Cell No. 4 Interpretation of a cancer cell, provided by Angela Canada Hopkins, daughter of a cancer patient.

Cell No. 4 Interpretation of a cancer cell, provided by Angela Canada Hopkins, daughter of a cancer patient.

Who We Are

Viracta is committed to advancing new medicines to benefit patients with viral-associated cancers and other serious diseases.

Viracta’s proprietary platform is a highly targeted combination therapy approach for virus-associated malignancies. Our initial focus is on cancers associated with the Epstein Barr Virus (EBV). We will also expand into additional applications to utilize this approach for a range of cancers and virus-associated diseases.

Our team possesses deep, cross-functional experience and longstanding commitment to develop new medicines to benefit patients.

Meet the Team

Board of Directors

James Woody, M.D., Ph.D. Chairman of the Board; General Partner at Latterell Venture Partners

Show James' Bio

Jim brings over 25 years of pharmaceutical research and management experience. He is a General Partner at Latterell Venture Partners. Jim held senior roles within the industry, including that of Chairman and founding CEO of Oncomed Pharmaceuticals; President of Roche Bioscience; Chief Scientific Officer and Senior Vice President of Research and Development for Centocor (Janssen); and as Commanding Officer and Director of the US Naval Medical Research and Development Command. Jim has been responsible for a wide range of medical research and development activities ranging from transplantation research to infectious diseases. He was responsible for the surveillance, detection and therapy for all Biologic Warfare Agents and Infectious Diseases in the first Gulf War, and was awarded the US Navy Legion of Merit for his service. Jim holds a medical degree from Loma Linda University, trained in Pediatric Immunology at Duke University and Children’s Hospital in Boston (Harvard), and holds a Ph.D. in Immunology from the University of London, England. He has authored or co-authored over 140 publications.

Patrick Soon-Shiong, M.D., FRCS(C), FACS – Vice Chairman of the Board

Show Patrick's Bio

A physician, surgeon, researcher, philanthropist and scientist, Dr. Soon-Shiong is one of the country’s leading biopharmaceutical innovators. One of his many notable achievements was the development of the drug Abraxane, which is approved for the treatment of metastatic breast cancer, lung cancer and advanced pancreatic cancer. Dr. Soon-Shiong currently serves as Chairman and CEO of NantWorks, an ecosystem of companies aiming to create a transformative global health information system and next-generation pharma development network. Under the NantWorks umbrella, Dr. Soon-Shiong also serves as Chairman and CEO of NantKwest [NASDAQ: NK], and Chairman and CEO of NantHealth [NASDAQ: NH]. Dr. Soon-Shiong was instrumental in the formation of Cancer Breakthroughs 2020, a comprehensive collaboration of researchers, insurers, academic institutions and pharmaceutical companies that seeks to accelerate the potential of combination immunotherapy in the treatment of cancer. Over the course of his career, Dr. Soon-Shiong has pioneered novel therapies for both diabetes and cancer. He has published over 100 scientific papers, and has issued over 230 patents worldwide for groundbreaking advancements spanning myriad fields of technology and medicine.

Standish Fleming, M.B.A – Managing Partner at Forward Ventures

Show Standish's Bio

An over 30-year veteran of venture capital investing, Mr. Fleming has helped raise and manage six venture funds totaling more than $500 million and has served on the boards of 19 venture-backed companies. He served as the initial president and CEO of Triangle Pharmaceuticals (acquired by Gilead Sciences, Inc. [NASDAQ:GILD]), Actigen (now part ofCorixa/GlaxoSmithKline [NYSE:GSK]), GenQuest Corixa/GlaxoSmithKline [NYSE:GSK]), and CombiChem (acquired by DuPont [NYSE:DD]). Mr. Fleming was a founding board member of Arizeke Pharmaceuticals, Ciphergen Biosystems (now Vermillion, Inc. [NASDAQ:VRML]) and Ambit Biosciences (acquired by Daiichi Sankyo) Gryphon Therapeutics, and served on the boards of Acorda Therapeutics [NASDAQ: ACOR], and was a founding director of Nereus Pharmaceuticals. He earned his BA from Amherst College and his MBA from the UCLA Graduate School of Management.

Richard Ghalie, M.D. – Director

Show Richard's Bio

Richard brings over 20 years of drug development experience. He currently serves as Senior Vice President of Clinical Development at MEI Pharma. As a hematologist and oncologist, Richard has held several executive positions in the pharmaceutical industry, including Chief Medical Officer at Denovo BioPharma, HemaQuest Pharmaceuticals, Novalar Pharmaceuticals, and Favrille. He also served as Medical Director of the Bone Marrow Transplant Center of Rush University Medical Center. Richard holds a medical degree from the French School of Medicine in Lebanon, a M.S. from the University Paris XI and a M.B.A. from the University of Washington in Seattle. He has authored or co-authored more than 125 manuscripts, book chapters and scientific publications.

