An Astellas Company

targeting mitochondria
advancing human health


Mike Patane, PhD


Mike Patane PhD

Mike Patane has 20 years of drug discovery and development experience with leading pharmaceutical and biotechnology organizations. Most recently, he was CSO at Eyegate Pharmaceuticals where he focused on the development of ophthalmic products, which included oversight of all R&D, clinical, and regulatory functions. Prior to that, he was Executive Director, Global Discovery Chemistry, at the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research where he was responsible for infectious diseases and ophthalmology drug discovery franchises and fulfilled a variety of strategic roles. Previously, Mike was Director, Medicinal Chemistry at Millennium Pharmaceuticals, Inc., where he led drug discovery efforts for their oncology and metabolic disease programs. Earlier in his career, Mike was a Research Fellow in Medicinal Chemistry at Merck & Co. He earned a BS in Chemistry from Fordham University, a PhD in Synthetic Organic Chemistry from the University of Southern California, and completed his post-doctoral studies in Synthetic, Natural Products, and Medicinal Chemistry at The Scripps Research Institute.

Bharat Lagu, PhD

Vice President, Chemistry

Bharat Lagu PhD
Bharat brings to Mitobridge a successful track record of delivering NCEs in pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies. Prior to joining Mitobridge, Bharat headed External Drug Discovery (EDD) at the Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research (NIBR), where he developed effective collaborations with CROs worldwide. Through his effort, he advanced multiple research programs into the clinic in a variety of therapeutic areas. Preceding his role in EDD, Bharat was a Group Leader at NIBR in Global Discovery Chemistry, where he contributed to discovering compounds that have progressed into late stage clinical development in oncology. Previous to NIBR, Bharat was a Team Leader at Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical R&D, where his group targeted inflammatory and metabolic diseases. Bharat began his industrial career at the Synaptic Pharmaceutical Corp. where he worked numerous G-protein coupled receptor targets. His work at Synaptic (in collaboration with Merck) and Johnson & Johnson also led to identification of clinical candidates. Bharat received his Ph.D. degree in chemistry from Clemson University and carried out post-doctoral research at Emory University.

George Mulligan, PhD

Senior Vice President, Translational Medicine

George Mulligan PhD

George has 20 years of experience in the strategy and process of drug discovery, translational research and clinical drug development. Previously, as Senior Director of Translational Medicine at Takeda Pharmaceuticals, George led translational research for multiple programs that target the ubiquitin-proteasome system, including several first-in-class molecules that are now approved or in clinical development. The research spanned both model systems and clinical trials, including mechanism of action and patient selection, as well as pharmacodynamic studies of target engagement & pathway inhibition. These strategies included accelerated approval, differentiation, drug combination and targeted development components. While at Takeda and earlier within Millennium Pharmaceuticals, George played an integral role clinical research and targeted development of the proteasome inhibitors bortezomib (VELCADE) and ixazomib (NINLARO). In this role he also led the clinical pharmacogenomics research to define mechanisms of sensitivity and resistance to proteasome inhibition in different cancers and collaborated with academic centers, pharmaceutical partners and patient advocacy leaders to initiate a broad personalized medicine initiative in myeloma. Prior to Millennium Pharmaceuticals, George led personalized medicine strategies at the start-up Millennium Predictive Medicine and also worked at Aventis Pharmaceuticals and the Hoechst-Ariad Genomics Center. George received his BS degree in Biology from Fordham University and his Ph.D. in Cellular Biology from SUNY Stony Brook. After thesis research at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York he completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the MIT Center for Cancer Research.

