Our team

  • Aaron Kantoff

    Aaron Kantoff is a principal at Apple Tree Partners, a New York-based venture capital firm that is Syntimmue’s lead investor. He brings deep early and late-stage biotech experience to Syntimmune, as well as a background in financial analysis and restructuring. Prior to joining Apple Tree in 2011, Aaron was a partner at Recess Global LLC, an investment company he founded to focus on startup funding. Prior to Recess Global, Aaron was a member of the investment banking team at Rothschild Inc., in the Restructuring Group.

    In addition to his role with Apple Tree, Aaron has also served as Executive Director of Business Development & Corporate Strategy of Braeburn Pharmaceuticals, a commercial-stage company delivering individualized medicine for the treatment of central nervous system disorders. He currently serves as a director of Elstar Therapeutics and Limelight Bio, and is a board observer at Corvidia Therapeutics.

  • Leslie Stolz, Ph.D.Vice President, Regulatory Strategy

    Leslie Stolz has a robust drug development background with roles in regulatory affairs, medical affairs and medical writing. Most recently, Leslie served as associate director of regulatory affairs at Shire, where she supported regulatory activities for biologic protein therapies for hereditary angioedema. She held a variety of roles at Dyax, which was acquired by Shire in 2016. Prior to that, Leslie worked in interventional cardiology programs at Boston Scientific. Leslie received a Ph.D. in molecular cancer biology from Duke University, and was a postdoctoral fellow at Wyeth’s Department of Cardiovascular and Metabolic Diseases Research.

  • David De Graaf, Ph.D.Chief Executive Officer

    David De Graaf, Ph.D., has served in leadership roles in biotechnology and pharmaceutical firms from the bench to the boardroom. Before joining Syntimmune, David was a Venture Partner at Apple Tree Partners, the lead investor in Syntimmune. Earlier, he was executive chairman and chief executive at Selventa, a firm he successfully rebranded and refocused, growing it to cumulative sales of $35 million. Prior to joining Selventa, de Graaf served as vice president of biotherapeutics and integrative biology at Boehringer-Ingelheim, where he also served as interim head of U.S. research. He also held leadership positions at Pfizer (director of the Systems Biology, Biotherapeutics and BioInnovation Center, head of systems biology) and AstraZeneca (global head of strategic capabilities systems biology, associate director of the computational biology section). He holds a Ph.D. in genetics from the University of Illinois at Chicago, has authored more than 20 peer-reviewed journal articles, and is the inventor on several granted and pending patents.

  • Laurence Blumberg, M.D.Business Founder, Director, President and Chief Operating Officer

    Laurence Blumberg, M.D., has a long career as a biopharmaceutical entrepreneur, operating executive and analyst. He co-founded Syntimmune with Richard Blumberg, M.D., in 2013, and served as chief executive officer of the firm until November 2015. Prior to Syntimmune, he was senior vice president, project management at Kadmon, leading new product development activities. Before joining Kadmon, he was co-founder and member of the board of Syntonix Pharmaceuticals (sold to Biogen Idec in 2007). Earlier, he was senior global biotechnology analyst for Alliance Capital and co-founder of Cambridge Heart, a medical diagnostics firm. Dr. Blumberg received his MBA from Columbia Business School, where he serves as entrepreneur in residence.

  • Richard Blumberg, M.D.Scientific Founder, Director and Chairman of the Scientific Advisory Board

    Dr. Richard S. Blumberg is senior physician and division chief of gastroenterology, hepatology and endoscopy at Brigham and women’s Hospital, Boston. He also serves as professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, co-director of the Harvard Digestive Diseases Center and chair of the Brigham Research Institute. His research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health since 1989, with a focus on mucosal immunology. He received his M.D. from Jefferson Medical College. Dr. Blumberg was scientific founder and director of Syntonix Pharmaceuticals, which developed the FDA-approved drugs Eloctate and Alprolix for the treatment of hemophilia.

