Our Team

Inventing New Hope
for Patients with Cancer

Teon has assembled a powerhouse leadership team with extensive expertise in oncology business, commercial and business operations, strong investor support and a clear vision to disrupt the immuno-oncology market and improve outcomes for patients.

Teon’s scientific team has a strong pedigree with proven success and the know-how and experience to move a successful immuno-oncology pipeline forward. The team is comprised of determined thinkers and doers who have identified bold, disruptive ideas. And we’re committed to developing and delivering important medicines to patients. Our highly accomplished scientific leadership team are experts in tumor metabolism, cell signaling and GPCR therapeutic design.

Executive Team

Serge Messerlian
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Serge Messerlian

Chief Executive Officer

Mr. Messerlian joined Teon Therapeutics as CEO and member of the board of directors in January 2022. He brings to the role over 20 years of biopharmaceutical experience across therapeutic areas, including expertise in hematology, oncology, immunology, and rare diseases. He has exceptional experience in building organizations from product development to commercialization, with a patient-first approach. Most recently, Mr. Messerlian served as President of Janssen Oncology US, one of the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson. In this role, he set the strategic direction for the organization and its key brands across hematology and solid tumor cancers including DARZALEX®, IMBRUVICA®, ERLEADA® and RYBREVANT® and platforms including cell therapies (CARVYKTI®) and bi-specifics. Prior to leading the oncology division, he was President of Actelion US, after Johnson & Johnson had completed a $30 billion acquisition of the Swiss company in 2017. Previously he served in executive leadership roles as Vice President, Global Portfolio Lead – Biosimilars at Baxalta; and Vice President, Global Portfolio Lead – Hematology at Baxter International.

Mr. Messerlian received his MBA from the University of Toronto, along with a MS in human genetics and BS in physiology and biotechnology from McGill University.

Chief Executive Officer

Lina Yao, MD, PhD
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Lina Yao, MD, PhD

Co-founder & Chief Scientific Officer

Dr. Yao has over 20 years of experience in pharmaceutical industry and a proven track record of progression of small molecules and antibodies from discovery to clinical development. In 2018, Dr. Yao co-founded Teon Therapeutics, a company that focuses on the treatment of cancer by blocking tumor-induced immunosuppression. Prior to Teon, Dr. Yao served as a Senior Director of Biology at Gilead Sciences where she led a team of 30 scientists and contributed to the growth and success of Gilead’s pipeline across several therapeutic areas including inflammation, oncology, fibrotic and cardiovascular metabolic disorders. Dr. Yao supervised the preclinical combination study of Ambrisentan® and Tadalafil (AMBITION trial) that supported the approval of the combination therapy for treatment of pulmonary arterial hypertension. Dr. Yao contributed to the development of Selonsertib, an ASK1 inhibitor for fibrotic diseases (Phase 3). Prior to joining Gilead, Dr. Yao served as Director of Biology at CV Therapeutics where she led ALDH2 biology in developing ANS-6637, an ALDH2 inhibitor that has progressed to Phase 2 clinical trials for drug addiction.

Prior to CV Therapeutics, Dr. Yao held the position of Assistant Professor at University of California San Francisco, Department of Neurology. She studied mechanisms and interactions of G-protein coupled receptors in drug addiction and other CNS diseases. She is an inventor of more than 10 Issued US Patents and has authored/co-authored over 50 peer-reviewed papers and book chapters.

Dr. Yao received her MD and PhD in Molecular Pharmacology from Huazhong University of Science and Technology and completed her postdoctoral research at the University of California San Francisco.

Co-founder & Chief Scientific Officer

Robert Sikorski, MD, PhD
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Robert Sikorski, MD, PhD

Interim Chief Medical Officer

Dr. Robert Sikorski began his engagement with Teon in March 2019. He is serving a strategic role to support the advancement of Teon into clinical development. By providing leadership to build clinical functions that include clinical operations, pharmacovigilance, pharmacokinetics, biostatistics, and regulatory affairs, Dr. Sikorski plays a major role in advancing Teon’s immuno-oncology portfolio.

