Uniquely positioned to expand therapeutic applications
Hank Safferstein, MBA, PhD, JD
Chief Executive Officer
Hank is the Chief Executive Officer of Generian and serves as Executive-in-Residence at UPMC Enterprises. Previously, he was founding CEO of Cognition Therapeutics, Inc. and Complexa, Inc. He is a board director at Ariel Precision Medicine and Adjunct Professor at Carnegie Mellon University. Hank served as VP, Business Development for both Omrix and Acorda Therapeutics, Inc. and was an Investment Advisor at Pittsburgh Life Sciences Greenhouse. Hank was also Director, Lifecycle Management, Metabolics Marketing and Director, Licensing, Cardiovascular with Bristol-Myers Squibb. From 1991-1997, he was Director, Technology Transfer at the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and Cooperative Venture Manager for the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health. He was an NIH Post-Doctoral Fellow and Fellow of the Multiple Sclerosis Society. Hank received a BA in biochemistry from Rutgers University, a PhD in human anatomy and neurobiology from the University of Louisville, a JD from the American University, Washington College of Law and an MBA from Columbia University. He is a member of the Maryland Bar and is RAPS Certified.
Toren Finkel, MD, PhD
Chief Scientific Officer
Toren is the Chief Scientific Officer and a Co-Founder of Generian. In addition, he is the Director of the Aging Institute at the University of Pittsburgh and holds the Beckwith Endowed Chair of Translational Medicine. He is the author of over 200 scientific manuscripts and holds multiple patents. According to the Web of Science Clarivate Analytics, Toren ranks as one of the most highly cited researchers of the last decade and Google Scholar estimates his work has been cited over 70,000 times. He is an elected member of the American Society for Clinical Research, the Association of American Physicians, and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a member of the National Academy of Medicine. He serves on numerous editorial boards including the journal Science. Prior to his current position, he served as Chief of the Center for Molecular Medicine within the NIH intramural program. Toren obtained a combined MD and PhD from Harvard Medical School, then completed his medical residency at the Massachusetts General Hospital and cardiology fellowship at Johns Hopkins.
Po-Shun Lee, MD
Chief Medical Officer
Po-Shun is the Chief Medical Officer at Generian and has extensive experience in early and late-stage drug development as an executive, as well as a physician-scientist. Prior to joining Generian, Po-Shun was Chief Medical Officer at PlateletBio, a company developing iPSC-derived cell therapeutics. He also served as Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer at Proteostasis Therapeutics, a publicly traded company developing rare disease therapeutics, where he built the clinical organization to support the company transitioning from preclinical to clinical stage and successfully completed an IPO in February 2016. Prior to Proteostasis, he served as Translational Medicine Expert at the Novartis Institute for Biomedical Research leading several programs to successful proof-of-concept. Before Novartis, he served as the Associate Medical Director at Vertex Pharmaceuticals supporting the clinical development and registration of Kalydeco®. Po-Shun was previously a physician-scientist at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital and an Instructor in Medicine at Harvard Medical School in addition to co-founding two biotech companies. Po-Shun received a BA in biology from the Johns Hopkins University and an MD from the University of Pennsylvania.
Alan Barber, CPA
Chief Financial Officer
Alan is the Chief Financial Officer of Generian. As Founder and Principal of the Prestar Group, he brings more than 30 years of experience to his work for life sciences clients ranging from start-ups to publicly traded companies. He has served as CFO and advisor to numerous companies including Karyopharm Therapeutics, Forma Therapeutics, Foundation Medicine, Marinus Pharmaceuticals, Durata Therapeutics and Repligen. Over the course of his career, he has assisted in raising more than $500 million in development and growth capital for life sciences companies in the private and public financial markets (including IPOs). Alan is a CPA and began his career in public accounting where he served as a Partner with Pricewaterhouse Coopers. He received a Bachelor of Science Degree in accounting from the Florida State University, Rovetta School of Business.
Rajiv Sharma, PhD
SVP & Head of Discovery
Rajiv Sharma is Senior Vice-President and Head of Discovery Research at Generian. An accomplished drug hunter with over 20 years of drug discovery experience globally, prior to joining Generian, Rajiv was involved in drug discovery and development activities at Zydus, Piramal, Amgen, Tularik and Boehringer Ingelheim. His discovery teams have advanced six candidates into clinic including ZY-IL1 which has completed Phase 2A with positive proof of therapeutic activity and acceptable side effect profile in CAPS. His CMC team played a key role in the chemical development of Desidustat (Oxemia™), a recently approved drug for anemia. He is co-inventor of over 80 patents and co-author of over 70 peer-reviewed journal articles. He received his PhD in Organic Chemistry from the University of Delhi and his post-doctoral training in Medicinal Chemistry at the National Cancer Institute, NIH.
