Our Team Members

Nancy Whiting, Pharm.D.

President and Chief Executive Officer

Nancy is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Recludix and has an established track record in all phases of drug development. Nancy is a 15-year veteran of Seagen, formerly Seattle Genetics. Most recently, she was the Executive Vice President of Corporate Strategy, where she had the broad remit of corporate strategy and planning, strategic alliances and partnerships, investor relations, corporate communications and information technologies. She previously served as Executive Vice President of Late Stage Development, Senior Vice President of Clinical Development and Medical Affairs, and Head of Experimental Medicine. During her tenure at Seagen, Nancy played a central role in the development and regulatory approval of ADCETRIS for lymphoma, PADCEV for bladder cancer, TUKYSA for breast cancer, TIVDAK for cervical cancer, and several other pipeline compounds. Prior to transitioning to the pharmaceutical industry, Dr. Whiting practiced as a Clinical Oncology Pharmacist at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. Dr. Whiting completed her undergraduate training at the University of British Columbia and received her Pharm.D. from the University of Washington. She also completed a residency in clinical pharmacy practice at Vancouver General Hospital. Dr. Whiting is a member of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the American Society of Hematology, and the European Society of Medical Oncology. She serves on the Board of Directors of Caribou BioSciences and also Boundless BioSciences.

Ajay-Nirula

Ajay Nirula, M.D., Ph.D.

Executive Vice President and Head of Research and Development

Ajay Nirula, M.D., Ph.D., is Executive Vice President and Head of Research and Development at Recludix Pharma.  Prior to joining Recludix, Ajay has served in various senior roles at pharmaceutical companies over the last two decades.  Most recently, Ajay was Senior Vice President and Immunology Therapeutic Head for Eli Lilly & Company. He has also served as the site head for Lilly Biotechnology Center in San Diego which was the company’s second largest global research site. Dr. Nirula joined Lilly in 2015 and where he was responsible for discovery research and early and mid-phase clinical development in immunology.  Over that time, he helped establish Immunology as a new therapeutic area for the company with four medicines approved globally and a robust early pipeline with over ten product candidates advanced to the clinic.  He also served as the medical leader for Lilly’s work during the COVID pandemic that led to emergency authorization for multiple therapeutic neutralizing antibodies. Prior to joining Lilly, Dr. Nirula held leadership positions at Amgen and Biogen Idec and was involved in several research programs and regulatory filings spanning diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, multiple sclerosis, psoriasis, and vasculitis. He begun his career at Merck and Co leading early clinical development of molecules in cardiovascular disease and inflammation.

Dr. Nirula earned his undergraduate degree in molecular biology from UC Berkeley, his M.D. from UCLA School of Medicine, and his Ph.D. from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School. He subsequently completed his fellowship and joined the faculty in the Division of Rheumatology at UCSF Medical Center. He has published extensively in the scientific literature in journals such as New England Journal of Medicine, JAMA, and Nature Immunology.

Brian Hodous, Ph.D.

Senior Vice President of Chemistry

Brian Hodous is a co-founder of Recludix Pharma and serves as Senior Vice President of Chemistry. Dr. Hodous has nearly 20 years of experience in drug discovery and preclinical development. He spent his career at several large and start-up biotechnology companies, where he contributed to the discovery of multiple clinical molecules and one approved drug, set company strategy and implemented initiatives to foster team/culture building. Dr. Hodous was most recently the Head of Chemistry at Accent Therapeutics responsible for drug discovery strategy and chemical matter identification/optimization in the emerging area of RNA-modifying protein biology. From 2011 to 2017, Dr. Hodous was at Blueprint Medicines where he co-led the advancement of their proprietary kinase inhibitor library strategy and design efforts. During his tenure at Blueprint, he was a co-inventor and co-program lead for: AYVAKIT (avapritinib), a potent, selective KIT/PDGFR inhibitor approved for the treatment of patients with PDGFRa mutant GIST and patients with advanced systemic mastocytosis; Fisogatinib, a potent, selective, covalent inhibitor of FGFR4 in clinical trials for patients with hepatocellular carcinoma; and IPN60130 (out-licensed to Ipsen Biopharmaceuticals, formerly BLU-782), a potent, selective inhibitor of ALK2 kinase that is currently in Phase 2 clinical trials for the treatment of patients with the rare genetic disease, fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva.  While at EMD Serono, he co-invented and co-led the development of evobrutinib, a highly potent, selective, covalent BTK inhibitor that is currently in Phase 3 clinical trials for multiple sclerosis. From 2002-2008, Dr. Hodous was at Amgen where he co-invented AMG-900, a pan-Aurora kinase inhibitor that went into Phase 1 clinical trials for oncology indications. Dr. Hodous holds a Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from MIT.

