Vincerx Pharma is a clinical-stage life sciences company focused on leveraging its extensive development and oncology expertise to advance new therapies intended to address unmet medical needs for the treatment of cancer. Vincerx Pharma’s executive team has assembled a management team of biopharmaceutical experts with extensive experience in building and operating organizations that develop and deliver innovative medicines to patients.
Executive Leadership Team
Ahmed Hamdy, MD is the Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the board of directors of Vincerx. Dr Hamdy has served as Vincerx’s Chief Executive Officer and as a member Vincerx’s board of directors since March 2019. Before that, Dr Hamdy co-founded Acerta Pharma, a pharmaceutical development company and member of the AstraZeneca plc, and served as its head of early clinical development from January 2015 to June 2019, as chief executive officer from February 2013 to January 2015, as chief medical officer from February 2013 to January 2015 and as a member of the board from February 2013 to February 2016. Before that, Dr Hamdy served as chief medical officer of Pharmacyclics LLC, a biopharmaceutical company, from March 2008 to June 2011. Dr Hamdy has served as a clinical advisor and member of the board of directors of Andes Biotechnologies, a nucleic acid-based drug discovery and development company, since September 2016, as a member of the Dean’s Council of the Jack Baskin School of Engineering at the University of California, Santa Cruz, since April 2019, and as a member of the Palo Alto Medical Foundation President’s Council since March 2016.
Dr Hamdy received a MBBCH from the KasrAlainy School of Medicine at the University of Cairo, Egypt.
Raquel Izumi, PhD is the Chief Operations Officer and President of Vincerx and a member of the Vincerx board of directors. Dr Izumi has served as Vincerx’s Chief Operations Officer and as a member Vincerx’s board of directors since March 2019. Before that, Dr Izumi co-founded Acerta Pharma and served as its executive vice president of clinical development from February 2013 to May 2020. Dr Izumi also co-founded Aspire Therapeutics LLC and served as its chief scientific officer from June 2011 to February 2013. Before founding Aspire Therapeutics, Dr Izumi served as senior director of clinical development at Pharmacyclics LLC, a biopharmaceutical company, from February 2010 to May 2011, where she worked on designing and implementing seven clinical studies across various hematologic malignancies (including three studies that garnered breakthrough therapy designation) for the first BTK inhibitor (IMBRUVICA®) to enter clinical trials. Dr Izumi began her research career at Amgen, where she held positions of increasing responsibility and participated in a successful BLA filing and approval for ARANESP®.
Dr Izumi was a Howard Hughes Predoctoral Fellow at the University of California, Los Angeles where she obtained a PhD in microbiology and immunology. She received honors and distinction for her BA in biological sciences from the University of California, Santa Barbara.
Alexander Seelenberger, MBA is the Chief Financial Officer of Vincerx. Mr Seelenberger has been a managing partner at Aurus Capital, a leading Latin American venture capital firm, heading its healthcare venture capital practice, since March 2009. In that role, Mr Seelenberger has co-founded and has been an executive director in several healthcare companies. From August 2007 to January 2009, Mr Seelenberger served as an associate at Athelera LLC, a New York-based boutique investment bank offering financial advisory services to clients in the United States, Latin America and Europe. Mr Seelenberger has served as a member of the board of directors of Andes Biotechnologies, a nucleic acid-based drug discovery and development company, since September 2009, Trigemina Holdings, Inc., a pharmaceutical company, since March 2012, Levita Magnetics, a magnetic surgical platform development company, since January 2012, Echopixel, Inc., a medical imaging device development company, since September 2012, and Algenis, a bioactive molecule development company, since December 2012.
Mr Seelenberger received a BBA in business from the University of Chile and an MBA with high distinction from Harvard Business School, where he graduated as a Baker Scholar.
