Our Leadership

Joel F. Martin, PhD
Joel F. Martin, PhDPresident and Chief Executive Officer
Joel F. Martin, PhD, is our President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), a co-founder, and serves on our Board of Directors. From 2013 to January 2015, Dr. Martin was the President and CEO of Cebix Incorporated, a company that advanced a diabetes drug rapidly through a large, international Phase 2b trial. From 2008 to 2010, Dr. Martin was President and CEO of Altair Therapeutics, a Phase 2 asthma company that was acquired in 2010.
Dr. Martin has extensive venture capital experience and maintains strong connections throughout the venture industry. He was a partner at Forward Ventures from 2001 through 2008, where he led successful investments in neuroscience and cancer companies such as Hypnion, Predix, and Cellective Therapeutics. He was previously an executive-in-residence and associate at Institutional Venture Partners and Avalon Ventures, respectively.

Dr. Martin is a skilled serial entrepreneur. He was the co-founder and CEO of Quantum Dot Corporation (acquired by Invitrogen), a company that pioneered quantum-confined luminescent nanocrystals, arguably the first commercial nanotechnology product. Prior to that, he was the co-founder and CEO of Argonaut Technologies, a publically traded chemistry automation and solid-phase reagents company, which was acquired by Biotage AB. At Argonaut, he pioneered a new business model, where a consortium of pharmaceutical companies financed product development with non-dilutive capital.

Dr. Martin began his career as assistant professor of radiology at University of California, San Diego (UCSD) where he pioneered novel digital image processing techniques and invented the first medical device for MRI imaging of the prostate. Dr. Martin earned his Ph.D. in physical chemistry from UCSD and holds MBA and B.S. Chem. Honors degrees from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. He did postdoctoral research combining MRI imaging with NMR spectroscopy at IBM. He is currently a member of the advisory boards of the Life Sciences Institute at the University of Michigan and the Rady School of Business at UCSD.

Matteo Levisetti, MD
Matteo Levisetti, MDChief Medical Officer
Matteo Levisetti, MD, our Chief Medical Officer, joined the company in 2017. Before his position at Dauntless, Dr. Levisetti led global development programs for several mid-size and large pharmaceutical companies, most recently as Executive Director of Clinical Development at Mirati Therapeutics where he ran the company’s immuno-oncology programs.
Prior to Mirati, Dr. Levisetti was responsible for early clinical development strategy and clinical oversight of inflammation and immunology portfolio assets at Roche Pharma Research & Early Development (pRED) as the Global Head & Vice President of Translational Medicine for the Immunology and Inflammation DTA. He also held senior positions at Pfizer where he was the Global Clinical Lead for multiple early clinical development programs across several therapeutic areas, including endocrinology, immunology and oncology. Before entering industry in 2009, Dr. Levisetti held joint appointments as Assistant Professor in the Department of Medicine, Section of Endocrinology and Metabolism and Department of Pathology and Immunology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri.

Dr. Levisetti received his medical degree with honors from the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine in 1996. He completed residency training in internal medicine at the University of Chicago Hospitals and subspecialty training in endocrinology at Washington University School of Medicine, where he also obtained postgraduate research training in immunology with Emil R. Unanue (2000-2004). Dr. Levisetti has been the recipient of grants from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the American Diabetes Association, and the National Institutes of Health. Before joining Merck Research Laboratories in 2009, Dr. Levisetti practiced internal medicine and endocrinology as an Attending Physician at Barnes-Jewish Hospital (2003-2009).

Olivier Laurent, PhD
Olivier Laurent, PhDVice President of Development
Olivier Laurent, PhD, is our Vice President of Development and has served in this position since July 2015. Prior to joining Dauntless, Dr. Laurent held senior positions in a number of pharmaceutical companies directing drug discovery, development, and production.
These positions include Vice President of Chemistry, Manufacturing, and Controls at Ambrx Biotechnology from October 2013 to July 2015; Director, Protein Science and Target Identification at Pfizer from December 2009 to May 2013; and Associate Director, Drug Product Formulation and Manufacturing at Pfizer from January 2008 to December 2009. Prior to that, he was an Associate Director at CovX, a clinical stage biotech company acquired by Pfizer in 2008. Prior to CovX, he held drug development positions of increasing responsibility at Genentech, Bayer, and Sanofi.

Dr. Laurent conducted his graduate work with the French Atomic Agency and received his Ph.D. in cell biology from Grenoble University in 1997. He is an Alumni of the Ecole Normale Supérieure of Lyon.

Michelle Mazzoni, PhD, RAC
Michelle Mazzoni, PhD, RACVice President of Regulatory Affairs and Quality
Michelle Mazzoni, PhD, is our Vice President of Regulatory Affairs and Quality and has served in this position since the company was founded in May 2015. Prior to joining Dauntless, Dr. Mazzoni held senior positions in a number of pharmaceutical companies directing regulatory affairs, quality, nonclinical, and project management activities in support of early to mid stage clinical development.
These positions include Vice President, Regulatory Affairs and Quality at Cebix Incorporated from January 2009 to January 2015; Senior Director, Regulatory Affairs at SGX Pharmaceuticals from April to September 2008 before its acquisition by Eli Lilly; and Senior Director, Regulatory Affairs and Drug Development at TargeGen, Inc. from 2004 to 2008. Prior to that, she held positions of increasing responsibility at Alliance Pharmaceutical Corp. and Imcor Pharmaceuticals from 1996 to 2004.

