Board of Directors

Isaac Cheng, MD


Dr. Cheng joined Morningside in 2006 and focuses on biopharmaceutical and healthcare investments. He is currently a director of Liquidia Technologies, Cognoa, K-Gen, Artugen Therapeutics, Cognito Therapeutics, Amylyx Pharmaceuticals, NuCana PLC (NASDAQ:NCNA) and Alms Therapeutics. Previously he was a board member of Advanced Cell Diagnostics (sold to Bio-Techne). Prior to joining Morningside, Dr. Cheng was Director of Research and Development at Serica Technologies, a Morningside portfolio company which was sold to Allergan. In addition, Dr. Cheng was previously an Associate Director at Novartis Pharmaceuticals in Clinical Development and Medical Affairs. Dr. Cheng received his M.D. from Tufts University School of Medicine. He is the recipient of numerous honors and awards including the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Research Fellowship, which supported his research under Dr. Rudy Tanzi at Massachusetts General Hospital / Harvard Medical School.

Frank McCormick, PhD, FRS

Professor, University of California San Francisco

Frank McCormick, PhD, FRS, is Professor Emeritus of the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center. Prior to joining the UCSF faculty, Dr. McCormick pursued cancer-related work with several Bay Area biotechnology firms and held senior research positions with Cetus Corporation and Chiron Corporation. In 1992 he founded Onyx Pharmaceuticals, a company dedicated to developing new cancer therapies, and served as its Chief Scientific Officer until 1996. His group discovered and co-developed sorafenib and palbociclib, and pioneered cancer therapy using oncolytic viruses. Dr. McCormick's current research interests center on the fundamental differences between normal and cancer cells that can allow the discovery of novel therapeutic strategies.

Dr. McCormick holds the David A. Wood Chair of Tumor Biology and Cancer Research at UCSF. Dr. McCormick is the author of over 285 scientific publications and holds 20 issued patents.  More recently, he has taken a leadership role at the Frederick National Lab for Cancer Research, overseeing an NCI supported national effort to develop therapies against Ras-driven cancers. These cancers include most pancreatic cancers, and many colorectal and lung cancers, and are amongst the most difficult cancers to treat.

Drew Pardoll, MD PhD

Professor, Johns Hopkins University of Medicine

Drew Pardoll is Seraph Professor of Oncology, Medicine, Pathology and Molecular Biology and Genetics at the Johns Hopkins University of Medicine. He is Co-Director of the Cancer Immunology Program in the Sydney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center. Dr. Pardoll completed his MD, PhD, Medical Residency and Oncology Fellowship at Johns Hopkins University.  Dr. Pardoll has published over 200 papers as well as over 20 book chapters on the subject of T cell immunology and cancer vaccines. He has served on the editorial board of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute and Cancer Cell, and has served as a member of scientific advisory boards for the Cancer Research Institute, the University of Pennsylvania Human Gene Therapy Gene Institute, Biologic Resources Branch of the National Cancer Institute, Harvard-Dana Farber Cancer Center, Aduro Biotech, Cerus Corporation, Global Medical Products Corporation, Genencor Corporation, Cell Genesys Corporation, Mojave Therapeutics, the American Association of Clinical Oncology and the American Association of Cancer Research. Dr. Pardoll has made a number of basic advances in cellular immunology, including the discovery of gamma-delta T cells, NKT cells and interferon-producing killer dendritic cells. Over the past two decades, Dr. Pardoll has studied molecular aspects of dendritic cell biology and immune regulation, particularly related to mechanisms by which cancer cells evade elimination by the immune system. He is an inventor of a number of immunotherapies, including GVAX cancer vaccines and Listeria monocytogenes-based cancer vaccines.

Frank Tufaro, PhD

Chief Executive Officer, DNAtrix

Frank Tufaro has extensive experience with the founding, financing, and operation of biotechnology firms. Prior to DNAtrix, Dr. Tufaro was part of the founding team of Neurovir, a Vancouver-based biotech company with a mission to develop herpes-simplex virus oncolytic vectors for treating cancer. He was instrumental in raising venture financing that established NeuroVir as the major player in the field of viral oncology and led to its acquisition by MediGene. Dr. Tufaro also co-founded Nurel Therapeutics, a gene therapy company acquired by Diamyd Medical AB, and Allera Health Products. Previously, he was a Professor of Microbiology at the University of British Columbia, wherein his laboratory worked on herpes simplex virus and gene therapy for cancer. Dr. Tufaro received his BSc in Cell and Molecular Biology, a PhD in Developmental Biology from McGill University and was a postdoctoral fellow with Dr. Steve McKnight, at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center and the Carnegie Institution of Science.

Dan Watkins, PhD

Partner, Mercury Fund

Dan Watkins co-founded Mercury Fund where he leads the Sciences team. He focuses on both Physical and Life Science startups, many at the formation or university spinoff stage. Dr. Watkins has served in a number of operational roles including initial CEO of DNAtrix and Nanospectra Biosciences, both oncology companies. Prior to Mercury, he has been Vice President at a boutique investment banking firm and Worldwide Manager of Operations Control Systems for Scientific Software Intercomp. Dr. Watkins serves on the board of directors of a number of life sciences companies including: DNAtrix, GlycosBio (industrial biotechnology), Swift Biosciences (next generation sequencing), Sinopsys (medical device) and Resonant (novel antibody discovery). Dr. Watkins received his BS from Rice University and his MS and PhD from Carnegie Mellon University, all in Materials Science. Dan serves on the advisory boards of Northwestern University’s Innovation and New Ventures Office (INVO), the University of Michigan’s Venture Center Council, and BioHouston.  He is also the co-founder of the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship at Rice University.