We use our science to reinvent how therapies are created with a goal to meaningfully improve patients’ lives.
Neoleukin is a pioneer in de novo protein development, leveraging computational methods to create new therapies. This new approach has unlimited potential to treat human disease by improving on nature, designing for life. We are building a company with a vibrant and inclusive culture that we believe will make a meaningful impact for patients, our people and our community.
An experienced team of distinguished innovators, scientists and industry leaders.
Jonathan Drachman, MD
Chief Executive Officer & President
Jonathan is a seasoned clinician, researcher, and biopharmaceutical executive who joined Neoleukin at the company’s founding in 2018. For 14 years prior, he was at Seattle Genetics, where he most recently served as Chief Medical Officer and Executive Vice President of Research and Development. From 1998 to 2004, Dr. Drachman was a faculty member of the Division of Hematology at the University of Washington in Seattle, and a Senior Investigator in the Division of Research and Education at Puget Sound Blood Center. He currently serves on the board of directors for Calithera Biosciences and Harpoon Therapeutics. Dr. Drachman received a BA in Biochemistry from Harvard University and an MD from Harvard Medical School. He completed his residency in internal medicine and fellowship in medical oncology at the University of Washington.
Chief Financial Officer
Robert brings two decades of financial experience to Neoleukin. He is a former Vice President in the Investment Banking Division of Morgan Stanley & Co., where he managed over $9 billion in financing deals and participated in the completion of more than $5 billion in M&A transactions. Most recently, Robert served as Senior Finance Director at DaVita, Inc. a publicly held, Fortune 500® company that is a leading provider of kidney care services in the U.S. He received his Bachelor of Business Administration from the University of Notre Dame and his MBA from the University of Virginia Darden School of Business.
Priti Patel, M.D., M.S.
Chief Medical Officer
Dr. Patel is an experienced clinical leader with a successful track record in development of oncology therapeutics. She is former Vice President, Head of Hematology Clinical Development at AstraZeneca and served as Senior Medical Director and Executive Medical Director at Acerta Pharma before its acquisition by AstraZeneca. During her time at AstraZeneca and Acerta, Dr. Patel led clinical development strategy and trial execution of investigational therapeutics for blood cancers, including leading studies for acalabrutinib as monotherapy and combination therapy for solid tumors and hematological cancers with global approvals in chronic lymphocytic leukemia and mantle cell lymphoma. Prior to that, Dr. Patel served as Medical Director at Onyx Pharmaceuticals (acquired by Amgen) where she helped guide strategic clinical development efforts in the development and approval of carfilzomib, an FDA-approved therapy for the treatment of multiple myeloma. Dr. Patel has co-authored numerous scientific papers in peer reviewed medical journals. She received her B.A. and Masters in Public Health from Johns Hopkins University and her M.D. from the University of Vermont College of Medicine. Dr. Patel completed an internship and residency in internal medicine and post-doctoral fellowships in hematology and medical oncology at Stanford University Hospital.
Umut Ulge, MD, PhD
Vice President of clinical development
Umut has unique expertise at the intersection of clinical medicine and computational protein design. Since 2014, he has focused on the application of protein design technologies to solve unmet therapeutic challenges in clinical medicine. In addition to authoring multiple publications and patents in the field of computational protein design, Dr. Ulge has received research funding from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. He is a diplomate of the American Board of Internal Medicine and works part time as an attending physician at Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett, Washington. He completed his PhD in Computational Protein Design at the University of Washington, his MD at the University of Washington School of Medicine, and his clinical residency in internal medicine at Indiana University.
Holly K. Vance
Holly brings a wealth of legal experience across a wide range of corporate and transactional matters. She previously served as Associate General Counsel for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, where she provided legal and strategic guidance on investments and transactions to the foundation’s Strategic Investment Fund with a focus in the life sciences sector. Prior to that, Ms. Vance was a partner in the Seattle office of the global law firm K&L Gates LLP, where she practiced corporate and securities law. Ms. Vance received a J.D. from the University of Washington School of Law, a Pharm.D. from the University of Washington School of Pharmacy, and B.S. degrees in Cell and Molecular Biology and Pharmacy from the University of Washington.
