Richard B. Silverman, Ph.D.
Richard B. Silverman, Ph.D., the founder of AKAVA Therapeutics, is the Patrick G. Ryan/Aon Professor in the Departments of Chemistry, Molecular Biosciences, and Pharmacology at Northwestern University, where he has been a professor for 48 years. He is the inventor of the molecule that became the blockbuster drug Lyrica®, marketed by Pfizer for fibromyalgia, neuropathic pain, spinal cord injury pain, and epilepsy; inventor of CPP-115, which successful completed a Phase I clinical trial and has been taken by a child with infantile spasms, refractory to all other medications, for the last eight years; and inventor of OV329, licensed to Ovid Therapeutics for epilepsies. He has received numerous awards for his research, including the following (since 2009): Elected to National Academy of Sciences (2023), Tetrahedron Prize for Creativity in Bioorganic & Medicinal Chemistry (2021), Creative Invention Award of the American Chemical Society (ACS) (2017), Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2014), Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors (2014), iCON Innovator Award of the iBIO Institute (2014), Medicinal Chemistry Prize of the Israel Chemical Society (2014), Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry (UK) (2013), Centenary Prize of the Royal Society of Chemistry (2013), Bristol-Myers Squibb-Edward E. Smissman Award of the ACS (2013), Sato Memorial International Award of the Pharmaceutical Society of Japan (2012), Fellow of the ACS (2011), E.B. Hershberg Award for Important Discoveries in Medicinally Active Substances of the ACS (2011), Perkin Medal of the Society of Chemical Industry (2009), Medicinal Chemistry Hall of Fame of the ACS (2009). He has published nearly 400 research papers, five books, and holds 130 patents. He received a B.S. degree in chemistry from The Pennsylvania State University, a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from Harvard University, and carried out postdoctoral studies in enzymology at Brandeis University prior to joining the Department of Chemistry at Northwestern University.
Philip Silverman
Philip Silverman serves as VP, Corporate Development and Board Member for Akava Therapeutics, Inc. He helped his father, Dr. Richard Silverman, start the company in 2019 and currently focuses on strategic and business-related matters, which include overseeing budgets, hiring key employees, managing investor relations, interacting with the legal team, and advising on any major strategic decisions. In addition to his role at Akava, Philip is also Co-CEO of Bricks Capital where he oversees the functioning of his family office. Philip holds a BBA from the University of Michigan Ross School of Business.
Brendan Macmillan
Brendan MacMillan is the Chief Investment Officer of (qp) global, a specialist in setting up and managing single-family offices. Mr. MacMillan is an accomplished investor, investing across geographies, capital structures, and sectors over nearly two decades. Amongst many sectors Mr. MacMillan has invested in, is the biotechnology sector, with a focus on both small molecule drugs and cellular and genetic therapies. Prior to founding (qp) global, he was the Chief Investment Officer of Akkad Capital Partners, LLC, a single-family office. Akkad’s primary focus was to make control investments in healthcare companies and other Industries. Mr. MacMillan helped create the office, built the investment team and assembled an advisory board to aid in deal sourcing, execution, post-acquisition management and growth of portfolio companies. Previously, Mr. MacMillan was the Chief Investment Officer of Ocean Road Advisors, a single-family office based in New York City, where he focused on asset allocation, uncorrelated strategies, private equity deals and public securities, across all sectors and geographies. Prior to Ocean Road, Mr. MacMillan was the sole Portfolio Manager of Legatum Capital, a multi-billion-dollar single-family office and investment firm based in Dubai. Mr. MacMillan was also a partner of Oceanwood Capital, a Tudor spinout that focused on even driven strategies. While at Oceanwood, Mr. MacMillan started Oceanwood’s effort to buy failed banks, as Senior Managing Director of BSE Management, a partnership with Bill Isaac, the Former FDIC Director, Jack Ryan former CEO of the RTC, former head of both the Office of Thrift Supervision and the Federal Reserve’s supervisory group under Volcker. Out of business school, Mr. MacMillan joined Owl Creek, a distressed debt fund that spun out of Michael Price’s Mutual Series. Prior to business school Mr. MacMillan helped Peter Thiel launch Clarium Capital and worked for the predecessor investment firm, Thiel Capital. Prior investment experience includes being president of Xfiniti Capital, a US-Asia based venture capital firm and also working as an associate at Windward Capital (formerly CSFB Private Equity). Mr. MacMillan started his career at Merrill Lynch in their Mergers & Acquisition group.Brendan is a graduate of Bates College (magna cum laude) with a BA in Economics, a General Course graduate from the London School of Economics, and an MBA degree from Harvard Business School.