Dr. Sikorski has 20 years of clinical and industry experience with accomplishments in drug development across pre-IND, early stage, late stage, and post marketing programs. He is currently the Managing Director of Woodside Way Ventures. He has previously served as the Chief Medical Officer in charge of Global Clinical Development at Five Prime Therapeutics, a publicly traded biotechnology company. Prior to this, Dr. Sikorski was as a Senior Director leading Global Oncology Research and Development at MedImmune (the Biologics Division of AstraZeneca, PLC), where his group advanced the clinical development of a portfolio of immuno-oncology drugs. He played a major role in building the early Medimmune/AstraZeneca biologics pipeline and in partnering and acquisition efforts that included OX40, PD1, CTLA4 (tremelimumab), oncolytic virus, cell therapy, and TLR targeting assets. Prior to Medimmune, he served as Director of Global Oncology Research and Development at Amgen, where he led late stage global clinical development and post marketing efforts for oncology products. His seminal work in the development of panitumumab (now marketed as Vectibix®) led to the drug’s approval with a first-in-class companion diagnostic based on KRAS mutations.

Dr. Sikorski began his career as a Howard Hughes Research Fellow and Visiting Scientist at the National Cancer Institute and the National Human Genome Research Institute in the laboratory of Nobel Laureate Harold Varmus. Dr. Sikorski received an M.D. and Ph.D. from The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine through a Medical Scientist Training Program scholarship. He completed his residency at Massachusetts General Hospital and an oncology fellowship at The Johns Hopkins Oncology Center and is board eligible in both medical oncology and internal medicine.

Interim Chief Medical Officer

Jim Liu, PhD
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Jim Liu, PhD

VP, Chemistry

One of Jim’s lifelong goals is to contribute to the cure of cancer. He believes that with the advancement of science and human society, curing cancer will be a reality, in which fear will not be an automatic response when diagnosed with cancer. He also believes Teon Therapeutics is the right team to make a big impact in curing cancer.

Jim has more than 20 years of industry experience. He started his drug research and development career in 1998, joining Tularik, which was acquired by Amgen in 2004. He continued his career at Amgen as a Principle Scientist and led programs across multiple therapeutic areas. He is known as a creative scientist, who knows how to collaborate and advance programs quickly. Among the programs he led and participated, four of them advanced into Phase 1 clinical trials, and one into Phase 2. His success also has much to do with his ability to learn and expand his expertise, since drug R&D requires multidisciplinary knowledge. One example is that he published a highly cited perspective article outside his medical chemistry field in the prestigious Diabetes journal.

In 2014, Jim left Amgen and started his entrepreneurship endeavor. He founded RIFA Pharma, and worked on diabetes program. His RIFA experience taught him how to be an entrepreneur, which led him to recognize the golden opportunity in Teon Therapeutics.

Jim earned his Ph.D. from the University of Rochester and conducted his postdoctoral research at Colorado State University.

VP, Chemistry

Peter Fan, PhD
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Peter Fan, PhD

VP, Biology

Dr. Fan has over 20 years of pharmaceutical industry experience in drug discovery and development of small molecules. Dr. Fan has an extensive experience in GPCRs research, and he is a strong believer and advocator for targeting GPCRs-mediated metabolic stress in tumor microenvironment as a better approach to fully unleash anti-tumor immune responses to combat cancer. Prior to Teon, Dr. Fan spent 8 years at Gilead Sciences as a Principal Scientist where he led his group to identify novel targets for cancer, inflammation and cardiometabolic diseases. He initiated several GPCR exploratory programs for cancer immunotherapy and contributed to the discovery of a number of clinical candidates including Selonsertib, an ASK1 inhibitors for fibrotic disease that progressed to phase 3 clinical trials. Before joining Gilead, Dr. Fan served as a Senior Scientist at CV Therapeutics where he played key roles in the discovery and development of new therapies for CNS and cardiometabolic diseases including ANS-6637, an ALDH2 inhibitor that has advanced to Phase 2 clinical trials for drug addiction. Dr. Fan is an inventor of more than 6 Issued US Patents and author/co-author of over 30 peer-reviewed papers.

Dr. Fan received his Ph.D. in Molecular Pharmacology from Peking Union Medical College and completed his postdoctoral research at the University of California, San Francisco.

