Chief Executive Officer
Mr. Johnson has more than 25 years of leadership experience in the biopharmaceutical industry. Before founding VelosBio, he was Chief Executive Officer at Acerta Pharma, an oncology-focused pharmaceutical company. At Acerta Pharma, he led the company through a critical phase of growth from approximately 40 to 150+ employees and from a signal-seeking, first-in-human trial to more than 20 active clinical studies. His tenure included the regulatory planning and launch of three registration-directed trials, including two global Phase 3 trials for acalabrutinib, which culminated in the execution of a strategic transaction with AstraZeneca valued at up to $7 billion. Mr. Johnson has raised over $500 million in investment capital and has extensive deal-making experience.
His prior experience spans from nonclinical development to all phases of clinical development through product launch. He has made significant contributions to drugs ultimately garnering regulatory approval, including acalabrutinib (Calquence®), idelalisib (Zydelig®), romidepsin (Istodax®), and bortezomib (Velcade®). He has held roles with increasing responsibilities within Clinical Development, Medical Affairs, Pipeline Development, and Commercial Affairs at companies including Calistoga (acquired by Gilead), Gloucester (acquired by Celgene), Favrille, Millennium (acquired by Takeda), Immunex (acquired by Amgen), and Hoffman-La Roche. He is a co-author on numerous publications, including three New England Journal of Medicine articles. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Indiana University.
Clayton D. Knox, MD
President and Chief Business Officer
Dr. Knox has more than a decade of experience in biotech executive leadership, business development, and clinical research. Prior to VelosBio, he served as Chief Operating Officer at MavuPharma where he was responsible for all aspects of day-to-day management and led the company through an acquisition by AbbVie. Before MavuPharma, Dr. Knox was Senior Vice President and Head of Corporate Development and Strategy at Acerta Pharma where he led the business development process that concluded with a strategic transaction with AstraZeneca valued at up to $7 billion. Following the transaction, he led the integration of the two companies while continuing to oversee all corporate and business development activities. Before making the move to biotech, Dr. Knox was an executive at Merck & Co., most recently as Clinical Head for Business Development and Licensing where he was responsible for search-and-evaluation and transactions for strategic, clinical-stage assets. He previously served as Principal Scientist and Director of Clinical Research, and led the early clinical development of several Merck drug candidates, including the oversight of solid tumor and hematologic cancer clinical trials.
Dr. Knox completed his MD at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine where he was a Dean’s Scholar and an Alpha Omega Alpha Research Fellow, followed by internship and residency in internal medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital. He also received an MBA from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
Paul Bavier, JD
Mr. Bavier has been practicing law for more than 20 years, most of which has been spent as an in-house attorney leading and building legal organizations within the biotechnology industry. Prior to VelosBio, he served as General Counsel and Chief Compliance Officer for Avedro Inc., where he was responsible for all legal, corporate secretary, and commercial compliance matters related to the commercial launch of Avedro's first product, the company's IPO and its acquisition by Glaukos Corporation. Prior to Avedro, Mr. Bavier was the General Counsel and Vice President of Corporate Development at Biodel Inc., where he served from 2007 to 2016. He began his legal career as a corporate attorney at Ropes and Gray.
Mr. Bavier holds a JD from the University of Michigan Law School and a BA from Middlebury College.
Enoch K. Kariuki, PharmD
Chief Financial Officer
Dr. Kariuki is a highly accomplished finance executive with over a decade of experience in healthcare strategy, life sciences investment banking, venture capital, and business development. Prior to VelosBio, he served as Senior Vice President, Corporate Development at Synthorx, where he led the company’s $151 million IPO, managed relationships with bankers, sell-side equity analysts, and investors, and headed the business development process that concluded with the successful sale of Synthorx to Sanofi for $2.5 billion. Before Synthorx, Dr. Kariuki was Vice President at H.I.G. Capital (a $39 billion private equity fund), where he led investments into, and served on the boards of, several life sciences companies. His other previous roles include Senior Associate at Leerink Partners and Associate Director at UBS Investment Bank. At Leerink and UBS, Dr. Kariuki advised healthcare companies on equity capital financings, mergers and acquisitions, leveraged buyouts, and recapitalizations.
