Oren Gilad, Ph.D – President and CEO

A researcher, scientific entrepreneur and innovator, Dr. Gilad has extensive hands-on experience across early phases of drug research and development. Over the course of a 13-year academic career, he has authored several high impact scientific articles, including one that demonstrated the importance of the ATR pathway in cancer development and prevention. This breakthrough research, which was conducted at the University of Pennsylvania, led to Dr. Gilad co-founding Atrin Pharmaceuticals in 2011. This is the third company that he has set up, the first two having been sold.  


Dr. Gilad holds a B.Sc from the Hebrew University, a Ph.D and post-doctorate from University of California at Davis, and a post-doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania.

Michael King, MBA – Chief Business Officer


Mr. King is the former CBO and CFO at Aprecia, a specialty pharmaceuticals company that develops branded specialty products using three-dimensional printing, a unique pharmaceutical manufacturing technology. He has served as a senior advisor to a number of early-stage public and private biotech companies. Mr. King was Chief Commercial Officer of Belrose Pharma, as well as Head of US Product Portfolio & Strategy, and member of the US Executive Committee, for Sandoz GmbH, the $9 billion subsidiary of Novartis AG. A former management consultant with McKinsey & Company, Mr. King has a diverse background in corporate finance and investment banking with deep knowledge of the pharmaceutical/biotech industry.


Mr. King holds an MBA with Honors from the Columbia Graduate School of Business.

Michel Afargan, Ph.D - Head Pharmacology Development


Dr. Afargan has over 25 years of experience as a Senior Executive in Drug Discovery and Development. He served as CTO, CEO and Chairman of several biomed startups and public companies. Dr. Afargan is co-author of 7 INDs, 2 IDEs and 2 505(B)2. Since 2012, Dr. Afargan has been the leading Lecturer of Pharmaceutical Sciences, School of Pharmacy, Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel. He is the innovator of the novel peptide-based drug Somatoprim® for the treatment of metabolic disorders and adenocarcinomas, and inventor of a series of issued and pending patents in innovative drug delivery systems, diagnostics and new drug entities of small molecules and peptide-based drugs.


Dr. Afargan received a B.Sc. in Life Sciences, M.Sc. (S) in Molecular Biology, License in Pharmacy (B. Pharm.), M.Sc. Pharmaceutical Sciences and Ph.D. in Pharmaceutical and Life Sciences (Hebrew University, Israel).  



Joseph Vacca, Ph.D. - Medicinal Chemistry 

Dr. Vacca has over 35 years of experience as a Senior Executive in Drug Discovery and Development, including over 30 years at Merck & Co., where he contributed to the total synthesis of myoinositol polyphosphates; the discovery of orally bioavailable HIV-1 protease inhibitors, thrombin inhibitors, BACE inhibitors, and HCV protease inhibitors; and the discovery and development of HIV integrase inhibitors. His work on the HIV-1 protease project led to the discovery of Merck’s HIV protease inhibitor CRIXIVAN™ (indinavir sulfate). Dr. Vacca has over 100 publications and patents, and is the holder of many awards including a Merck Directors Award given by the Merck board of Directors (1998); PhRMA Discoverers Award (1999); and was named to the American Chemical Society Medicinal Chemistry Hall of Fame.


Dr. Joseph Vacca received a B.S. in Chemistry (St. John Fisher College), and a Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry (State University of New York at Buffalo, under Professor Peter T. Lansbury Sr.).

Dansu Li, Ph.D. - Head of Technology


Dr. Li joined Atrin as Head of technology in 2017, with over 15 years of project management and scientific experience in drug discovery and development programs in large pharma, small biotech, and CROs. Prior to Atrin, Dr. Li served as Director of Medicinal Chemistry at WuXi AppTec, where she contributed to clients’ oncology programs, including two programs that advanced into clinical development. Prior to WuXi, Dr. Li worked at Merck Research Laboratories (previously Schering Plough Research Institute), where she had a strong track record in managing external resources, executing medicinal chemistry optimizations, and strengthening IP positions for lead compounds.


Dr. Li holds a BS in chemistry from the University of Science and Technology of China and a PhD in chemistry from Dartmouth College.

Rifat Pamucku, M.D. - Chief Medical Advisor and Board Member


Dr. Pamukcu has extensive experience in pharmaceuticals and drug development, with a particular focus on oncology. He currently serves as the President and CEO of Midway Pharmaceuticals. He was also a co-founder, Director and CSO of Cell Pathways (NASDAQ:CLPA, acquired by OSI Pharmaceuticals), where he directed the basic science, preclinical drug development, clinical research, regulatory programs, and various aspects of chemical scale-up and manufacturing, and raised over $140 million of investment capital. Dr. Pamukcu has been a member of the Advisory Council to the National Prostate Cancer Coalition, the GI Oncology Task Force of the American Gastroenterological Association, Executive Steering Committee of the Gastroenterology Research Group and Scientific Advisory Board of the Hereditary Colon Cancer Association. Since 1985, Dr. Pamukcu has authored or co-authored over 110 journal articles, book chapters and abstracts in the fields of gastroenterology, cancer, cancer chemoprevention and signal transduction systems. He is an inventor on over 280 issued or pending patents in the areas of drug discovery and development of agents for cancer prevention, cancer chemotherapeutics and inflammatory bowel disease.

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