VP, Biology

Elfatih Elzein, PhD
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Elfatih Elzein, PhD

VP, Chemistry & Early Development

Dr. Elzein joined Teon Therapeutics in 2018 with over 20 years of experience in pharmaceutical industry and a proven track record of progression of small molecules from hit identification to clinical development. Prior to Teon Therapeutics, Dr. Elzein spent 10 years as a Principal Scientist at Gilead Sciences where he played key roles in the discovery and progression of novel drug candidates in the cardiovascular and oncology therapeutic areas. Prior to Gilead, Dr. Elzein spent 11 years at CV Therapeutics, Inc., serving in roles of increasing responsibility and played key roles in building and advancing a broad portfolio of therapeutic drug candidates from discovery to clinical development. Dr. Elzein has an exceptional track record of scientific achievements; he is an inventor of more than 90 Issued US Patents, and he has authored/co-authored over 50 peer-reviewed papers and book chapters. Dr. Elzein contributed to the discovery of 5 development compounds (phase 1-3) and two approved drugs. He discovered Lexiscan®, a selective A2A agonist that was approved in 2008. Dr. Elzein led the medicinal chemistry team that supported the development of Ranexa®, first-in class late sodium current inhibitor for the treatment of chronic stable angina that was approved in 2006. Dr. Elzein was the brain behind the design of Eleclazine, an orally active selective late sodium current inhibitor in phase 3 clinical trials.

Dr. Elzein holds a Ph.D. in Medicinal Chemistry from Duquesne University, School of Pharmacy, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and completed one-year postdoctoral studies at University of Minnesota, School of Pharmacy.

VP, Chemistry & Early Development

Board of Directors

Serge Messerlian
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Serge Messerlian

Mr. Messerlian joined Teon Therapeutics as CEO and member of the board of directors in January 2022. He brings to the role over 20 years of biopharmaceutical experience across therapeutic areas, including expertise in hematology, oncology, immunology, and rare diseases. He has exceptional experience in building organizations from product development to commercialization, with a patient-first approach. Most recently, Mr. Messerlian served as President of Janssen Oncology US, one of the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson. In this role, he set the strategic direction for the organization and its key brands across hematology and solid tumor cancers including DARZALEX®, IMBRUVICA®, ERLEADA® and RYBREVANT® and platforms including cell therapies (CARVYKTI®) and bi-specifics. Prior to leading the oncology division, he was President of Actelion US, after Johnson & Johnson had completed a $30 billion acquisition of the Swiss company in 2017. Previously he served in executive leadership roles as Vice President, Global Portfolio Lead – Biosimilars at Baxalta; and Vice President, Global Portfolio Lead – Hematology at Baxter International.

Mr. Messerlian received his MBA from the University of Toronto, along with a MS in human genetics and BS in physiology and biotechnology from McGill University.

Alan Colowick, MD, MPH
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Alan Colowick, MD, MPH

Dr. Colowick joined Teon Therapeutics as an Executive Chairman in March 2021. Alan is Managing Director at Matrix Capital Management. Prior to joining Matrix in 2021, Dr. Colowick was a partner at Sofinnova Investments, where he led multiple investments in private companies and was Chairman of the Board of Directors for two companies recently acquired (Velos Bio acquired by Merck and Principia (PRNB) acquired by Sanofi). Prior to that, Dr. Colowick spent seven years at Celgene in various roles, including President of EMEA and Executive Vice President. Dr. Colowick joined Celgene after the company acquired Gloucester Pharmaceuticals, where he was the Chief Executive Officer. Prior to Gloucester, he was President of Geron Oncology after being the Chief Medical Officer of Threshold Pharmaceuticals. Dr. Colowick began his career in industry at Amgen, where he served in a number of roles, including Vice President of Medical for EMEA. Prior to that, Dr. Colowick completed his fellowship training in Hematology and Oncology at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute and Brigham and Women’s Hospital. He serves on the Board of Directors of Teon, Personalis, Inc., AC Immune, Harpoon, InCarda and Xylocor Therapeutics. Dr. Colowick received his medical degree from Stanford University School of Medicine, his Masters in Public Health from Harvard School of Public Health, and his Bachelor of Science in Molecular Biology from the University of Colorado Boulder.

Lina Yao, MD, PhD
Q

Lina Yao, MD, PhD

Dr. Yao has over 20 years of experience in pharmaceutical industry and a proven track record of progression of small molecules and antibodies from discovery to clinical development. In 2018, Dr. Yao co-founded Teon Therapeutics, a company that focuses on the treatment of cancer by blocking tumor-induced immunosuppression. Prior to Teon, Dr. Yao served as a Senior Director of Biology at Gilead Sciences where she led a team of 30 scientists and contributed to the growth and success of Gilead’s pipeline across several therapeutic areas including inflammation, oncology, fibrotic and cardiovascular metabolic disorders. Dr. Yao supervised the preclinical combination study of Ambrisentan® and Tadalafil (AMBITION trial) that supported the approval of the combination therapy for treatment of pulmonary arterial hypertension. Dr. Yao contributed to the development of Selonsertib, an ASK1 inhibitor for fibrotic diseases (Phase 3). Prior to joining Gilead, Dr. Yao served as Director of Biology at CV Therapeutics where she led ALDH2 biology in developing ANS-6637, an ALDH2 inhibitor that has progressed to Phase 2 clinical trials for drug addiction.

