Richard Yu, Ph.D.

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Our Team

The founders at Abalone Bio saw an opportunity to apply complementary skill sets in cell biology, genetics, synthetic and systems biology, structural biology, and computer science to address a long-standing problem and opportunity: drugs for membrane protein targets, like GPCRs, to activate or modulate cellular activities to treat disease.

Leadership Team

Richard Yu, Ph.D.

Richard Yu, Ph.D.

Co-Founder & CEO

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Board of Directors, Head of Operations, Business Development

Richard has been in and around startups since 2008, on both sides of the lease and term sheet, as founder, incubator manager, and venture capital principal.

His path to co-founding Abalone Bio started at UC Berkeley in Biophysics and Computer science, and wound its way through protein engineering, structural biology, and then systems biology and synthetic biology at the Molecular Sciences Institute, where he met co-founder Gustavo Pesce.

Abalone Bio grew out of an “a-ha!” moment shared with Gustavo defining a technology that uniquely combines their skillsets and experiences to meet a long-standing therapeutic need- safe and effective drugs for promising yet difficult to drug targets.

Ph.D., Mol. Biochemistry & Biophysics, 2000
Yale University

Favorite Outside Work or Activity:
Making or fixing things around the house or lab, rock climbing, motorcycling, tea and coffee obsessing

Toshi Takeuchi, Ph.D.

Toshi Takeuchi, Ph.D.

CSO

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Head of R&D, Academic and Industry Partnerships

Toshi brings over 20 years of industrial experience and expertise in antibody expression and engineering, therapeutic discovery and development, and project and departmental leadership to Abalone Bio.

Prior to joining Abalone Bio, Toshi worked at companies ranging from small startups (Bioren, acquired by Pfizer) to large multinational companies (Bayer).  As VP of Discovery Research at XOMA Corporation, he was responsible for selection, engineering and characterization of multiple clinically developed antibodies. Most recently, as VP of Discovery Research at Second Genome, he helped develop therapeutics derived from the human microbiome.  

Ph.D., Chemistry 1996
California Institute of Technology

Favorite Outside Work or Activity:
Cycling, playing violin, gardening, meditating and spending time with family (when they tolerate him)

Lauren Schwimmer, Ph.D.

Lauren Schwimmer, Ph.D.

VP of PREclinical development

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Antibody Development

Lauren brings a wealth of antibody and immuno-oncology drug development experience to Abalone Bio.

At Xoma and Distributed Bio, she was behind the development of two of the most well-regarded antibody libraries used for antibody drug discovery, and she managed multiple antibody drug discovery and preclinical drug development teams.

At QLSF, she directed three pre-clinical stage bispecific antibody drug development programs for immuno-oncology.

Ph.D., Biochemistry, 2005
Georgia Institute of Technology

Favorite Outside Work or Activity:
Dancing, reading, and coaching a Middle School robotics team

Monica Schwartz, Ph.D.

Monica Schwartz, Ph.D.

SENIOR director of antibody discovery

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Platform Technology Development, Antibody Discovery

Monica has a deep background in early discovery and platform development.

At Achaogen, she led the development of a microfluidic B-cell capture and screening platform, in addition to her efforts in target development and characterization.

At Zymergen, she was project and portfolio leads for multiple teams to develop and scale cellular engineering technologies.

Ph.D., Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, 2005, University of California, San Francisco

Favorite Outside Work or Activity:
Hiking and biking

Ron Burch, M.D., Ph.D.

Ron Burch, M.D., Ph.D.

SENIOR MEDICAL ADVISOR

Antibody Drug and Neuropathic Pain Drug Development

Dr. Burch has a 35 year history in biotech. His formal training was in pharmacology and chemistry, which was followed by a move to the NIH and then into a prolific biotech and pharma career. Ron has held senior research, director and VP roles at large pharma Zeneca and Purdue, and helpd several C-suite roles (CEO and CMO) and a number of biotechs.

Dr. Burch has acted as CMO and other senior positions for the clinical development of multiple diabetic neuropathic pain and chemotherapy-induced neuropathic pain drugs, and has unique insight into pain drug development along the development path from discovery to market from the industry and biotech perspectives. Dr. Burch is leading the clinical development plan for our diabetic neuropathic pain program.


