Our Team

IMMvention was founded by pioneers in inflammasome research and is led by experienced management team, and R&D scientists with proven track record in inflammatory diseases, drug discovery and development 

Anil Goyal, Ph.D.
Chief Executive Officer, Board Director

Dr. Goyal, has 24+ years of senior management and leadership experience at several public and private biotechnology companies where he has raised >$200M from public / private investors / federal sources, completed >$1B in pharma deals and accomplished several exits. Prior to joining IMMvention in 2017, he was COO at Ribometrix where he raised Ribometrix's first venture funding. His other biotech experience includes, leading company formation, fund raising,  business development,  M&A,  strategic planning, and senior management roles at Heat Biologics (HTBX), Serenex (led acquisition / sale to Pfizer), Optherion (led acquisition / sale to Sequenom and Baxter), Qualiber, Ascletis (public company on Hong Kong market) and Millennium Pharmaceuticals (acquired by Takeda). He is currently a board member / advisor to Enzerna Biosciences, MimiVax and UNC-Chapel Hill KickStart Program. 

He has experience building and growing companies with small molecule, antibody, siRNA, gene and cell therapies across many therapeutic areas including immuno-oncology, ophthalmology, and inflammation.   

Dr. Goyal received his Ph.D. degree in Microbiology and Molecular Genetics jointly from Rutgers, The State University and University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. He completed post-doctoral fellowships at the NJ Center for Agriculture & Environment and Merck & Co.

Fun Fact: Anil roved the World (pre-COVID) to find the hottest sauce for his collection.

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Ryan Clark, Ph.D.
Head of Medicinal Chemistry

Dr. Clark has over 14 years of experience leading multidisciplinary teams in the hunt for small molecule drug candidates. These novel compounds targeting enzymes, G protein-coupled receptors, nuclear hormone receptors, kinases, and protein–protein interactions have spanned therapeutic areas including multiple sclerosis, oncology, virology, inflammation, and fibrosis. Born out of careful multifactorial optimization and practical creativity, his discoveries have furthered the understanding of therapeutic targets and helped advance multiple research programs. One of these discoveries, TPST-1120, a first-in-class PPARα (peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor alpha) antagonist, is being evaluated by Tempest in clinical trials to examine its impact on advanced-stage malignancies.

 

Before joining the team at IMMvention, Dr Clark has been an important part of drug discovery programs Amira Pharmaceuticals, Inception Sciences, BioDuro-Sundia and Fuzionaire Diagnostics.

Dr Clark earned his BS in Pharmacological Chemistry from UCSD and a PhD in chemistry from The Scripps Research Institute where he worked with Professor Dale Boger.

Fun fact: When not fixing molecules Ryan can be found fixing things around the house, camping with his family, or riding his dual-sport motorcycle.

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Marilyn Thompson
VP of Finance

Marilyn Thompson is an experienced business development executive with over 25 years of experience in the biotech, pharma, medical device/software and 3D scanning sectors.

She has served as a Controller, Director of Finance, VP of Finance and Chief Financial Officer with oversight of Accounting, Finance and administrative areas of business. She has extensive experience in new business and has served as a consultant to over 100 start-up companies.

 

Marilyn has managed millions of dollars in NIH and NSF funded grants and continues to consult with companies concerning grant funding. Ms. Thompson attended East Carolina University where she majored in Business with a degree in Accounting.

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Robert Junkins, Ph.D.
Director of Research

Dr. Junkins has 15+ years of research experience in the fields of innate immunology, cell biology and biochemistry. He completed his BSc (Hons) In Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and his PhD in Microbiology and Immunology at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, Canada.   He went on to receive postdoctoral training in Immunology and Genetics at UNC-Chapel Hill in the lab of Dr. Jenny Ting where he developed a deep expertise and keen interest in the inflammasome field, and where he was a key driver in the inception of IMMvention Therapeutix. Dr. Junkins has widely published in high profile scientific journals spanning multiple disciplines and is an inventor on multiple patents.

 

Fun fact: Outside of the lab, Rob can be found training for his next marathon, tackling endless DIY projects, or spending some quality time with his family.

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Matthew Gallovic, Ph.D.
Director of Research

Matt Gallovic, Ph.D., has 10+ years of experience in drug delivery, formulation, analytics, and preclinical development of various therapeutic modalities. Matt has numerous peer-reviewed publications in high profile scientific journals. He completed his Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering with an emphasis on designing next-generation vaccines and immunomodulatory therapies from Ohio State University. He continued this work as a Post-Doc and Research Scientist in Pharmacoengineering and Molecular Pharmaceutics in the Eshelman School of Pharmacy at UNC-Chapel Hill. Prior to his doctoral training, Matt gained experience in biopharma R&D at Baxter Healthcare.

 

Fun fact: As all native Clevelanders have, Matt has lived through many years of misery being an avid Cleveland sports fan, but was finally able to enjoy the Cavs’ 2016 championship run. He’s still holding out hope for the Indians and Browns.

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Sarah Wise
Senior Scientist

Sarah joined IMMvention following more than 15 years of industry experience in assay development and automation technology for drug discovery. Most recently she was in Gilead Sciences’ high-throughput biology group responsible for assay development of lead identification and lead optimization assays. She’s worked on many target classes including PDL1 and kinases.  Prior to Gilead, she was in CombinatoRx discovery biology group.

Sarah received MS Biochemistry from Univ of Colorado, Boulder, CO and Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry from Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA.  

 

Fun fact: Sarah is an avid bibliophile and a fan of crossword puzzles. She enjoys hiking, camping, and watching sports with her husband and kids.

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Brittany Husnander
Research Associate

After receiving a Bachelor of Science in Biology from the Rhode Island College, Brittany worked and conducted research with molecular biology techniques in many different fields. Most recently she worked in a diagnostics lab for COVID detection.  Brittany joined IMMvention Therapeutix in 2021 and manages bioassays and screening for discovery of new therapeutics for inflammatory diseases. 

Fun fact: Worked in Gillette Stadium (home of the New England Patriots)!

Ambassadors

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J David Becherer, Ph.D.
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Tom Barta, Ph.D.
Advisor, Medicinal and Computational Chemistry

Dr. Barta has proven track record as a computational medicinal chemist in Pharma and Biotech where he has designed and developed small molecule inhibitors for a number of proteins in diverse therapeutic areas. His 30+ years of experience include contributions to Pharmacia*, Serenex*, BioLeap, and other companies. Dr. Barta has been deeply involved in the medicinal chemistry of cyclooxygenase inhibitors (Celebrex), Matrix Metalloproteinase inhibitors, Heat Shock 90 modulators, and other targets.

* now Pfizer

 

Fun fact: Tom was one of about a dozen official photographers for Raleigh’s 2019 SPARKcon creativity festival, which featured dance, aerial, and fire-related performing arts.

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Mark Reed
1st Employee
Currently on secret mission!

After receiving a Bachelors in Chemistry from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Mark joined IMMvention Therapeutix as the first full-time employee and helped launch the company out of the university setting and onto the biotechnology scene.

 

Fun fact: During the summer of the COVID era, Mark grew and sported a concealed mustache underneath his mask.