Rob Hopfner, RPh, PhD, MBA joined Pivotal in 2017, and brings a long track record of working successfully with entrepreneurs to get novel, important medicines through development and onto the market. Rob is a member of the Board of Directors of Entasis Therapeutics, Iterum Therapeutics, Oculis, and SutroVax. He was formerly either a board member or board observer on Aciex Therapeutics (sold to Nicox S.A.), Civitas Therapeutics (sold to Acorda Therapeutics), Cydan, Dermira (NASDAQ: DERM), Hyperion Therapeutics (sold to Horizon Pharma), Imara Pharmaceuticals, NextWave Pharmaceuticals (sold to Pfizer), Pharmakea Therapeutics, and Vtesse (sold to Sucampo Pharmaceuticals). Other past investments where Rob played a key role included Kezar Life Sciences, Madrigal Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: MDGL), Menlo Therapeutics (NASDAQ: MNLO), Merus BV (NASDAQ: MRUS) and Tetraphase Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: TTPH). Rob was previously a Managing Director at Bay City Capital and prior to that worked in business development and investment roles at DuPont Pharmaceuticals and at Ag-West Biotech respectively. Rob holds a PhD in Pharmacology from the University of Saskatchewan and an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. He completed his post-doctoral work at Harvard Medical School. Rob won numerous awards during his research career, including the Governor General of Canada Gold Medal Award in 2000, and he published several articles in top medical journals based on his work. Rob started his career as a pharmacist.
Heather Preston joined Pivotal in 2018 and brings 30 years of healthcare experience. Most recently she was a Firm Partner and Managing Director at TPG Biotech and she is currently a Senior Advisor to TPG. Prior to joining TPG in 2005, Dr. Preston spent two years investing with JP Morgan Partners and she was also an Entrepreneur-in-Residence with New Enterprise Associates. Prior to becoming a venture capital investor, Heather spent five years at McKinsey & Co. in New York, where she was a leader of their pharmaceutical and medical products consulting practice. She advised large pharmaceutical companies and biotechnology companies on critical strategic issues such as R&D portfolio prioritization, M&A opportunities, new technology acquisitions, new product launches and product growth strategies. Heather currently serves on the board of directors of Oxford Biomedica (LSE:OXB); Alder BioPharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:ALDR); Otonomy, Inc. (NASDAQ:OTIC); Unchained Labs, Avalyn Pharmaceuticals, Azura Opthalmics and Entasis Inc. She has previously served on multiple boards including Albireo (NASDAQ:ALBO), Aptalis Pharma (acquired by Forest Labs in 2014), and Elevation Pharmaceuticals (acquired by Sunovion in 2012). She was responsible for TPG Biotech’s investment in Par Pharmaceuticals (acquired by Endo Pharmaceuticals in 2015). Heather has an undergraduate degree in biochemistry from the University of London and a medical degree from the University of Oxford. She completed a post-doctoral fellowship in molecular biology at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard University and trained in Internal Medicine at the Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard and sub-specialized in Gastroenterology and Hepatology at UCSF. During her academic medical career, she was the recipient of a Fulbright Scholarship, a Fulbright Cancer Research Scholarship, a Harlech Scholarship and a Science and Engineering Research Council Post-doctoral Fellowship Award. Dr. Preston also serves on the Board of Trustees for the Harvard Discovery Council, the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Saint Luke’s School and the Harlech Scholarship Foundation.
Peter Bisgaard joined Pivotal in 2017. He is also Managing Director of Nan Fung Life Sciences. Peter brings more than 17 years of experience in biotech VC investing. He was a Senior Partner at Novo Ventures and has been with Novo Ventures (US) Inc. since 2009. As part of Novo Ventures’ senior team he was responsible for overall investment and portfolio strategy as well as ongoing development of Novo Ventures’ team in the US. Peter was with Novo Ventures since 2001 in Denmark. Prior to Novo Ventures he was with McKinsey & Co. Corporate Finance and Strategy Practice. Peter is the member of the Board of Directors of a number of public and private biotech and medtech companies including RA Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:RARX), Nevro Corp (NYSE:NVRO), Alder Biotherapeutics (NASDAQ:ALDR), Otonomy (NASDAQ:OTIC), HTG Molecular Diagnostics (NASDAQ:HTGM), Eargo Inc, Entasis Therapeutics, Outpost Medicine, Bolt Therapeutics and Inozyme Inc. Peter has an M.Sc. in Engineering from the Technical University of Denmark and has a post graduate degree in Mathematical Modeling in Economics by the European Consortium for Mathematics in the Industry.
Karoly Nikolich, PhD, joined Pivotal in 2017 and brings a long and successful track record in biotech entrepreneurship and drug discovery. He led Genentech’s entry into neuroscience during the 1980s, led and participated in the development of numerous protein therapeutics. He was Vice President of Research and Development at Lynx Therapeutics, a company that pioneered massively parallel nucleotide sequencing. He also served as Executive Director of the Stanford Neuroscience Institute in 2005-2007. Karoly was also the co-founder of AGY Therapeutics, Amnestix, Neurofluidics, Chase Pharmaceuticals, Circuit Therapeutics, and Alkahest. He has served on the boards and scientific advisory boards at a number of neurotherapeutics and biotech companies, including Neuropore, Angiochem, Hummingbird, Pascal, as well as several investment funds. Dr. Nikolich is a graduate of Eotvos University in Budapest and worked as postdoctoral fellow at Tulane University and UCSF before joining Genentech. He has been Adjunct Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at Stanford University Medical School.
Ash Khanna, PhD, MBA joined Pivotal in 2017. Ash brings 20 years of experience in the venture capital, pharmaceutical and biotech arena. Most recently, he co-founded SutroVax, a Pivotal bioVentures portfolio company, where he served as Chief Business Officer. Previously he was President & Chief Business Officer of Imagen Biotech, a VC-backed startup developing treatments for severe ophthalmic diseases. Prior to his operating roles, Ash was a Principal at SV Life Sciences (SVLS), a healthcare focused venture capital firm, where he led and managed investments in many biotech and diagnostic companies including, among others, Ophthotech, Mpex Pharmaceuticals, Good Start Genetics and Itero Biopharmaceuticals. He started his career in the pharmaceutical industry at Bristol-Myers Squibb where he held various positions including Team Leader responsible for the clinical advancement of multiple Diabetes programs including the currently marketed products, Onglyza® (Dipeptidyl peptidase-4 inhibitor) and Farxiga® (SGLT2 inhibitor). Ash is a co-inventor on the Onglyza® patent. Ash has an MBA from The Wharton School and a PhD in Pharmaceutics from SUNY-Buffalo. He is also a Kauffman Fellow and initially trained as a pharmacist.
Carlos Solórzano, PhD, joined Pivotal in 2019. Before joining Pivotal, Carlos was an Associate Director in the corporate strategy and business development team at Ultragenyx Pharmaceutical where he worked on competitive intelligence, as well as portfolio, commercial and BD strategy. In particular, Carlos participated in Ultragenyx’ option to acquire GeneTx (ASO for Angelman Syndrome), the expansion of Ultragenyx’ collaboration agreement with Arcturus Therapeutics (nucleic acid therapeutics including mRNA), as well as in the technology and portfolio strategy of Ultragenyx’ gene therapy platform. Prior to Ultragenyx, Carlos worked as an equity research associate at Deutsche Bank and Oppenheimer & Co. covering smid- and large-cap biotech companies. Carlos earned his PhD in Pharmacology from UC Irvine and was an NIH postdoctoral scholar at UC San Francisco where he investigated the neurobiology of pain and itch.