Favorite Outside Work or Activity:
Avid orchid collector and hybridizer

Richard Yu, Ph.D.

Richard Yu, Ph.D.

Co-Founder & CEO

LinkedIn Icon

Board of Directors, Head of Operations, Business Development

Richard has been in and around startups since 2008, on both sides of the lease and term sheet, as founder, incubator manager, and venture capital principal.

His path to co-founding Abalone Bio started at UC Berkeley in Biophysics and Computer science, and wound its way through protein engineering, structural biology, and then systems biology and synthetic biology at the Molecular Sciences Institute, where he met co-founder Gustavo Pesce.

Abalone Bio grew out of an “a-ha!” moment shared with Gustavo defining a technology that uniquely combine their skillsets and experiences to meet a long-standing therapeutic need- safe and effective drugs for promising yet difficult to drug targets.

Ph.D., Mol. Biochemistry & Biophysics, 2000
Yale University

Favorite outside work or activity:

Making or fixing things around the house or lab, rock climbing, motorcycling, tea and coffee obsessing

    Toshi Takeuchi, Ph.D.

    Toshi Takeuchi, Ph.D.

    CSO

    LinkedIn Icon

      Head of R&D, Academic and industry partnerships

      Toshi brings nearly 20 years of industrial experience and expertise in antibody expression and engineering, therapeutic discovery and development, and project and departmental leadership to Abalone Bio.

      Prior to joining Abalone Bio, Toshi worked at companies ranging from small startups (Bioren, acquired by Pfizer) to large multinational companies (Bayer).  As VP of Discovery Research at XOMA Corporation, he was responsible for selection, engineering and characterization of multiple clinically developed antibodies. Most recently, as VP of Discovery Research at Second Genome, he helped develop therapeutics derived from the human microbiome.  

      Ph.D., Chemistry 1996
      California Institute of Technology

      Favorite outside work or activity:

      Cycling, playing violin, gardening, meditating and spending time with family (when they tolerate him)

      Lauren Schwimmer, Ph.D.

      Lauren Schwimmer, Ph.D.

      VP of PREclinical development

      LinkedIn Icon

      Antibody development

      Lauren brings a wealth of antibody and immuno-oncology drug development experience to Abalone Bio.

      At Xoma and Distributed Bio, she was behind the development of two of the most well-regarded antibody libraries used for antibody drug discovery, and she managed multiple antibody drug discovery and preclinical drug development teams.

      At QLSF, she directed three pre-clinical stage bispecific antibody drug development programs for immuno-oncology.

      Ph.D., Biochemistry, 2005
      Georgia Institute of Technology

      Favorite outside work or activity:

      Dancing, reading, and coaching a Middle School robotics team

        Monica Schwartz, Ph.D.

        Monica Schwartz, Ph.D.

        director of antibody discovery

        LinkedIn Icon

          Platform Technology Development, Antibody Discovery

          Monica has a deep background in early discovery and platform development.

          At Achaogen, she led the development of a microfluidic B-cell capture and screening platform, in addition to her efforts in target development and characterization.

          At Zymergen, she was project and portfolio leads for multiple teams to develop and scale cellular engineering technologies.

          Ph.D., Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, 2005, University of California, San Francisco

          Favorite outside work or activity:

          Hiking and biking

          Ron Burch, M.D., Ph.D.

          Ron Burch, M.D., Ph.D.

          SENIOR MEDICAL ADVISOR

          Dr. Burch has a 35 year history in biotech. His formal training was in pharmacology and chemistry, but quickly moved to the NIH and then into a prolific biotech and pharma career. In addition to senior research, director, VP, and C-suite roles (CEO and CMO) at large pharma Zeneca and Purdue.

          He was a founder or founding team member in numerous neurological and pain related biotech companies, including spectacular successes like Naurex, which developed an antibody-derived NMDA receptor partial antagonist for depression and was acquired by Allergan for $560M upfront in 2015, and was CMO at Pacira Pharmaceuticals and AlgoRx.

