Chief Executive Officer
Dr Baker has more than 20 years’ experience developing biologics in biotech and pharma companies and is a research expert in B and T cell immunology, including drug immunogenicity. Matthew has held entrepreneurial and leadership positions across the biotechnology industry including Chief Scientific Officer of Abzena plc and co-founder, Chief Scientific Officer of Denceptor Therapeutics. Prior to this he was co-founder, Chief Executive Officer and Chief Scientific Officer of Antitope Ltd. Dr Baker is currently Non-Executive Director at Oxford Genetics Ltd.Prior to co-founding Antitope in 2004, Matthew held a variety leadership positions at Biovation Ltd, Cellular Technologies Limited and Whatman BioSciences. Matthew completed his postdoctoral studies in Cambridge after receiving his Ph.D in cellular immunology from the University of Birmingham.
Chief Financial Officer
Stephen joined the Neophore Executive Team in July 2021 and brings extensive Finance, Operations and Corporate Development leadership experience to the Board. After spending five years in Audit at Deloitte and Touche, Stephen moved into industry, holding three senior Finance positions with Advanced Medical Solutions plc (an AIM listed Medical devices manufacturer). His responsibilities covered all aspects of the Finance function management, with a role on the inaugural Operations Leadership Team as well as an integral position on the Senior Leadership team for the Group’s Branded product portfolio (which accounted for 60% of all revenues). Stephen then went on to join the Senior Leadership Team of Shield Therapeutics plc - an AIM listed commercial stage specialty-pharma company - working extensively on Corporate Development activities. Stephen has a BSc in Mathematics from the University of Manchester and is a Chartered Accountant (ACA).
Chief Scientific Officer
Martin has over 30 years’ experience in drug discovery across large pharma and biotech as well as charity funded and not-for-profit institutes in both the UK and US. After an Industrial post-doc with Parke-Davis at the PD site in Cambridge, UK, Martin spent time at Wellcome and GlaxoWellcome before leaving to become Head of Chemistry at RiboTargets (Cambridge, UK). Through a series of mergers and acquisitions RiboTargets became Vernalis, where Martin was ultimately Director of Chemistry & Structural Biology (as well as Deputy Research Director). More recently, Martin established the Drug Discovery Unit within the Cancer Research UK (CRUK) Beatson Institute in Glasgow, Scotland, and was Director of the Center for the Development of Therapeutics (CDoT) at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard.
Executive Vice President, Drug Discovery
Dr Julian Blagg joined NeoPhore in October 2018; he is an experienced medicinal chemist and oncology drug discovery scientist. Prior to joining NeoPhore, he was Deputy Director, Professor and Head of Chemistry at the Cancer Research UK Cancer Therapeutics Unit at the Institute of Cancer Research (ICR), London, UK. From 1988 to 2007, Julian practiced medicinal chemistry and drug discovery in the pharmaceutical industry (Pfizer), both in the US and UK, where he was responsible for the successful progression of multiple preclinical development candidates into clinical trials across 4 therapeutic areas. With colleagues from the ICR, Julian was recipient of the 2012 American Association of Cancer Research (AACR) Team Science Award for achievements in drug discovery and served as Chair of the Chemistry in Cancer Research section of the AACR from 2018-2019. He has authored over 200 publications and patents.
Director of Biology
Philippe is a trained Cancer Cell Biologist with over 15 years’ experience, gained through translational and drug discovery research programs across academia and more recently biotech in the UK. After receiving his Ph.D. in Oncology from the University of Paris XI in France, Philippe initially completed fundamental postdoctoral studies at the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research and at King’s College London, where he focused on unravelling the molecular details of complex regulatory mechanisms. Following this, Philippe moved to the London Research Institute and later to the Francis Crick Institute, where he contributed to a wide range of preclinical translational research studies, as academic collaborator, to support a drug discovery effort between charity funded and pharma organisations, with a particular focus on biomarker identification. More recently, Philippe worked as Head of Translational Biology at Novintum Bioscience Ltd., a small biotech company within the field of cancer metabolism.
Maria T. Rodriguez-Plata
Principal Scientist – Immunology
Maria is an immunologist with a strong background in immuno-oncology and virology and is passionate about the development of new human cancer immunotherapies. After receiving her PhD in Immunology from the Autonomous University of Barcelona/IrsiCaixa – AIDS Research Institute, she completed her postdoctoral studies at University College London. She later joined the biotech company Tusk Therapeutics where she worked in the development of first-in-class antibody-based therapeutics against cancer. After the acquisition of the company by Roche in 2018, she joined the spin-off Black Belt TX as project leader in the validation of novel immuno-oncology targets and early drug discovery.
