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ABOUT NAVIGENCreating a New Class of Drugs

  • Navigen is a drug discovery and development company developing an important new class of therapies to improve and save lives. The company was founded by a team of industry veterans with a history of successfully advancing novel therapeutics. Navigen is leveraging its unparalleled experience working with D-peptides to bring forward a range of promising development programs with the potential to address many critical areas of unmet medical need.

     

    Building on landmark discoveries made at leading medical research institutions including the University of Utah, we have developed a discovery platform that harnesses the full potential of D-peptides as drugs with superior targeting and specificity and with limited or no risk of antigenicity. Navigen has a suite of proprietary tools at its disposal to access more (larger) targets and to shorten the required time it takes to identify promising new drugs.

     

    Our lead product, CPT31, is in development for treatment and prevention of HIV. We plan to initiate human studies with CPT31 in the first quarter of 2019. We are also developing a D-peptide for cancer immunotherapy that targets SIRPα, an innate checkpoint inhibitor and a D-peptide anti-TNF that we expect to have significant delivery and antigenicity advantages over current biologics. We are also developing a D-peptide anti-TNF that we expect to have significant delivery and antigenicity advantages over current biologics. We will continue to build our internal pipeline and will also enter into collaborations to discover new D-peptides for targets of interest. We welcome inquiries related to partnering including R&D collaborations and licensing.

     

Our PeopleMeet the Navigen Team

Management

  • Navigen chief executive officer Brandi Simpson, MBA, vice president of research Alan Mueller, PhD, and sr. director of pre-clinical development Daniel Wettstein, MD, PhD, have over 60 years of combined experience in bringing forward biomedical technologies in both private and public company settings.

Brandi Simpson, President and CEO


Navigen's board of directors elected Brandi to be chief executive officer effective April 2014. She was Navigen's first official employee, and from 2007 until her promotion to CEO she served as chief business officer of the company. Prior to joining Navigen, she held senior positions in business development, corporate strategy, and investor relations at NPS Pharmaceuticals, where she negotiated and closed multiple licensing transactions and led the company's portfolio review and strategic decision-making processes. In her last year at NPS, she also served as the head of investor relations.

Prior to joining NPS, Brandi was director of business development at Emergen, a Utah genetics start-up. She was also a life sciences management consultant at Booz Allen & Hamilton, where she advised clients on a variety of business and strategic issues including mergers and acquisitions, post-merger integration and development of new business ventures. She began her career as an investment banking analyst at Merrill Lynch, where she worked on multiple public debt and equity financing transactions, structured financings, and mergers and acquisitions.

Brandi graduated summa cum laude from the University of Utah with an honors degree in Finance. She earned an MBA degree at Stanford University's Graduate School of Business.

Alan Mueller, Vice President of Research


Alan is vice president of research at Navigen and has over 30 years of industry experience. Alan was a research scientist for five years in Neuroscience Drug Discovery at Abbott Laboratories in Abbott Park, Illinois. He then spent 19 years with NPS Pharmaceuticals as vice president of drug discovery and later vice president of research and was also a member of the Executive Team and Operating Committee. He was responsible for all aspects of the Research Division, from early stage drug discovery through the completion of Phase 1 clinical trials. Most recently, Alan was executive director of Clinical Site Operations and a member of the Executive Team for Lifetree Clinical Research, where he was responsible for all aspects of the conduct of Phase I through Phase III clinical trials for investigation of new drugs.

Alan received his undergraduate degree in Pharmacy from the University of Kansas and received his doctorate in Pharmacology from the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center. He was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Washington in Seattle.

