Kenneth N. Horne, M.S

President & Chief Operating Officer

Mr. Horne has over 20 years of experience in the life science industry as an executive, entrepreneur and investor. He joined Teon Therapeutics as President and COO in 2019. Previously, Mr. Horne was CEO of Symic Bio starting in 2014. Under his leadership Symic raised over $90M in funding and advanced two first-in-category drugs into phase 2 studies. Both assets have been partnered. Before Symic, Mr. Horne was a founding member of TauTona Group, an early stage life science venture capital fund. At TauTona, Mr. Horne founded Aline Aesthetics, a novel biomaterial company, where he led the company as General Manager until its acquisition by Allergan (AGN) in 2014. He also served as Vice President of Business Development for TauTona portfolio companies, which included acquisitions by LifeCell and Novadaq (NVDQ).

Earlier in his career he worked extensively in cardiovascular research as part of The Foundry, and contributed to the development of Evalve’s MitraClip (acquired by Abbott Vascular). He has over 30 issued patents.

Mr. Horne serves on the Board of Directors of Teon Therapeutics, Symic Bio, AfaSci, and is an advisory Partner at Advantary. He has a B.S. and M.S. degree from Stanford University in mechanical engineering and is a Kauffman Fellow

Lina Yao, Ph.D.

Founder, Acting CEO and Chief Scientific Officer

Dr. Yao has over 20 years of experience in pharmaceutical industry and a proven track record of progression of small molecules and antibodies from discovery to clinical development. In 2018, Dr. Yao co-founded Teon Therapeutics, a company that focuses on the treatment of cancer by blocking tumor-induced immunosuppression. Prior to Teon, Dr. Yao served as a Senior Director of Biology at Gilead Sciences where she led a team of 30 scientists and contributed to the growth and success of Gilead’s pipeline across several therapeutic areas including inflammation, oncology, fibrotic and cardiovascular metabolic disorders. Dr. Yao supervised the preclinical combination study of Ambrisentan® and Tadalafil (AMBITION trial) that supported the approval of the combination therapy for treatment of pulmonary arterial hypertension. Dr. Yao contributed to the development of Selonsertib, an ASK1 inhibitor for fibrotic diseases (Phase 3). Prior to joining Gilead, Dr. Yao served as Director of Biology at CV Therapeutics where she led ALDH2 biology in developing ANS-6637, an ALDH2 inhibitor that has progressed to Phase 2 clinical trials for drug addiction.

Prior to CV Therapeutics, Dr. Yao held the position of Assistant Professor at University of California San Francisco, Department of Neurology. She studied mechanisms and interactions of G-protein coupled receptors in drug addiction and other CNS diseases. She is an inventor of more than 10 Issued US Patents and has authored/co-authored over 50 peer-reviewed papers and book chapters.

Dr. Yao received her Ph.D. in Molecular Pharmacology from Huazhong University of Science and Technology and completed her postdoctoral research at the University of California San Francisco.

Robert Sikorski, MD, Ph.D.

Consulting Chief Medical Officer

Dr. Robert Sikorski began his engagement with Teon in March 2019. He is serving a strategic role to support the advancement of Teon into clinical development. By providing leadership to build clinical functions that include clinical operations, pharmacovigilance, pharmacokinetics, biostatistics, and regulatory affairs,  Dr. Sikorski plays a major role in advancing Teon’s immuno-oncology portfolio.

Dr. Sikorski has 20 years of clinical and industry experience with accomplishments in drug development across pre-IND, early stage, late stage, and post marketing programs. He is currently the Managing Director of Woodside Way Ventures. He has previously served as the Chief Medical Officer in charge of  Global Clinical Development at Five Prime Therapeutics, a publicly traded biotechnology company. Prior to this, Dr. Sikorski was as a Senior Director leading Global Oncology Research and Development at MedImmune (the Biologics Division of AstraZeneca, PLC), where his group advanced the clinical development of a portfolio of immuno-oncology drugs. He played a major role in building the early Medimmune/AstraZeneca biologics pipeline and in partnering and acquisition efforts that included OX40, PD1, CTLA4 (tremelimumab), oncolytic virus, cell therapy, and TLR targeting assets.  Prior to Medimmune, he served as Director of Global Oncology Research and Development at Amgen, where he led late stage global clinical development and post marketing efforts for oncology products. His seminal work in the development of panitumumab (now marketed as Vectibix®) led to the drug’s approval with a first-in-class companion diagnostic based on KRAS mutations.

Dr. Sikorski began his career as a Howard Hughes Research Fellow and Visiting Scientist at the National Cancer Institute and the National Human Genome Research Institute in the laboratory of Nobel Laureate Harold Varmus. Dr. Sikorski received an M.D. and Ph.D. from The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine through a Medical Scientist Training Program scholarship. He completed his residency at Massachusetts General Hospital and an oncology fellowship at The Johns Hopkins Oncology Center and is board eligible in both medical oncology and internal medicine.

