Our Team

Investment Team


Ross Barrett

Managing Partner


Jaime Aguirre



Jonathan Fassberg



Jennifer Pou


Hector Alila, D.V.M., Ph.D.

Venture Partner for Industry Diligence

MD Anderson


Ferran Prat, Ph.D., J.D.

Senior Vice President

Research Administration and Industry Relations


Shara Avis Pecoraro, M.H.A.


Strategic Industry Ventures

Scientific Advisory Committee



Philip Jones, Ph.D.


Head of Drug Discovery (IACS) 


Timothy Yap, MBBS, Ph.D., FRCP


Investigational Cancer Therapeutics

Other MD Anderson Members

Christopher Flowers, M.D.

Department Chair, Lymphoma and Myeloma

Michael A. Curran, Ph.D.

Department of Immunology

Jeffrey J. Molldrem, M.D

Department of Stem Cell Transplantation and Cellular Therapy

Maura L. Gillison, M.D., Ph.D.

Department of Thoracic-Head & Neck Medical Oncology

Albert C. Koong, M.D., Ph.D., FACR, FASTRO

Department of Radiation Oncology (Clinical)

Amir Anthony Jazaeri, M.D.

Department of Gynecologic Oncology and Reproductive Medicine

David S. Hong, M.D.

Department of Investigational Therapeutics

Naval G. Daver, M.D.

Department of Leukemia

Scott Kopetz, M.D., Ph.D., FACP

Department of Gastrointestinal Medical Oncology

Loretta J. Nastoupil, M.D.

Department of Lymphoma and Myeloma

Jason Bock, Ph.D.

Co-Founder & Chief Executive Officer, CTMC

Ochsner Health System and LSUHSC-Shreveport

Marc Matrana, M.D.

Medical Director, Precision Cancer Therapies (Phase I) Research Program for Ochsner

Richard Mansour, M.D

Interim Director of Feist-Weiller Cancer Center

Advisory Board

Mikael Dolsten, MD, PhD

Pfizer – EVP

Worldwide Research & Development

Axel Hoos, MD, PhD

GlaxoSmithKline – SVP

TA Head of Oncology R&D and Head of Immuno-Oncology

Wendy Holman

Ridgeback Biotherapeutics and Ridgeback Diagnostics

CEO and Co-Founder

Jeffrey Rowbottom


Iron Park Capital

Harpreet Singh



Richard van den Broek

HSMR Advisors

Managing Partner

Wayne Holman, MD

Ridgeback Capital


Ross Barrett

Managing Partner 

Ross is the Managing General Partner of the Cancer Focus Fund, LP, a venture capital partnership financing Phase I/II oncology clinical trials with MD Anderson Cancer Center, Ochsner Health System New Orleans and the LSU Feist Weiller Cancer Center.  Prior to this, he managed multiple health-care related venture capital funds, including  Louisiana Ventures LP, Themelios Ventures LP and TransBio Ventures LP. He is the co-founder and Executive Chairman for the software and data analytics company Lagniappe Labs, LLC and active in the development of the Prime Unicorn Index, a market-cap weighted index tracking the performance of US-based, venture backed companies. Previously, Ross worked on Capitol Hill as a legislative aide to U.S. Senator J. Bennett Johnston and specialized in appropriations, risk assessment and regulatory reform.

Ross has been an adviser to or investor in over 20 early-stage privately held companies. He served as an appointed Commissioner of the statewide Louisiana Airport Authority from 2005 to 2008. In 2007, he was named to Governor Jindal’s Small Business and Entrepreneurship transition team. He is a Trustee of Centenary College of Louisiana and a visiting professor for innovation and entrepreneurship at Louisiana Tech University. He currently sits on the Advisory Board of Hope for New York, an umbrella organization of 30 Christian charities associated with Redeemer Presbyterian Church. He received his law degree from Louisiana State University School of Law, his LLM in Taxation from New York University School of Law and his bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Southern Methodist University.  Ross and his wife Allison proudly reside in Shreveport, LA with their four daughters.