          Having developed two CIPN drugs through clinical trials, he has unique insight into particular clinical pain points and issues along the whole development path from discovery to market.

          Dr. Burch is leading the clinical development plan for our CIPN program, and providing general drug development and clinical development from his combined successful startup and large pharma experiences.

          He also currently serves as CMO of Gate Neurosciences.

          Favorite outside work or activity:

          Avid orchid collector and hybridizer

            Board of Directors

            Richard Yu, Ph.D.

            Rich Yu, Ph.D.

            CEO, Founder - Abalone bio

            LinkedIn Icon

            Director

            • Ph.D., Molecular Biochemistry & Biophysics, 2000, Yale University
            • Scientific and Operations Director, qb3@953
            • CSO, Green Pacific Biologicals, Inc.
            UC Berkeley logoYale University logoqb3@953 logoGreen Pacific Biologicals logoMSI logo
            Nathan Caffo

            Nathan Caffo

            CBO, Candel Tx

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              Independent Director: BD, Executive Strategy

              • Chief Business Officer, Candel Tx (IPO 2021)
              • Chief Business Officer, ALX Oncology (IPO 2020)
              • CEO and President, Presage Biosciences
              • Sr. Director BD, Perlegen Sciences
              Candel Therapeutics logoALX Oncology logoPresage Biosciences logoPerlegen Biosciences logo

              Scientific Advisory Board

              Jeff Greve Ph.D. headshot

              Jeff Greve, Ph.D.

              CSO, Founder - Kyverna TX

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              Biotechnology, immunology, drug development

              • Ph.D. Biochemistry
              • CSO and founder, Delinia (acquired by Celgene,  $775M)
              • Executive Director, Exelixis Stem Cell Sciences
              • Director of Research, Bayer
              Bayer logoExelixis logoCelgene logoKyverna logo
              Charles Craik, Ph.D.

              Charles Craik, Ph.D.

              Professor, UCSF

              LinkedIn Icon

                Antibody technologies and drugs, biotech

                • Ph.D. Chemistry
                • Co-founder Catalyst Biosciences
                Catalyst Biosciences logoUC San Franscisco logo
                Tracy Handel Ph.D. headshot

                Tracy Handel, Ph.D.

                Professor, UCSD

                LinkedIn Icon

                  GPCR and chemokine structure-function; I/O

                  • Ph.D. Biophysical Chemistry
                  Caltech logoUC Berkeley logoUC San Diego logo
                  Aashish Manglik M.D., Ph.D. headshot

                  Aashish Manglik, M.D. Ph.D.

                  Associate professor, UCSF

                  LinkedIn Icon

                  GPCR drug development; GPCR nanobodies

                  • M.D., Ph.D.  Biophysical chemistry
                  • Co-founder, Ab Initio Biotherapeutics (acquired by Ligand)
                  • Co-founder, Epiodyne
                  Stanford University logoEpiodyne logoAb initio logoUC San Franscisco logo

                  Science Team

                  Bum-Yeol Hwang

                  Bum-Yeol Hwang

                  Principal Scientist

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                    Antibody Discovery

                    Ph.D., 2003, Seoul National University

                    Favorite outside work or activity: 

                    Baseball/ Softball

                    Sophie Comyn, Ph.D.

                    Sophie Comyn, Ph.D.

                    ScIentist ii

                    LinkedIn Icon

                    Antibody discovery

                    Zymergen, Scientist II

                    Ph.d., Genome Science and Technology, 2016
                    University of British Columbia

                    Favorite outside work or activity:

                    Walking, cooking, listening to podcasts, and reading

                      Raghu Gopireddy

                      Raghu Gopireddy

                      Scientist II

                      LinkedIn Icon

                        Antibody Development

                        Ph.D.,Pharmacology, 2015 Phillips University, Germany

                        Favorite outside work or activity:

                        Spending time with Family and traveling

                        Clara Solari, Ph.D.

                        Clara Solari, Ph.D.

