Meet the Mentors
Mark Smith, Ph.D. - Head, Medicinal Chemistry Knowledge Center, Sarafan ChEM-H
Mark joined Sarafan ChEM-H in May 2013 as the Head of the Medicinal Chemistry Knowledge Center. Previously, Dr. Smith worked as a Senior Scientist in the Medicinal Chemistry Department at Roche’s research facilities both in Palo Alto, CA and then Nutley, NJ, where he specialized in antiviral research. Mark designed and helped develop Balipiravir, a Phase 2 clinical compound for the treatment fo Hepatitis C virus. Mark is co-founder of Riboscience LLC, Angarus Therapeutics, and is a member of the Scientific Advisory Board for Tranquis Therapeutics.
Mark Graduated with a Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Manchester in the UK and completed postdoctoral research in the laboratory fo Prof. David Crich at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Colin Harvey, Ph.D. - Head of Platform, Hexagon Bio
Colin is currently the Head of Platform a Hexagon bio, a company he cofounded with colleagues from Stanford and UCLA in 2017 that aims to discover new drugs by mining microbial genomes. Colin and his colleagues use data science and synthetic biology to discover bioactive small molecules from within the thousands of fungal genomes that Hexagon currently has in its database.
Prior to founding Hexagon, Colin received his undergraduate training in Chemistry at McGill University followed by a PhD in Chemistry from Stanford. Following his graduate work, Colin trained as a postdoctoral fellow at the Stanford Genome Technology Center in the Stanford School of Medicine.
Toni Kline, Ph.D. - Medicinal Chemistry Consultant
From my academic training in medicinal and organic chemistry and my professional experience in academia, big pharma and biotech, I have been designing and delivering small molecules for over 25 years. I have used this background to address pathologies across a wide swath of biological as well as chemical space, with a primary focus on oncology and infectious disease. I continue to consult for a number of bay area and east coast biotech companies.
At Sutro Biopharma I built a Chemistry group that would integrate the small molecule chemistry with the protein chemistry toward novel antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs). I was gratified to advance a natural product derivative through its stages of predevelopment and to progress it, conjugated to an antifolate antibody, to the clinic. In earlier work, at PathoGenesis/Chiron, I led the team pursuing target-based antibiotics, and identified the first LpxC inhibitor active against Pseudomonas aeruginosa.
I received my undergraduate degree at U.C. Berkeley, my M.S at U.C. San Francisco, and my Ph.D.at the University of Alabama in Birmingham. Postdoctoral work was done in natural product total synthesis (mentor: J.D. White, Ph.D., Oregon State University) and subsequently in medicinal chemistry (mentor: Glenn Prestwich, Ph.D., SUNY Stony Brook).
John Knox, Ph.D. - Director of Computational Chemistry, Revolution Medicines
John Knox is a director of computational chemistry at Revolution Medicines. Previously he was an associate director of computational chemistry at Ideaya Biosciences and Achaogen. John also worked as a scientist at Gilead, GSK and Novartis.
He has lead projects from initiation to late lead optimization across a number of therapeutic areas including oncology, anti-infective, cardiovascular, and neurodegeneration. John has authored over 25 papers and patent applications.
John graduated with a degree in chemistry from York College, received a Ph.D. in quantum physical chemistry from Wayne State University, Detroit, and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Novartis Institute of Tropical Diseases in Singapore.
Zach Sweeney, Ph.D. - Head of Therapeutic Discovery, Denali
Zach Sweeney leads the Therapeutic Discovery group at Denali. Previously, he was a Director of Global Discovery Chemistry and Head of Analytical Chemistry at Novartis Emeryville. Zach also worked as a scientist at Genentech and Roche.
His project teams have contributed to the identification of clinical candidates for the treatment of Parkinson's disease, inflammatory disorders, and infectious disease. Zach's teams have also authored over 40 patent applications and 30 scientific articles.
Zach graduated with a degree in chemistry from Stanford University, received a Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard University.
Asish K. Xavier, Ph.D., M.B.A. - Vice President, Venture Investments, Johnson & Johnson Innovation
Asish is with Johnson & Johnson Development Corporation (JJDC) and is based in the Johnson & Johnson Innovation Center in California. Asish focuses on venture investments in biotechnology and diagnostics. Asish joined JJDC in 2004, and has invested in over a dozen biotech and diagnostics deals.
Asish previously worked in business development at BioRexis Pharmaceutical Corporation which was acquired by Pfizer in 2007. While at BioRexis, he assisted the company in raising a $30 million second round of financing. Asish has worked in business development at Structural GenomiX, Inc., acquired by Eli Lilly in 2008, and was a project leader at Message Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
Asish received a PhD from the University of Houston in Chemical Engineering, and a MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, where he graduated with honors. He received a Bachelor of Technology in Chemical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, India. Asish was a postdoctoral research Fellow in the Department of Chemistry at Johns Hopkins University.