Daniel Wettstein, Senior Director of Pre-Clinical Development


Prior to joining Navigen, Daniel spent several years at Myriad Genetics and Myriad Pharmaceuticals (Myrexis) in roles of increasing responsibility. For three years at Myriad Genetics (ProNet), Daniel led projects to identify drug targets for genetic diseases, implemented cell-based validation assays to support target identification, and helped establish Myriad Proteomics (Prolexys Pharmaceuticals). Daniel then spent eight years at Myriad Pharmaceuticals. He first served as project director for Cancer Target Identification and Validation, where he spearheaded the formation of a new chemical proteomics department to enable cell-based synthetic lethal screens using isogenic tumor cell lines. Daniel also oversaw preclinical in-licensing opportunities and managed the cancer biology portfolio. He next served as program director for Cancer Therapeutics, during which time he managed academic collaborations, supervised preclinical cancer drug development project work, and directed a multi-disciplinary drug development team which delivered two IND candidates. Following the dissolution of Myriad Pharmaceuticals, Daniel was director of preclinical studies at MediProPharma, a company seeking to repurpose existing therapeutics for neurodegenerative indications. He also consulted for the Huntsman Cancer Institute (University of Utah) and was a science advisor in pharmaceuticals and biotechnology at Tekcapital.

Board of Directors

Hunter Jackson, Chairman of the Board


Hunter Jackson is co-founder and chairman of the board of Navigen, Inc. He currently is also chairman of A6 Pharmaceuticals. Hunter was co-founder and served as chairman and CEO of NPS Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ: NPSP) from 1986 to 2006. Three products were brought forward during Hunter's tenure at NPS. The first product, Sensipar®, was launched in 2004 for the treatment of secondary hyperparathyroidism and hypercalcemia. It is marketed by Amgen in the U.S. and Europe and by Kyowa Hakko Kirin in Asia, and generates annual sales of over $2 billion. NPS's second product, Natpara®, an injectable synthetic hormone approved for treatment of hypoparathyroidism, is marketed by Shire. The company's third product, Gattex®, an injectable peptide for the treatment of short bowel syndrome, was launched worldwide in 2013. NPS was acquired by Shire in 2015 for $5.2B.

Hunter was a member of the Governing Authority of the Utah Science, Technology, and Research Economic Development Initiative (USTAR) from 2006-2012. He received the 1998 Ernst & Young Utah Entrepreneur of the Year Award, the 2002 Utah Governor's Medal for Science and Technology, and the 2017 BioUtah Willem J. Kolff Lifetime Achievement Award.

Hunter has a BA in American Literature from the University of Illinois, a PhD in Psychobiology from Yale University and did his postdoctoral work in the Neurosurgery Department at the University of Virginia Medical Center. Prior to co-founding NPS, he was on the faculty of the University of Utah School of Medicine, conducting research in the field of developmental neurobiology.

Brandi Simpson, President and CEO


Navigen's board of directors elected Brandi to be chief executive officer effective April 2014. She was Navigen's first official employee, and from 2007 until her promotion to CEO she served as chief business officer of the company. Prior to joining Navigen, she held senior positions in business development, corporate strategy, and investor relations at NPS Pharmaceuticals, where she negotiated and closed multiple licensing transactions and led the company's portfolio review and strategic decision-making processes. In her last year at NPS, she also served as the head of investor relations.

Prior to joining NPS, Brandi was director of business development at Emergen, a Utah genetics start-up. She was also a life sciences management consultant at Booz Allen & Hamilton, where she advised clients on a variety of business and strategic issues including mergers and acquisitions, post-merger integration and development of new business ventures. She began her career as an investment banking analyst at Merrill Lynch, where she worked on multiple public debt and equity financing transactions, structured financings, and mergers and acquisitions.

Brandi graduated summa cum laude from the University of Utah with an honors degree in Finance. She earned an MBA degree at Stanford University's Graduate School of Business.

Val Antczak, JD CEO


Val R. Antczak is a lawyer with extensive legal and business experience. Mr. Antczak was the senior vice president, Legal Affairs and General Counsel of NPS Pharmaceuticals, Inc. where he was responsible for all legal matters from 2005 to 2008. Mr. Antczak was a lawyer at Parsons Behle & Latimer from 1978 to 2005 where he had a successful corporate transaction and commercial litigation practice. He was also involved as a member of the board of directors and/or as vice chairman at Parsons Behle & Latimer for fifteen of those years.