                        Operations Lead and scientist

                        LinkedIn Icon

                          Antibody discovery

                          Ph.D., Biochemistry, 2019
                          University of Buenos Aires

                          Favorite outside work or activity:

                          Singing

                          Sebastian Muñoz

                          Sebastian Muñoz

                          Scientist

                          LinkedIn Icon

                            Antibody Discovery

                            Microbiologist 2014, Ph.D. in Biochemistry (expected June 2022)

                            Favorite outside work or activity:

                            Biking, yoga practice, voguing, baking.

                            Katie Kitchens

                            Katie Kitchens

                            Executive assistant

                              Favorite outside work or activity:

                              Spending time with family & camping.

                              Miguel Piedra Montana

                              Miguel Piedra Montano

                              Technician

                              LinkedIn Icon

                                Lab Operations

                                BS in Microbiology, degree expected 2022, San Francisco State University

                                Favorite outside work or activity:

                                Playing video games, airsoft, mixing every flavor at the soda fountain.

                                Carlos Ponce

                                Carlos Ponce, Ph.D.

                                SCIENTIST I

                                LinkedIn Icon

                                  Antibody Development

                                  Ph.D. Biochemical Sciences, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México

                                  Favorite outside work or activity:

                                  Cooking, watching series, listening to music.

                                  Advisors

                                  Bob Kay, Ph.D.

                                  CEO, Epalex, Origen; FoUNDING ROLES, GenPharm/Medarex, Genetics Institute/Wyeth

                                  Expertise: Executive, growth and business development

                                  Dr. Kay is nearly a 40 year veteran in the biotech industry. He was an early member of Genetics Institute, acquired by Wyeth, in the early 80s at the dawn of the biotech era, and quickly ascended to executive roles at GenPharm (VP), acquired by Medarex; Origen (CEO), and Epalex (CEO). Some of these companies were involved in cutting-edge platform technologies in the therapeutic antibody space, including some of the first biologic drugs and the first transgenic animals to produce humanized antibodies. He has a broad experience base across multiple indication areas, from discovery to clinical trials, with a firm rooting in antibody discovery platform technologies.

                                  Nigel Beeley, Ph.D.

                                  CCO, Arena; VP of Discovery, Senomyx; CEO/CSO Ab-vax

                                  Expertise: Executive, drug discovery and development

                                  Dr. Beeley is a 30+ year veteran in the pharmaceutical and biotech industry. His scientific background started in organic chemistry, but over his years grew into both small molecule and antibody drug development, with particular experience in oncology and in GPCRs. Most relevant to Abalone, he was VP and Chief Chemical Officer at Arena Pharmaceuticals, a GPCR drug company; VP of Discovery at Senomyx, finding GPCR and ion channel small molecule agonists; and as CSO and CEO of Ab-Vax, which developed therapeutic antibodies. His experiences in both small molecules and antibodies gives us insight into the relative advantages of each and gives us clarity into indications and drug profiles that are especially well-suited for our discovery platform (i.e., functional antibodies). Dr. Beeley has co-authored over 70 scientific publications and abstracts and is a co-inventor on over 90 patent applications, including over 40 issued US patents.

                                  David Rabuka, Ph.D.

                                  CEO, Acrigen; Redwood Biosciences/Catalent

                                  Expertise: Startup operations and growth, antibody drug development, and business development

                                  Dr. Rabuka is a returning therapeutics biotech entrepreneur. Most relevant to Abalone Bio, his first company, Redwood Biosciences, developed antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) technology that was acquired by Catalent (2014). Through his run at Redwood as CEO then CSO, then at Catalent, he saw development of multiple programs, including the development from discovery to clinical trials of an anti-CD22 ADC for lymphoma. He has an amazing perspective from growing Redwood in its early days during the last financial crisis, so he has a lot of insights into creating value quickly and inexpensively, leveraging select pharma partnerships and non-dilutive grant funding.

                                  Javier Szwarcberg, M.D.

                                  Clinical Developer and Vice President, BioMarin; Ultragenyx, Intermune

                                  Expertise: Portfolio development, clinical and regulatory guidance.