  • Burt Adelman, M.D.Senior Advisor, Director

    For more than 20 years, Dr. Burt Adelman has played prominent roles at some of the Boston area’s most successful biopharmaceutical companies. Most recently, Dr. Adelman served as executive vice president of research and development for Dyax (acquired by Shire for $6.5 billion in 2015). Previously, he held a number of executive leadership roles at Biogen, including executive vice president of research and development and executive vice president for portfolio strategy, leading development efforts for Angiomax (anticoagulation), Avonex (multiple scleroris), Amevive (psoriasis) and Tysabri (multiple sclerosis). He serves on the board of directors of Catabasis Pharmaceuticals.

  • Seth Harrison, M.D.Apple Tree Partners

    Seth Harrison, M.D., is the founder and managing partner of Apple Tree Partners.  He has invested in life sciences since 1991. He is currently chairman of ATP companies Braeburn Pharmaceuticals, Cure Forward, Elstar Therapeutics, Limelight Bio, Stoke Therapeutics, and Syntimmune, and is a director of CleanSlate Addiction Treatment Centers and Corvidia Therapeutics. Seth’s prior investments include: Aileron Therapeutics, ArQule, Coelacanth, Cyrano Sciences, Gloucester Pharmaceuticals, HeartWare International, Informed Access, SGX Pharmaceuticals, Tokai Pharmaceuticals, Ultracision, and ViroPharma. From 2002 to 2010, he also served on the board of the International Partnership for Microbicides. Prior to founding ATP in 1999, Seth was a general partner at Oak Investment Partners, and before that he was a venture partner at Sevin Rosen Funds.

  • Sam Hall, Ph.D.Apple Tree Partners

    Sam Hall is a principal at Apple Tree Partners, a New York-based venture capital firm.  Sam has experience in life sciences across roles as a scientist, private equity investor, and investment banker. Prior to joining Apple Tree Partners in 2013, he was a researcher at the University of Cambridge in the UK, where his work focused on novel therapeutic strategies for autoimmune diseases. Previously, Dr. Hall was a member of the investment team at Symphony Capital, a private equity firm dedicated to investments in biopharmaceuticals. Prior to Symphony, he served as a member of the healthcare investment banking team at Citigroup, where he advised leading biotechnology, medical device and healthcare services businesses on numerous completed strategic, debt and equity financings. Dr. Hall earned his Ph.D. at the University of Cambridge.

  • Wayne Lencer, M.D.Harvard Medical School

    Wayne Lencer, M.D., is professor and Longwood Chair in Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, director of the Harvard Digestive Diseases Center, and division chief of pediatric gastroenterology and nutrition at Children’s Hospital Boston. His laboratory studies the cell and molecular biology of vesicular transport in polarized epithelial cells and regulation of ion transport in the intestine. These projects relate to how intestinal epithelial cells interact with the luminal and sub-epithelial microenvironment in bacterial pathogenesis and mucosal host defense, and how they internalize and transport macromolecules into and across the epithelial barrier. Dr. Lencer’s work in each of these areas has led to over 15 patent awards. He also co-founded Syntonix Pharmaceuticals, which developed the FDA-approved drugs Eloctate and Alprolix for the treatment of hemophilia.

  • Inger Sandlie, Ph.D.University of Oslo

    Dr. Inger Sandlie is professor at the Department of Biosciences, University of Oslo and a research group leader at the Department of Immunology, Oslo University Hospital. She is also deputy director of the Centre for Immune Regulation, which aims to identify and investigate novel mechanisms of immune dysregulation that contribute to
    autoimmune and allergic disease, and to advance the development of therapeutics. Her research group studies the structure and function of albumin as well as antibodies and T-cell receptors, and engineers these molecules for use as therapeutics and research tools. She has co-authored more than 100 publications since 1990, and has received awards for scientific innovation. Sandlie is inventor on numerous patents and is co-founder of two biotechnology companies, Vaccibody and Nextera.