Petra Pharma Appoints Executive and Scientific Leadership Teams

Thursday, July 27, 2017 Drug News
Email Print This Page Comment bookmark
Font : A-A+


NEW YORK, July 27, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Petra Pharma Corporation, an oncology and metabolic diseases drug development

company, announced today it appointed an executive leadership team and named a Scientific Advisory Board.

Petra Pharma advanced from the Accelerator Corporation, a leading life science investment and management firm, and will be led by Brian O'Callaghan, Chief Executive Officer, David McElligott, Ph.D., Chief Scientific Officer, David Renas, Chief Financial Officer and Paul Sekhri, Chairman of the Board.

"We are thrilled Petra Pharma is moving forward with such strong, committed and experienced scientific and leadership teams who are driven to make a difference in the lives of people with serious metabolic and oncologic diseases," said O'Callaghan. "Our team is eager to activate the company's potential, guided by the Scientific Advisory Board and steered by the expertise of Drs. Lewis Cantley and Nathanael Gray. With these key pieces in place, we are poised to make an incredible impact in these disease communities and are confident in the probability of our success, given the strength of our science and the experience of our leadership team to execute."

Nathanael Gray, Ph.D., Harvard Medical School and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and Lewis Cantley, Ph.D., Weill Cornell Medicine, the Scientific Co-Founders of Petra Pharma, have officially joined the company's Scientific Advisory Board. The Board is made up of a team of industry-leading experts who will bring valuable insight to the company's work and guide its strategic scientific direction. The Board includes:

  • Nathanael Gray, Ph.D., Scientific Co-Founder and Chairman SAB, Petra Pharma, and Professor, Harvard Medical School and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
  • Lewis Cantley, Ph.D., Scientific Co-Founder, Petra Pharma, Director of the Sandra and Edward Meyer Cancer Center at Weill Cornell Medicine, and member of the National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies and American Academy of Arts and Sciences
  • Robert Abraham, Ph.D., Senior Vice President, Group Head of Oncology Research and Development, Pfizer
  • Stephen V. Frye, Ph.D., Fred Eshelman Distinguished Professor, Director, Center for Integrative Chemical Biology and Drug Discovery, Division of Chemical Biology and Medicinal Chemistry, Eshelman School of Pharmacy
  • Jian Jin, Ph.D., Professor, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
  • Scott Lowe, Ph.D., Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Chair, Cancer Biology & Genetics Program, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
  • Charles Sawyers, M.D., Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Marie-Josée and Henry Kravis Chair in Human Oncology and Pathogenesis, and Chairman, Human Oncology & Pathogenesis Program, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
  • Kevan M. Shokat, Ph.D., Professor, Cellular & Molecular Pharmacology, UCSF, Department of Chemistry, UC-Berkeley, Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute
  • Harold Varmus, M.D., Lewis Thomas University Professor of Medicine, Weill Cornell Medicine, and Senior Associate, New York Genome Center

"I am inspired by the potential of the novel enzyme targets in our Petra pipeline," said Dr. Cantley. "I've been privileged to work across a number of research fields, disease areas, and as part of companies who have contributed greatly to develop better treatments for patients. I've never been more excited about the work we're doing and I'm confident these targets may represent an important breakthrough to help advance treatment for patients in need."

Petra Pharma was launched through Accelerator last year with one of the largest biotech Series A financing rounds in New York state history.

"Petra Pharma is the first life science company in New York to progress from our development program," said Thong Q. Le, Chief Executive Officer of Accelerator. "We are proud to have brought together leading researchers and talented professionals with deep investment, operational and scientific expertise to launch the company into this next important phase. We look forward to seeing where Petra will evolve and remain their strongest supporter."

Petra Pharma is backed by a group of investors including AbbVie, Alexandria Venture Investments, ARCH Venture Partners, Eli Lilly and Company, 180 Degree Capital Corp., Empire State Development's Innovate NY Fund, Johnson & Johnson Innovation - JJDC, Inc., Partnership Fund for New York City, Pfizer Venture Investments, Watson Fund and WuXi PharmaTech.

The Petra executive team brings extensive life science experience and expertise. Brian O'Callaghan was previously President and Chief Executive Officer at Acucela, Sonrgy and Sangart. He has over 25 years of leadership experience in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries, having lived in five countries and on both sides of the U.S., where he worked for such companies as Pfizer in the UK, Merck Serono in Germany, Biopartners in Switzerland, Bayer in Ireland and Novartis in the U.S. He has run both public and private companies and has extensive experience with fundraising and IPOs, startups and restructuring, divestments and spinouts, as well as commercialization and operations.

David McElligott comes from Accelerator, where he served as Chief Scientific Officer. He has 20 years of experience in drug discovery and development, including senior positions at Groove Biopharma and ICOS.

David Renas brings more than 30 years of financial and legal experience, most recently as a Partner at Adkins Black LLP, where he focused on the life science field. For 12 years before joining Adkins Black LLP, Renas was Chief Financial Officer and General Counsel at Sangart, Inc., where he helped guide the company through a series of corporate challenges and successes, including 11 clinical trials conducted across 20 countries.

Paul Sekhri is currently President at Lycera, a biopharmaceutical company developing breakthrough medicines to treat cancer and autoimmune disease. Mr. Sekhri has been a Director on 16 private and public company Boards and is currently a member of the Board of Directors of Veeva System, Pharming N.V., Enumeral Biomedical and was a recent board observer at IMS Health.

About Petra Pharma Corporation Petra Pharma is a drug development company focused on novel enzyme targets that play a central role in a variety of important cellular processes, including cell division, growth, trafficking and signaling. Petra Pharma will develop novel small molecules for the treatment of cancer and metabolic diseases to target these cellular processes to therapeutically impact human health. Petra was founded in 2016 to advance the cutting-edge research of Dr. Lewis Cantley from Weill Cornell Medical Center and Dr. Nathanael Gray from Harvard Medical School and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Petra Pharma's office and lab headquarters is located at the Alexandria Center for Life Science, New York City's first and only premier life science campus. For more information, visit

Media Relations:  Kelly Zekas


View original content:

SOURCE Petra Pharma Corporation

Post your Comments

Comments should be on the topic and should not be abusive. The editorial team reserves the right to review and moderate the comments posted on the site.
* Your comment can be maximum of 2500 characters
I agree to the terms and conditions

News A - Z


News Search

Medindia Newsletters

Subscribe to our Free Newsletters!

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.

Find a Doctor

Press Release Category

Press Release Archive

Stay Connected

  • Available on the Android Market
  • Available on the App Store