Principal Scientist – Biology
Dr. Hervieu is a trained cell biologist with expertise in tumor biology, signal transduction, and translational research with particular focus on target identification/validation and PD biomarker development. Alexia received her Ph.D. in Tumor Biology from Queen Mary University of London at Barts Cancer Institute, where her work unravelled molecular downstream signalling of the oncogene cMet. Following this, Alexia obtained a post-doctorate fellowship at The Institute of Cancer Research, within the Cancer Research UK Cancer Therapeutic Unit, working on target identification to be considered for potential drug discovery project. Those investigations lead to the identification of druggable targets in a specific tumor type, together with the molecular mechanisms driving tumoral activity.
Scientist - Biology
Sam is a trained cell biologist with a background in stem cell biology and regulation of cell fate decisions. In partnership with AstraZeneca, Sam completed his PhD in stem cell epigenetics at UCL Cancer Institute in 2022. Here, he demonstrated a role for pan-cancer target Stag1 in organising DNA into higher order structures. Continuing research of Stag proteins, Sam completed a post-doctoral fellowship, where he identified a novel function for the Cancer Testis Antigen, Stag3, in regulating post-transcriptional gene expression.
Pedro graduated from Exeter University with a BA (hons) in English & Social Sciences and has been a career Executive Assistant ever since. With particular expertise in the area of operations, project and event management he has supported C-Suite executives across a diversity of industries working at companies such as PricewaterhouseCoopers, Coca Cola, Cable & Wireless and ITV. Pedro entered the world of biotechnology when joining NeoPhore early in 2020.
Board of Directors
Robert has worked in the commercial exploitation of intellectual property for more than 20 years. He first worked at Cancer Research Campaign Technology (now Cancer Research Technology, the commercialisation and development arm of Cancer Research UK) for seven years before moving to the early stage venture capital company, Prelude Ventures. He was a founding Partner of DFJ Esprit before leaving in 2010 to create Sixth Element Capital. Robert has been involved in many early stage technologies and businesses which in aggregate have raised over £200m in financing and has been involved in raising four VC funds. He played a central role in licensing Temodal to Schering Plough and the PARP inhibitor Rucaparib to Agouron (now Clovis); he has been lead investor in successful life science technologies and businesses in diagnosis, tools and therapeutics such as Oxford Immunotec (Nasdaq:OXFD), Kiadis (Euronext:KDS) and DNA Research Innovations (now owned by ThermoFisher Scientific). Robert has a PhD in Biochemistry and a degree in Genetics.
Pietro is a biomedical engineer with over a decade of experience in life sciences investments and innovation. He is a founding partner at Claris Ventures, investment firm based in Turin (Italy), with focus on early-stage biotech ventures. He started his career at LifeSciences Consultants in 2010 and later joined Innogest VC firm’s healthcare practice. Prior to launching Claris Ventures, he was involved in financing rounds of several Italy-based biopharma startup companies, acting as an independent director at Kither Biotech (PI3Kγ-inhibitors for cystic fibrosis treatment) and Restorative Neurotechnologies (digital therapies for neurological rehab). Pietro received an M.Sc. in Biomedical Engineering from Politecnico di Torino (Italy) and an MBA from Collége des Ingenièurs (France/Italy).
Heikki is a biochemical engineer with a passion for combining the worlds of scientific innovation and business. After having founded his own company 19 years ago, he has focussed on building, growing and investing in innovative life science companies. He is currently the CEO of, and a significant shareholder in, 4basebio, an AIM listed company focussing on next generation gene therapies. Prior to this, Heikki led Expedeon, a German listed life sciences company. In 2020 Heikki concluded the sale to Abcam plc for €120m of Expedeon’s proteomics and immunology business; and the subsequent rebranding and refocus of the company to 2Invest AG, an investment company with a focus on the life science sector. Heikki continues to be heavily involved in the science also acting as CSO for 4basebio and Expedeon previously. He holds a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Biochemical Engineering from the University of Ghent, Belgium and a PhD in Chemical Engineering from the University of Cambridge, UK. He has also published papers in high impact peer-reviewed international scientific journals and is named inventor on a multitude of patents.
Dr. Kimura has more than 20 years R&D experience. Dr Kimura serves multi-dimensional R&D activities, especially Oncology as a PhD Scientist and Investor, Board Director/DEM Biopharma (Don’t Eat Me/Eat Me signals), NeoPhore (DNA Mismatch Repair), Stealth company (Spliceosome), and Board Observer (7 companies), Investor advisory board member of many venture capital funds across US, EU/UK and Asia, Academic appointments.