Paul-A.-Smith

Paul A. Smith, Ph.D.

Senior Vice President of Biology

Paul Smith, Ph.D., is the Senior Vice President of Biology at Recludix. Dr. Smith has more than 15 years of drug discovery experience primarily focused on the treatment of inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. Dr. Smith was most recently at Connect Biopharma as the Vice President of Discovery Biology responsible for the prioritization, planning and execution of their preclinical discovery pipeline. Previously, he was the Senior Director of Inflammation and Autoimmunity at Incyte Corporation where he established the discovery research team and was instrumental in the development strategy for certain therapeutics, including FDA-approved Opzelura™ (ruxolitinib cream) for atopic dermatitis and Jakafi™ (oral ruxolitinib) for acute and chronic graft versus host disease. At Novartis, Dr. Smith was the global research lead for Gilenya™ (fingolimod), the first approved sphingosine 1-phosphate (S1P) receptor modulator, and Kesimpta™ (ofatumumab), a differentiated anti-CD20 therapy for the treatment of multiple sclerosis. At Merck Serono, he was the Director of Pharmacology responsible for preclinical inflammation and biomarker discovery. Earlier in his career, Dr. Smith was a Senior Scientist at UCB focused on novel biologics-based treatment strategies for inflammatory diseases. Dr. Smith is an inventor on fifteen issued or pending patents. He received his Ph.D. in Immunology and Neuroscience at Imperial College London, UK and a B.Sc. in Pharmacology from the University of Bath, UK.

Board of Directors

Dr. Allison joined Westlake BioPartners as a Managing Director in 2023 from 5AM Ventures where he was a Partner for over 6 years. During his time at 5AM, he was involved in the firm’s investments in CinCor Pharma (acquired by AstraZeneca), Crinetics (NASDAQ: CRNX), Impel Neuropharma (NASDAQ: IMPL), Inipharm, Magnetic Insight, Neurogastrx, Portal Instruments, and Radionetics. Prior to 5AM, Dr. Allison was a Principal at Versant Ventures and spent time on the healthcare team at Split Rock Partners and PTV Healthcare Capital. Dr. Allison received a Ph.D. in Bioengineering from Rice University and a B.S.E in Biomedical Engineering from The University of Iowa. 

Dr. Countouriotis most recently led Turning Point Therapeutics as President and Chief Executive Officer through its IPO to its eventual acquisition by Bristol Myers Squibb for $4.1 billion in August 2022. With nearly 20 years of industry experience, she has served as an officer in both public and private companies, led multiple initial public offerings and acquisitions, and guided several development programs to approval in the U.S. and Europe.

She previously served as Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer for Adverum Biotechnologies, and as Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer of Halozyme Therapeutics. Dr. Countouriotis also served as Chief Medical Officer of Ambit Biosciences, where she helped lead the company’s initial public offering and was responsible for the clinical development of quizartinib until the company’s acquisition by Daiichi Sankyo in November 2014. Earlier in her career, Dr. Countouriotis led various clinical development organizations within Pfizer and Bristol-Myers Squibb for oncology therapeutics including Sutent®, Mylotarg™, Bosulif® and Sprycel®.

Dr. Countouriotis also serves on the board of directors of Iovance Biotherapeutics and Passage Bio. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of California, Los Angeles, and an M.D. from Tufts University School of Medicine. She received her initial medical training in pediatrics at the University of California, Los Angeles, and additional training at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in the Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Program.