Effie Tozzo, PhD

Senior Vice President, Translational Sciences

Effie Tozzo PhD

Effie Tozzo has 20 years of drug discovery experience with leading pharmaceutical and biotechnology organizations. Most recently, she served as Director in the Diabetes department at Merck Research Laboratories, where she successfully led the strategy and implementation of critical studies in non-human primate translational models. In addition, Effie initiated and led the establishment of experimental platforms and academic collaborations to execute on the department’s diabetic nephropathy strategy. Previously, as the Head of the In Vivo Pharmacology group in the Metabolic Diseases departments at Hoffmann-La Roche and Millennium Pharmaceuticals, Effie developed and implemented cellular and animal models to evaluate and validate new biological targets and profile lead molecules through in vitro, in vivo, ex vivo efficacy testing, pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamic correlations, target engagement and mechanism of action studies. Effie interacted closely with development and life cycle teams to support clinical programs through translation, differentiation, biomarker and mechanism of action studies. Earlier in her career, Effie served as Senior Principal Scientist in the Diabetes group at Bristol Myers Squibb, Senior Scientist in the In Vivo Pharmacology group at Chiron Corporation and Scientist at ErgoScience (now VeroScience). Effie’s academic career started at the University of Paris 7, where she earned a BSc in Biochemistry followed by a MSc and a PhD in Molecular and Cellular Endocrinology at the University of Paris XI. She completed her education with a post-doctoral training in the Endocrine Division of Beth Israel Hospital at Harvard Medical School.

Scientific Advisory Board

Johan Auwerx, MD, PhD

Scientific Founder

Johan Auwerx MD PhD
Johan Auwerx is Professor at the École Polytechnique Fédérale in Lausanne, Switzerland, where he occupies the Nestle Chair in Energy Metabolism. Dr. Auwerx has been using molecular physiology and systems genetics to understand metabolism in health, aging and disease. Much of his work focused on understanding how diet, exercise and hormones control metabolism through changing the expression of genes by altering the activity of transcription factors and their associated cofactors. His work was instrumental for the development of agonists of nuclear receptors - a particular class of transcription factors - into drugs, which now are used to treat high blood lipid levels, fatty liver, and type 2 diabetes. Dr. Auwerx was amongst the first to recognize that transcriptional cofactors, which fine-tune the activity of transcription factors, act as energy sensors/effectors that influence metabolic homeostasis. His research validated these cofactors as novel targets to treat metabolic diseases, and spurred the clinical use of natural compounds, such as resveratrol, as modulators of these cofactor pathways. Johan Auwerx was elected as a member of EMBO in 2003 and has received many international scientific prizes. Dr. Auwerx received both his MD and PhD in Molecular Endocrinology at the Katholieke Universiteit in Leuven, Belgium. He was a post-doctoral research fellow in the Departments of Medicine and Genetics of the University of Washington in Seattle.

Andrew Dillin, PhD

Scientific Founder

Andrew Dillin PhD
Andrew Dillin is Professor of Genetics, Genomics and Development at University of California, Berkeley where he holds the Thomas and Stacey Siebel Distinguished Chair in Stem Cell Research. Dr. Dillin’s laboratory works on the genetic and molecular mechanisms that regulate aging and aging-related disease. The Dillin lab is particularly interested in understanding why an organism begins to lose control over the quality and integrity of its proteins as it ages, and how the recognition of protein misfolding stress is communicated to distal tissues and organs. Dr. Dillin earned his BS in Biochemistry from the University of Nevada. He then moved to study Genetics at UC Berkeley with Dr. Jasper Rine, working on epigenetic regulation of transcription and cell cycle progression. He changed fields for his post-doctoral training and worked with Dr. Cynthia Kenyon at UCSF untangling the genetics of aging. After establishing his lab, he moved into mitochondrial dynamics and proteotoxicity in both worms and mice. He began to ask fundamental questions about proteome maintenance and mitochondrial function in human stem cells. Rising through the ranks to full Professor, Dr. Dillin became an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in 2008 and is one of the very few full-time biogerontologists to receive the honor. Dr. Dillin cofounded Proteostasis Therapeutics in 2008 and remains an active SAB member of the company. In 2012, he moved his lab to newly opened Li Ka Shing stem cell building on the UC Berkeley campus.

Ron Evans, PhD

Scientific Founder

Ron Evans PhD
Ronald M. Evans is Professor and Director in the Gene Expression Laboratory and the March of Dimes Chair in Developmental and Molecular Biology at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies. Dr. Evans is an authority on hormones, both their normal activities and their roles in disease. A major achievement in Evans' lab was the discovery of a large family of molecules, named receptors that respond to various steroid hormones, vitamin A and thyroid hormones. These hormones help control sugar, salt, calcium and fat metabolism; thus, they impact on our daily health as well as treatment of disease. The receptors that Dr. Evans’ lab discovered are primary targets in the treatment of breast cancer, prostate cancer, pancreatic cancer and leukemia, as well as osteoporosis and asthma. In addition, Dr. Evans' studies led to the discovery of a hormone that may aid in the treatment of obesity and diabetes.  Dr. Evans is an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. He was awarded the Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award in 2004 and the Wolf Prize in Medicine in 2012. Dr. Evans received his BS and PhD from UCLA, followed by postdoctoral training at Rockefeller University with James E. Darnell.