Prior to CV Therapeutics, Dr. Yao held the position of Assistant Professor at University of California San Francisco, Department of Neurology. She studied mechanisms and interactions of G-protein coupled receptors in drug addiction and other CNS diseases. She is an inventor of more than 10 Issued US Patents and has authored/co-authored over 50 peer-reviewed papers and book chapters.

Dr. Yao received her MD and PhD in Molecular Pharmacology from Huazhong University of Science and Technology and completed her postdoctoral research at the University of California San Francisco.

Lou Lange, MD, PhD
Q

Lou Lange, MD, PhD

Dr. Lange has 22 years experience in academic medicine at Harvard and Washington University, where he served as Chief of Cardiology and Professor of Medicine at Jewish Hospital from 1985-1992 and was one of the first academicians in molecular cardiology.

He founded CV Therapeutics based on this broad field and as Chairman, CEO and Chief Scientific Officer, led the IPO in 1996 and the overall pipeline development and the initiatives for US FDA and European EMEA approval for Ranexa®, a first-in-class late sodium channel blocker and the first anti-anginal drug class approved in 30 years in the US. He also led the approval of Lexiscan®, a first-in-class adenosine A2a receptor agonist for use in myocardial perfusion imaging studies. Dr. Lange oversaw the commercial success of CV Therapeutics and its sale to Gilead in 2009 for $1.4 billion dollars.

As a member of the Board of Trustees at the University of Rochester since 1998 and as Chair of the Health Affairs committee that oversees all of the medical operations for five years, Dr. Lange has been part of the leadership team for strategic re-invigoration of the medical center with construction of two research buildings and recruitment of over 100 faculty members. As a member of BIO Board of Directors (the trade organization of biotech companies) from 1999 to 2009, Dr. Lange led the largest committee of member companies for two years and was picked as one of two biotech executives to attend the ceremonies at the White House for the signing of the Bioterrorism bill in 2004. Dr. Lange has been on numerous other public and private Boards in both the non-profit and for-profit arena.

Dr. Lange has a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Rochester, an M.D. from Harvard University and a Ph.D. in Biological Chemistry, also from Harvard University.

Glen Giovannetti
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Glen Giovannetti

Glen Giovannetti brings over 36 years of financial experience primarily focused on helping life sciences companies excel from start-up, through initial product launch, to global expansion.

Prior to his retirement in 2020, Glen was a partner with Ernst & Young LLP (EY) where he served as the firm’s Global Biotech/Life Sciences Leader from 2007 to 2016. At EY, he supported numerous biotechnology clients on both public and private financings, including initial public offerings, and other strategic transactions. Glen has also supported various non-profit and industry organizations and is currently a member of the Board of Directors of Life Science Cares and a member of the Board of Trustees of Linfield University. Glen was a member of the Board of Directors of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) from 2011 to 2014.

Glen has a BA from Linfield College and is a Certified Public Accountant in Massachusetts and in California (inactive).

Feng Deng
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Feng Deng

Mr. Feng Deng founded Northern Light Venture Capital (NLVC) in 2005. He currently manages over US$ 4.5 billion with 5 US$ funds and 5 RMB funds. He has led and backed nearly 200 companies, focusing on 4 main sectors: TMT (technology, media and telecom), clean technology, healthcare and consumer. The portfolio companies that Feng invested and manages include APUS, ThunderSoft, Macrosan, Meituan, Baihe, LineKong, ChineseAll, GigaDevice, BGI, China Music, LianLian, Burning Rock Biotech, Hillstone Networks, Spreadtrum, CITIC Pharma, Aerohive Networks, etc.

Prior to NLVC, Feng was a co-founder of NetScreen Technologies, which went public on NASDAQ and was later acquired by Juniper Networks in 2004 for US$ 4.2 billion. Feng is recipient of Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year (2002) and CRN Innovator of the Year (2003) awards. He has extensive technical and managerial experiences in computer, communication and data networking industries.