Carol Gallagher, Pharm.D., is an experienced independent director with over 30 years of biopharma experience. From 1989 through 2011, she held roles of increasing responsibility in commercial, drug development, and business development in both large and small biopharma companies including Eli Lilly, Amgen, Pfizer and IDEC Pharmaceuticals. Her last operational role was CEO of Calistoga Pharmaceuticals which was acquired by Gilead in 2011. From 2014 through 2023, she held Partner and Advisor roles in biopharma venture capital investing at New Enterprise Associates. She currently serves as an independent director on the boards of both private and public biopharma companies.  

Carol studied chemistry at Vanderbilt University and then pursued a clinical background, attaining Bachelor of Science and Doctor of Pharmacy degrees from the College of Pharmacy at the University of Kentucky.

Named by Time as one of the 50 most influential people in healthcare in 2018, Dr. Harper has helped bring well over a dozen novel therapies to patients during his career. In areas as diverse as oncology, osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease and migraine, Dr. Harper’s passion for science and medicine has benefited millions of patients worldwide.

Dr. Harper brings a rare breadth of experience in both basic research and as a practicing physician. He has led a wide range of clinical research programs, from early translational trials to global outcomes studies. As co-founding managing director of Westlake Village BioPartners, Dr. Harper identifies promising new therapies and technologies and builds companies to address significant unmet medical needs.

From 2002 to 2018, Dr. Harper worked for Amgen, rising to become head of R&D in 2012, where he managed investments of more than $3.5 billion annually, applying breakthroughs in science to address some of society’s biggest health challenges.

Dr. Lydon is a co-founder and Chairman of Recludix and has served as a member of our board of directors and as a scientific advisor since 2019. Dr. Lydon is also a scientific founder of Blueprint Medicines and has served as a member of their board of directors since April 2011. Dr. Lydon is a co-founder of AnaptysBio Inc. and served as a scientific advisor and member of its board of directors between 2006 and 2019. From 2003 to 2009, he served as a scientific advisor and member of the board of directors of Ambit Biosciences Corp., a biopharmaceutical company. From 2000 to 2002, Dr. Lydon served as vice president, small molecule drug discovery, at Amgen, Inc., or Amgen. Prior to joining Amgen, Dr. Lydon founded Kinetix Pharmaceuticals, Inc., or Kinetix, a biotechnology company focused on the discovery and development of selective protein kinase inhibitors, which was acquired by Amgen in 2000, and served as Kinetix’s chief executive officer and as a member of its board of directors. Prior to founding Kinetix, he worked for Ciba-Giegy AG (now Novartis AG) where he was responsible for the tyrosine protein kinase program, including the discovery and preclinical development of imatinib. Dr. Lydon, has been awarded the Lasker-DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award, the Kettering Price from the General Motors Cancer Research Foundation and the Japan Prize for his role in the development of imatinib. Dr. Lydon received a B.S. in biochemistry and zoology from the University of Leeds, England, and received a Ph.D. in biochemistry from the Medical Sciences Institute, University of Dundee, Scotland.

Dr. McAviney is a Partner at NEA focused on biopharma investments. Prior to NEA, Dr. McAviney was a Principal at F-Prime Capital Partners. During his five years at F-Prime, he was responsible for closing investments in more than 20 private biopharma companies, and served on the board of more than 10 portfolio companies. Prior to F-Prime, he was a management consultant in the health and life sciences practice at Oliver Wyman, a biotech equity research analyst at Robert W. Baird, and a healthcare investment banker at JP Morgan. Dr. McAviney also conducted lipid metabolism research at the National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Disorders.