Carl Walkey, PhD
Senior Vice President of Corporate Development
Carl brings scientific, product, and business development experience spanning multiple industries. Prior to joining Neoleukin Therapeutics, he served as a Senior Fellow at the Institute for Protein Design, where he led projects focused on the application of computational protein design to address unmet needs in oncology and autoimmunity. In 2014, he co-founded Ansible Marketing, which develops machine learning tools to automate omni-channel communications for small and medium businesses. Over the past decade, Dr. Walkey has co-authored over a dozen research works and received numerous prestigious scholarships and awards, including the Alexander Graham Bell Canada Graduate Scholarship and NSERC Postdoctoral Fellowship. Dr. Walkey received his PhD from the University of Toronto, where he applied machine learning to develop enhanced nanomedicines for drug delivery and vaccine development.
Vice President, People
Samantha brings over 20 years of human resources experience spanning the hospitality, hi-tech and biotech industries. This includes roles at Limeade, a Bellevue-based technology company, Seattle Genetics, and Microsoft. In addition, Willing has operated an executive coaching business for 10 years and studied Business and Human Resources at Washington State University.
Mr. Babler is President and Chief Executive Officer of Principia Biopharma, Inc. (NASDAQ: PRNB). In August 2020, Principia and Sanofi entered into a definitive acquisition agreement valued at approximately $3.7 billion. Mr. Babler previously served as President and Chief Executive Officer of Talima Therapeutics from 2007 to 2011. Prior to this, Mr. Babler was a senior executive at Genentech including Vice President, Immunology Sales and Marketing. During his time at Genentech, he oversaw the Commercial Development organization and led the Cardiovascular Marketing organization.Mr. Babler began his pharmaceutical industry career at Eli Lilly and Company. He holds a Swiss Federal Diploma in Pharmacy from the Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich. Mr. Babler graduated from the Executive Development Program at the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University.
Ms. Boyd serves as a Managing Director of Baker Bros. Advisors LP, a registered investment adviser focused on long-term investments in life-sciences companies. Prior to joining Baker Bros. Advisors LP in 2005, she was an Analyst in the Health Care Investment Banking Group of Deutsche Bank Securities from 2002 to 2004. Ms. Boyd graduated with an AB in business-economics from Brown University.
Jonathan Drachman, MD
Dr. Drachman is a seasoned clinician, researcher, and biopharmaceutical executive who joined Neoleukin at the company’s founding in 2018. For 14 years prior, he was at Seattle Genetics, where he most recently served as Chief Medical Officer and Executive Vice President of Research and Development. From 1998 to 2004, Dr. Drachman was a faculty member of the Division of Hematology at the University of Washington in Seattle, and a Senior Investigator in the Division of Research and Education at Puget Sound Blood Center. He currently serves on the board of directors for Calithera Biosciences and Harpoon Therapeutics. Dr. Drachman received a BA in Biochemistry from Harvard University and an MD from Harvard Medical School. He completed his residency in internal medicine and fellowship in medical oncology at the University of Washington.
Ms. Lavelle has more than 20 years of strategic and operational leadership experience in the biopharmaceutical industry and most recently served as Chief Operating Officer for Alder Biopharmaceuticals, Inc. Ms. Lavelle joined Alder in April 2018 to focus on operational initiatives preparing the company for its first product launch. Prior to Alder, she held a variety of roles during 15 years at Amgen Inc. In her last role at Amgen, she served as General Manager of Amgen’s Taiwan affiliate. Prior to that role, Ms. Lavelle was based in Hong Kong as an Executive Director for the Japan Asia-Pacific region, leading Commercial Excellence and Digital Health. Before her time in Asia, she held roles as an Executive Director in the areas of Global Marketing, Global Commercial Finance, and Strategy & Corporate Development. Ms. Lavelle began her career in 1998 as an investment banker in the healthcare group at Merrill Lynch & Co. Ms. Lavelle holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Yale University.