Feng holds BS and MS degrees in electrical engineering from Tsinghua University, a MS degree in computer engineering from the University of Southern California, and a MBA degree from the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. He also holds numerous patents of invention in computer system architecture and IC design.

Feng serves on the Board of Directors of Tsinghua University Foundation, the Director of Schwarzman College at Tsinghua University, the Distinguished Visiting Professor of Tsinghua University, the Chairman of Asia Advisory Board of the USC Viterbi School of Engineering, the Advisory Board member of Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research (SIEPR), the member of Asia Council of Wharton School, the member of China Council of Harvard GSAS, the member of China Entrepreneur Club, and the member of Founding Council of Future Forum, etc.

Dave Chenn
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Dave Chenn

Dave Chenn is the CEO and managing partner of Oceanpine Capital. Previously in 2005, Dave founded China Century Group and its several subsidiary companies, a large multinational company today, in the areas of technology, finance, energy, tourism and healthcare in major regions of China, Southeast Asia and United Sates. Prior to it, Dave had worked as a head of Oracle’s Great China Region Government Industry, director of product management/ marketing in Oracle’s Silicon Valley headquarters for five years, as well as at McKinsey and Emerson Electric in Chicago.

Dave also serves as both a council member and a global advisory board member of Booth Business School of University of Chicago; trustee of Culver Academies, Culver, Indiana; Vice Chairman of China Green Energy Fund; And trustee of Beijing Film Academy. With his philanthropy contribution of over $30 million and the great success of his entrepreneurship, he has been awarded as “Top Ten Reformer of China’s Growth in 2017”, “Innovation Leader of China’s Economy in 2016”,“China’s Top 20 Investor of Semiconductor in 2020”, “China’s Top 10 Investor of Biopharma in 2020”, “China’s Top 50 Investor in 2020”, etc. , among many others, and has been received by the top leaders of China several times.

Dave holds an MBA from University of Chicago Booth Business School, and a BS from Beijing Institute of Technology, China.

Advisory Board

Eric Small, MD
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Eric Small, MD

Dr. Small is Professor of Medicine at UCSF (University of California, San Francisco). He has served as Chief of the Division of Hematology and Oncology for 10 years, and most recently he has assumed the position of Chief Scientific Officer in the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center. Nationally, he serves on the ASCO Board of Directors, and chairs a number of External Advisory Boards for other Cancer Centers.

David Dornan, PhD
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David Dornan, PhD

Dr. Dornan is Senior Vice President and Head of Research at Bolt Biotherapeutics. Prior to Bolt, Dr. Dornan was Head of Oncology Research at Gilead and was dedicated to identifying and developing anti-cancer therapeutics for PD-1-refractory patients and cancer driver targeted therapies. Before that, he spent 10 years at Genentech serving in roles of increasing responsibility and played key roles in target discovery and validation. Dr. Dornan received his Ph.D. from the University of Dundee, UK.

 

Brent Blackburn, PhD
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Brent Blackburn, PhD

Dr. Blackburn is Chief Development Officer and Founder at Amygdala Neurosciences. Previously he was Founder and CEO at Rapidscan Pharma Solutions and SVP R&D at CV Therapeutics. Dr. Blackburn successfully oversaw the development and commercialization of Lexiscan and Ranexa and helped place seven products into clinical development for multiple indications. He was in charge of every facet of the development of drugs at CV Therapeutics, including launching Lexiscan and Ranexa. He received his Ph.D from the University of Texas at Austin.

 

Ivan Diamond, MD, PhD
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Ivan Diamond, MD, PhD

Dr. Diamond is Professor of Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology at University of California, San Francisco, and Founding Director at Ernest Gallo Clinic and Research Center. Dr. Diamond is a world-renowned GPCR expert and experienced in drug development for adenosine receptor inhibitors for Parkinson’s disease, addiction and prostate cancer. Dr. Diamond was Senior Advisor at Gilead Sciences. He received an M.D. and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago.

 

Ready to Join Us?

Are you driven by your passion to bring new hope to patients living with cancer?

We are on a relentless mission to revolutionize cancer care as we know it. We work together as a team and are committed to developing and delivering groundbreaking treatments to patients. If your passions are aligned with our goals, join our powerhouse team with a track record of success in the immuno-oncology space.