Dr. McAviney received a BA with Honors in Biological Sciences from the University of Chicago, an MD from the University of Illinois, and an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

Dr. Ratcliffe is the Head of Biotechnology at Access Industries. He was previously Managing Director at New Leaf Venture Partners, where he focused on investing in therapeutic and therapeutic platform companies for 10 years. Prior to joining New Leaf, Dr. Ratcliffe was Senior Vice President and Development Head for Neuroscience, as well as Worldwide Head of Clinical Research and Development at Pfizer, where he spent a total of 12 years. Dr. Ratcliffe received his medical degree and Ph.D. in Immunology from the University of Cape Town and his M.B.A. from the University of Michigan. He completed his internal medicine training and fellowship in Immunology at Groote Schuur Hospital and associated teaching hospitals in Cape Town, South Africa.

Nancy is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Recludix and has an established track record in all phases of drug development. Nancy is a 15-year veteran of Seagen, formerly Seattle Genetics. Most recently, she was the Executive Vice President of Corporate Strategy, where she had the broad remit of corporate strategy and planning, strategic alliances and partnerships, investor relations, corporate communications and information technologies. She previously served as Executive Vice President of Late Stage Development, Senior Vice President of Clinical Development and Medical Affairs, and Head of Experimental Medicine. During her tenure at Seagen, Nancy played a central role in the development and regulatory approval of ADCETRIS for lymphoma, PADCEV for bladder cancer, TUKYSA for breast cancer, TIVDAK for cervical cancer, and several other pipeline compounds. Prior to transitioning to the pharmaceutical industry, Dr. Whiting practiced as a Clinical Oncology Pharmacist at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. Dr. Whiting completed her undergraduate training at the University of British Columbia and received her Pharm.D. from the University of Washington. She also completed a residency in clinical pharmacy practice at Vancouver General Hospital. Dr. Whiting is a member of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the American Society of Hematology, and the European Society of Medical Oncology. She serves on the Board of Directors of Caribou BioSciences and also Boundless BioSciences.

Scientific Advisory Board

Dr. Druker is the Director of the Knight Cancer Institute, Associate Dean for Oncology, and JELD-WEN Chair of Leukemia Research at the Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, OR. A pioneer in the field of precision medicine, his research focuses on translating knowledge of the molecular pathogenesis of cancer into specific therapies and investigating the optimal use of these molecularly targeted agents. Dr. Druker’s research led to the first drug to target the molecular defect of a cancer while leaving healthy cells unharmed—imatinib (Gleevec) for chronic myeloid leukemia. He performed the preclinical studies that led to its development and then spearheaded the clinical trials that led to Food and Drug Administration approval of imatinib in record time. The drug changed the life expectancy of patients with chronic myeloid leukemia from an average of three to five years to a 95% survival rate at five years. The approach has led to a paradigm shift in cancer treatment from nonspecific chemotherapy to targeted therapeutic agents, spurring the development of numerous precision therapies for other cancers. Dr. Druker has served as a member of the Board of Scientific Advisors to the National Cancer Institute and on the board of directors of the American Association for Cancer Research. He is a member of the National Academy of Medicine and the National Academy of Sciences. Among his many awards, he received the Lasker-DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award.

Dr. Garcia-Echeverria has provided scientific leadership to drug discovery and early clinical development teams across different modalities and diseases. He currently serves as the chief of Rx creation at EQRx, leading the research and early-stage development functions. Previously, he was the chief operating officer of research at Sanofi where he oversaw the establishment and execution of the mid- and long-term vision and strategy of global research for effective portfolio management. Prior to Sanofi, Dr. Garcia-Echeverria was a member of the leadership team and global oncology decision board at the Novartis Institute for Biomedical Research. He has also broad experience in managing research partnerships. His research accomplishments are documented by 190 peer-reviewed articles, book chapters and review papers, as well as 45 granted patents.

Dr. Garcia-Echeverria holds a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from the University of Barcelona and received the Leonidas Zerwas Award from the European Peptide Society in recognition of his outstanding contributions to peptide science.

Dr. Knapp is the chief scientific officer of the Structural Genomics Consortium (SGC) and professor of pharmaceutical chemistry at the Goethe-University Frankfurt. His research interests are the rational design of selective inhibitors that target protein kinases as well as protein interactions modules that function as reader domains of the epigenetic code. He joined Frankfurt University (Germany) in 2015 as a professor of pharmaceutical chemistry in the Institute of Pharmaceutical Chemistry and the Buchmann Institute of Molecular Life Sciences. 