Sam Murphy, Ph.D – VP and Head of International Business Development, Salubris Pharmaceuticals

Show Sam's Bio

Sam Murphy currently serves as VP and Head of International Business Development for Salubris Pharmaceuticals and its US subsidiary SalubrisBio. His role encompasses origination, evaluation, and execution of licensing transactions, strategic investments and acquisitions outside of China. He leads the externally-facing efforts ongoing at Salubris to pivot towards an innovation-driven product portfolio and a global presence. Prior to joining Salubris, Sam worked for ten years in strategy consulting and transaction advisory services across several global firms including IMS (now IQVIA) and Simon-Kucher & Partners. Sam’s commercial strategy engagements encompassed 18 of the top 25 pharmaceutical companies, as well as numerous small and mid-sized biotech companies, with an emphasis on pricing and market access. Sam’s transaction advisory work included licensing and acquisitions collectively exceeding $2B USD in value, and he also supported early-stage financing for a number of emerging pharma/biotech companies. Sam completed his B.A. in Biochemistry, Ph.D. in Molecular Biology and Post-Doctoral Fellowship in Gene Therapy and Translational Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, where he focused principally on gene therapy during his 13 years of bench research. Sam was also awarded a Presidential Management Fellowship in which he supported policy development around a $1B congressional initiative to build the national biodefense stockpile. Sam is currently a board member at GO Therapeutics, Viracta Therapeutics, and MedAlliance S.A., and a board observer at Mercator Medsystems.

Ivor Royston, M.D. – Director & Chief Executive Officer

Show Ivor's Bio

In addition to his roles and accomplishments, described below, Ivor was founding Managing Partner with Forward Ventures.

Barry Simon, M.D. – Director; President and Chief Administrative Officer, NantKwest

Show Barry's Bio

Dr. Simon has served as Director for Viracta since July 2017. He has served as NantKwest’s President and CEO from 2007 to 2015, as its President and COO since 2015 and presently serves as its President and CAO and as a Director. Dr. Simon also presently serves as the Chairman of the Board for Cue BioPharma (NASDAQ: CUE). Previously, Dr. Simon held Vice President, senior level and advisory positions at F. Hoffmann-La Roche (VTX: ROG), Roche Labs, Connetics Corp. (NASDAQ: CNCT), Immunomedics (NASDAQ: IMMU), Immusol, NorthSound Capital, LLC, and HealthPro BioVentures. Dr. Simon has broad experience in the public and private settings, having led product and portfolio divestitures and acquisitions, strategic licensing and joint ventures, as well as commercial product launches, IND & BLA regulatory filings, human-enabling programs, manufacturing, quality control and life cycle management. Dr. Simon worked across several therapeutic areas including oncology, virology, ophthalmology and dermatology on products launches including Xeloda®, Pegasys®, Fortovase®, Tamiflu®, Camptobell®, Boniva®, Fuzeon®, Valcyt®, and Accutane®. Dr. Simon attended corporate training programs by the London School of Business and the Amos Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College. Dr. Simon trained clinically in Infectious Diseases, Anesthesiology and Internal Medicine and received his M.D. from the SUNY Downstate, Health Sciences Center in New York.

Senior Management

Ivor Royston, M. D. - Chief Executive Officer

Show Ivor's Bio

Dr. Royston is the President and CEO of Viracta Therapeutics, a San Diego-based biotechnology company focused on novel therapies for viral-associated cancers. Previously, Dr. Royston was a Managing Partner (1990-2017) of Forward Ventures, a San Diego specialized life science venture capital firm, and the founding President and CEO of the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center (1990-2000).  Prior to the above, he was Director of Clinical Immunology of the University of California, San Diego. Cancer Center. Dr. Royston was the co-founder of Hybritech, Inc., San Diego’s first biotechnology company, which developed the PSA test for prostate cancer; and the co-founder of IDEC Corporation, which developed the first monoclonal antibody therapy for cancer, and which subsequently merged with Biogen to form Biogen Idec, now Biogen [NASDAQ: BIIB].

Dr. Royston has been instrumental in the formation, financing, and development of numerous biotechnology companies. Today, he serves on the boards of Biocept [NASDAQ:BIOC] and Viracta.