Elfatih Elzein, Ph.D./MBA

Co-founder, VP of Chemistry & Early Development

Dr. Elzein joined Teon Therapeutics in 2018 with over 20 years of experience in pharmaceutical industry and a proven track record of progression of small molecules from hit identification to clinical development. Prior to Teon Therapeutics, Dr. Elzein spent 10 years as a Principal Scientist at Gilead Sciences where he played key roles in the discovery and progression of novel drug candidates in the cardiovascular and oncology therapeutic areas. Prior to Gilead, Dr. Elzein spent 11 years at CV Therapeutics, Inc., serving in roles of increasing responsibility and played key roles in building and advancing a broad portfolio of therapeutic drug candidates from discovery to clinical development. Dr. Elzein has an exceptional track record of scientific achievements; he is an inventor of more than 90 Issued US Patents, and he has authored/co-authored over 50 peer-reviewed papers and book chapters. Dr. Elzein contributed to the discovery of 5 development compounds (phase 1-3) and two approved drugs. He discovered Lexiscan®, a selective A2A agonist that was approved in 2008. Dr. Elzein led the medicinal chemistry team that supported the development of Ranexa®, first-in class late sodium current inhibitor for the treatment of chronic stable angina that was approved in 2006. Dr. Elzein was the brain behind the design of Eleclazine, an orally active selective late sodium current inhibitor in phase 3 clinical trials.

Dr. Elzein holds a Ph.D. in Medicinal Chemistry from Duquesne University, School of Pharmacy, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and completed one-year postdoctoral studies at University of Minnesota, School of Pharmacy.

Jim Liu, Ph.D.

Co-founder, VP of Chemistry

One of Jim’s lifelong goals is to contribute to the cure of cancer. He believes that with the advancement of science and human society, curing cancer will be a reality, in which fear will not be an automatic response when diagnosed with cancer. He also believes Teon Therapeutics is the right team to make a big impact in curing cancer.

Jim has more than 20 years of industry experience. He started his drug research and development career in 1998, joining Tularik, which was acquired by Amgen in 2004. He continued his career at Amgen as a Principle Scientist and led programs across multiple therapeutic areas. He is known as a creative scientist, who knows how to collaborate and advance programs quickly. Among the programs he led and participated, four of them advanced into Phase 1 clinical trials, and one into Phase 2. His success also has much to do with his ability to learn and expand his expertise, since drug R&D requires multidisciplinary knowledge. One example is that he published a highly cited perspective article outside his medical chemistry field in the prestigious Diabetes journal.

In 2014, Jim left Amgen and started his entrepreneurship endeavor. He founded RIFA Pharma, and worked on diabetes program. His RIFA experience taught him how to be an entrepreneur, which led him to recognize the golden opportunity in Teon Therapeutics.

Jim earned his Ph.D. from the University of Rochester and conducted his postdoctoral research at Colorado State University. 

Peter Fan, Ph.D.

Co-founder, VP of Biology

Dr. Fan has over 20 years of pharmaceutical industry experience in drug discovery and development of small molecules. Dr. Fan has an extensive experience in GPCRs research, and he is a strong believer and advocator for targeting GPCRs-mediated metabolic stress in tumor microenvironment as a better approach to fully unleash anti-tumor immune responses to combat cancer. Prior to Teon, Dr. Fan spent 8 years at Gilead Sciences as a Principal Scientist where he led his group to identify novel targets for cancer, inflammation and cardiometabolic diseases. He initiated several GPCR exploratory programs for cancer immunotherapy and contributed to the discovery of a number of clinical candidates including Selonsertib, an ASK1 inhibitors for fibrotic disease that progressed to phase 3 clinical trials. Before joining Gilead, Dr. Fan served as a Senior Scientist at CV Therapeutics where he played key roles in the discovery and development of new therapies for CNS and cardiometabolic diseases including ANS-6637, an ALDH2 inhibitor that has advanced to Phase 2 clinical trials for drug addiction. Dr. Fan is an inventor of more than 6 Issued US Patents and author/co-author of over 30 peer-reviewed papers.

Dr. Fan received his Ph.D. in Molecular Pharmacology from Peking Union Medical College and completed his postdoctoral research at the University of California, San Francisco.

Helena Haberstock, Ph.D.

Director of Biology

Dr. Haberstock has over 10 years of pharmaceutical industry experience in preclinical and clinical research with small molecules and biologics in the areas of inflammatory/autoimmune and cardiovascular (antiplatelet inhibitor) diseases as well as in immuno-oncology. Dr. Haberstock has extensive experience in GPCR research and in platelet, T and B cell and tumor biology. Before joining Teon she served as the Associate Director leading pharmacology for a novel antibody based immuno-oncology program. Before that she worked as a Senior Scientist at Principia Biopharma leading an in vivo research group and participating in the preclinical development of T and B cell specific small molecule kinase inhibitors. She also served as Scientist II at Portola Pharmaceuticals for 5 years with increasing levels of responsibility working on mechanism of action studies, as well as pharmacology and clinical biomarker development of a clinical drug candidate for an antithrombotic GPCR-P2Y12 antagonists program that has progressed to phase 3 clinical trials and a Syk kinase program (phase I). Dr. Haberstock is author/coauthor on over 20 peer-reviewed papers.

Dr. Haberstock received her Ph.D. in Molecular Biology from the University of Zagreb, Faculty for Natural Science and Mathematics, Croatia and completed her postdoctoral research at the University of California, San Francisco.