Hans-Georg Lerchen, PhD is the Chief Scientific Officer of Vincerx. Before joining Vincerx, Dr Lerchen was a Distinguished Fellow in the Bayer Science Fellow Network of the Pharmaceuticals R&D organization of Bayer AG. With 33 years background in medicinal chemistry, he is author or coauthor of 81 patents/patent applications and 27 peer reviewed publications. Dr Lerchen contributed to 5 INDs and to the identification of numerous preclinical candidates and lead structures. With his research focus on prodrugs and drug delivery modalities, he was the medicinal chemistry lead and key driver of diverse bioconjugate programs, including the development of ADCs with the novel KSPi toxophore and legumain linker platform.
Dr Lerchen received his PhD in organic chemistry from the University of Mainz with Professor Horst Kunz. After a year of research as a Max Planck postdoctoral scholarship holder at the MPI for Biochemistry in Munich, he started his industrial career at Bayer AG Leverkusen in the Central Research Department. After 14 years with responsibilities for different basic research programs he moved to the Medicinal Chemistry unit of the Pharmaceuticals Division of Bayer in Wuppertal.
As a renowned scientist in the ADC field, Dr Lerchen is an invited speaker on various international conferences. He serves as a board member of the biochemistry subgroup of the German Chemical Society (GDCh).
Tom Thomas is the General Counsel and Chief Legal Officer of Vincerx. Before joining Vincerx, Mr Thomas was a partner at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP, a leading international law firm with offices in major metropolitan centers around the world. He has over 30 years of experience representing life science and technology companies at all stages of development, from start-up and emerging companies, to pre-IPO companies, to large public and private companies. His practice has focused on corporate and securities matters, including corporate governance, debt and equity financings, public and private acquisitions and dispositions, venture capital financings and investments, SPAC transactions, PIPE offerings, joint ventures and strategic alliances, SEC compliance and reporting, executive compensation, and technology transactions.
Mr Thomas received his BBA in Accounting from the University of Iowa, where he graduated summa cum laude, and his JD from the University of Minnesota Law School, where he graduated magna cum laude.
Beatrix Stelte-Ludwig is the Chief Development Officer of Vincerx Pharma, Inc. Before joining Vincerx, Dr Stelte-Ludwig was Head of Functional Assays at Bayer AG and was part of their R&D organization for over 30 years. During her time at Bayer, she identified preclinical candidates in different indications, ranging from cardiovascular diseases to oncology. Dr Stelte-Ludwig authored/co-authored over 50 patents/patent applications and contributed to eight IND filings. In addition, she relocated Bayer’s urology department from Japan to Germany and was part of the team establishing the new biologics division within Bayer. Since 2007 her research has focused on antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs) including identification of targets, establishment of numerous assays for mode-of-action studies, and evaluation of new payload classes including the KSPi platform. As a scientific ambassador of the “Life Science Innovation” community, Dr Stelte-Ludwig was also involved in driving innovation and new technologies via collaboration with international academic partners and mentoring young scientists.
Dr Stelte-Ludwig received her doctorate in chemistry/biochemistry from the Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster under the mentorship of Prof Witzel. As a recipient of German Research Foundation scholarship, she pursed her postdoctoral research fellowship at Harvard University in the group of Dr Jack L Strominger.
Tasheda Navarro is Vice President of Clinical Operations of Vincerx. Before joining Vincerx, Ms Navarro was the senior director of clinical operations of Acerta Pharma from March 2014 to August 2020. Ms Navarro led the clinical operations department as well as the global chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) program for CALQUENCE®, which was one of the fastest joint approvals in US, Canada, and Australia. Before that, Ms Navarro was the lead clinical trial manager of a global phase 3 trial of a novel immuno-oncology prostate cancer drug at Bavarian Nordic from April 2012 to March 2014. Before that, Ms Navarro worked at Pharmacyclics LLC from March 2010 to March 2012 as the senior clinical trial manager who managed the ibrutinib phase 2 trial in CLL that lead to an accelerated approval in CLL in 2014. Tasheda has also worked on various hematology and oncology programs at Astex, Amgen, and Genentech.
Tasheda graduated with a BS in Cell and Molecular Biology from University of Washington in Seattle.
