Our Team

  • Byrnes

    Michael Byrnes

    Chief Financial Officer

    Michael has over 20 years of corporate finance and accounting experience, 15 of which have been in publicly-traded companies in the life science industry. Most recently, Michael was the Chief Financial Officer of Ocera Therapeutics, which was acquired by Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals in 2017. Prior to that, Michael held finance positions of increasing responsibility at Maxygen, NeurogesX, Lipid Sciences and ADAC Labs. Michael received his B.S.C. in Finance from Santa Clara University and his M.B.A. from California State University, Hayward.

  • Jeffords

    Elizabeth Jeffords

    Chief Commercial & Strategy Officer

    Elizabeth has more than 20 years of experience in broad commercial and development roles including marketing, sales, launch, and access. Elizabeth was previously Vice President of Ophthalmology at Genentech, responsible for the on-market and pipeline molecules. Prior to that she was General Manager of Roche Norway, Global Head of Commercial Operations and Global Business Unit Head of Established Products at Roche and led the Pricing & Contracting and Strategic Analytics teams at Genentech. She has a background of strategic consulting, healthcare software, and biochemistry bench work at UCSF and Yale. She holds a Masters of Business & Technology from University of New South Wales, Australia, where she was a Fulbright Scholar, and a B.S. in Biology & Management from Yale University. She is actively involved with the HBA and the Springboard Life Sciences Accelerator.

  • Hannestad

    Jonas Hannestad

    Vice President of Clinical Development

    Jonas has more than 20 years of experience in academic translational neuroscience and early clinical development in neurology at small and large biopharmaceutical organizations, with broad disease-area expertise, including Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, ALS, epilepsy, and psychiatric disorders. Jonas joined Alkahest from Denali Therapeutics and held previous positions at UCB Pharma, Yale University, and Bristol-Myers Squibb. He received his M.D. from the University of Oviedo and a Ph.D. from the University of Messina and completed a fellowship at UCLA and residency training in internal medicine and psychiatry at Duke and Yale. In addition to his role at Alkahest, Dr. Hannestad serves as Adjunct Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the Yale University School of Medicine.

  • Erin Newman

    Vice President of Program Development

    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. 

  • Morimoto

    Bruce Morimoto

    Vice President of Drug Development Operations

    Bruce has more than 20 years of experience in both biotechnology and clinical research companies, leading project teams in the development of innovative medicines, as well as providing strategic guidance, designing preclinical and clinical development programs, and advancing the development of new therapies. Bruce joined Alkahest from Celerion, where he served as Vice President, Scientific Affairs, having previously served as Vice President, Drug Development at Allon Therapeutics. Dr. Morimoto started his career on the faculty of the Chemistry Department at Purdue University where his independent research focused on neuronal signal transduction. Bruce earned his doctorate in biochemistry from UCLA and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of California Berkeley.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Viktoria Kheifets

    Vice President of Biology

    Viktoria Kheifets is 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.

  • Bryan Boyle

    Vice President Legal

    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.

  • Kent

    Tammy Kent

    Vice President Human Resources and Operations

    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.

  • Braithwaite

    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.