet Cell and Regenerative Biology at the Joslin Diabetes Center, Professor of Medicine and Faculty Member of the Biology and Biomedical Sciences (BBS) Graduate Program at Harvard Medical School and Associate Director of the Diabetes Research Center (DRC).

The major focus of the Kulkarni laboratory is to generate functional islet cells for replacing dysfunctional and/or absent hormone producing cells in type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

Dr. Rohit Kulkarni obtained his MD and PHD degrees from St. John’s Medical College and the Royal Postgraduate Medical School in London where he trained in the lab of Steve Bloom. Subsequently, he obtained the NIH NRSA Award and completed a Postdoctoral Fellowship in the lab of Ron Kahn at the Joslin Diabetes Center.

He is the recipient of the Endocrine Society’s Ernst Oppenheimer Award, the Merck Frosst Distinguished Lectureship and James H. Horner Distinguished Visiting Professorship and is an elected member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation and Association of American Physicians.

George Kunos

Dr. George Kunos is currently Chief of the Laboratory of Physiologic Studies at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA, US National Institutes of Health). He was previously Scientific Director of NIAAA from 2000 to 2022, where he returned after working at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, VA as Professor and Chair of the Department of Pharmacology. Prior to that role, Dr. Kunos worked for the NIAAA/NIH as Laboratory Chief after serving as faculty at McGill University.

His research in the last 30 years has focused on the biology of the endocannabinoid system and its role in metabolic, cardiovascular and appetitive functions. He is listed as inventor on several US Government patents covering peripherally restricted cannabinoid-1 receptor antagonists, which have been licensed for development as treatment for obesity/metabolic syndrome, NASH, diabetic complications and fibrotic diseases.

Dr. Kunos has published over 270 peer-reviewed papers in leading journals including Nature, Science, Cell, Nature Medicine, Cell Metabolism, J Clin Investigation, etc., which have been cited more than 35,000 times in the scientific literature (Google Scholar, H-factor 92). He had trained 9 PhD students and 37 post-doctoral fellows, many of whom have since risen to prominence.

He is recipient of the Mechoulam award (2005) and a Lifetime Achievement Award (2019) of the International Cannabinoid Research Society, an NIH Director’s award, and an honorary doctorate of Semmelweis University. Dr. Kunos is an elected fellow of the American Heart Association and a foreign member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.

Dr. Kunos graduated with an M.D. (Semmelweis University, Budapest, gold medalist), and a Ph.D. in pharmacology (McGill University, Montreal).

Christine McCarthy

Dr. McCarthy is a world expert in clinical development for metabolic disease. Over her career in large pharma, she has been responsible for several late stage clinical development programs including having worldwide responsibility for Sanofi’s Phase III program for Rimonabant, the only approved CB1 obesity / diabetes / dyslipidemia drug.

Dr. McCarthy has also been part of the strategy and innovation team of Sanofi R&D. In this role, she conducted in-depth reviews of numerous projects at different stages of development.

She received her medical degree and her specialty in rheumatology at hospital Saint Antoine Paris, France.

Arun J. Sanyal

Arun J. Sanyal, M.D., is the education core director at VCU’s C. Kenneth and Dianne Wright Center for Clinical and Translational Research and a professor in the gastroenterology division of the Department of Internal Medicine at the VCU School of Medicine.

Dr. Sanyal has published more than 300 scholarly papers, has been continuously funded by the National Institutes of Health for more than 17 years and has won numerous awards for his research and leadership. In 2018, he was selected for the Virginia Outstanding Scientist award for his deep commitment to the betterment of human health globally via science, education and public policy.

Dr. Sanyal is a leader in training future medical researchers and in identifying the mechanisms and clinical outcomes and developing effective management for nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and metabolic syndrome. He has developed training programs to address these major public health challenges.

Through his service on several committees, editorial boards and in leadership positions such as president of the American Society for the Study of Liver Disease, as well as chair of the NASH Research Network and the Liver Study Section at the NIH, Dr. Sanyal has had a significant impact on VCU and the professional community. His work led to the development of a curriculum for hepatologists that has established national training standards.

Investors

Inversago Pharma is a privately-owned company. In 2020, Inversago has secured a US$35 million series B financing to pursue its development plan and advance its peripheral CB1 platform as a potent treatment for targeted diseases.

The company’s second financing round in less than two years was led by Forbion from the Netherlands, with important participation by Fonds de solidarité FTQ and existing investors Genesys Capital, JDRF T1D Fund, Amorchem, Anges Québec Capital, adMare BioInnovations, Anges Québec and other angels.

Inversago also acknowledges the financial support the company received from the Foundation for Prader-Willi Research (FPWR), with two annual grants supporting research and development activities of INV-101.

For more information on investment opportunities, please contact us: info@inversago.com.

Sponsorship

Foundation for Prader-Willi Research

Inversago Pharma proudly sponsored the FPWR 2021 Research Symposium and Family Conference, held virtually on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1, 2021.

Over the years, this annual conference has become a not-to-be-missed event for all stakeholders involved in PWS research and caregiving activities. It represents a unique opportunity for the PWS community to learn about the latest breakthroughs in all research areas focusing on PWS. Learn more about the conference at fpwr.org/fpwr-research-symposium

PWS Clinical Trial Consortium

The PWS clinical trial consortium aims to accelerate clinical trials for PWS through the establishment of a collaborative, pre-competitive and international environment.

Inversago’s support of the consortium helps leverage the expertise and perspective of stakeholders from industry, academia, governmental agencies and patient organizations to address unmet scientific, technical, clinical and regulatory needs for PWS clinical trials. For more information about the consortium, visit pwsctc.org

Inversago Pharma benefits from the financial support of the Ministère de l’Économie et de l’Innovation du Québec