Precise mapping of 3D Atomic coordinates of drug-protein binding
Privileged and target-enriched compound libraries
Characterization of atomic properties of drug-protein interaction (kinetics + thermodynamics)
Experimentally directed, Machine Learning and artificial intelligence (AI)
Ali is an experienced entrepreneur with a track record of leading discovery projects from ideation to proof-of-concept and executing M&A transactions. He has built biotech startups from the ground up, collectively raising over $50M in seed and venture capital investment for companies that he founded.
Ali was the founding CEO of Novira Therapeutics and led the evolution and growth of Novira and directing its novel approach to targeting virus capsid assembly as an antiviral strategy. His pioneering graduate work in non-enzymatic antiviral inhibitors that disrupt protein-protein interactions led to a Gates Foundation award that propelled Novira. Novira was acquired in 2015 by Johnson & Johnson.
Previously, he led the commercialization strategy, business development, and alliance management functions at the Joslin Diabetes Center, securing over $22M in business deals with multiple Big Pharma companies.
As the CEO, Ali is also a hands-on scientist specializing in difficult to “drug”, frontier targets often referred to as the “high hanging fruits in drug discovery”. He is actively involved in innovative hit and lead generations strategies that have led to the development of drug starting points for over half a dozen drug targets. Ali holds a Master’s in Bioengineering from Harvard University and received a Ph.D. in X-ray crystallography and structure-based drug design from KU Leuven in Belgium.
Ali has a background in strategic consulting, is an active member of various venture and scientific communities. He is involved with early-stage investment, venture creation, and due diligence. He is passionate about paying it forward by mentoring new entrepreneurs. In his spare time, Ali is passionate about animals, nature, and the outdoors.
Mark is a seasoned Medicinal Chemist who has contributed to the development of 17 innovative small molecules, including 8 compounds that reached clinical development and 1 FDA approved product. At Pledge, Mark strategizes lead finding, lead optimization, and medicinal chemistry to create novel clinical candidates and develops pre-clinical candidate compounds to enable INDA filing.
Mark spent 14 years at Eisai Pharmaceuticals, a multinational pharma company, in various roles; most recently, he was Director of Medicinal Chemistry and co-Head of the Immunology group at Eisai US, UK, and Japanese sites. He oversaw multidisciplinary teams working on lead finding, optimization, and pre-clinical development efforts, yielding drug candidates for rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, psoriasis, sepsis, infectious diseases, oncology, and immune-oncology. In addition to R&D roles, Mark has previously held the position of VP of Business Development at Sai Life Sciences, where he managed a portfolio of over 30 biotech and pharma clients. Mark has also actively been a Medicinal Chemistry consultant to over 16 companies.
Prior to Eisai, Mark was involved with the development of multiple insecticidal and antifungal programs at ICI Agrochemicals, including the billion-dollar product, azoxystrobin.
Mark has co-authored 65 publications and is a co-inventor on 37 patents. He received his doctorate at the University of Oxford with Prof. Sir Jack Baldwin, FRS, and completed his post-doc fellowship at UT Austin with Prof. Phil Magnus, FRS. In his spare time, Mark loves to enjoy the great outdoors, especially oceans, ski slopes and the racetrack.
Stephen brings more than twenty years of experience in the fields of biochemistry and structural biology. Stephen is also the group leader of our Leuven research facilities and coordinates an advanced biophysics-based research program to accelerate our discovery pipeline.
Before joining Pledge, Stephen led a team of researchers at the University of KU Leuven using rational drug design to develop new antibiotics. Previously, Stephen was involved with several innovative programs at Life Sensors Inc in the USA. His original work around the SUMO fusion expression system and the generation of other life sciences tools has impacted protein production across basic research, drug discovery and diagnostic laboratories worldwide.
Stephen carried out his undergraduate studies in biochemistry at the University of Lancaster and US in the US, and he undertook his Ph.D. at the European Molecular Biology Laboratories in Heidelberg, Germany. He has over 40 peer-reviewed publications and is responsible for nearly 90 structures in the public Protein Data Bank. Reflecting on his cross-border international experience Stephen is passionate about bringing together the brightest minds to drive success.