Board of Directors

Meet our leadership team.

Laura Esserman, MD, MBA | Cofounder

Dr. Esserman is a surgeon and breast cancer oncology specialist practicing at the UCSF Breast Care Center where she is also Director. She has led many cross-disciplinary projects and trials. As the PI of a Department of Defense-funded Center of Excellence (COE) grant, she has brought together healthcare and industry partners to resolve the challenges of improving quality patient care.

Dr. Esserman has led many multidisciplinary projects. For her leadership of the I-SPY TRIAL, a collaboration among three cooperative groups, NCI Center for Bioinformatics and SPORE program, she received the 2005 SPORE Investigator of the Year Award. As PI of a Department of Defense-funded Center of Excellence grant, she has brought together an extraordinary multidisciplinary group of investigators and healthcare and industry partners to work on important problems of improving the quality of care delivered to women with breast cancer. The breadth of collaborators in this proposal demonstrates her ability to galvanize people to come together to create solutions that serve as models for improved healthcare delivery in the U.S.

Jeffrey Pfeffer, PhD | Cofounder

Jeffrey Pfeffer is the Thomas D. Dee II Professor of Organizational Behavior at the Graduate School of Business, Stanford University where he has taught since 1979. He is the author or co-author of 15 books including his latest, "Dying for a Paycheck:  How Modern Management Harms Employee Health and Company Performance—And What We Can Do About It."
Dr. Pfeffer received his B.S. and M.S. degrees from Carnegie-Mellon University and his Ph.D. from Stanford. He began his career at the business school at the University of Illinois and then taught at the University of California, Berkeley. Pfeffer has been a visiting professor at the Harvard Business School, Singapore Management University, London Business School, Copenhagen Business School, and for the past 13 years a visitor at IESE in Barcelona. He has presented seminars in 40 countries throughout the world as well as doing consulting and providing executive education for numerous companies, associations, and universities in the United States. Pfeffer has written monthly columns for Business 2.0 and Capital magazines, and has also written for, BNET, the Washington Post,, BBC’s Capital, and is an Influencer on LinkedIn. Dr. Pfeffer has won the Richard D. Irwin Award presented by the Academy of Management for scholarly contributions to management and numerous awards for his articles and books. He is in the Thinkers 50 Hall of Fame and has been listed as one of the Most Influential HR International Thinkers by HR Magazine. In November, 2011, he was presented with an honorary doctorate degree from Tilburg University in The Netherlands.

Dave Mandelkern, MS

Dave is a retired Silicon Valley entrepreneur with over 35 years of experience in enterprise software and healthcare services companies, including building two publicly held companies with a combined market cap at one time in excess of $1.5 billion. He was founder and CEO of Maverix Biomics, a genomic sequence big data analytic software company; founder and CEO of QuickHealth, a provider of primary care medical services recognized by the New York Times as one of the "ideas of the decade"; founder, EVP and CTO of Docent, a pioneer in online learning software; and CEO of Talarian, a real-time messaging middleware software company. Dave has served on the boards of both public and private corporations and charitable organizations including currently the California State Parks Foundation and Beyond Barriers Athletic Foundation. He is also an elected Trustee of the San Mateo County Community College District. Dave earned his BS with Distinction and his MS from Stanford University in Electrical Engineering.

Anna Barker, PhD

Dr. Barker served as the Deputy Director of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and as the Deputy Director for Strategic Scientific Initiatives for the past eight years, retiring in 2010. In this role she developed and implemented multi/trans-disciplinary programs in strategic areas of cancer research and advanced technologies including the Nanotechnology Alliance for Cancer, The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA), and the Clinical Proteomics Technologies Initiative for Cancer. Recently she led the development of a new initiative to develop a network of trans-disciplinary centers focused on the elucidation of the physics of cancer at all scales through the establishment of Physical Sciences-Oncology Centers (PS-OCs). All of these programs emphasize innovation, trans-disciplinary teams and convergence of scientific disciplines to enable progress against cancer. They also stress the synergy of large scale and individual initiated research, precompetitive research and public databases and translation of discoveries into new interventions to detect, prevent and treat cancer more effectively. Dr. Barker has also led and collaborated on the NCI’s effort to develop contemporary resources for cancer research in the areas of biospecimens and bioinformatics with the Cancer Human Biobank (caHUB) and the Cancer Bioinformatics Grid (caBIG) to support molecularly based personalized medicine. She served as the founding co-chair of the NCI-FDA Interagency Task Force, founding co-chair of the Cancer Steering Committee of the FNIH Biomarker Consortium, and oversaw the NCI’s international cancer research programs including pilot programs in Latin America and China. Dr. Barker has a long history in research and the leadership and management of research and development in the academic, non-profit, and private sectors. She served as a senior scientist and subsequently as a senior executive at Battelle Memorial Institute for 18 years and co-founded and served as the CEO of a public biotechnology drug development company. Dr. Barker has received a number of awards for her contributions to cancer research, cancer patients, professional, and advocacy organizations and the ongoing national effort to prevent and cure cancer. Her research interests include experimental therapeutics, tumor immunology, and free-radical biochemistry in cancer etiology and treatment. Dr. Barker completed her MA and PhD at the Ohio State University, where she trained in immunology and microbiology.