                                  Dr. Szwarcberg is a clinical researcher and biotech executive with an exceptionally rich set of experiences in clinical research and drug development. He has led more than 22 clinical trials, many successful ones, for a variety of drugs, including small molecules, peptides and biologics. While trained as a pulmonologistr, his work spans many fields, including lung fibrosis and infectious disease (HIV).  In recent years, Dr. Szwarcberg has worked in orphan diseases, and has directed and managed preclinical and clinical pipelines, comprising small molecules, antibody drugs, enzyme therapies and gene therapy approaches. Dr. Szwarcberg presented and defended results at the FDA multiple times, including four drug approvals, one for pirfenidone (Esbriet) for lung fibrosis.

                                  Dr. Szwarcberg advises Abalone in pre-clinical and clinical drug development, and also in target and indication choices and program and portfolio strategies, including research of unmet needs, market adoption, competition and risk assessment. Through his extensive network, Dr. Szwarcberg has provided invaluable connections to discovery, development and clinical researchers and business development and other executives in biotech companies.

                                  Todd Morrill, B.A. M.B.A.

                                  Faculty Director, NSF iCorps

                                  Expertise: Business development, and partnerships.

                                  Todd is currently leading the NSF iCorp program, a national program that teaches customer discovery and company development to early stage technical startup companies. His background in pharma and biotech finance at Burrill and Craves led to VP sales, executive, and senior BD development roles. Most important for Abalone, his roles at platform drug discovery biotech companies Trellis Biosciences and Crystal Biosciences (another antibody platform company acquired by Ligand Pharmaceutics) gives him unique insights and opinions in our early business development efforts as a therapeutics platform company ourselves.

                                  Advisors and Collaborators

                                  STRategy

                                  Bob Kay, Ph.D.

                                  CEO, Epalex, Origen; Founding Roles, GenPharm/Medarex, Genetics Institute/Wyeth
                                  Executive, growth and business development

                                  Nigel Beeley, Ph.D.

                                  CCO, Arena; VP of Discovery, Senomyx; CEO/CSO Ab-vax
                                  Executive, drug discovery and development

                                  David Rabuka, Ph.D.

                                  CEO, Acrigen; Redwood Biosciences/Catalent
                                  Startup operations and growth, antibody drug development, and business development

                                  Javier Szwarcberg, M.D.

                                  CEO, Spruce Biosciences; Biomarin, Ultragenyx, Intermune
                                  Portfolio development, clinical and regulatory guidance

                                  Todd Morrill, B.A. M.B.A.

                                  Faculty Director, NSF iCorpsBusiness development, and partnerships

                                  Cannabinoid Receptor Biology
                                  Keith Sharkey, Ph.D. headshots

                                  Ken Mackie, M.D. Ph.D.

                                  Distinguished Professor,  Jack and Linda Gill Chair at the Gill Center for Biomolecular Science, Indiana University
                                  Pain biology; cannabinoid receptor biology

                                  Immunology
                                  Bonnie Dittel, Ph.D. headshot

                                  Bonnie Dittel, Ph.D.

                                  Senior Investigator, Versiti Blood Research Institute; Professor, Microbiology & Immunology, Medical College of Wisconsin.
                                  CB2 in adaptive immunity and inflammatory disease

                                  Peripheral NeuropathIC PAIN (Diabetic and Chemotherapy induced)
                                  Dr. Gordon Smith, Ph.D. headshot

                                  Dr. Gordon Smith, Ph.D.

                                  Professor and Chair of Neurology, Kenneth and Dianne Wright Distinguished Chair in Clinical and Translational Research, Virginia Commonwealth University
                                  Neurology; peripheral neuropathy biomarker and trial development

                                  Andrea Hohmann Ph.D. headshot

                                  Andrea Hohmann, Ph.D.

                                  Professor, Jack and Linda Gill Chair at the Gill Center for Biomolecular Science, Indiana University
                                  CB2 biology; CIPN preclinical studies

                                  Dr. Ellen Smith, Ph.D., ANP-BC, AOCN® headshot

                                  Dr. Ellen Smith, Ph.D., ANP-BC, AOCN®

                                  Professor, University of Vermont
                                  CIPN clinical trial design expert

                                  Dr. Noah Kolb, M.D. headshot

                                  Dr. Noah Kolb, M.D.