Elsa Johnson is the Vice President of Program and Portfolio Management of Vincerx. Ms Johnson is the principal for Goal Management Consulting, a consulting company assisting small pharmaceutical startups in Seattle and the Bay Area develop and execute on their development plans, since December 2018. Before that, Ms Johnson was a senior director of program management at Acerta Pharma from June 2014 to July 2018 and was part of the initial management team that led to a successful Astra Zeneca acquisition and subsequent CALQUENCE® approval. From October 2008 to January 2014, Ms Johnson was director of project management for HemaQuest Pharmaceuticals, a clinical development stage company developing small molecules for the treatment of life-threatening hematologic disorders. From May 2006 to August 2008, Ms Johnson was a senior project manager for Nastech Pharmaceuticals, a company developing nasal delivery formulations. From December 2003 to May 2006, Ms Johnson was senior project manager at Corus Pharma where she supervised the overall cross functional activities of an inhaled antibiotic orphan drug program for the treatment of cystic fibrosis, CAYSTON®. From March 1990 to November 2003, Ms Johnson has held different positions of increasing responsibility from data management, clinical research, clinical operations management and clinical project management.
Ms Johnson received her BS in Economics from Southern Methodist University and MBA from Lake Forest Graduate School of Management.
David Nganele, PhD, MBA is the Head of Early Development of Vincerx. Dr Nganele has over 30 years of global pharmaceutical and biotech experience in large and small companies with broad experience through the life cycle of drug development and commercialization. He was on the marketing team that launched the first drug at Pfizer to achieve yearly sales of over $1 billion. After 10 years of commercialization experience, he moved to new product planning and drug development team leadership. At PDL Biopharma, he led the team that developed and obtained FDA approval of Cardene IV for emergency hypertension. He eventually moved to Europe where he helped pioneer the development of Biosimilars, at Sandoz Biopharmaceuticals, a division of Novartis, leading the teams that developed biosimilars for Enbrel and Humira. Before joining Vincerx, he worked at Morphosys in Germany where he oversaw the development of antibodies and bispecifics for solid and hematologic cancers.
Dr. Nganele obtained his PhD in Physiology and Pharmacology from New York Medical College and an MBA from Columbia Business School.
Amy Johnson, PhD is Vice President of Medical Affairs of Vincerx. Before Vincerx, Dr Johnson was Senior Director of Translational Research at Janssen Oncology responsible for preclinical and biomarker research in hematological malignancies. Prior to joining industry in 2017, she had a highly productive and successful career in experimental therapeutics research at The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio where she was Associate Professor of Medicine with tenure. At OSU, Amy served in many roles, including Coleader of the Leukemia Research Program and Coprincipal Investigator of three R01 National Cancer Institute grants. Dr Johnson led her own laboratory and served as mentor to many undergraduate and graduate students and has contributed to more than 100 peer-reviewed publications.
Dr Johnson received her PhD in Pharmaceutical Sciences from University of Kentucky, Lexington. Amy also completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the laboratory of John Byrd, MD at OSU.
Raj Dua, PhD is Vice President of Biologics Development and Manufacturing of Vincerx. For the past 11 years, Dr Dua served as a CMC advisor and an independent consultant for several smaller and virtual biotechnology companies and helped in establishing CMC strategy, process development, scale up and overall product development from early stage to commercialization of pharmaceutical products. Previously, Dr Dua held a senior management role at Resolve Bio, Alder Biopharmaceuticals, Trubion Pharmaceuticals and Xcyte Therapies, where he played a key role in development, scale up and commercialization of products related to autologous cell therapy, monoclonal antibodies, fusion proteins and peptides.
Dr Dua received a PhD from the University of Georgia in the field of Medicinal Chemistry and pursued postdoctoral research at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
George Clemens, PhD is Executive Vice President of Toxicology for Vincerx. Dr Clemens is a pharmaceutical industry veteran with over 50 years of experience in preclinical safety and drug development. His career spanned the spectrum from study conduct, to toxicology department head, project management and vice president of preclinical drug safety and drug development with long stays with Sterling Drug, Bayer, Rigel and Ileo Science, but also as a consultant to pharma and biotechnology sectors. He has contributed to more than 2 dozen INDs and NDAs (most recently Tavalisse®). His broad experience includes the development of oncology drugs including Nexavar®, second generation taxanes and bioconjugates.