Dr. Mazzoni received her bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Minnesota Twin Cities and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in bioengineering from the University of California, San Diego (UCSD). She also obtained a professional certificate in Regulatory Affairs for the Biomedical Industry from UCSD in 2004.

Karen Basbaum
Karen BasbaumVice President of Business Development
Ms. Basbaum is our Vice President of Business Development and has served in this position since 2017. Prior to joining Dauntless, Karen held positions in drug discovery and business development for several biotechnology and large pharmaceutical companies.
Karen joined Dauntless from Elcelyx, a biotechnology company developing a novel treatment for type 2 diabetes, where she was Vice President of Business Development.

Before that role, Karen was Director, Business Development at Amylin Pharmaceuticals where she worked on numerous transactions, most notably the sale of the company to Bristol Myers Squibb in 2012 for $7B. At Amylin, Karen established several partnerships with prominent institutions such as Biocon and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and was instrumental to licensing transactions for subsequently commercialized products with Amgen and Shionogi & Co. Earlier in her career, Karen held various scientific roles in drug discovery at Abbott Laboratories (now Abbvie) and Celgene Corporation.

Karen holds an MBA from the Paul Merage School of Business at the University of California, Irvine and a Master of Science in Organic Chemistry from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. She holds two Bachelor of Science degrees (honors) in Biology and Chemistry from the University of North Dakota.

Mark Daniels
Mark DanielsDirector of Clinical Operations
Mark Daniels is our Director of Clinical Operations and has served in this position since the company was founded in May 2015. Prior to joining Dauntless, Mr. Daniels was Director of Clinical Operations at Cebix Incorporated from February 2011 to January 2015 where he was responsible for leading the clinical development program from first-in-human, Phase 1 to Phase 2b proof-of-efficacy.
Prior to that, Mr. Daniels managed all phases of global clinical development studies in a number of pharmaceutical companies with a strong emphasis on neurological diseases and oncology at Biogen Idec from 2007 to 2011, and at Elan Pharmaceuticals from 2002 to 2007. Prior to that, he held positions of increasing responsibility at Quintiles, a contract research organization, from 1997 to 2002.

Mr. Daniels received his bachelor’s of sciences degree in psychobiology from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1997.

Our Board

Mike Powell, PhD
Mike Powell, PhDChairman
Mike has more than 25 years of pharmaceutical development experience, and has focused on clinical-stage product companies, particularly in the oncology and neurology areas. He joined Sofinnova Ventures as a General Partner in 1997. Prior to becoming a venture capitalist, Mike worked on 20 clinical products and authored almost 100 papers and books, including an 1,000–page treatise on vaccine design. Mike was the initial investor in: Actelion (SWX: ATLN), InterMune (Nasdaq: ITMN), Anesiva (Nasdaq: ANSV), Orexigen Therapeutics (Nasdaq: OREX), Seattle Genetics (Nasdaq: SGEN), Threshold Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq: THLD), and Trius Therapeutics (Nasdaq: TSRX), as well as several private companies such as: Alvine, Ascenta and Intellikine (acquired by Millennium/Takeda). He most recently led Sofinnova’s investments in Mirna Therapeutics (Chairman) and Labrys Biologics.
Mike also is the Past Board President of AVAC (AIDS Vaccine Advocacy Coalition) in NYC, a past Advisor to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, a past Strategic Advisor to One World Health, and a Founding Venture Advisory Board member of the IAVI (International AIDS Vaccine Initiative) Innovation Fund. He also serves on the University of Kansas board of IAMI (Institute for the Advancement of Medical Innovation), as well as a Trustee for Washington University in St. Louis. He is also an Adjunct Associate Professor at the University of Kansas in Pharmaceutical Chemistry. Mike has the honor of being the first scientist from the biotechnology industry to be elected a Fellow of the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists.

Prior to his venture career, Mike was Group Leader of Drug Delivery at Genentech (1990–97) where his focus was developing new formulations for protein and peptide therapeutics. In 1987 he was part of the founding team of Cytel; as Director of Product Development he was responsible for the company’s early growth to IPO. Before this he was Scientist and Project Team Leader at Syntex Research (Roche). He received his PhD in Physical Chemistry from the University of Toronto in 1981, and completed his post-doctorate work in Bioorganic Chemistry at the University of California, where he was subsequently a faculty member (1981–84).