Lucas De Breed, PhD, MBA

Lucas de Breed, PhD MBA, is a Director at Inkef Capital, one of the leading VC firms in the Netherlands. He has 10+ years of international experience in all phases of drug development, particularly in oncology. During his time at Deallus Consulting, a global life science consulting firm, he was responsible for leading the oncology business and founded and managed the firm’s East Coast office. Consequently, he helped co-found or advised half a dozen early-stage therapeutics, med tech and diagnostics companies in both New York and the Bay Area. He is currently a member of the supervisory board of InteRNA Technologies, an oncology miRNA company in the Netherlands. Lucas holds a PhD from University College London and an MBA from Stanford University. He has also co-authored several scientific papers.

Sue Foley, CFA

Susan is an investment professional with over 24 years experience in the institutional investment management business. Previously a partner of the investment firm, Harris Bretall Sullivan and Smith, LLC (1989-2006) Harris Bretall was recently purchased by Federated Investors of Pennsylvania. Harris Bretall was a large capitalization growth stock manager with over $7 billion dollars in assets under management of public and private institutions: corporations, endowments and foundations and individual investors. Susan led the portfolio management group, sat on the investment policy committee and was the lead portfolio manager on the Technology Communications & Entertainment Portfolio.

Susan is a Chartered Financial Analyst, Chartered Investment Counselor, and member of both the Security Analyst’s of San Francisco and of AIMR. In the past she has been associated with the National Association of Business Economists. She has served on both private corporate boards and charitable organizations including the National Charity League, Menlo School, and the UCSF Breast Cancer Center.

Robert Patterson, Esq

Robert Patterson is an attorney at Squire, Sanders & Dempsey and has 31 years of experience providing legal counsel to high tech business clients. He advises clients on a variety of matters including startup issues and the formation of new businesses predicated on technology. He was named as one of Silicon Valley’s top corporate lawyers in May 2003 by San Jose Magazine.

Mr. Patterson works closely with venture capital investors in investment and operation activities. He has assisted non-US corporations in their formation, acquisition and operation of US companies. He serves as a director of several biotechnology-based corporations, among others. He has been a director and member of the investment committee of an international venture capital fund since 1983 and, in that regard, has negotiated numerous venture capital investments both as a lawyer and, on occasion, an investor. He is a founding partner of a technology-focused SBIC venture fund. His practice over the years has included representation of non-US corporations doing business in Silicon Valley. Mr. Patterson was a visiting scholar at the Amos Tuck School of Business Administration at Dartmouth College where he was the inaugural fellow of the Tuck Center for Private Equity.

Robyn Lawrie Rutledge, MBA

Robyn was born and raised in Toronto, Canada, and received a Bachelor of Commerce with First Class Honors from Queen’s University in Kingston. She subsequently earned an MBA from Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business, where she was an Arjay Miller Scholar, and interned in the wine industry. When not at her desk, you will find Robyn outdoors, running or biking, creating healthy recipes for her family, or chasing her highly-energetic toddler.

Robyn has been working in finance and investing for over 15 years with a focus in the food, beverage, and wellness industries. Searching out innovation in health, Robyn is motivated to improve our society’s wellbeing through rapid consumer understanding and practical paths to adoption.

Currently Robyn devotes significant time advising and directing businesses, both through her own consulting practice, and also as an Operating Partner at a leading strategic equity firm. She joined TSG Consumer Partners in 2007, a private equity firm focused exclusively on investing in consumer brands, and subsequently was promoted to Managing Director and Partner. Robyn has led teams across all facets of private equity including prospect selection, negotiation and structuring, and value creation through partnership. Robyn is currently an active faculty member and Chairs the Advisory Council at the Food Business School (FBS), the graduate and executive education center of the Culinary Institute of America. Robyn has always loved mentoring and is a passionate advocate for the principal of life-long learning. In addition to working directly with students, Robyn has the privilege of engaging and activating leaders in the industry, working to shape FBS through bold innovation in curriculum and execution.

Previously Robyn was a member of the investing team at Thoma Cressey where she focused on the consumer products and marketing services sectors. Robyn began her career in finance in New York at Goldman Sachs, working in both Corporate Finance and Mergers and Acquisitions advising clients in the natural resources, technology, and consumer products sectors.

Mark Simon, MBA

Mark Simon,  Partner and Co-Founder of Torreya, heads their Biotech Advisory Team and participates in many of the firm’s biotech, pipeline, and specialty pharma transactions. He has expansive scientific and clinical knowledge across multiple therapeutic areas. In 30 plus years of advising biotech and specialty pharma companies, he has worked on more than 175 financing and M&A transactions totalling over $50 billion in value. Before co-founding Torreya in 2007, Mark was a Managing Director and the Head of Life Sciences Investment Banking at Citigroup, where he covered global pharmaceutical companies, with a focus on large-capitalization players in the US, Europe, and Japan. Prior to his tenure at Citigroup, Mark served as a Managing Director at Robertson Stephens in San Francisco and New York. There, he was involved in raising 45% of all biotech dollars raised in the US from 1999-2001.Before moving into investment banking, Mark was a Senior Biotech Research Analyst at Robertson Stephens, where he was named Wall Street All-Star Analyst three years in a row. He began his career as a Research Associate at Kidder Peabody in New York in 1984, covering biotechnology and healthcare services companies. holds a B.A. in history from Columbia College and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School. He is Senior Advisor to the Milken Family Foundation’s Prostate Cancer Foundation and a Director of the Alliance for Aging Research.