Mr. Antczak has been and remains involved serving a number of educational and community organizations, including, among others, as a member of the Executive Committee of the Economic Development Corporation of Utah, member of the Executive Committee of the Health Advocates, University of Utah Health Sciences Division and as a member of the Executive Committee of the University of Utah's Commercial Advisory Board.

Mr. Antczak received a BS in Finance from the University of Utah (magna cum laude) and a JD from the University of Utah College of Law.

David L. Clark, MS, MBA


Mr. Clark recently joined A6 Pharmaceuticals as the Chief Operating Officer of A6 Pharmaceuticals.

Prior to A6, Mr. Clark held the position of executive director of Entrepreneurial Programs in the Huntsman School of Business in October at Utah State University. From October 2005 to October 2008, he served as president and chief executive officer of Prolexys Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a privately held biopharmaceutical firm developing novel cancer therapies in Salt Lake City, Utah. Prior to Prolexys he was vice president, Corporate Affairs at the publically traded firm, NPS Pharmaceuticals, Inc. From 1996 until 2005 Mr. Clark was involved in business development, funding transactions, investor relations and corporate communications for NPS. From 1988 to 1996, Mr. Clark held the office of vice president at AgriDyne Technologies, Inc. (Salt Lake City) with responsibilities for business development and administration. Before AgriDyne he was responsible for financial analysis and assisted in property acquisitions and financing for Clark Financial Corporation (Salt Lake City), a private investment firm from 1983 to 1988. From 1980 to 1983, Mr. Clark worked in division management and financial analysis and control at UI Group in Kennewick, Washington.

He holds a B.S. in botany from Brigham Young University (1976), an MS in agronomy with an emphasis in plant genetics from the University of Illinois (1978), and an MBA from the University of Utah (1980). Mr. Clark is a founding trustee of the Utah Life Science Association and is a member of the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees of the Utah Technology Council.

Jeffrey A. Fink, MBA


Mr. Fink is currently the managing director of Gambel Oaks Advisors, LLC, a strategic and financial advisory firm dedicated to the life sciences and allied industries. Mr. Fink spent over twenty years in the investment banking industry advising life science clients in the U.S. and Europe on the full range of financing and strategic advisory assignments. He was Head of Healthcare Investment Banking for Robert W. Baird & Co. in Chicago until 2007, and prior to that was a Partner in the Healthcare Group at Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein (the successor firm to Wasserstein Perella) and Head of Healthcare Mergers and Acquisitions for Vector Securities International, Inc., a dedicated biotechnology and life sciences investment bank.

Mr. Fink's advisory clients have included Schering AG, Genentech, Boehringer Ingleheim, F. Hoffman LaRoche, Ltd., the Ares Serono Group and Celgene Pharmaceuticals. His financing clients have included NPS Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Amylin Pharmaceuticals, Celgene Pharmaceuticals, ISIS Pharmaceuticals and Sepracor. Overall, Mr. Fink has advised clients on over $3 billion in closed transactions, including more than thirty initial public offerings and follow on public offerings.

Mr. Fink is a chartered financial analyst and holds a BA from Kalamazoo College and an MBA from the University of Michigan.

Frank Karbe


Mr. Karbe currently serves on the boards of Arbutus Biopharma (NASDAQ: ABUS) as well as Kolltan Pharmaceuticals. Until June 14, Mr. Karbe was the executive vice president and chief financial officer of Exelixis, Inc., a NASDAQ-listed biotechnology company. In 2009 Mr. Karbe was voted by Pharmaceutical Executive Magazine as one of 27 Emerging Leaders under the age of 45. Prior to joining Exelixis in 2004, Mr. Karbe worked as an investment banker for Goldman Sachs & Co., where he served most recently as vice president in the healthcare group focusing on corporate finance and mergers and acquisitions in the biotechnology industry. Prior to joining Goldman Sachs in 1997, Mr. Karbe held various positions in the finance department of The Royal Dutch/Shell Group in Europe.