From 2012 and 2015 he was the director for Chemical Biology at the Target Discovery Institute (TDI), and between 2008 to 2015 he was a professor of structural biology at the Nuffield Department of Clinical Medicine (NDM) at Oxford University (UK). Previously, he was a principal research scientist in structural biology and biophysics at Pharmacia Corporation.

Dr. Knapp studied chemistry at the University of Marburg (Germany) and at the University of Illinois (USA). He did his Ph.D. in protein crystallography at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm (Sweden) and continued his career at the Karolinska Institute as a postdoctoral scientist.

Dr. Londei most recently was the chief executive officer of Gadeta. Previously, he was the chief development officer and chief medical officer of AnaptysBio (NASDAQ: ANAB), where he played a crucial role in the company’s transition from a preclinical phase to its successful IPO, and several rounds of financing as a clinical stage biopharmaceutical company. Prior to AnaptysBio, Dr. Londei held leadership roles at Novartis and Bristol-Myers Squibb, in charge of global teams for clinical development in transplantation, autoimmune and inflammatory disease areas. Over the 15 years in the pharma industry, Dr. Londei and his team brought more than a dozen of new molecular entities into clinical development, six of which have since entered the market. Before his move to the pharmaceutical industry, Dr. Londei was professor of medicine at Imperial College and University College London in the UK. From his academic tenure, he also brings his valuable expertise in human T lymphocyte and their role in pathology.

Dr. Londei received his M.D. from the Faculty of Medicine at University of Bologna and has conducted post-doctoral studies at Tumor Immunology Unit, London, UK. He was a key member of the team which pioneered the development of anti-TNF therapies while at the Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology (KIR) Faculty of Medicine Imperial College, London with professors Ravinder Maini and Marc Feldmann. He is a widely recognized world-class contributor in the field of inflammation and self-recognition by T lymphocytes.

Dr. Ray has over two decades experience in biotech working at Gilead, Nimbus, Morphic and, most recently, serving as Chief Scientific Officer at Third Harmonic Bio. He has provided leadership for small molecule drug discovery, nonclinical development and translation across therapeutic areas contributing to numerous IND and successful worldwide registrational filings. Dr. Ray has authored >100 peer-reviewed articles, reviews, book chapters and letters to the editor in prestigious journals, including manuscripts published in Science and Nature. He is an inventor on >30 granted U.S. patents, including those supporting successful drugs Harvoni and Veklury.

Dr. Ray received his undergraduate degree in Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology from the University of California at Santa Cruz graduating with highest honors. He completed his graduate studies in the Pharmacology Department at Yale University. Dr. Ray was the recipient of the William H. Prusoff Young Investigator Lecture Award and the James R. Gillette Drug Metabolism and Disposition Best Paper Award.

Dr. Tyner is a co-director of the Translational Oncology Program for the Knight Cancer Institute, director of the Cancer Biology Graduate Program, and a professor in the Department of Cell, Developmental & Cancer Biology. Dr. Tyner’s research is focused towards identification of cancer-causing gene targets in cancer patients and identification of patient-tailored, gene-targeted therapies. To accomplish these objectives, he has spent the past decade developing and implementing a functional screening approach whereby primary cells from hematologic malignancy patients can be tested ex vivo for sensitivity to a library of small-molecule inhibitors. This assay has now been cumulatively applied to over 2,500 patient specimens, and this large data set has been leveraged to inform findings that offer new diagnostic and therapeutic options.

Dr. Tyner attended undergraduate school at Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa, and graduate school at Washington University in St. Louis. His graduate work, focusing on asthma and respiratory viral infections, was conducted under the mentorship of Dr. Michael Holtzman. For his post-doctoral fellowship, he joined Dr. Brian Druker’s laboratory at OHSU where he studied molecular mechanisms of leukemogenesis