Dr Clemens was past President of the Midwest Teratology Association and Middle Atlantic Reproduction and Teratology Association and past President Emeritus of the Northern California Society of Toxicology. He received his doctorate from the University of Notre Dame.
Melanie Frigault, PhD is the Vice President of Translational Medicine of Vincerx. In the year before joining Vincerx, Dr Frigault was the US head of Translational Medicine at AstraZeneca with a strategic focus on precision medicine and accelerating clinical development using novel biomarker-based endpoints in hematologic malignancies and solid tumors. From 2016 to 2020, Dr Frigault established a translational science department at Acerta Pharma in South San Francisco, CA to support development of CALQUENCE® in mantle cell lymphoma (2017) and chronic lymphocytic leukemia (2019) with clinical biomarker data. Dr Frigault held positions of increasing responsibility at AstraZeneca from 2011 to 2016 where she inserted science into the development of the portfolio ranging from target selection to phase 3 pivotal trials including biomarker discovery and companion diagnostic development. Dr Frigault began her clinical research career at Novartis Institute of Biomedical Research in Cambridge, MA where she developed biomarkers and drove preclinical collaborations to inform clinical development.
Dr Frigault obtained her PhD in Biochemistry from McGill University, Québec, Canada.
Xin Huang is the Vice President of Biometrics of Vincerx. Before joining Vincerx, Dr Huang was the Head of Biostatistics at Loxo Oncology, where she established the Biostatistics and Statistical Programming department and was responsible for the oversight of all biometrics activities. Before joining Loxo, she was Director of Biostatistics at Acerta Pharma and led the statistical support for multiple hematology and solid tumor studies. Dr Huang began her career in oncology at Amgen, where she worked as statistical lead for phase 2 and phase 3 studies in the trebananib program. During her career, Dr Huang led the biometrics activities for RETEVMO (selpercatinib) approval and played a key role for CALQUENCE (acalabrutinib) MCL approval.
Dr Huang obtained her PhD in Biostatistics from the University of California, Los Angeles.
Melissa Merrick is Senior Director of People and Culture for Vincerx and brings with her 10+ years of experience in leading the Human Resources function in small to mid-sized financial services, pharmaceuticals, and SaaS companies. Before joining Vincerx, Ms Merrick was the Director of Agency Integration and Onboarding at The Liberty Company where she led the integration of 6 brokerage acquisitions. Prior to Liberty, Ms Merrick was an early employee at Newfront Insurance where she built an onboarding program that captured 82% of the company’s total revenue at 900% legacy speed. Before joining Newfront, Ms Merrick co-founded Odyssey Therapeutics, a seed-stage computational immunology company focused on creating new therapeutics for patients with multiple sclerosis. Before forming Odyssey, Ms Merrick was the Head of US Operations for UXPin, where she lead HR policy, employee relations, performance management, and training and development programs for a 150+ person, global SaaS company. Ms Merrick has also held positions at BioPharmX and JPMorgan Chase Bank.
Ms Merrick graduated with a BS in Physiology and Neuroscience from UC San Diego.
Scientific Board Advisors
John C Byrd, MD is the Chairman of the Scientific Advisory Board of Vincerx and an internationally known researcher and clinical specialist in leukemia and other hematologic malignancies. Dr. Byrd is currently the Department Chair, The Gordon and Helen Hughes Taylor Professor, University of Cincinnati. Previously, he was the D Warren Brown Chair of Leukemia Research at the Ohio State University College of Medicine. At Ohio State University, Dr Byrd is also a Distinguished University Professor, a permanent title that is the highest faculty honor at the university and is given to full professors who have demonstrated exceptional teaching, research, scholarly or creative work and service. His primary appointment is in the College of Medicine’s Department of Internal Medicine, with secondary appointments in the Division of Pharmaceutics and Medicinal Chemistry in the College of Pharmacy and the Department of Veterinary Bioscience in the College of Veterinary Medicine. Additionally, he is director of the Clara Bloomfield Center for Prognosis in Myeloid Leukemia, senior advisor for cancer experimental therapeutics and coleader of the Leukemia Research Program at the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center. From 2010 until 2017, he served as director of the Division of Hematology.