                                  Associate Professor of Neurology, University of Vermont
                                  CIPN clinician; CIPN treatment and biomarker development; CIPN clinical trials

                                  Ron Burch, M.D., Ph.D.

                                  Ron Burch, M.D., Ph.D.

                                  CMO, Gate Neurosciences; former CMO, Naurex
                                  Neurology antibody drug development; neuropathic pain clinical trial design and coordination

                                  NASH and Liver Fibrosis
                                  Scott Friedman, M.D. headshot

                                  Scott Friedman, M.D.

                                  Professor, Dean for Therapeutic Discovery and Chief of the Division of Liver Diseases, Mt Sinai School of Medicine
                                  Liver fibrosis

                                  Dvid Shapiro headshot

                                  David Shapiro, M.R.C.P., M.D.

                                  President and CEO, Integrated Quality Resources
                                  Former CMO & Head of R&D, Intercept Pharmaceuticals
                                  ‍‍Liver physiology and disease; liver fibrosis

                                  Lung Inflammatory Disease and Fibrosis
                                  Jon Koff, M.D. headshot

                                  Jon Koff, M.D.

                                  Professor & Clinician, Associate Director, Fellowship Research, Pulmonary, Critical Care & Sleep Medicine, and Director, Adult Cystic Fibrosis Program, Yale
                                  Lung disease, CF

                                  Inflammatory Bowel Disease
                                  Gary Mawe, Ph.D  headshot

                                  Gary Mawe, Ph.D

                                  Professor, University of Vermont
                                  Gastrointestinal biology; inflammatory bowel disease

                                  Keith Sharkey, Ph.D. headshot

                                  Keith Sharkey, Ph.D.

                                  Professor, University of Calgary
                                  Inflammatory bowel disease; CB2 in GI inflammation and pain

                                  Chemokine Receptor Drugs, Immuno-Oncology and GPCR Oncology
                                  J. Silvio Gutkind, Ph.D. headshot

                                  J. Silvio Gutkind, Ph.D.

                                  Professor, Associate Director of the Moores Cancer Center, UC San Diego
                                  GPCRs and cancer

                                  POLYCYCSTIC Kidney diseaser
                                  Vicente Torres, M.D., Ph.D. headshot

                                  Vicente Torres, M.D., Ph.D.

                                  Director, Mayo Clinic,Translational PKD Center
                                  Preclinical ADPKD expert

                                  Meyeon Park, M.D., M.A.S. headshot

                                  Meyeon Park, M.D., M.A.S.

                                  Medical Director, UCSF PKDCenter of Excellence
                                  ADPKD clinician

                                  Camelid Antibody Engineering and Development

                                  Dr. Reza Hassanzdaeh-Ghassabeh, Ph.D.

                                  Sr. Technology Expert, VIB, Belgium
                                  Camelid development, optimization, and engineering

                                  In memoriam

                                  Gustavo Pesce

                                  Gustavo Pesce, Ph.D.

                                  Co-Founder and founding CSO

                                  August 4, 1967 - February 18, 2021

                                  Abalone Bio carries on the legacy of co-founder Gustavo Pesce. His scientific vision, rigor, and curiosity - and one-of-a-kind personality- are deeply encoded in Abalone Bio's DNA.

                                  Gustavo started his scientific journey working on gene regulation with Alberto Kornblihtt at the University of Buenos Aires and then in cell biology and genetics with Peter Walter at UCSF. He then expanded his research toolset into experimental and computational systems biology and synthetic biology with Roger Brent and Sydney Brenner at the Molecular Sciences Institute, where he met co-founder Richard Yu in 2003. He co-founded the algae biofuel startup GPB in 2008 with Rich, and then worked on industrial synthetic biology projects at Bolt Threads and Amyris Biotechnologies before starting Abalone Bio in 2018.

                                  Abalone Bio was seeded by his shared desire with Rich to apply their complementary skillsets, experiences, and personalities to developing uniquely impactful therapeutics. The company is the namesake of the delicacy that Gustavo, an avid open ocean swimmer and diver, used to hunt in Northern Californian waters.