Jaime Aguirre


Jaime was the former Investment Director of Private Equity and Venture Capital for Rice Management Company.  Prior to his work at Rice, Jaime was a Principal at Austin Ventures.  He is also a former Vice President in the TMT investment banking group at Goldman Sachs and also worked in the investment banking division of Merrill Lynch’s energy group in Houston and the Latin America group in Mexico City.  Jaime holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and a BBA and MPA for The University of Texas at Austin.

Jonathan Fassberg


Jonathan is the Co-Chief Executive Officer of Solebury Trout. Jonathan recognized early in his career that small-cap biotechnology companies were underserved in the investor relations capacity. To fill this void, Jonathan founded The Trout Group in 1996, and he grew it to become the leading investor relations firm in the life sciences industry. Trout has served over 750 public and private companies, both domestically and internationally. In 2017, Trout was acquired by Solebury Communications, and the combined firm became known as Solebury Trout.

Highlights of Jonathan’s career include guiding Pharmasset, Pharmacyclics and GW Pharma from inception to IPOs to product launches and ultimate acquisitions. Prior to Trout’s founding, Jonathan was a sell-side analyst at a healthcare-focused investment bank. Before his career on Wall Street, Jonathan spent four years at DuPont Pharma in various sales and marketing positions.

Jonathan holds a B.S. in Biology and Chemistry from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an MBA in finance from New York University’s Stern School of Business. He also holds Series 7, 24, 79 and 63 securities licenses.

Jonathan has been an active member of Young Presidents Organization since joining the Manhattan Chapter in 2007, and he is currently serving as Chapter Chair. He also sits on the Board of Directors for the Carolina Center for Jewish Studies at UNC. Jonathan played water polo at UNC and for the NYAC after college.

Jennifer Pou


Jennifer is an Associate for the Cancer Focus Fund. Her responsibilities include performing financial modeling and analysis, assisting the Investment Committee with their due diligence process and managing communication with investors. Prior to joining the team, Jennifer was an Associate at Newstone Capital Partners, a Dallas-based mezzanine fund with approximately $2 billion in assets under management. Before joining Newstone, Jennifer was an Analyst in J.P. Morgan’s investment bank, where she focused on mergers and acquisitions, debt and equity offerings.

Jennifer currently serves on the Due Diligence Committee for the New Louisiana Angel Fund and is an active member of the Junior League of Shreveport-Bossier. She has a BBA in finance and accounting from The University of Texas at Austin’s McCombs School of Business.

Hector Alila, D.V.M., Ph.D.

Venture Partner for Industry Diligence

Dr. Alila has more than 30 years of senior management experience in drug development in large pharmaceutical and biotech companies and academic research. Prior to his role as President and CEO of Esperance Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Dr. Alila served as Senior Vice President of Drug Development at Protalex, Inc. in New Hope, PA, Vice President of Product Development at Cell Pathways, Inc. in Horsham, PA, (later acquired by OSI Pharmaceuticals, which was acquired by Astellas Pharma Inc.), Director of Biology/Pharmacology at GeneMedicine, Inc. in The Woodlands, TX, (which merged with Megabios to become Valentis, Inc.) and several research, development and management positions at SmithKline Beecham (now GlaxoSmithKline) in Pennsylvania. He obtained his veterinary degree from the University of Nairobi (Kenya) and continued his training at University of Pennsylvania to become a licensed veterinarian to practice in Pennsylvania and New York.

Dr. Alila obtained his Ph.D. in physiology and immunology from Cornell University (Ithaca, NY), where he also held a faculty position as Senior Research Associate in Physiology at the Veterinary College. Dr. Alila has published over 40 scientific papers in peer-reviewed journals, two book chapters and holds 12 issued patents. He serves on the boards of several companies, state and philanthropic organizations. He is a recipient of several awards for his pioneering work in reproduction, anti-infective agents, autoimmune diseases and cancer.

