Rahul D. Ballal, PhD
Chief Executive Officer
Dr. Ballal is CEO of Imara and has more than 15 years of life sciences experience in business development, strategic partnerships, venture capital, and company financing. He joined from Northern Biologics and Versant Ventures where he was Chief Business Officer and an Entrepreneur-in-Residence, respectively. At Northern, he built a first-in-class immuno-oncology portfolio, led a broad strategic partnership with Celgene, and managed several key functional roles at the executive level. At Versant, he negotiated foundational assets for existing portfolio and new companies, sourced several new deals, and participated in investment team activities. Previously, Dr. Ballal was Vice President, Business Development at Flexion Therapeutics, where he led several business development transactions, supported multiple functions during the initial public offering, and completed a key $175MM strategic partnership with Patheon UK, for dedicated commercial manufacturing. Prior to Flexion, he held business development and leadership positions at Novartis Venture Fund; Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard; and Redmind Inc. Dr. Ballal earned a Bachelor’s degree in Biology from Brown University, a Master’s degree in Bioinformatics from Johns Hopkins University and a Ph.D. in Biochemistry from Georgetown University. He is also a Kauffman Fellow.
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Willem H. Scheele, MD
Chief Medical Officer
Dr. Scheele began his career ~30 years ago in internal medicine at Spaarne Hospital in Haarlem, the Netherlands, affiliated with the Vrije Universiteit Medical School in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Prior to joining Imara, he was Executive Director, Clinician Group Lead, Rare Diseases, for Pfizer leading the clinical development teams for the company’s rare disease portfolio, which included programs for Gaucher disease, a lysosomal storage disorder and transthyretin amyloid cardiomyopathy (ATTR-CM), a hereditary form of heart disease. At the company, Dr. Scheele led the Clinical Development and Operations team responsible for the successful submissions of New Drug Applications (NDAs) for tafamidis for the treatment of ATTR-CM. Previously, Dr. Scheele was Senior Director, Global Innovative Pharma, Medicines Development for Pfizer responsible for clinical strategy through delivery and reporting for clinical studies in patients with Type 2 diabetes and chronic kidney disease. Earlier in his career, Dr. Scheele was Director, Women’s Health and Bone (Global Medicine Monitor) at Wyeth Research and Global Clinical Research Physician and Associate Clinical Research Physician at Eli Lilly and Company in Indianapolis and Nieuwegein, the Netherlands, respectively.
Dr. Scheele earned his Medical Doctor degree at Vrije Universiteit Medical School and has been published in numerous peer-reviewed journals and abstracts and presented at various congresses. Currently, he serves as the Honorary Consul for the Kingdom of the Netherlands for New England in Boston. He also serves as mentor for both the Global Investor’s Forum (MERLN Institute, University of Maastricht, the Netherlands) evaluating start-up and scale-up biotech companies and is a mentor for the Boston Children’s Hospital Post-Doc Association.
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Michael P. Gray, MBA
Chief Financial and Chief Operating Officer
Mr. Gray brings nearly two decades of experience to Imara at both public and private biotechnology and large pharma companies, where he developed strong investment community relationships and an in-depth understanding of capital markets, with a background in business operations, strategic corporate finance, business development and investor relations. He most recently served as President, Chief Executive Officer and Chief Financial Officer at public, global biotechnology company, Arsanis, Inc., leading a strategic process that consummated with the closing in March 2019 of a merger between Arsanis and X4 Pharmaceuticals following a futility outcome of Arsanis’ lead clinical asset. Mr. Gray previously served as Arsanis’ Chief Operating and Chief Financial Officer from March 2016 until November 2018. In that capacity, he built the business and finance infrastructure of Arsanis’ U.S. global headquarters and successfully raised over $130 million, including completing two private financings and an initial public offering (IPO).
Prior to Arsanis, Mr. Gray spent over a decade at Curis, Inc., a publicly-traded oncology company, including 13 years as its Chief Financial Officer, while also holding dual roles as either Chief Operating Officer or Chief Business Officer during most of his tenure. At the company, he was responsible for financial strategy and business operations, business development, alliance management, corporate legal as well as all other administrative functions. Mr. Gray raised approximately $200 million in equity capital through a variety of transactions, including public offerings, at-the-market (ATM) offerings, registered direct offerings, PIPEs and other structures. He was the business development and finance lead for a potentially transformative collaboration agreement with Aurigene and led the 2012 in-licensing of a clinical-stage compound from Genentech and simultaneous $30 million structured debt transaction. Mr. Gray was also instrumental in Curis’ entry into and subsequent management of its collaboration with Genentech (Roche) that was focused on the Hedgehog signaling pathway, which resulted in a commercially approved drug for the treatment of advanced basal cell carcinoma. Previously, Mr. Gray was Controller and de Facto Chief Financial Officer at Reprogenesis, Inc., where he participated in various financings and managed all preclinical and clinical development financial activities. He began his career as an audit professional with Ernst & Young, LLP.
Mr. Gray earned his BS in Business Administration, Accounting Concentration from Bryant College in Smithfield, R.I., and his MBA, Finance and Entrepreneurial Management Concentration, from Babson College in Wellesley, Mass. He is a certified public accountant and a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and the Association of Biotech Financial Officers (ABFO).
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Kevin B. Johnson, PhD, MBA
Senior Vice President of Regulatory and Quality
Dr. Johnson has more than 20 years of experience in developing and implementing regulatory and product development strategies for a variety of drugs, biologics, combination products, and cell/gene therapies. He has led international project teams in early, mid and late-stage development programs across a variety of therapeutic areas, directed the preparation and maintenance of INDs, BLAs, NDAs, and MAAs, and led a variety of meetings and communications with regulatory authorities around the world.
Prior to joining Imara, Dr. Johnson held several positions of increasing responsibility for regulatory and product development activities. Most recently, he served as Vice President, Global Head of Regulatory and Quality at Sucampo Pharmaceutical and Vice President of Global Regulatory Affairs at Vtesse. In these roles, Dr. Johnson led global regulatory strategy and implementation for rare disease development programs targeting Niemann-Pick Type C disease (NPC). He also served as Director, Global Regulatory Affairs for Rare Diseases and Gene Therapies at GlaxoSmithKline working on the international team for the European approval of the gene therapy Strimvelis® for ADA-SCID.
Dr. Johnson earned a PhD in Neurobiology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an MBA from the Kenan-Flagler School of Business, also at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He completed a BS in Chemistry from the University of South Florida.
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