Mr. Karbe holds a Diplom-Kaufmann from the WHU—Otto Beisheim Graduate School of Management, Koblenz, Germany.

Thomas N. Parks, PhD


After training in neuroscience at the University of California, Yale University and the University of Virginia, in 1978 Dr. Parks joined the faculty of the University of Utah School of Medicine, where he is now emeritus professor of Neurobiology & Anatomy. He served as the George & Lorna Winder Professor of Neuroscience and chair of his department from 1992-2007 and as the vice president for Research and president of the Research Foundation for the University of Utah from 2008-2016. He was a co-founder of NPS Pharmaceuticals Inc. and a board member from 1986-2006; the company developed three first-in-class drugs and was acquired in 2015 by Shire Plc. Dr. Parks is a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors and a recipient of the Utah Governor's Medal for Science & Technology.

Collaborators

Michael S. Kay, MD, PhD


Dr. Michael Kay is professor of Biochemistry, University of Utah School of Medicine and scientific director of the D-peptide Research Division. Dr. Kay has over 25 years of experience in protein folding and peptide/protein design with a special emphasis on mirror-image (D-) peptides. Together with Drs. Eckert and Welch, he used mirror-image phage display and structure-assisted design to develop the first high-affinity D-peptide inhibitors, which have been shown to block HIV entry. In collaboration with Navigen, Dr. Kay's group has expanded D-peptide design to diverse viral, bacterial, and human targets. Since D-peptide drug discovery requires the chemical synthesis of mirror-image protein targets, the Kay lab has recently focused on expanding the limits of chemical protein synthesis to proteins ›300 amino acids. Dr. Kay is an author on 29 publications, as well as an inventor on 10 patent applications (four issued). Before starting his independent lab at the University of Utah in 2001, Dr. Kay received his BA in Biology and Chemistry from Cornell, MD/PhD in Biochemistry from Stanford, and postdoctoral training at MIT as a Damon Runyon Fellow at MIT.

Debbie Eckert, PhD


Debra M. Eckert, PhD, is research associate professor of Biochemistry, University of Utah School of Medicine and scientific director, D-peptide Research Division. With over 20 years of experience in biochemistry and biophysics, Dr. Eckert focuses on the mechanisms of enveloped virus entry with an emphasis on developing D-peptide viral entry inhibitors. In her thesis work at MIT, she identified the first-generation D-peptide HIV entry inhibitors, and subsequently collaborated with Drs. Kay, Welch and Francis on work that resulted in a dramatic 500,000-fold potency increase in the inhibitor. Currently, she focuses on applying the D-peptide discovery platform to additional viral targets. She has authored 29 scientific publications and is an inventor on nine patents and patent applications. Dr. Eckert received her BS in Biology with Honors from Texas Christian University and her PhD in Biology from Massachusetts Institute of Technology as a National Science Foundation Predoctoral Fellow.

Scientific Advisors

Peter Kiener, PhD


Dr. Peter Kiener currently serves as the chief scientific officer and head of R&D, for Sucampo Pharmaceuticals. Dr. Kiener has extensive experience in drug development and in managing research, development, and operations at large and small biotechnology companies. Dr. Kiener held leadership roles of increasing responsibility from 2001 to 2009 at MedImmune LLC, the global biologics arm of AstraZeneca, including executive vice president and global head of Biologics Research and Development, senior vice president and head of Global Research, and vice president of Research.

More recently, Dr. Keiner served as CSO of Ambrx Inc., a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on the development of antibody-drug conjugates. He also was president and co-founder of Zyngenia Inc., an early-stage biopharmaceutical company.

Dr. Kiener has published more than 120 papers in peer-reviewed journals and is an inventor on more than 40 patents and patent applications. He earned a bachelor's degree in chemistry from the University of Lancaster and a doctorate of philosophy in biochemistry from the University of Oxford.