He leads a laboratory that focuses on translational immune and molecular pharmacology. Dr Byrd’s research has shown that therapeutic agents such as rituximab, idelalisib, ibrutinib and acalabrutinib are effective against chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) and has led efforts to understand how resistance develops to these agents. Dr Byrd continues to study novel immune-based therapies for CLL, however, five years ago, he transitioned much of his experimental therapeutics effort toward acute myelogenous leukemia (AML), where he has been attempting to identify genomic-specific targeted therapies in the laboratory and translate them to clinical trials. He serves as the chief medical officer for Beat AML, a precision medicine effort.
Dr Byrd received his medical degree in 1991 from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. He did his internship and residency in internal medicine at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC, and then completed a fellowship there in hematology, oncology and bone marrow transplantation. Dr Byrd also received a year of translational laboratory training at Johns Hopkins University.
Howard A Burris III, MD, FACP, FASCO serves as chief medical officer and president of Sarah Cannon’s clinical operations, HCA’s global cancer institute. In his roles, he leads clinical strategy and drug development initiatives, which includes the overseeing physician-led, patient-centric integrated cancer services. Additionally, Dr Burris is an associate with Tennessee Oncology, PLLC.
In 1997, Dr Burris established the first community-based Phase 1 drug development program in Nashville, which became Sarah Cannon Research Institute. Among his many notable accomplishments, he led the first-in-human studies for many now approved drugs that have changed the standard of care for several types of cancers, including docetaxel and ado-trastuzumab emtansine for breast cancer and everolimus for kidney cancer. In 2014, he was named a Giant of Cancer Care during the ASCO® annual meeting. He was also elected as the president of ASCO® for the 2019-2020 term.
Dr Burris received his medical degree from the University of South Alabama and performed his residency and fellowship in hematology/oncology at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas. While there, he served as director of clinical research at the Institute for Drug Development of The Cancer Therapy and Research Center and was an associate professor at The University of Texas Health Science Center. He has served on many ASCO® committees, including the ASCO® Board of Governors, ASCO Audit Committee, and served as chair of the ASCO® Nominating Committee. Currently, he is chair of the ASCO® Research Community Forum Council and sits on the ASCO® Conquer Cancer Foundation Board of Directors, as well as the Conquer Cancer Foundation Development and Fundraising Committee.
Gerard Evan, PhD is the Sir William Dunn Professor and Head of Biochemistry at the University of Cambridge. Before Cambridge, he was the Gerson and Barbara Bass Bakar Distinguished Professor of Cancer Research at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF). His research focuses on determining the molecular basis of cancer, including studying oncogenes such as MYC.
Earlier in his career, he was at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund Laboratories in London and was elected to the Royal Society’s Napier Research Professorship. Dr Evan studied biochemistry at Oxford, earned his PhD at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, and completed postdoctoral studies in the laboratory of Mike Bishop at UCSF, followed by a return to Cambridge as a research fellow at Downing College. Dr Evan was elected to EMBO in 1996, the UK Academy of Medical Sciences in 1999, the Royal Society in 2004, the European Academy of Sciences in 2006, the European Academy of Cancer Sciences in 2013, and the Academy of the American Association for Cancer Research in 2019.
Ian W Flinn, MD, PhD is an internationally recognized clinical investigator whose research focuses on the development of new therapies for patients with lymphoma and CLL. This research includes first-in-human to Phase 3 trials with novel approaches such as immune effector cell therapies, inhibitors of the B-cell receptor pathway, and BCL-2 inhibitors amongst others. He is an author of approximately 200 articles in journals, such as the New England Journal of Medicine, Lancet, Journal of Clinical Oncology, and Blood. Dr Flinn joined Tennessee Oncology and the Sarah Cannon Research Institute in 2006 and serves as Director of Lymphoma Research. In his role, he oversees lymphoma research throughout Sarah Cannon and its affiliates. Dr Flinn also serves as the director for the Sarah Cannon Center for Blood Cancer at Tennessee Oncology and TriStar Centennial Medical Center.