Sarah Noonberg, MD, PhD
Dr. Noonberg has more than 15 years of industry experience leading development programs from discovery to commercialization across a range of indications. She is currently Chief Medical Officer at Maze Therapeutics working to translate insights from human genetics into new therapeutics. Prior to joining Maze she was Chief Medical Officer at Nohla Therapeutics leading development of a universal cell therapy for hematologic malignancies. Other executive leadership roles have included Head of Global Clinical Development at BioMarin where she advanced a broad portfolio of development programs for rare genetically-defined diseases, and Senior Vice President at Medivation where she led translational and early development activities as well as late stage development of enzalutamide (XTANDI™) for advanced prostate cancer. Dr. Noonberg currently serves on the Board of Directors at Protagonist Therapeutics and is a member of the audit committee. She trained in internal medicine at Johns Hopkins, received an MD from the University of California, San Francisco, a PhD in bioengineering from the University of California, Berkeley, and a BS in engineering science from Dartmouth College.
Mr. Simpson has held executive management positions across a range of biotechnology companies and brings more than 35 years of experience to the board driving growth and transformation. Since October 2005, he has served as the Chief Financial Officer of Seattle Genetics, Inc., a global, multi-product oncology company. Previously, he served from October 2001 to October 2005 as Vice President, Finance & Administration and Chief Financial Officer of Targeted Genetics Corporation. From January 1996 to October 2001, Mr. Simpson served as Vice President, Finance & Administration and Chief Financial Officer of Aastrom Biosciences, Inc. From August 1995 to December 1995, he served as Treasurer of Integra LifeSciences Corporation, which acquired Telios Pharmaceuticals, Inc., in August 1995. From 1992 until its acquisition by Integra, he served as Vice President of Finance and Chief Financial Officer of Telios and in various other finance-related positions. Mr. Simpson is a certified public accountant (inactive), and from 1983 to 1992 he practiced public accounting with the firm of Ernst & Young LLP. Mr. Simpson received a BS in accounting and computer science from Oregon State University.
Lewis “Rusty” Williams, MD, PhD
Dr. Williams is co-founder, Chairman and CEO of Walking Fish Therapeutics, a private early stage cell therapy company, and is a venture partner of Quan Capital, LLC. Dr Williams was previously Founder, Board Chairman and CEO (retired 2017) of Five Prime Therapeutics. Prior to Five Prime, Dr. Williams was Chief Scientific Officer and Board member of Chiron Corporation, and Co-Founder of Cor Therapeutics, a publicly traded cardiovascular disease company. He served on the Boards of Cor Therapeutics, Chiron Corp, Beckman Coulter, Duke University, Rice University and the Berklee College of Music, and is now on the Boards of Protagonist Therapeutics and Arcellx. Dr. Williams was a Professor of Medicine and Investigator oh the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at the University of California, San Francisco. He trained in Internal Medicine and Cardiology at the Massachusetts General Hospital, where he served on the faculty and practiced cardiology. He is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He received an M.D. and a Ph.D. from Duke University.
David Baker, PhD
Dr. Baker is the Henrietta and Aubrey Davis Endowed Professor in Biochemistry, Director of the Institute for Protein Design, Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and adjunct professor of Genome Sciences, Bioengineering, Chemical Engineering, Computer Science, and Physics at the University of Washington. His research group is a world leader in computational protein design and protein structure prediction. Dr. Baker received young investigator awards from the National Science Foundation and the Beckman Foundation, and the Packard Foundation fellowship in Science and Engineering. He has also received the Irving Sigal Young Investigator award from the Protein Society and the Overton Prize from the International Society of Computational Biology. He is a recipient of the Feynman Prize from the Foresight Institute, the AAAS Newcomb Cleveland prize, the Sackler prize in biophysics, and the Centenary award from the Biochemical society. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Sciences. He received his PhD degree in Biochemistry with Randy Schekman at the University of California, Berkeley and did postdoctoral work in Biophysics with David Agard at UCSF.