Dr. Kariuki completed a Post-Doctoral Fellowship in R&D Strategy and Analytics at Bristol-Myers Squibb and was a Pharmacist at CVS Caremark. He holds an MBA from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College and a PharmD from Texas Southern University.
Langdon L. Miller, MD
Executive Vice President of Development and Chief Medical Officer
Dr. Miller is an accomplished drug developer with more than 25 years of experience in the design and conduct of successful translational and clinical drug development programs in oncology (both in hematological and solid tumors) and orphan diseases. He has worked in all phases (Phase 1-4) of drug development, from first-in-human studies through pivotal registration-directed trials to medical affairs programs, and has filed multiple investigational new drug applications (INDs) and new drug applications (NDAs) or equivalents with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and European Medicines Agency (EMA). Dr. Miller played a pivotal role in the successful development of filgrastim (Neupogen®), sargramostim (Leukine®), irinotecan (Camptosar®), exemestane (Aromasin®), epirubicin (Ellence®), sunitinib (Sutent®), and idelalisib (Zydelig®) in multiple cancer indications and was instrumental in validating new endpoints for Duchenne muscular dystrophy and cystic fibrosis. He has extensive experience in the generation, analysis, presentation, and justification of drug development programs before regulatory authorities, advisory committees, investigators, investors, and business development partners. He has authored more than 100 regulatory documents and publications. Dr. Miller has held leadership positions in government and in large and small biopharmaceutical companies, including the National Cancer Institute, Pharmacia Corporation, PTC Therapeutics, Calistoga Pharmaceuticals, Gilead Sciences, and has supported multiple other pharmaceutical companies as a drug development advisor.
Dr. Miller received his MD from Northwestern University, performed an internal medicine residency at the University of Minnesota, and completed an oncology fellowship at Stanford University.
Michael Sun, PhD
Senior Vice President of Chemistry, Manufacturing, and Controls (CMC)
Dr. Sun has 20 years of leadership experience across a variety of roles in the development and manufacture of antibody-based therapeutics, from pre-IND development to commercial production. He has been involved in the development of multiple therapeutic antibodies and antibody-drug conjugates and played a key role in the development and commercialization of brentuximab vedotin (Adcetris®) and enfortumab vedotin (Padcev®). Dr. Sun has held leadership roles at Seattle Genetics, including Director of Purification and Conjugation Process Development and Senior Director of Clinical Manufacturing. Before joining VelosBio, he was Vice President and Head of CMC at Silverback Therapeutics.
Dr. Sun holds a BS in Chemical Engineering from the University of Washington and a PhD in Chemical Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley.
Jeffry D. Watkins, PhD
Senior Vice President, Antibody Technology
Dr. Watkins has held senior positions in biotechnology and large pharmaceutical companies and has more than 25 years of experience focused on the development of biotherapeutics. Most recently, he was Chief Executive Officer at aTyr Pharma. Before then, Dr. Watkins was Chief Scientific Officer of Applied Molecular Evolution, a wholly owned subsidiary of Eli Lilly & Company following acquisition of the company. He has been involved in the preclinical development of more than 15 biological candidates that have been tested in clinical trials. He has led the development of a protein engineering platform and the discovery and development of a novel class of therapeutic proteins and is an inventor on 99 issued US patents.
Dr. Watkins received a BA in Biochemistry from Northwestern University and holds a PhD in Biochemistry from Purdue University. He completed his post-doctoral research at Purdue University and The Scripps Research Institute, where he was a recipient of a National Institutes of Health Postdoctoral Fellowship.
VelosBio Inc. is now a wholly-owned subsidiary of Merck & Co., Inc. (Kenilworth, New Jersey USA)