Dr. Royston received his B.A. and M.D. degrees from Johns Hopkins University and completed post-doctoral training in internal medicine and medical oncology at Stanford University. Dr. Royston’s honors include the San Diego Entrepreneur of the Year Award, the appointment by President Clinton to a six-year term on the National Cancer Advisory Board, and the induction into the San Diego Entrepreneur Hall of Fame.

David Slack, M.B.A. - Chief Business Officer

Show David's Bio

With over 20 years’ experience, David has a track record of innovation in business development and senior management roles at biotech as well as large pharma companies. His deal-making experience exceeds $1 billion in transactions and encompasses major corporate partnerships, spin-outs, start-ups and financings. David has provided corporate development, partnering, investment and Orphan drug commercialization advisory services to a range of organizations. In his consulting role with Novimmune, David repositioned the company for a major financing. David co-founded Kinagen, where he served as President, CEO. David also served as Vice President of Business Development for Ionis Pharmaceuticals and in senior roles at Rhone-Poulenc Rorer and Aventis Pharma. David received an M.B.A. from the Monterey Institute for International Studies, and Psychology and Molecular Biology degrees from California State University.

Robert McRae - Vice President of Operations

Show Robert's Bio

Prior to joining Viracta, Robert conducted Business Development for a global clinical research organization, working closely with many biotech organizations. Robert’s experience includes roles in clinical operations and management of global clinical trials in rare disease and immunology related indications across all phases of development. Robert also conducted molecular biology and microbiology research at Wright State University and was the recipient of a fellowship from The Oak Ridge Institute for Science Education in areas of biodefense interest with The United States Air Force Research Laboratory.

Marshelle Smith Warren, M. D. - Senior Vice President, Research

Show Marshelle's Bio

As SVP for Research, Dr. Warren directs our research activities. Over her career, she has been instrumental in transitioning immunotherapy candidates utilizing diverse platforms (small molecule, biologics, RNA and cellular approaches) into the clinic and successful new blockbuster therapies like Enbrel to market. Most recently, Dr. Warren served at Atara Biotherapeutics as Vice President in the targeted cytotoxic T-lymphocytes programs for oncology and autoimmunity. Prior to that she held senior director positions in development at Amgen, Gilead Science and Ionis Pharmaceuticals. Dr. Warren received her B.S. degree from Baylor University and her M.D degree from the University of Nebraska. She completed her Immunology fellowship at National Jewish Hospital.

Scientific Advisory Board

Douglas V. Faller, M.D., Ph.D. – Scientific Founder and Chairman, Scientific Advisory Board

Show Douglas' Bio

SAB Chairman; scientific founder for Viracta’s therapeutic approach; former Director Boston University School of Medicine’s Cancer Center and Vice Chairman of the Division of Medicine.

Robert Baiocchi, M.D., Ph.D.

Show Robert's Bio

Professor and Head of the Lymphoma Program at Ohio State University, and member of Blood and Marrow Transplant Clinical Trials Network.

Corey Casper, M.D., MPH

Show Corey's Bio

Chief Medical Officer at Infectious Disease Research Institute (IDRI), and Co-Director of University of Washington/Fred Hutch Center for AIDS Research.

Charles Cobbs, M.D.

Show Charles' Bio

Director of the Ivy Center for Advanced Brain Tumor Treatment in Seattle; pioneered the concept of the potential role of cytomegalovirus in cancer pathogenesis and therapy.

Carl June, M.D.

Show Carl's Bio

Richard W. Vague Professor in Immunotherapy, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine; Director of the Center for Cellular Immunotherapies; Director of Translational Research, Abramson Cancer Center at the University of Pennsylvania.

Ronald Levy, M.D.

Show Ronald's Bio

Professor and Director of the Lymphoma Program at Stanford University School of Medicine; Associate Director of Translational Science for the Stanford Cancer Institute; former Chief of the Stanford Division of Medical Oncology; member of the National Academy of Medicine and the National Academy of Sciences.

Pierluigi Porcu, M.D.

Show Pierluigi's Bio

Director of the Hematologic Malignancies and Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation Division in the Department of Medical Oncology for Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center at Thomas Jefferson University.

Hao Shen, Ph.D.

Show Hao's Bio

Professor of Microbiology at Penn Institute for Immunology at University of Pennsylvania bringing expertise in viral models of immune responses, epigenetics and T cell exhaustion.

Lawrence Young, Ph.D.

Show Lawrence's Bio

Vice President and Director of the Warwick Cancer Research Centre at University of Warwick, UK, distinguished by work in the roles of the Epstein-Barr virus in nasopharyngeal carcinoma and other cancers; Fellow of the UK Academy of Medical Sciences.