Dean Y. Li, MD, PhD


Dr. Dean Li, a co-founder of Navigen, is currently vice president, head of Translational Medicine at Merck & Co. in New Jersey. Prior to his role at Merck, Dean was on the cutting-edge of translational medical research at the University of Utah for more than two decades. During his time at the University, he co-founded multiple biotech companies stemming from research from his laboratory, including Navigen, Recursion Pharmaceuticals, and Hydra Biosciences. Dean served as the H.A. & Edna Benning Professor of Medicine and Cardiology, the vice-dean of Research at the University of Utah Health Science Center, and as the chief scientific officer of University of Utah Health Care. Dean also served as interim CEO of Associated Regional University Pathologists (ARUP), the nation's third largest clinical reference laboratory, from 2015 to 2016. Dean trained at Washington University in Saint Louis before coming to Utah to work as a post-doc in the laboratory of Mark Keating.

HIV Program Advisors

Charles W. Flexner, MD


Charles W. Flexner, MD, is a professor of Medicine in the Divisions of Clinical Pharmacology and Infectious Diseases, and a professor of Pharmacology and Molecular Sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. He is also a professor of International Health at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health and serves as the deputy director of the Institute for Clinical and Translational Research at the Johns Hopkins University.

Dr. Flexner is an expert on the pharmacology of drugs for HIV/AIDS and related infections. His research interests include studying clinical pharmacology of new anti-HIV therapies and drug combinations. Dr. Flexner has authored or co-authored more than 66 peer-reviewed research publications and 89 chapters, review articles, and letters. Dr. Flexner is a member of the editorial board of 11 scientific journals, has served as a consultant on FDA reform to the United States House of Representatives, and currently serves as a consultant to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Clinton Health Access Initiative. Dr. Flexner is the Principal Investigator of the Johns Hopkins University AIDS Clinical Trials Unit (ACTU) supported by the NIH.

Dr. Flexner received an MD from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and pursued his residency in Internal Medicine at the Stanford University Medical Center.

Warner C. Greene, MD, PhD


Dr. Warner C. Greene is the founding director and the Nick and Sue Hellmann Distinguished Professor of the Gladstone Institute of Virology and Immunology. He is also a professor of Medicine, Microbiology and Immunology at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and is co-director of the federally funded UCSF-Gladstone Center for AIDS Research.

Dr. Greene received his BA degree with great distinction from Stanford University and his MD and PhD degrees with honors from Washington University School of Medicine. He completed his internship and residency training in Internal Medicine at the Massachusetts General Hospital at Harvard. Next, he served as a senior investigator at the National Cancer Institute from 1979-1986 where he started his own laboratory. In 1987, he became Professor of Medicine at Duke University Medical Center and an Investigator in the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

Dr. Greene's studies focus on HIV pathogenesis including new insights into how CD4 T cells die during HIV infection and new approaches to curing HIV infection. He has authored than 370 scientific papers. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, and the National Academy of Medicine, a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a past president of the Association of American Physicians.

In 2007, Dr. Greene expanded his work to include global health in sub-Saharan Africa in his service as president and executive chairman of the Accordia Global Health Foundation. Accordia established the Infectious Diseases Institute at Makerere University in Uganda, which has trained thousands of African health care workers, is caring for 30,000 HIV-infected patients, and has brought health care to nearly 500,000 people living in remote rural regions of Uganda. In 2016, Accordia merged with Africare.

David Ho, MD


Dr. Ho has spent decades researching the pathogenesis of HIV infection, in particular the dynamics of HIV replication. His work has led to the development of life-prolonging combination antiretroviral therapy and the only monoclonal antibody approved for the treatment of HIV. He was Time magazine's 1996 Man of the Year for “helping lift a death sentence — for a few years at least, and perhaps longer — on tens of thousands of AIDS sufferers.”