Ferran Prat, Ph.D., J.D.

Senior Vice President, Research Administration and Industry Relations

Ferran is responsible for linking MD Anderson and industry partners. His efforts generate collaborations that bring new drugs, diagnostics, imaging agents and IT solutions to market faster, benefiting patients suffering from cancer. Ferran has a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from the University of California – Los Angeles and a J.D. from the University of San Diego School of Law. He came to MD Anderson from Alere Inc., an international firm dedicated to developing health management services and solutions, including diagnostic tools and tests. At Alere, Ferran led a business turnaround and integrated three businesses in São Paulo and Belo Horizonte, Brazil. He also served as the head of the Oncology and Women’s Health Divisions in San Diego, where he was responsible for all precommercialization activities and post-launch product management.

Prior to Alere, Ferran held a number of industry and academic positions, including vice president for licensing at Biosite Inc., management consultant at McKinsey & Co., engineer at Chromogenia-Units and researcher at the University of California – Los Angeles. In these roles, he in-licensed and out-licensed new technologies, led and executed strategic plans, coordinated intellectual property agreements among private and public sector entities, and conducted basic science research that led to multiple peer-reviewed articles.

Shara Avis

Manager – Strategic Industry Ventures

Shara joined the Strategic Industry Ventures staff in August 2013.  Shara establishes direct contact within the pharmaceutical and biotech industry, domestically and internationally, in order to bring new preclinical studies, clinical trials, creative financial deals, collaborations, and alliances to MD Anderson. She focuses primarily on small and medium companies and represents MD Anderson at partnering meetings worldwide.

Shara received her Masters of Health Administration degree from Penn State University.  During her undergraduate studies, Shara double majored in kinesiology and psychology at Texas A&M University. During her time at Texas A&M, she interned in the breast oncology department at MD Anderson, where her interest in oncology research and clinical trials began. Prior to joining the Strategic Industry Ventures team, Shara worked for several small pharmaceutical and biotech companies focusing primarily on radiation oncology.  Shara has managed very large territories in her previous roles and worked with international companies to assist development on radiation oncology staff worldwide.

Phil Jones

Head of Drug Discovery (IACS) MD Anderson Cancer Center

Philip Jones, Ph.D., is the Head of Drug Discovery for the Institute for Applied Cancer Science (IACS) where he leads a multi-disciplinary team of scientists whose mission is to identify the next generation of cancer medicines, move those into clinical trials and hopefully into clinical practice. Developing medicines is a challenging process, and engineering all the necessary properties for a single molecule to be effective in patients requires collaboration and teamwork across many disciplines. Jones is fortunate to work with a high-performance team, who has already delivered a drug into trials at MD Anderson since its inception. His team also has a number of promising programs coming along behind.

Timothy Yap

Dept. of Investigational Cancer Therapeutics, Division of Cancer Medicine

Dr. Timothy Yap is a Medical Oncologist and Physician-Scientist based at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. He is an Associate Professor in the Department for Investigational Cancer Therapeutics (Phase I Program), and the Department of Thoracic/Head and Neck Medical Oncology. Dr. Yap is the Medical Director of the Institute for Applied Cancer Science, a drug discovery biopharmaceutical unit where drug discovery and clinical translation are seamlessly integrated. He is also the Associate Director of Translational Research in the Institute for Personalized Cancer Therapy, which is an integrated research and clinical trials program aimed at implementing personalized cancer therapy and improving patient outcomes. Prior to his current position, Dr. Yap was a Consultant Medical Oncologist at The Royal Marsden Hospital in London, UK and National Institute for Health Research BRC Clinician Scientist at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, UK.

