Executive Management

Howard S. Jonas

Howard S. Jonas


Mr. Jonas is the Founder and Chairman of IDT Corporation (NYSE: IDT), Genie Energy (NYSE: GNE), and IDW Media (OTC: IDWM). He was also the Founder and controlling shareholder of Straight Path Communications, Inc (NYSE: STRP), which was acquired by Verizon for $3.1 Billion. Mr. Jonas has extensive leadership experience in founding and growing public companies, and has sold multiple businesses in deals worth both hundreds of millions and billions of dollars. He received his B.A. in economics from Harvard University.

Sanjeev Luther

President and Chief Executive Officer

Mr. Luther has 25+ years of experience in healthcare, specialty pharma and bio-pharma industry segments in strategy, business development, alliances, commercialization and operations. Mr. Luther has previously worked for leading fortune 500 pharmaceutical companies including Bristol-Myers Squibb, Novartis, Bausch and Lomb, GE Healthcare and Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals. Under his leadership, Rafael has made significant progress towards strategy, business portfolio, clinical development (leading to two Phase III programs and several Orphan Designations) and has enhanced its discovery portfolio. Mr. Luther is also Chairman of the Board of LipoMedix, an early stage pharmaceutical development company. He earned his B.S. and M.B.A. in Business Administration from SUNY Buffalo.

Robert Shorr, Ph.D., DIC

Chief Scientist and Co-founder

Dr. Shorr has a 40-year track record in drug discovery from concept through approval and market launch. As Rafael’s Chief Scientific Officer, Dr. Shorr’s primary focus is on the discovery and development of safe and effective novel drugs and delivery technology. He has previously served as VP of Science and Technology at Enzon Pharma, VP of Science and Technology and Chief Scientist at United Therapeutics, and Associate Director of Molecular Pharmacology at SmithKline Beecham. At Enzon, Dr. Shorr was responsible for co-development with Schering-Plough of the blockbuster drug, PEG INTRON A, for the treatment of hepatitis and certain forms of melanoma. Dr. Shorr has authored more than 250 technical articles, abstracts, book chapters and conference proceedings and has more than 150 inventions with more than 300 issued and pending patents worldwide. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of London, and a DIC from the University of London Imperial College of Science and Technology.

José Octávio Costa Filho, M.D.

Chief Medical Officer

Dr. Costa has 30+ years’ experience in clinical development, clinical operations, strategy and global medical affairs, with several years’ experience in clinical practice. Dr. Costa has previously worked with companies like Merck & Co., Celgene, Novartis and more recently at Servier Pharmaceuticals. Over his career, he has extensive experience in phase I-IV clinical development and regulatory experience with all major regulatory agencies. He has played important role in development and life-cycle management for several blockbuster products including Revlimid in entire Latin American region. He earned his Doctor of Medicine from The Medical College of Sorocaba, Sao Paulo.

Timothy S. Pardee, M.D., Ph.D.

Timothy S. Pardee, M.D., Ph.D.

Co-Chief Medical Officer

Dr. Pardee is an Associate professor and the Director of Leukemia Translational Research at the Comprehensive Cancer Center of Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. He heads an NCI-funded research program focused on the role of cellular metabolism in cancer cell survival and resistance to therapy as well as novel therapeutics. Dr. Pardee has played a lead role in the development of the novel metabolism-targeting agent CPI-613® (devimistat). He earned his M.D. and his Ph.D. from SUNY Buffalo.

Mike Hu, Ph.D.

Mike Hu, Ph.D.

Chief Development Officer

Dr. Hu has 18 years of experience in clinical and pre-clinical research, pharmaceutical drug development, and academia. He has previously held leadership and management roles at Novartis, GlaxoSmithKline and Jazz Pharmaceuticals. Over his career, Dr. Hu has primarily focused on building up pipelines for big pharma and small biotech companies in oncology and hematology related therapeutic areas. He has contributed to the development, submission, approval and life cycle management of 18 drugs in various indications including multi-billion dollar franchises. Dr. Hu earned his Ph.D. in Pharmaceutical Sciences from Shenyang Pharmaceutical University.

Paul Bingham, Ph.D.

Paul Bingham, Ph.D.

Vice President, Research

Prof. Bingham is a molecular biologist, an evolutionary biologist, and an Associate Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Cell Biology at Stony Brook University. He was the co-discoverer of the first Altered Metabolism Directed (AMD) compounds. Prof. Bingham has published numerous papers, peer-reviewed articles, and book chapters on molecular and evolutionary biology. In 2008, Prof. Bingham and his colleague, Prof. Zuzana Zachar, received the Michael Maffetone Award for Cancer Research from the Carol M. Baldwin Breast Cancer Research Fund. He earned a M.S. in Microbiology from the University of Illinois, and a Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Harvard University.

Wendy McDermott

Chief People Officer

Wendy brings over 25 years of experience in a variety of human resources roles. Wendy joins us from Sanofi, where she spent the past 11 years, most recently serving as Vice President, Human Resources supporting North America Specialty Care (Sanofi Genzyme), Medical, and Support Functions. Wendy has held other HR positions at Schering-Plough, Vivendi Universal and International Management Group. Throughout her career, Wendy has particularly focused on culture, people development and talent management. Wendy earned her B.A. in Communications from SUNY Plattsburgh.

Jenna Vadas

Head, Finance

Jenna brings nearly two decades of experience in finance from the pharmaceuticals industry. Prior to joining Rafael, she spent 10 years on the research and development finance team at Daiichi Sankyo. Jenna grew her role from back-office support into a true business partner, as she integrated herself as a key member of the clinical projects team. She was instrumental in transforming the finance department at Daiichi Sankyo, creating cost saving measures that supported the company’s goals and growth. Given her experience and strong technical expertise, Jenna will ensure that Rafael allocates its financial resources most efficiently and productively, allowing the company to focus on its top priority: the patients it serves.

Priya Marreddy

Head, Clinical Operations

Priya brings nearly 20 years of clinical research and development experience to Rafael. Previously, Priya led the hematology clinical operations team in gene therapy trials at Spark Therapeutics. Prior to Spark, Priya worked in clinical operations roles with increasing responsibility at Jazz Pharmaceuticals and at Teva Pharmaceuticals. Priya also has experience working in the CRO environment from both PharmaNet (now Syneos) and PRA Health Sciences. Priya earned her undergraduate degree from George Washington University and completed her Master’s Degree in Molecular Biotechnology at the University of Pennsylvania.

Deepak Tiwari, Ph.D.

Head, CMC

Deepak Tiwari has over 25 years of CMC experience in drug substance and drug product manufacturing. Deepak joins Rafael from ZyVersa Therapeutics, where he led CMC operations and product development activities. Prior to ZyVersa, Deepak worked at Sucampo Pharmaceuticals, which was acquired by Mallinckrodt. Throughout his career, he held various roles in the CMC area, both at small and big pharmaceutical companies. Deepak earned his undergraduate degree in Pharmacy and his Master’s and Doctorate degrees in Pharmaceutical Sciences from St. John’s University.

Mike Stelmah

Mike Stelmah

Vice President, CMC

Mike is a strong entrepreneurial leader, who built and managed multiple departments, and spearheaded technical, manufacturing, CMC regulatory and combination product activities to successful launch and product approval. He worked with innovative medicine organizations, the most recent being Alnylam Pharmaceuticals and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, resulting in commercialization of leading products: Praluent, Eylea, Kavzara, Dupixent, Onpattro and other. Mike holds a BioMedical Engineering degree and MBA from University of Illinois at Chicago. He also achieved RAC (US & Global), Six Sigma and PMP certifications.