Dr. Ho’s many honors include his election to the membership of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; National Academy of Medicine; Academia Sinica (Republic of China); and Chinese Academy of Engineering. Dr. Ho also holds the rare honor of simultaneously serving on Board of Trustees of the California Institute of Technology and the Board of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Corporation. He currently serves as Director and CEO, Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center, and Irene Diamond Professor, Rockefeller University. Dr. Ho earned his MD from the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology.

Strategic Advisors

Lynn Bleil, MBA


Ms. Bleil recently retired from her role as senior partner (director) of McKinsey & Company where she led the firm's West Coast Healthcare Practice and was a core leader of the Global Healthcare Practice. During her 25+ year tenure at McKinsey, Lynn gained significant expertise in strategy, M&A /integration, go-to-market strategies, and reimbursement/policy across all segments of the healthcare value chain — including payment and provision, healthcare IT, home care services, biotechnology/specialty pharma, and medical technology. Lynn is a strategic advisor to Halo Neuroscience and currently serves as a board director for three public companies including Sonova Group AG, Stericycle, and DST Systems. Lynne participates on the boards of a number of not-for-profit entities including the U.S. Ski Team Foundation and the Governing Board of the Intermountain Park City Hospital.

Lynn earned a BSE in chemical engineering from Princeton University and an MBA at Stanford University's Graduate School of Business.

Will Dere, MD


Dr. Dere joined the University of Utah in November of 2014 as executive director of Personalized Health at the University of Utah Health Sciences Center and a member of the Department of Medicine and Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism. Prior to re-joining academia, Dr. Dere was in the biopharmaceutical industry for 25 years. He joined Eli Lilly in 1989, and held a number of different global roles in clinical pharmacology, regulatory affairs, and both early-stage translational and late-stage clinical research. He moved to Amgen in 2003 where he held multiple roles including head of global development, international medical, and both corporate and international chief medical officer. Dr. Dere led the clinical development of raloxifene, rPTH 1-34, denosumab, and other drugs in oncology, inflammation, and nephrology.

Dr. Dere received a BA degree in Zoology and History and an MD degree from the University of California, Davis. He has published over 50 articles; wrote and co-edited a primary care textbook; was awarded the 2008 transformational leadership award from UC Davis and teaching awards annually from 1985-1989 at the University of Utah; and is a fellow in the American College of Physicians.

Raghav Chari, PhD


Raghav Chari, PhD heads the Proprietary Products organization at Dr. Reddy's Laboratories, and is responsible for developing a viable portfolio of products in key specialty therapeutic areas and building a branded commercial presence in the US market. As part of the latter responsibilities Raghav is also head of Promius Pharma, a company focused on bringing innovative therapeutics to the medical dermatology space. Raghav joined Dr. Reddy's in 2006 as vice president, Corporate Development for NCE & Speciality business and has helped shape the company's Proprietary Products business strategy while developing strong alliance platforms.

He started his career with McKinsey and Company, where he spent several years as an associate, engagement manager and finally associate principal in McKinsey's Pharmaceuticals and Medical Products practice. After McKinsey, he took senior roles in strategy and business development with Synaptic Pharmaceuticals, and subsequently with NPS Pharmaceuticals.

Raghav is a graduate in Mathematics and Physics from the California Institute of Technology and holds a PhD in Theoretical Physics from Princeton University.

PARTNERINGContact us for information

  • Navigen's substantial experience in D-peptide drug discovery and optimization and our proprietary assets, including our custom phage libraries and bioinformatics tools, position us to be a world leader in D-peptide discovery and development. We plan to work on new D-peptide targets independently as well as collaboratively with global partners. We anticipate out-licensing in-house D-peptide programs no later than after human proof of concept. For jointly developed programs, Navigen's preference is for our partner to take over development just prior to IND-enabling studies.

    For information about collaboration and partnering opportunities with Navigen, please contact Vimal Swarup at 801-587-1427 or


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Navigen, Inc.

383 S Colorow Drive, Suite 106
Salt Lake City, Utah 84108

Telephone: 801-587-1417

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Brandi Simpson
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Partnership and Business Development Contact:

Vimal Swarup
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