Bill Chen, PhD
Vice President, Drug Discovery
Bill is the Vice President of Drug Discovery and a Co-Founder of Generian. He is also an Associate Professor at University of Pittsburgh, where he directs the Small Molecule Therapeutic Center, and is the Co-Director of the Acute Lung Injury Center of Excellence within the Department of Medicine. In addition to Generian, he also co-Founded E3 Therapeutics and Koutif Therapeutics. Bill was instrumental in developing novel series of first-in-class small molecule FBXO3 protein inhibitors. One of his lead compounds, BC-1261 has received IND approval from FDA. Bill has co-authored more than 60 publications in top-tier journals related to the mechanism of protein ubiquitination and drug discovery, including Nature Immunology, Nature Medicine, Cell Reports and Science Translational Medicine, Journal of Experimental Medicine, and eLife. He is the recipient of NHLBI Emerging Investigator Award (R35). Bill obtained his PhD from the University of Iowa.
Yuan Liu, PhD
Vice President, Biology
Yuan is the Vice President of Biology and a Co-Founder of Generian. She is trained as a molecular biologist and biochemist in protein degradation and her main research interest focuses on the mechanistic study of proteostasis and its regulation. Based on her molecular biology discoveries, Yuan also leads novel strategy design and small molecule therapeutics development targeting age-related diseases, including metabolic disorders, neurodegeneration diseases and inflammation. She joined University of Pittsburgh Faculty in 2015 and jointly filed eight provisional patent applications. She has recently developed the AMPK and TFEB activators at the Aging Institute. Yuan obtained her PhD in molecular biology from Nagoya University and completed postdoctoral training from the California Institute of Technology.
David Floyd, PhD
Head of Chemistry
David is the Head of Chemistry at Generian and has over 40 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry. He spent 25 years at Squibb/Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) where he was Vice President of Discovery Chemistry from 1992 to 2003, before retiring from the organization. David then consulted and served on multiple scientific advisory boards, including Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV) in Geneva, Switzerland. David later joined Pharmacopeia, Inc. as Executive Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer, leaving the company prior to its acquisition by Ligand Pharmaceuticals. He then assumed a position as Visiting Scientist in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Rutgers University School of Pharmacy, where he served as lead investigator for an NIH funded program that resulted in the discovery of the anti-malarial clinical drug candidate (SJ733). David continues working with small start-up companies providing guidance in the areas of drug discovery and early development. He is an author or co-author of 54 articles in peer-reviewed journals and the holder of 24 US patents. David obtained his PhD in organic chemistry from the University of Michigan and completed his NIH postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard University with Professor E. J. Corey.
Molly Curran, MEM
Vice President, Operations
Molly is the Vice President of Operations at Generian where she safeguards and monitors the efficiency of corporate operations so that the team can remain focused on the scientific mission. She began her healthcare career in Boston, MA as a venture capital analyst and strategy consultant with special interest in emerging technology within the healthcare sector. Prior to joining Generian, Molly served in various roles at ZOLL LifeVest and UPMC Enterprises including leadership of product development, international corporate expansion, minimally viable product deployment, and new product and investment opportunity evaluation. Molly received her BS with Honors in materials engineering from Brown University and earned her Master of Engineering Management, a program for engineering and science graduates who seek to become leaders in businesses and organizations driven by technology, from Dartmouth College in collaboration with Tuck School of Business.
Sumantha Bhatt, PhD
Director of Program Management and Translation
Sumantha is the Director of Program Management and Translation at Generian. Prior to joining the Generian team, she served as the Director of Research Communications for a biochemistry research group at Yale University, promoting research initiatives and aiding in the establishment of new ventures. Sumantha started her career at Idea Foundry, a Pittsburgh-based accelerator, providing early-stage companies with hands-on business development guidance and assisting local entrepreneurs with technology commercialization. Sumantha received a BA in biology and psychology from Case Western Reserve University. She completed her research training in the field of transplantation immunology at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Institute and obtained a PhD in molecular medicine from Case Western Reserve University.
Board of Directors
Sheila Gujrathi, MD
- Executive Chairman
- Co-founder and Former CEO of Gossamer Bio
- President, UPMC Enterprises
- Executive Vice President, UPMC
Matthias Kleinz, DVM, PhD
- Executive Vice President, Head of Translational Sciences Investments, UPMC Enterprises
Hank Safferstein, PhD, JD
- Chief Executive Officer, Generian
- Executive-in-Residence, UPMC Enterprises
Toren Finkel, MD, PhD
- Chief Scientific Officer and Co-Founder, Generian
- Director of the Aging Institute at the University of Pittsburgh