Joe Nolan
Joe Nolan is a results-focused pharma growth leader with more than 30 years of experience building high-performance teams, driving operational efficiency, and growing products in competitive spaces. In his career, Mr. Nolan helped launch several products in the central nervous system space, with the majority in orphan and specialty settings. Mr. Nolan currently serves as Chief Executive Officer of Jaguar Gene Therapy (“Jaguar”), where he has been working since early 2020. Jaguar is advancing an initial pipeline that targets diseases with significant unmet need in sizeable patient populations, starting with Type 1 Galactosemia, disorders with a Shank 3 mutation or Deletion, and Type 1 Diabetes. Jaguar leverages its unparalleled expertise and best-in-class manufacturing process, producing the purest, most effective gene therapy products, using a scalable and commercially viable manufacturing process from the outset. Thus far, Jaguar has raised over $280 million in capital. Prior to his CEO role at Jaguar, Mr. Nolan was General Manager of AveXis from 2018-2020, where he launched Zolgensma® for the treatment of spinal muscular atrophy, one of just two approved gene therapies in the U.S. at that time. Novartis then purchased AveXis for $8.7 billion. Prior to AveXis, Mr. Nolan served as the President of Dohmen Life Sciences from 2016-2018 (now Eversana) and Chief Commercial Officer for Lundbeck (2006-2014), specializing in Neurology and Psychiatry. He holds an MBA from the University of Notre Dame and currently lives outside Chicago. Mr. Nolan currently sits on the following boards: Athersys, Inc. (Public), Axovia Therapeutics (Private) and Jaguar Gene Therapy (Private).
Charles Polsky, M.D.
Charles Polsky, M.D., is a biotechnology entrepreneur with over twenty years of experience working with startups in the life sciences. He has served in several executive positions, including co-founder of the molecular diagnostic 3PrimeDx (2016-19) developing a cardiac arrhythmia biomarker to predict sudden cardiac death risk; CEO of the gene-delivery company SonoGene (2019-20), which developed ultrasound-induced sonoporation to facilitate focused payload delivery of genetic material; board member of Impossible Objects (2016-present), which is developing an additive manufacturing platform; Executive Board Chair of Bolden Therapeutics, which is developing drugs to enhance endogenous neurogenesis as a means to treat degenerative diseases of the CNS; and Executive Advisor to ReAx Biotherapeutics, which is developing its proprietary SPARC drug discovery engine to hit traditionally-undruggable targets within the Oncology space and beyond, among others. From 2015-2019, Dr. Polsky served as President and CEO of William Harris Investors, a Chicago-based family investment office, and oversaw day-to-day operations of a 35-person staff managing investing, asset allocation, tax accounting and estate planning, trust administration and other services. Beginning in 2019, he retired as CEO of William Harris Investors to pursue early-stage biotechnology consulting fulltime. Since then, engagements have included CEO at SonoGene (Gene Delivery Startup, 2019-2020), Executive Board Chair at RigImmune (Yale University Oncology startup; 2020-21), Executive Board Chair at Bolden Therapeutics (2020-present), Executive Advisor to ReAx Bio (UChicago Cancer drug discovery startup; 2021-present), and Executive Board Chair for Beyond Barriers Therapeutics (2022-present), a developer of intranasal N-acetyl cysteine to treat traumatic brain injury (2022-present). In his various board and advisory capacities, Dr. Polsky has provided strategic guidance, negotiated licenses and material transfer agreements (MTAs) with universities, created pro forma budgets, participated in discussions pertaining to scientific, regulatory, drug development and other technical topics, set up PEO benefits packages for employees and helped create employee handbooks and other corporate governance materials.Beyond his work above, Dr. Polsky has been a named author on several peer-reviewed academic scientific publications and was elected to the Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society in 1997. He holds an M.D. from the University of Chicago and a BA in Mathematics from Yale University, and presently lives in Chicago with his wife and youngest daughter.