About

Comet Therapeutics is a discovery-stage company pioneering metabolic reprogramming. Comet’s MetaSwitch™ Platform generates a novel class of molecules to regulate the metabolism of cells upward or downward.­­

Using the unique power of metabolic reprogramming, Comet can treat a wide array of diseases characterized by metabolic disturbances. Comet’s experimental metabolic switches are designed to have a profound effect on cells’ sources of energy, enabling the restoration of normal metabolism and overall health.

Leadership

David DeGraaf, Ph.D. Chief Executive Officer
David De Graaf, Ph.D., is an entrepreneur, scientist, executive and venture capitalist with a long record of success in biopharma. Prior to joining Comet Therapeutics in 2018, Dr. de Graaf was CEO of Syntimmune, where his work advancing multiple antibody drug candidates contributed to its sale to Alexion for $1.2 billion. He has served as a venture partner at Apple Tree Partners, an entrepreneur-in-residence at Flagship Pioneering and Partners Innovation Fund. He served as executive chairman and CEO of Selventa, which he relaunched and grew to more than $40 million in sales. Earlier, Dr. de Graaf served as vice president of biotherapeutics and integrative biology at Boehringer Ingelheim, and held leadership positions at Pfizer and AstraZeneca. Dr. de Graaf earned his Ph.D. in genetics at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Art Taveras, Ph.D. Chief Scientific Officer
Art Taveras is a pharmaceutical R&D leader with an extensive track record of discovery and development of small molecule therapeutics with applications in oncology, neurology, immunology and cardiovascular conditions. Prior to joining Comet, he served as founder and head of small molecule discovery at Transform Therapeutics. Before, he was president and chief scientific officer of ShangPharma ChemPartner. Earlier, Dr. Taveras was vice president of small molecule drug discovery at Biogen. He also held senior positions at Alantos Pharmaceuticals and Schering-Plough. Dr. Taveras earned his Ph.D. at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He is an inventor of more than 130 published and granted patents and is the author of more than 90 peer-reviewed papers.
Enej Kuscer, Ph.D. Founder and Chief Technical Officer
Enej Kuscer is an entrepreneur with years of experience in the field of Coenzyme A metabolism and its disorders. Before founding Comet Therapeutics, Dr. Kuscer was founder and CEO of Acies Bio, a contract research organization, and co-founder of W2V GmbH, an industrial biotech firm that processed whey waste into high-value products. He earned his Ph.D. at the University of Ljubljana, Slovenia.

Board of Directors

Peter Van Vlasselaer, Ph.D. Chairman, Independent Director
Peter Van Vlasselaer has more than 20 years of successful entrepreneurial experience in biotechnology. He is executive chairman of Amphivena Therapeutics. Previously, he was founder, president and chief executive officer of ARMO Biosciences, acquired by Eli Lilly and Company shortly after its initial public offering. Before that, he was president and chief executive officer of iPierian (acquired by Bristol-Myers Squibb), Arresto Biosciences (acquired by Gilead Sciences), and Avidia (acquired by Amgen). Dr. Van Vlasselaer holds a Ph.D. in immunology from Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium.
Drs. Ben Machielse Independent Director
Ben Machielse has more than 25 years of experience in the biotech industry. Ben has been involved with the successful development of multiple drugs, including the first H1N1 vaccine available in the United States. Most recently, Ben served as CEO of Vtesse, a company developing treatments for Niemann-Pick disease, acquired by Sucampo Pharmaceuticals. Prior to Vtesse, Ben served as chief operating officer of Omthera Pharmaceuticals, acquired by AstraZeneca. Before that, Ben served as executive vice president of operations for MedImmune, leading development of therapeutic antibodies, small molecules and vaccines. Previously, Ben held executive roles at Xoma Corp. and Centocor BV. He has served on the boards of Xencor and Tetragenetics and is currently a member of the board of PolyNeuron Pharmaceuticals and Complexa. Ben holds a bachelor of science in medical biology and a master’s in biochemistry from the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands.
Henrijette Richter, Ph.D. Managing Partner, Sofinnova Partners
Henrijette Richter is managing partner at Sofinnova Partners. She joined as Partner in 2014 from Novo Seeds (part of Novo A/S) where she was involved in the establishment of the group in 2007. While at Novo Seeds, Henrijette was instrumental in the creation, financing and growth of companies including Cytoguide, Orphazyme, Avilex Pharma, EpiTherapeutics (acquired by Gilead Sciences) and Lysogene. In addition to Comet, Henrijette served on the boards of Asceneuron, Delinia (acquired by Celgene), iOmx, Nodthera and Twentyeight-Seven Therapeutics. Henrijette holds a Ph.D. in molecular biology from the University of Copenhagen. She conducted her post-doctorate fellowship at the MIT Center for Cancer Research.
Roel Bulthuis Managing Partner, Inkef Capital
Roel Bulthuis is a managing director and head of the health care investment team at INKEF. Roel combines more than 15 years of experience across venture capital, pharma business development and investment banking. Prior to joining INKEF he served as a senior vice president and managing director of M-Ventures which he founded and developed into a leading CVC fund. Prior to that, he served in senior positions in global business development at Merck Serono and in the investment banking team at Fortis Bank. Roel is a Kauffman Fellow and passionate about continuously challenging the status quo. Roel holds a Master of Science in biopharmaceutical sciences from Leiden University and an MBA in finance from the Helsinki School of Economics.
Colleen Cuffaro, Ph.D. Partner, Canaan
Colleen Cuffaro is a Principal on Canaan’s healthcare investment team. In addition to Comet, she currently serves on the boards of Arrakis Therapeutics and the New England Venture Capital Association. She is a board observer at RallyBio and AntivaBio. Previously she was a board observer at Spyryx Biosciences, NextCure (NXTC), Arvinas (ARVN), and Novira Therapeutics (acquired by Johnson & Johnson). Prior to joining Canaan in 2014, Colleen was a chemist at Pharmaceutical Manufacturing and Research Services (PMRS, Inc.), where she worked with small and large pharmaceutical companies on drug product development, ranging from preclinical feasibility studies to commercial supply. She also served as a bioscience analyst for Entrepreneurship Lab NYC, an accelerator for healthcare startups. Colleen holds a Ph.D. in cellular and molecular physiology from Yale University and a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the University of Pennsylvania.
Anthony Walsh, Ph.D. Principal, BioInnovation Capital
Anthony Walsh, Ph.D., is a principal at BioInnovation Capital based in Cambridge, Mass. Anthony leads the diligence team in assessing new investment opportunities in the therapeutics, diagnostic and device spaces and is responsible for negotiating deal terms and helping to manage portfolio companies. Prior to joining BioInnovation, Anthony was an associate at RA Capital Management, a Boston-based healthcare hedge fund, where he conducted due diligence on biotechnology companies, with a particular interest in CNS, metabolic and autoimmune indications. He holds a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from Trinity College, University of Dublin, and a Ph.D. in biophysics from the University of Oxford. He conducted his postdoctoral research at Boston University and Harvard University.
David de Graaf, Ph.D. President and CEO, Comet Therapeutics
David De Graaf, Ph.D., is an entrepreneur, scientist, executive and venture capitalist with a long record of success in biopharma. Prior to joining Comet Therapeutics in 2018, Dr. de Graaf was CEO of Syntimmune, where his work advancing multiple antibody drug candidates contributed to its sale to Alexion for $1.2 billion. He has served as a venture partner at Apple Tree Partners, an entrepreneur-in-residence at Flagship Pioneering and Partners Innovation Fund. He served as executive chairman and CEO of Selventa, which he relaunched and grew to more than $40 million in sales. Earlier, Dr. de Graaf served as vice president of biotherapeutics and integrative biology at Boehringer Ingelheim, and held leadership positions at Pfizer and AstraZeneca. Dr. de Graaf earned his Ph.D. in genetics at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Comet Colleagues