Dr. Yap gained his BSc degree with First Class Honors in Immunology and Infectious Diseases at Imperial College London, UK, and was awarded the Huggett Memorial Prize. His BSc laboratory research involved an immunogenetics study into the human T-cell lymphotropic virus under the supervision of Professor Charles Bangham. He subsequently went on to attain his Medical degree from Imperial College London, UK, before completing general medical training in Oxford.

Dr. Yap undertook a Clinical Fellowship in the Phase I Drug Development Unit at the Royal Marsden Hospital with Professors Stan Kaye and Johann de Bono, before completing a PhD in Molecular Pharmacology in the Division of Cancer Therapeutics at The Institute of Cancer Research with Professors Michelle Garrett and Paul Workman under a Cancer Research UK Fellowship. His PhD laboratory research focused on the preclinical and clinical development of AKT inhibitors, and associated predictive and pharmacodynamic biomarkers. Dr. Yap completed his specialist training in medical oncology at the Royal Marsden Hospital and was awarded a National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Academic Clinical Lectureship in Medical Oncology. He was subsequently appointed as Consultant Medical Oncologist and NIHR Biomedical Research Centre Clinician Scientist jointly in the Phase I Drug Development Unit, Lung Cancer Unit and Cancer Biomarkers Laboratory at the Royal Marsden Hospital and The Institute of Cancer Research in London, UK.

Dr. Yap’s main research focuses on the first-in-human and combinatorial development of molecularly targeted agents and immunotherapies, and their acceleration through clinical studies using novel predictive and pharmacodynamic biomarkers. His main interests include the targeting of the DNA damage response (DDR) with novel therapeutics, such as ATR and PARP inhibitors, as well as the development of novel immunotherapeutics. His laboratory interests included the development of patient-derived xenografts (PDXs) and circulating plasma DNA as predictive biomarkers of response for novel targeted agents and immunotherapies in clinical trials.

Dr. Yap is and/or has been Principal Investigator for multiple clinical trials evaluating novel strategies for targeting the DNA damage response in cancer, such as PARP and ATR inhibitors, metabolic targets including OXPHOS, epigenetic targets such as EZH2, as well as the blockade of key signaling pathways, with a focus on PI3K/AKT pathway inhibitors. Dr. Yap is Lead Investigator for the AKT inhibitor arm of the UK National Lung Matrix Trial, which is one of the largest precision medicine trials in any cancer globally.

Dr. Yap leads immuno-oncology clinical and associated translational studies, including novel agents targeting PD-1/PD-L1, ICOS, IDO, LAG3, TIM3, STING, TGFbeta, adenosine A2A receptor and fucosylation. He was previously the UK Chief Investigator for the CheckMate 331 Phase III trial in relapsed small cell lung cancer and the KEYNOTE-158 Phase II biomarker study in advanced solid tumors and multiple novel immunotherapy combination phase I trials.

His laboratory interests include the analysis of patient tumors, circulating plasma DNA and circulating tumour cells as predictive biomarkers of response for novel immunotherapies and molecularly targeted agents in clinical trials. Dr. Yap has previously received grants from the British Lung Foundation, Academy of Medical Sciences and US Prostate Cancer Foundation to support his research into the molecular profiling of such specimens from patients to personalize their treatments.

In the past, Dr. Yap has been a recipient of the McElwain Prize in Medical Oncology from the UK Association of Cancer Physicians and the Young Investigator Award from the US Prostate Cancer Foundation. He has also received five ASCO Foundation merit awards, the AACR-AstraZeneca International Scholar Award, AACR-Pezcoller Foundation Scholar Award, as well as awards from the EORTC and ETOP. Dr. Yap is an Associate Editor of the Journal of Hematology & Oncology and Current Problems in Cancer. He has published more than a hundred articles in peer-reviewed journals, including the New England Journal of Medicine, Journal of Clinical Oncology, Cancer Discovery, Science Translational Medicine and Nature Reviews Cancer, as well as multiple book chapters.

