Board of Directors
Brad Bolzon, Ph.D.
Brad Bolzon, Ph.D., is a Managing Director and leader of the investment team at Versant. Brad combines thirteen years of global pharmaceutical industry experience and a similar tenure as a venture capitalist, which includes a track record of Amira ($475M sale), Okairos ($325M sale), Speedel ($880M sale, non-Versant investment), Quanticel ($485M sale), Novira (price not disclosed), Biotie ($363M sale), Flexion (2014 IPO) CRISPR Therapeutics (2016 IPO) and several other promising companies. Brad is the architect of Versant’s global operating strategy, Inception Sciences discovery engine, and the firm’s build-to-buy investment model which has now delivered the industry’s most significant return in this category.
Prior to joining Versant, Brad served as Executive Vice President, Global Head of Business Development, Licensing & Alliances with Roche. Under his leadership, Roche established alliances with over 75 biotech companies worldwide and transformed its R&D product pipeline. Prior to that, Brad held executive roles at Eli Lilly in drug discovery, clinical research, regulatory affairs, and business development.
He earned Doctor of Philosophy and Master of Science degrees in Pharmacology from the University of Toronto.
Tom Woiwode, Ph.D.
Tom Woiwode, Ph.D., has been working with Versant since 2002, and has served in both operational and investment roles during that time. Tom was the start-up CBO for Amira ($475M sale), Synosia (merged with Biotie, $363M sale) and Flexion (2014 IPO) and was most recently the COO of Okairos where he led the process that culminated in the acquisition by GSK ($325M sale). Since being promoted to Managing Director in 2014, Tom has led Versant’s investments in eight biotech companies, including Annapurna (now Adverum), Anokion, Audentes, Crinetics, CRISPR, Gritstone, Kanyos and Therachon.
Prior to joining Versant, Tom was a medicinal chemist at XenoPort, a start-up biotech company that completed an IPO in 2005.
Tom earned his Ph.D. in Chemistry from Stanford University.
Jeffrey A. Stafford, PhD
President and Chief Executive Officer
Jeff brings over 25 years of success in drug discovery to his role as President and CEO of Jecure Therapeutics. Previously, he was the founding CSO of Quanticel Pharmaceuticals, a drug discovery company based on the epigenetic targeting of cancer stem cells and tumor heterogeneity through the pioneering use of single cell genomics. In 2011 Quanticel entered into an exclusive build-to-buy collaboration with Celgene and was then acquired by Celgene in 2015. Jeff has held senior scientific and management positions at Quanticel, Takeda San Diego, Syrrx, and GlaxoSmithKline, and his teams have discovered 9 development candidates that have advanced into clinical trials, including the marketed drugs, Votrient™ (pazopanib), Nesina™ (alogliptin) and the Phase 3 investigational drug, remimazolam (CNS-7056).
Jeff received a B.S. in Chemistry from UCLA and a Ph.D. in Chemistry from Cornell University. He completed an NIH Postdoctoral Fellowship at UC Berkeley.
Ariel Feldstein, M.D.
Professor and Division Chief, UCSD
Ariel Feldstein, M.D. is a renowned hepatologist and currently Professor of Pediatrics and Chief of the Division of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition at the University of California San Diego (UCSD). Dr. Feldstein oversees one of the largest and most respected Divisions of Pediatric Gastroenterology in the Country with 23 current Faculty Members. Prior to joining UCSD in 2011, he was Director of Research for the Pediatric Institute at the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio. He has published over 140 peer-reviewed publications in leading scientific journals including seminal reviews on the disease biology of non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) and liver fibrosis.
Dr. Feldstein's research laboratory has provided key evidence to support the current accepted theory of the role of hepatic lipid compartmentation and lipotoxicity in the pathogenesis of steatohepatitis development. Recently, he characterized a pathogenic role of NLR inflammasomes in liver inflammation and fibrosis. His lab has established cell-free systems, cell culture systems, precision-cut liver slices and murine models of steatohepatitis to test novel therapies. He has also pioneered the development of non-invasive blood tests to monitor liver damage. Dr. Feldstein has contributed to the development of preclinical, translational and clinical research protocols for a number of non-invasive tests and therapeutic agents.
Dr. Feldstein has been the recipient of many awards, including the AGA Research Scholar Award, the Research Excellence in GI and Liver (REGAL) Award, The Cleveland Clinic Innovator Award, and Best Doctors in America. He is a member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation (ASCI) and the Society for Pediatric Research (SPR). He is currently Associate Editor of Hepatology Communications and Seminars in Liver Disease and previously served in an editorial capacity for Hepatology and Journal of Hepatology. He has held various leadership roles in the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) and the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD) including serving as member of the Publications Committee (AASLD), ALF/AASLD Research Awards Committee, and the Hepatology Editor Selection Committee.