Board of Directors


Julie Anne Smith

President & Chief Executive Officer

Prior to joining E-Scape, Ms. Smith served as president and chief executive officer of Nuredis, a biotechnology company developing small-molecule therapies for nucleotide repeat disorders such as Huntington's disease. She previously served as president and CEO of Raptor Pharmaceuticals, which developed and commercialized therapies for the orphan disease nephropathic cystinosis and chronic pulmonary infections before its acquisition by Horizon Pharmaceuticals. Ms. Smith also served as chief commercial officer of Enobia Pharmaceuticals until it was acquired by Alexion in 2012. Earlier in her career, she held roles at Jazz Pharmaceuticals, Genzyme, Novazyme and Bristol-Myers Squibb. Ms. Smith serves as a director on the boards of Exelixis, Inc. (EXEL) and Audentes Therapeutics (BOLD). Ms. Smith obtained her bachelor of science in biology from Cornell University.


Laura Brass, Ph.D.

Senior Investment Partner, Novartis Venture Fund

Dr. Laura Brass is a senior investment partner at NVF in Cambridge, MA, USA. Prior to joining NVF, Laura was a Managing Director at MPM Capital, and prior to that, she was a member of the founding management team and SVP of Business Development for TriNetX, a healthcare IT company focusing on big data analytics for clinical research. Before TriNetX, Laura was Director of Business Development at Harvard University's Office of Technology Development and at its Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering. She led commercialization strategy, start-up creation, deal structuring, and negotiations for a portfolio of over 250 biotech, synthetic chemistry, engineering, software, device, and stem cell technologies developed at Harvard and Harvard-affiliated institutions. Laura has also held roles in business development and IP strategy at Elixir Pharmaceuticals, and was CEO of Aferon, Inc., an early-stage antiviral start-up company. Laura holds a B.A. in Philosophy and a B.S. in Biochemistry from the University of Missouri-Columbia, and a Ph.D. in Molecular Genetics and Cell Biology and an M.B.A. from the University of Chicago.


Perry Karsen

Independent Director

Perry Karsen was the Chief Executive Officer of Celgene Cellular Therapeutics from May 2013 until his retirement from Celgene, Corporation at the end of 2015. Perry held the position of Executive Vice President and Chief Operations Officer at Celgene Corporation from July 2010 to May 2013 and he served in various management positions, including Senior Vice President and Head of Worldwide Business Development at Celgene and President of Asia/Pacific Region, from May 2004 until February 2009.

Perry was the President and Chief Executive Officer of Pearl Therapeutics, a privately-held biotechnology company subsequently acquired by Astra- Zeneca, from February 2009 until July 2010. In addition, Perry held executive positions at Human Genome Sciences, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Genentech and Abbott Laboratories earlier in his career. He also was a General Partner at Pequot Ventures from 2000-2003 focusing on investments in biotechnology and medical devices.

Perry has a B.S. in Biological Sciences from the University of Illinois, Urbana, a Master of Arts in Teaching Biology from Duke University, and a Masters of Management from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. Perry serves on the Board of Directors and as Chair of several private and public biotechnology companies, The Gladstone Foundation, and The Sonoma Land Trust. He is a former member of the Board of Directors and the Executive Committee of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) and a past member of the Board of Directors of the Alliance for Regenerative Medicine (ARM).


Judith J. Li

Partner, Lilly Asia Ventures

Judith J. Li is a Partner at Lilly Asia Ventures (LAV), based in Hong Kong / Shanghai and focused on early and growth stage investments across biopharmaceuticals, medical devices, and diagnostics both domestically and cross-border. Her prior experience includes McKinsey's New York office, hospital administration at Partners Healthcare, and co-founding an interventional nephrology medical device venture. Judith holds a B.A. in Neurobiology from Harvard and M.B.A. from Harvard Business School, and currently resides in Hong Kong with her husband Ben, splitting her time between Hong Kong, Shanghai, and the Bay Area.


Peter Moldt

Partner, Novo Ventures

Peter joined Novo Ventures (US) Inc. in San Francisco, California in 2012. He is chairman of the Board of Directors of Allakos Inc., and a member of the Board of Directors of Corvus Pharmaceuticals Inc., Bolt Therapeutics, E-Scape Bio. Spruce Biosciences and Tioma Therapeutics. Previously, he was a board member of Cytochroma Inc., HemoFocus ApS, Neurokey A/S and Orphazyme ApS.

From 2009-2012, Peter was employed with Novo A/S as a partner in Novo Ventures. In 2004, Peter co-founded Curalogic A/S, served as CEO until 2009 and took the company public in 2006. From 2000-2004, he was Chief Operating Officer of 7TM Pharma A/S, which he also co-founded. Previously, he worked for 11 years with NeuroSearch A/S, where he was responsible for all aspects of pre-clinical and clinical drug development.

Peter holds a PhD in medicinal chemistry from the Royal Danish School of Pharmacy. He has also been a post doc with Yale University's department of organic chemistry.


Peter Thompson, M.D.

Private Equity Partner, OrbiMed

Peter Thompson, M.D., is currently a Private Equity Partner with OrbiMed who brings over 25 years of industry experience. He held executive positions at Becton-Dickinson and Chiron, co-founded and was CEO of Trubion Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: TRBN), co-founded Cleave BioSciences and Corvus Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: CRVS) and serves as a Director on several public and private company Boards.  Dr. Thompson is an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year awardee, an Affiliate Professor of Neurosurgery at the University of Washington, an inventor on numerous patents and a board-certified internist and oncologist. He was on staff at the National Cancer Institute following his internal medicine training at Yale University.


R. Sanders (Sandy) Williams, M.D.

President, Gladstone Institutes

R. Sanders (Sandy) Williams, M.D., is a physician-scientist and biomedical executive. He serves currently as President of the Gladstone Institutes in San Francisco and Professor of Medicine at UCSF. Gladstone scientists seek deep knowledge of human biology leading to cures for unsolved diseases of the brain, the heart, and the immune system. He previously served as: Dean of the School of Medicine at Duke University; founding Dean of the Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School in Singapore; and Chief of Cardiology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. He was educated at Princeton University and Duke School of Medicine, and pursued advanced training in science and medicine at Harvard (Massachusetts General Hospital), Duke, Oxford University, and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. He is active at the interface between academia and life science industries, serving currently as a Director of Amgen and of the Laboratory Corporation of America. Dr. Williams is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Medicine.


Asish K. Xavier, Ph.D.

Vice President, Venture Investments Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JJDC, Inc.

Asish is based in the Johnson & Johnson California Innovation Center in South San Francisco, CA.  Asish focuses on venture investments in biotechnology and diagnostics.  Asish joined JJDC in 2004, and has led or co-led investments in over 20 biotech, diagnostics and medtech deals.

Asish previously worked in business development at BioRexis Pharmaceutical Corporation (King of Prussia, PA) which was acquired by Pfizer in 2007.  While at BioRexis, he assisted the company in raising a $30 million round of financing.  Asish has worked in business development at Structural GenomiX, Inc. (San Diego, CA), acquired by Eli Lilly in 2008; and, was a project leader at Message Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Malvern, PA).

Asish received a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Houston and a MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, where he graduated with honors.  He received a Bachelor of Technology in Chemical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, India.  Asish was a postdoctoral research fellow in the Department of Chemistry at the Johns Hopkins University.