Dr Kimura reviews, supervises and executes each equity investment to private company in life science BioVenture world and strategic LP investments in a corporate-wise with creative initiatives, resulting in highly competitive accomplishment last couple years. Before joining Astellas Venture Management in 2018, he served as Head of Alliance & Management Group in Drug discovery research at Astellas Pharma Inc. including Research leadership of post-merger integration of Biotech and Venture (Ganymed Pharmaceuticals, Ogeda, SA, Quethera, Ltd.). Dr Kimura co-founded Kyoto University-Astellas incubator research station in Kyoto University. Dr Kimura conducted drug discovery as Research Manager, Oncology research unit, Astellas Pharma Inc. and also led many global research collaborations with Crick institute and Beatson Institute, and MDACC etc. since he joined Astellas in 2014. Prior to Astellas, Dr Kimura served as Research head, Head of Pharmacology in Oncology Drug Discovery Unit, Takeda Pharmaceutical Company, and Drug Discovery department in Millennium: Takeda Oncology Company. In this capacity of an officer with high responsibility, Dr Kimura was responsible for drug discovery from early to late stage including innovative platform technologies at Japan facility as well as global drug discovery initiatives and generated first-in-class projects and programs. Dr Kimura also served the number of academic lectures with academic appointments. Prior to his tenure at Takeda, Dr Kimura was dedicated to conducting basic research and developing Drug Discovery and Translational Research as a Senior Postdoc Research leader in St Jude Children’s Research Hospital (led by Dr Tom Curran, FRS, currently Executive Director and Chief Scientific Officer of the Children’s Research Institute, Children’s Mercy Hospital), collaborated with Genentech (Dr Fred de Savage, Vice President) and Curis (Dr Lee Rubin, CSO, currently Professor at Harvard University). Achievements published are designated as the first invention of live animal pharmacokinetics/dynamics imaging system. The activity contributed the project to launching as Hedgehog antagonist, Vismodegib®. Dr Kimura is appointed a unique academic position in Japan top-tier graduate school program in the University of Tokyo since 2018. Dr Kimura received a Ph.D. with distinction in Epigenetics, Cellular Molecular Biology/Veterinary Medical Sciences from the University of Tokyo.
John Haurum has a long and successful career in the international biotech industry. John was previously Chief Executive Officer of F-star, a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company pioneering the development of novel bispecific antibodies that target the immune system to fight cancer. Under his leadership, F-star successfully raised €200 million in equity and non-dilutive funding. John also led the formation of several strategic collaborations with leading pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies in immune-oncology, including AbbVie and Merck KGaA, and in central nervous system disorders with Denali Therapeutics. John was also instrumental in the development of the next wave of immunotherapies, establishing a substantial pipeline of candidates with the potential to benefit cancer patients. Prior to F-star, John was VP Research at ImClone Systems, prior to this he was the CSO and Co-Founder of Symphogen.
John is currently Executive Chairman of the Board at Synklino. Dr Haurum has a Medical Degree and MSc in Immunology from Aarhus University, and a DPhil in Immunology from the University of Oxford.
Scientific Advisory Board
Professor Alberto Bardelli Ph.D. is a founding scientist of NeoPhore and Professor in the Department of Oncology at the University of Torino. Professor Bardelli’s research includes ground-breaking mechanistic insights into dynamic neoantigen evolution and cancer immunology, complemented by his long history of impactful studies in the genetics translational biology of personalised cancer therapy. In addition to his role in founding NeoPhore, Professor Bardelli also co-founded Horizon Discovery, Plc and he is also the President Elect of the European Association for Cancer Research (EACR).
Luis Alberto Diaz Jr
An internationally recognized physician-scientist, Dr. Diaz is the Head of the Division of Solid Tumor Oncology at Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital. Dr. Diaz was the senior clinical investigator on pivotal clinical studies that led to the FDA approval of the PD-1 checkpoint inhibitor Keytruda (pembrolizumab) as indicated for any cancer with defective DNA mismatch repair. Dr. Diaz's breakthrough clinical studies underpin NeoPhore's therapeutic concept, which aims to induce neoantigen creation and cancer immunity using small-molecule inhibitors of mismatch repair, particularly in combination with other immunotherapy approaches. In addition to his research and clinical practice, Dr. Diaz is a founder of Personal Genome Diagnostics, Sysmex Inostics, Papgene Inc and PagerBox.
Josep Tabernero holds MD and PhD degrees from the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Spain, and he is currently Head of the Medical Oncology Department at the Vall d’Hebron University Hospital, Director of the Vall d’Hebron Institute of Oncology (VHIO) and Professor of Medicine at UVic-UCC. He has been Principal Investigator of several Phase I pharmacodynamic studies and translational projects with tumor-directed targeted therapies and immune therapies.
His research aims at potentiating molecular therapies targeting specific oncoproteins and accelerating more effective personalized cancer medicines for patients displaying genetic lesions or pathway disregulation.
Dr. Tabernero serves on the Editorial Boards of various top tier journals including Annals of Oncology, ESMO Open, Cancer Discovery, Clinical Cancer Research, Cancer Treatment Reviews and Nature Reviews in Clinical Oncology. He has (co) authored approximately 500 peer-reviewed papers.
He was the President (2018 – 2019) and is currently the Past President (2020-2021) of the European Society for Medical Oncology´s (ESMO), and is also member of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). He has also been a member of the Educational and Scientific Committees of the ESMO, ECCO, ASCO, AACR, AACR/NCI/EORTC, ASCO Gastrointestinal, TAT and WCGIC meetings