Currently, Dr. Yap serves on the Scientific Program Committees of the 2018 AACR Annual Meeting, 2018 International Congress on Targeted Anticancer Therapies (TAT) and ESMO Asia 2018 Congress. Dr. Yap previously served a three-year term on the ASCO Annual Meeting Scientific Program Committee (Developmental Therapeutics and Translational Research – Clinical Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics Committee), as well as the Scientific Program Committees for the AACR Annual Meeting, ESMO Annual Congress, and the AACR-NCI-EORTC Molecular Targets Conference.

He is currently an active member of the ESMO OncologyPRO Working Group, and previously a member of the UK NCRI Lung Cancer Clinical Studies Group, the EORTC Lung Cancer Group and the EAPM Sub-Committee on Clinical Trials Framework. Dr. Yap previously served as co-leader of the Molecular Biology Module on The Institute of Cancer Research MSc Oncology Course and was a founding member of the UK ECMC Junior Investigator Network Group. He serves on the Faculty of the ASCO/AACR Methods in Clinical Cancer Research Workshop in Vail, and ECCO-AACR-EORTC-ESMO Workshop on Methods in Clinical Cancer Research in Zeist.

Mikael Dolsten, MD, PhD

Pfizer – President, Worldwide Research & Development

Dr. Dolsten is President of Worldwide Research and Development (WRD) and Executive Vice President of Pfizer. He is focused on advancing the company’s pipeline and scientific leadership in small molecule medicines, biotherapeutics and vaccines. He is a member of the Pfizer Executive Leadership Team and co-chairs the company’s Portfolio Strategy and Investment Committee, which governs major pipeline investments and strategic end-to-end R&D priorities.

Dr. Dolsten leads the WRD group at Pfizer, which is responsible for all research at Pfizer, including development of all compounds through proof of concept, and provides safety, regulatory and clinical operation support to the entire R&D pipeline. Dr. Dolsten also has worldwide responsibility for Pfizer’s groups in safety, regulatory and development operations, and external R&D innovation in addition to science-based teams in pharmaceutical sciences, drug safety R&D, and large and small molecule discovery and development.

Prior to joining Pfizer in 2009, Dr. Dolsten was President of Wyeth Research. Before joining Wyeth, he served as Executive Vice President at Boehringer Ingelheim. His earlier career as a pharmaceutical research leader included positions with AstraZeneca, Pharmacia and Upjohn. Dr. Dolsten earned his PhD in tumor immunology and MD from Lund University in Sweden. He studied virology and cell biology at the Weizmann Institute in Israel, and he has been appointed as Adjunct Professor in Immunology at the Medical Faculty in Lund.

Dr. Dolsten is a fellow of the New York Academy of Medicine, a governor of the New York Academy of Sciences and a member of the Board of Trustees of the New York Hall of Science. A member of the Biomedical Advisory Council of The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), Dr. Dolsten also serves on the PhRMA Foundation Board of Directors, and he is a member of the Government University Industry Research Roundtable (GUIRR). Dr. Dolsten is a named inventor on several patents. He has also published approximately 150 articles in international journals, with contributions in areas such as molecular cell biology, immunology and oncology.

Axel Hoos, MD, PhD

GlaxoSmithKline – SVP, TA Head of Oncology R&D and Head of Immuno-Oncology

Dr. Axel Hoos is Senior Vice President, Therapeutic Area Head for Oncology R&D and Head of Immuno-Oncology at GlaxoSmithKline. Dr. Hoos also serves as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Sabin Vaccine Institute (SVI), Director on the board of Imugene, Co-Director of the Cancer Immunotherapy Consortium (CIC) and Scientific Advisory Board Member of the Cancer Research Institute (CRI). Previously, Dr. Hoos was the Global Medical Lead in Immunology/Oncology at Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS), where he developed Yervoy (Ipilimumab), the first life-extending therapy in Immuno-Oncology. Before BMS, Dr. Hoos was Senior Director of Clinical Development at Agenus Bio. Dr. Hoos holds an MD from Ruprecht-Karls-University and a PhD in molecular oncology from the German Cancer Research Center, both in Heidelberg, Germany. He trained in surgery at the Technical University in Munich, Germany, and further in surgery, molecular pathology and tumor immunology at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. He is an alumnus of the Program for Leadership Development at Harvard Business School.