H. Robert Horvitz, PhD

Scientific Founder

H Robert Horvitz PhD
Dr. Horvitz is the David H. Koch Professor of Biology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is also an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, a member of the MIT Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, and a member of the MIT McGovern Institute for Brain Research. Dr. Horvitz is a member of the US National Academy of Sciences and the US Institute of Medicine. He is a recipient of the Gairdner Foundation International Award, the Alfred P. Sloan, Jr. Prize from the General Motors Cancer Research Foundation, the American Cancer Society Medal of Honor and the Bristol-Myers Squibb Award for Distinguished Achievement in Neuroscience. Dr. Horvitz received the 2002 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for discovering and characterizing genes that control programmed cell death (apoptosis) in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, findings that have provided the basis for understanding many aspects of human biology and disease, including cancer. Dr. Horvitz is a member of the SAB of the Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Science and is chair of the Medical and Scientific Advisory Board of MPM Capital. Dr. Horvitz has co-founded five biotechnology companies including, Idun Pharmaceuticals and Epizyme, and has served on the scientific advisory boards of 11 biotechnology companies. He received his PhD in Biology from Harvard University working with Drs. James Watson and Walter Gilbert and did his postdoctoral training with Dr. Sydney Brenner at the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, England.

Jodi Nunnari, PhD

Jodi Nunnari PhD
Dr. Nunnari is currently Professor and former Chair in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology at the University of California, Davis. Her research is focused on understanding the mechanisms and functions of mitochondrial behaviors in cells. Specifically, the lab is focused on two fundamental problems. The first is how the structure of mitochondria is established and maintained within cells. Dr. Nunnari is elucidating the molecular mechanisms that underlie mitochondrial division and fusion. The second area of interest is on understanding how the mitochondrial genome is organized and faithfully segregated within the organelle. Defects in mitochondrial structure and mtDNA maintenance are associated with an increasing number of human diseases. Dr. Nunnari is a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Max Plank Institute for Biology of Ageing, the American Society for Cell Biology Public Policy Committee, and on the Editorial Boards of eLife, Traffic and is a Senior Editor at the Journal of Cell Biology. Her work has been supported by the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and the American Heart Association. Dr. Nunnari received her BS with honors in Chemistry from the College of Wooster. She performed her graduate work at Vanderbilt University in Pharmacology and her postdoctoral research at UCSF in the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics with Dr. Peter Walter.

Mason Freeman, MD

Mason Freeman MD

Mason W. Freeman, MD is Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and serves as Chief of the Lipid Metabolism Unit and Director of Translational Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH). Trained in internal medicine and endocrinology, Dr. Freeman has spent twenty years studying the trafficking of cholesterol into and out of macrophages. From 2005-2007, while on a leave of absence from MGH/Harvard, he served as a head of the Novartis Translational Medicine program for Cardiovascular and Metabolic Diseases as well as the company’s Global Head of Biomarker Development. Dr. Freeman is a Venture Partner at 5 AM Ventures, an early-stage life science venture firm, and in that role he has served as a consultant to multiple life science startup companies. He has contributed to the creation of over 29 companies since 2007, serving on the board of Envoy Therapeutics, a neuroscience company acquired by Takeda in 2012, as well as playing a key medical advisor role at Relypsa, which developed the first chronic oral therapy for hyperkalemia. Dr. Freeman is the editor of the Adult Primary Care lipid section of a leading medical textbook, UpToDate. He graduated from Harvard and received his MD at the University of California, San Francisco. He served as an intern, resident, endocrinology fellow, and Chief Resident in Medicine in the Department of Medicine at MGH. He trained as a post-doctoral research fellow in the Biology Department at MIT where he cloned the first macrophage scavenger receptor to be molecularly identified.