Our Team

  • k-nikolich

    Karoly Nikolich

    Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board of Directors

    Karoly Nikolich is Chairman of the Board of Directors and Chief Executive Officer of Alkahest. During the 1980s, he led Genentech’s entry into neuroscience and led and participated in the development of numerous protein therapeutics. He was Vice President of Research at Lynx Therapeutics, co-founder of AGY Therapeutics, Amnestix, Neurofluidics, Chase Pharmaceuticals, Circuit Therapeutics, and Alkahest. He has served as venture partner with Pivotal BioVentures, and has been on the boards and scientific advisory boards at a number of neurotherapeutics and biotech companies, as well. Dr. Nikolich is a graduate of Eotvos University in Budapest and worked as postdoctoral fellow at Tulane University and UCSF before joining Genentech. He has been Adjunct Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at Stanford University Medical School.

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    Steven Braithwaite

    Chief Scientific Officer

    Steven has extensive experience in therapeutic development in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries. He previously led research at Circuit Therapeutics, drug discovery at Signum Biosciences, headed the cellular neurodegeneration group at Wyeth/Pfizer, and was a program leader at AGY Therapeutics. In these roles he has led both small molecule and biological research and development programs across a diverse range of indications in the field of neuroscience. Steven is a graduate of the University of Cambridge, UK, received his PhD from the University of Bristol, UK and performed postdoctoral work at Stanford University. He also serves as an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Neurology at Rutgers University.

  • Robert Klein

    Robert Klein

    Chief Business Officer

    Robert is a business development professional with over two decades experience in the biotechnology, diagnostics, and genomics spaces. He has spent half his career working in neuroscience drug development as both a scientist and a BD professional. Most recently, Robert served as Chief Business Officer at Complete Genomics. Prior to that, Robert held positions of CEO at iKaryos Diagnostics, CSO at Amnestix, Sr. Director BD at Rinat Neuroscience, and VP of Business and Technology Development at Deltagen and played an integral role with each of these company’s M&A or IPO activities . Robert started his career at Genentech where he was a post doc and scientist in the Neuroscience Department. Robert obtained his PhD in biology from MIT and his A.B. in biochemistry from UC Berkeley.

  • Kent

    Tammy Kent

    Vice President Human Resources

    Tammy has over 20 years of experience working with start-up biotechnology companies and privately held businesses, providing human resources leadership and expertise. She has worked with companies that are just getting off the ground, growing and developing, or facing times of uncertainty, with responsibility for creating strategic and tactical HR programs, scaling organizations during times of rapid change, organizational design and employee engagement. Tammy holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, and is a Senior Certified Professional in Human Resources.

  • Bryan Boyle

    General Counsel

    Bryan has over 20 years of combined experience in the Biotechnology and Pharmaceutical industries, including as a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University focusing on cancer therapeutics and signaling mechanisms, as a scientist at Hyseq/Nuvelo Inc. identifying novel drug targets, and as an attorney at both prestigious international and IP boutique law firms where he concentrated on intellectual property prosecution and technology-based and general litigation.  Bryan is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley, received both his MS in Physiology & Biophysics and PhD in Pharmacology from Georgetown University, and his JD magna cum laude from the Santa Clara University School of Law.

  • Viktoria Kheifets

    Senior Vice President Discovery Research

    Viktoria Kheifets is Senior Vice President of Biology at Alkahest where she leads a cross-functional team to identify plasma bioactives and their mechanisms of reversing age-dependent decline in CNS and peripheral functions. Prior to Alkahest, Viktoria focused on new company formation at Third Rock Ventures in the fields of liver regeneration and immunometabolism. She was a Senior Group Leader of Biology at Edison Pharmaceuticals where she headed drug discovery efforts in orphan mitochondrial diseases and diseases of aging. Prior to Edison, Viktoria was at Ampere Life Sciences, where she led skin aging and medical foods research programs. Viktoria obtained her scientific training at MIT and Stanford.

  • McCraken

    Joseph S. McCracken

    Vice President of Business Development

    Joe has more than 25 years of experience in research, business development and commercial development roles in biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies. Joe was previously Vice President and Global Head of Business Development & Licensing for Roche Pharma, where he was responsible for Roche Pharma’s global in-licensing and out-licensing activities. Prior to joining Roche Pharma, Joe held the position of Vice President, Business Development at Genentech for more than 10 years, and previously held similar positions at Aventis Pharma and Rhone-Poulenc Rorer. Dr. McCracken holds a Bachelor of Science in Microbiology, a Master of Science in Pharmacology and a Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from The Ohio State University.

  • Erin Newman

    Senior Vice President Portfolio Management

    Erin has over 20 years of experience working in clinical research supporting drug and device development from pre-IND through FDA approval.  Erin joined Alkahest following 9 years as a consultant with Actelion/Cotherix where she was responsible for various project management and clinical operation functions within pulmonary and oncology indications.  Prior to that, she consulted for Zogenix and was responsible for conducting the registrational trials and supporting regulatory submissions for an approved drug-device combination therapy.  Additionally, she served as a consultant for Scios, Allergan and various CROs in cardiology, neurology and ophthalmology. Erin earned a BS in microbiology, with an emphasis in genetic engineering, from the University of California at Santa Barbara. 

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    Esther Rawner

    Vice President, Clinical Science

    Esther has 15 years of experience in clinical medicine and leadership roles driving advancements across a wide range of disease areas including neurologic, ophthalmologic and dermatologic conditions. Immediately before joining Alkahest she served as Medical Director of Stroke at the University of Washington NW Hospital and Regional Medical Director at Neurotech NW, merging effective medical treatment with the needs of business strategies to streamline practices for maximizing the impact of program efficiency and resource optimization. She has a passion for collaboration, leveraging her clinical research skills and broad professional background, for the ultimate purpose of enabling people to live healthier. After earning her MD at New York Medical College, she completed her internship at Tulane University, her neurology residency at Yale, and fellowship at the University of Washington. She is an adjunct clinical professor at the University of Washington. 

  • Debbie Wallace

    Vice President Finance

    Debbie has more than 30 years of accounting and finance experience, with the last 12 years focused on the life science industry.  Prior to joining Alkahest in 2017, Debbie was founder and CEO of CloudPoint Accounting Solutions, where she and her team managed the accounting function for several companies including Cortexyme, Atreca, Tobira Therapeutics, Zymergen, and Kindred BioSciences.  Previously, she held various positions of increasing responsibility at Nuon Therapeutics, Fisher Investments, Informix and McGraw-Hill.  Debbie is a Certified Public Accountant with an M.B.A. from Golden Gate University and a B.A. in Business from UC Santa Barbara.

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    Jessica Powell

    Vice President Clinical Operations

    Jessica has over 20 years of experience in academic and pharmaceutical research and operations management. Jessica leads the Clinical Operations team at Alkahest and is responsible for developing and implementing the clinical operations strategy and overseeing the execution of clinical studies across Alkahest’s pipeline. Jessica has managed programs from pre-IND through Phase 3 clinical trials across disease areas including inflammation, ophthalmology, cardiovascular disease, and neurodegenerative diseases with particular expertise in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease clinical trials.  Prior to joining Alkahest, Jessica held roles in research and program management with Bioclinica, SRI International, Stanford University, UCLA School of Medicine, and UT MD Anderson Cancer Research Center.  Jessica has a B.A. in Biology from Texas A&M University.