Dr Flinn received his bachelor’s degree in economics from Georgetown University in Washington, DC and graduated from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore. He then completed his internship and residency at the University of Michigan Medical Center in Ann Arbor. He earned a fellowship in oncology and hematology and a PhD in clinical investigations from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. He is board certified in hematology and medical oncology. Additionally, Dr Flinn is an associate with Tennessee Oncology, PLLC.
Andre Goy, MD is Physician in Chief for Hackensack Meridian Health Oncology Services and Chairman of John Theurer Cancer Center at Hackensack University Medical Center as well as Founding Chair of Oncology at the Hackensack Meridian Health School of Medicine and Professor of Medicine at Georgetown University in Washington, DC. The HMH Oncology Program is a 17 hospitals system including John Theurer Cancer Center at Hackensack University Medical Center, a member of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) designated Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center Consortium. The John Theurer Cancer Center provides the largest oncology program in New Jersey and is also a member of the Memorial Sloan Kettering – Hackensack Meridian Health partnership.
Dr Goy leads the Lymphoma Program at John Theurer Cancer Center and is widely known for his work lymphoma particularly in aggressive lymphoma and mantle cell lymphoma. He has served on the NCI steering committee for lymphoma and on the Scientific Advisory Board of the Lymphoma Research Foundation. Dr Goy has published more than 200 peer reviewed papers and serves as reviewer for many journals in the field including the New England Journal of Medicine, the Journal of Clinical Oncology, and Blood, among others. He co-chaired the Global Council on the Future of Health and Healthcare for the World Economic Forum from 2015 to 2019.
After completing medical school at University Joseph Fourier School of Medicine in Grenoble, France, Dr Goy received his training in Hematology Oncology and Immunology at The University Hospital System and Pasteur Institute in Paris. He then was on Faculty at Memorial Sloan-Kettering and MD Anderson Cancer Center before joining John Theurer Cancer Center in 2005.
Dr Rosa Lapalombella, PhD is assistant professor at The Ohio State University and has a strong history of translational medical research. Her research focus is on epigenetic alterations of cancer cells and the development of experimental therapeutics for hematologic disease. Her work has contributed to the translation of five therapeutic agents into clinical trials for CLL and has been reported in more than 40 articles in Cancer Discovery, Cancer Cell, Journal of Clinical Oncology, Leukemia and Blood.
Dr Lapalombella earned her PhD from the University of Bologna, Italy. Before her current appointment, she completed four years of postdoctoral training, followed by two-year appointments as a Research Scientist with PI status at The Ohio State University.
Dr Anthony W Tolcher, MD, FRCPS(C), FACP is chief executive officer & founder of NEXT OncologyTM, San Antonio and Austin, Texas, a Phase 1 group that seeks to transform early clinical trials. Dr Tolcher served as President and Co-Founder of START LLC from 2009 to 2018, one of the world’s largest clinical Phase and early drug development operations in cancer medicine with 5 locations in San Antonio Texas; Grand Rapids, Michigan; Madrid Spain; and Shanghai China. Dr Tolcher is a medical oncologist who has over 25 years of experience in early drug development and clinical trials. He has been involved in many of the initial phase I studies of new agents that subsequently were FDA approved for the treatment of cancer including pembrolizumab, copanlisib, trastuzumab emtansine, regorafenib, liposomal vincristine, cabazitaxel, carfilzomib, gefitinib, erlotinib, and eribulin. He is currently the principal investigator on 40 Phase 1 clinical studies and is a reviewer for the Journal of Clinical Oncology, Clinical Cancer Research, and Annals of Oncology. He has chaired the Developmental Therapeutics Review Committee for the American Association of Clinical Oncology Annual Scientific Program.
Dr Tolcher received his medical degree from The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada. His fellowship in oncology was also at The University of British Columbia. He also completed a fellowship in research at the NCI in Bethesda, MD.