Andrew Melber
Scientist II
Angelina Sekirnik
Research Director
Art Taveras
Chief Scientific Officer
Brian Milette
VP - Finance & Operations
Chelsea Duncan
Research Associate
David de Graaf
Chief Executive Officer
LaDonna Hoffer
Office Manager
Halleh Mahini
Senior Program Manager
Ezgi Gürler
Research Associate
Enej Kuscer
Chief Technology Officer (Leiden)
Dharini Shah
Research Director
My Chouinard
Scientist II
Monique van Spronsen-de Kruis
Administrative Assistant
Mercedes Valls
Senior Scientist (Leiden)
Lucy Sun
Principal Scientist
Lalita Oonthonpan
Scientist I
Ruoyu Zhuo
Research Associate
Paul McDonald
Research Associate

Investors

Sofinnova Partners is a leading European venture capital firm specialized in life sciences. Headquartered in Paris with offices in London and Milan, the firm brings together a team of 40 professionals from Europe, the U.S. and Asia. The firm focuses on paradigm-shifting technologies alongside visionary entrepreneurs. Sofinnova Partners invests across the life sciences value chain as a lead or cornerstone investor, from very early-stage opportunities to late-stage/public companies. It has backed nearly 500 companies over 47 years, creating market leaders around the globe. Today, Sofinnova Partners has more than €2 billion under management. sofinnova.com
Canaan is an early stage venture capital firm that invests in entrepreneurs with visionary ideas. With $5 billion raised over 11 funds, Canaan has invested in some of the world’s leading technology and health care companies over the past 30 years with nearly 200 exits. Canaan’s focus areas include fintech, SaaS, marketplace, e-commerce, biopharma, digital health and medtech. canaan.com
INKEF Capital is an Amsterdam-based venture capital firm that is focused on long-term collaboration and active support of innovative technology companies. INKEF was founded in 2010 by Dutch pension fund ABP. With €500 million under management, it is one of the largest venture capital funds in the Netherlands. INKEF focuses on investment opportunities in healthcare (biotechnology, medical devices, diagnostics and digital health) and Technology (enterprise software, SaaS, internet, new media, fintech). ICT/NewMedia/FinTech and prefers to participate from Series A round financing onwards. inkefcapital.com
Mission BioCapital is a life science investment firm run by five partners who collectively have more than 50 years of venture capital experience and industry-leading track records. We have proprietary access to outstanding life science startups through a series of competitive lab-based innovation centers in the most important health care markets in the U.S.: LabCentral and Cambridge BioLabs in Cambridge, Mass., QB3@953 in San Francisco, BioLabs North Carolina in Durham, and BioLabs San Diego. The labs’ ongoing operations are funded by user rent and through sponsorship by major pharmaceutical, diagnostics and tools companies. These strategic partners are eager to acquire biotech companies that have science that works, even before expensive clinical trials. Our new approach to investing in life science companies significantly reduces the time and capital needed to prove a new product or technology and mitigates founder, science, financing, and liquidity risk. missionbiocapital.com

Join Our Team

Interested in joining Comet’s world-leading team of metabolic scientists? Learn about our career openings here.