Daniel-Adriano Silva, Ph.D.
Dr. Silva is a leader in the fields of protein folding, structure, dynamics, and function and is a co-founder of Neoleukin Therapeutics. From 2019 to February 2021, he served as Vice President, Head of Research at Neoleukin. Prior to that, he served as a Translational Investigator in the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Washington. In 2013, Dr. Silva received a Pew Latin American postdoctoral fellowship to train with David Baker at the University of Washington, where he developed state-of-the-art de novo protein design algorithms. Dr. Silva has co-authored more than 30 published research articles, including in Science, Nature and PNAS. He graduated from the National Autonomous University of Mexico and completed his initial postdoctoral training at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, where he developed tools to study protein-ligand binding dynamics.
Michael Levitt, PhD
Dr. Levitt is a professor of structural biology at the Stanford University School of Medicine. Levitt is a recipient of the 2013 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, together with Martin Karplus and Arieh Warshel, for "the development of multiscale models for complex chemical systems.” Levitt joined the Department of Structural Biology at Stanford in 1987 and he has a courtesy appointment in computer science. He is also a member of the Scientific Leadership Council of Bio-X, a Stanford initiative that unites experts in biology, medicine, chemistry, physics and engineering. Dr. Levitt received his BScs from King’s College London and his PhD from the University of Cambridge.
Michael Dougan, MD, PhD
Dr. Dougan serves as an instructor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and an assistant in Medicine, Division of gastroenterology at Massachusetts General Hospital. As an independent investigator, Dr. Dougan has focused his research efforts on understanding the etiology and immune mechanisms underlying the immune-related adverse events (irAEs) resulting from cancer immunotherapy. Dr. Dougan received his MD and PhD from Harvard Medical School.
Marion Pepper, PhD
Dr. Pepper serves as Associate Professor, Immunology in the Department of Immunology at the University of Washington. Dr. Pepper’s research focuses on adaptive immune responses. She graduated with a Bachelor’s in Biology and English from Williams College and received her PhD in Immunology in 2006 from the University of Pennsylvania. She completed postdoctoral training at the University of Minnesota and joined the Department of Immunology as an Assistant Professor in 2011.
Gonçalo Bernardes, PhD
Dr. Bernardes is a Group Leader at the Department of Chemistry, University of Cambridge, U.K. He is also the Director of the Chemical Biology and Pharmaceutical Biotechnology Unit at the Instituto de Medicina Molecular, Portugal. After completing his D.Phil. degree in 2008 at the University of Oxford, U.K., he undertook postdoctoral work at the Max-Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces, Germany, and the ETH Zürich, Switzerland, and worked as a Group Leader at Alfama Lda in Portugal. He started his independent research career in 2013, and his research group tackles a range of biological problems of fundamental importance to understand and fight human disease primarily through the use of chemistry principles. He is a Royal Society University Research Fellow and the awardee of a Starting Grant from the European Research Council (TagIt).
Ingrid Swanson Pultz, PhD
Ingrid Swanson Pultz, Ph.D. is Chief Scientific Officer and a Founder at PvP Biologics, Inc. She received her Ph.D. degree in microbiology with Dr. Samuel Miller at the University of Washington (UW) in Seattle and performed her postdoctoral work in computational enzyme design with Dr. David Baker at the UW, before accepting a faculty position as a Translational Investigator at the Institute for Protein Design (IPD). At the IPD, Dr. Pultz’s lab developed Kuma062, an enzyme meant as a therapeutic for celiac disease, that was based on a prototype molecule initially generated for the iGEM undergraduate competition for which Dr. Pultz was an advisor. PvP Biologics was founded to pursue the clinical development of Kuma062, and led by Dr. Pultz until spinout from the UW in late 2016. She now acts as head of the PvP Laboratory based in Seattle, and works with the PvP Development Team located in San Diego. Dr. Pultz has received several awards including an Innovator of the Year award from the Seattle Health Innovation Forum.