Wendy Holman

Ridgeback Biotherapeutics and Ridgeback Diagnostics – CEO and Co-Founder

Wendy is the CEO and co-founder of Ridgeback Biotherapeutics and Ridgeback Diagnostics: two healthcare companies focused on pediatric and orphan infectious diseases. Prior to joining Ridgeback, Ms. Holman worked at U.S.-based ZBI Equities, a multi-billion dollar public-equity investment fund and its parent company, Ziff Brothers Investments. Between 1999 and 2014, she held various positions, including healthcare sector head and director of research at ZBI Equities and Principal at Ziff Brothers Investments. Wendy graduated from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School and serves on the Board of Overseers for the Penn Libraries. She is the campaign chair for the University of Pennsylvania’s new Biotech Commons.

Jeffrey Rowbottom

Partner – Iron Park Capital

Mr. Rowbottom is a partner at Iron Park Capital. He had previous senior roles at PSP, Pontifax, KKR and Goldman Sachs. Mr. Rowbottom’s focus on early-stage healthcare companies stems from his personal experience as a melanoma patient who was treated in early clinical trials of checkpoint inhibitors. He is also influenced by a family member’s diagnosis with Ullrich congenital muscular dystrophy. He serves on the boards of the Melanoma Research Alliance and Cure CMD. Through these roles, Mr. Rowbottom collaborates closely with leading oncology researchers. He is a patient advocate and focuses on solutions to fund innovative basic research and clinical trials.

Mr. Rowbottom is also a founding investor and business adviser for Rgenix, pre-IPO investor in Kite Pharma and UroGen Pharma and a Trustee of the Elisabeth Morrow School. He holds a B.S. in finance from SUNY at Albany and an MBA from Columbia University.

Harpreet Singh

Immatics – CEO

Harprett co-founded Immatics in 2000 to translate pioneering scientific discoveries in immunology into highly innovative immunotherapies to impact the lives of cancer patients. Since the foundation, he has served as Managing Director and Chief Scientific Officer, helping to grow the company from a start-up to a leading biotech player in the field of immuno-oncology. He has played a leadership role in raising more than US$200mm of venture capital funding over several financing rounds and closing several partnerships with leading players in oncology such as Amgen, Roche and Genmab. In 2015, Harpreet became President & CEO of Immatics US, overseeing all operations of Immatics in Houston, Texas, to develop next-generation Adoptive Cell Therapies (ACT) in a broad strategic alliance with MD Anderson, also achieving a $20mm CPRIT grant by the State of Texas. In 2019, he became CEO of the Immatics Group.

Richard van den Broek

HSMR Advisors – Managing Partner

“Mr. van den Broek is the Managing Partner of a biotechnology investment fund. He has extensive industry experience, including current director roles on the boards of PhaseBio Pharmaceuticals and CogState Ltd.  Previously, he served on the board of Pharmacyclics, prior to the company’s acquisition by AbbVie for $21bn.

Wayne Holman, MD

Ridgeback Capital – Founder

Dr. Wayne Holman started and oversees Ridgeback Capital. Dr. Holman began his healthcare-focused investment career in 2000. Prior to that, Dr. Holman worked for the Merrill Lynch large pharmaceuticals equity research analyst. Dr. Holman earned his MD from New York University and his B.A. in Economics from Yale University.

Ridgeback Capital was founded in 2006, and it is focused on healthcare investments. Ridgeback invests in private and public companies dedicated to the development of life-saving and life-changing therapies. Healthcare advances take many years to materialize, and Dr. Holman believes that patient capital is vital for new technologies and companies to thrive.