David Kabakoff, PhD
David Kabakoff, PhD
David Kabakoff joined Sofinnova Ventures as an Executive Partner in 2007. David has 30 years of experience leading technology and product development programs in the pharmaceutical, biopharmaceutical, and drug delivery fields. He currently serves as Chairman of Trius Therapeutics, Chairman of Cebix Inc., and Chairman of Amplimmune, Inc. He is also a Director of InterMune, Inc., and Allylix, Inc. Dr. Kabakoff also serves as a Board Observer at Histogenics.
David co-founded Salmedix, Inc., a developer of cancer drug treatments, and served as the company’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. In June 2005, David negotiated the acquisition of Salmedix by Cephalon, Inc. David also held the positions of Executive Vice President of Dura and President and Chief Executive Officer of Spiros Development Corp. while at Dura Pharmaceuticals, a specialty respiratory pharmaceutical and pulmonary drug delivery company. Earlier, David was also employed as Chief Executive Officer of Corvas International and held senior executive positions with Hybritech, Inc.

David received his Ph.D. from Yale University and his B.A. from Case Western Reserve University.

Nina Kjellson
Nina Kjellson
Nina Kjellson joined Canaan’s healthcare team as a General Partner in the Fall of 2015. She focuses on early-stage investments in biopharmaceuticals and digital health. Current investment themes include therapeutics for serious and underserved conditions such as cancer, autoimmune disease and life-threatening infections; patient/consumer engagement; and IT-enabled transformation of healthcare delivery. She is co-founder and co-chair of ConsumerMed.org, a forum to address the convergence of health care and consumer innovation and serves as a mentor to Blueprint Health, a digital health incubator and Springboard Life Sciences, an accelerator for healthcare companies driven by women entrepreneurs. She is a member of the advisory board for the Oliver Wyman Health Innovation Center.
Current investments include Annum Health, Cidara (CDTX), Dauntless Pharmaceuticals, Eiger Biopharmaceuticals, Lycera Inc., Ocera (OCRX), Paratek (PRTK), Tizona Therapeutics and WellTok. She serves on the boards of Annum, Dauntless, Eiger, Lycera, Ocera, Tizona, and WellTok.

Previous investments include Labrys Biologics (acquired by Teva), Alt12 (acquired by Honest Company), Trius Therapeutics (TSRX; acquired by Cubist), CNS Therapeutics (acquired by Covidien), NovaCardia (acquired by Merck), and Aspreva (ASPV; acquired by Galenica).

Prior to Canaan, Nina was a General Partner at InterWest Partners where she had been investing in healthcare start-ups since 2002. Before InterWest, she was an investment manager at Bay City Capital, a life sciences merchant bank, and a research associate at Oracle Partners, a health care-focused hedge fund. Nina began her career conducting health policy and survey research with the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Nina was born in Scandinavia and grew-up in the Northeast. Nina received a B.A. in human biology from Stanford University (1997). She makes her home in the Bay Area.

She serves on board of Essential Access Health and the California Leadership Council for the Nature Conservancy.

Joel F. Martin, PhD
Joel F. Martin, PhDPresident and Chief Executive Officer
Joel F. Martin, PhD, is our President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), a co-founder, and serves on our Board of Directors. From 2013 to January 2015, Dr. Martin was the President and CEO of Cebix Incorporated, a company that advanced a diabetes drug rapidly through a large, international Phase 2b trial. From 2008 to 2010, Dr. Martin was President and CEO of Altair Therapeutics, a Phase 2 asthma company that was acquired in 2010.
Dr. Martin has extensive venture capital experience and maintains strong connections throughout the venture industry. He was a partner at Forward Ventures from 2001 through 2008, where he led successful investments in neuroscience and cancer companies such as Hypnion, Predix, and Cellective Therapeutics. He was previously an executive-in-residence and associate at Institutional Venture Partners and Avalon Ventures, respectively.

Dr. Martin is a skilled serial entrepreneur. He was the co-founder and CEO of Quantum Dot Corporation (acquired by Invitrogen), a company that pioneered quantum-confined luminescent nanocrystals, arguably the first commercial nanotechnology product. Prior to that, he was the co-founder and CEO of Argonaut Technologies, a publically traded chemistry automation and solid-phase reagents company, which was acquired by Biotage AB. At Argonaut, he pioneered a new business model, where a consortium of pharmaceutical companies financed product development with non-dilutive capital.

Dr. Martin began his career as assistant professor of radiology at University of California, San Diego (UCSD) where he pioneered novel digital image processing techniques and invented the first medical device for MRI imaging of the prostate. Dr. Martin earned his Ph.D. in physical chemistry from UCSD and holds MBA and B.S. Chem. Honors degrees from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. He did postdoctoral research combining MRI imaging with NMR spectroscopy at IBM. He is currently a member of the advisory boards of the Life Sciences Institute at the University of Michigan and the Rady School of Business at UCSD.

Our Advisors

Hubert C. Chen, MD – Medical and Clinical Development
Dr. Chen is an accomplished clinical investigator and drug developer of both biologics and small molecules with decades-long expertise in endocrinology. He is currently the CMO of Pfenex, Inc., and has an extensive resume that includes Amgen, Amylin, Regulus, and the University of California, San Francisco.
Joseph Lamendola, PhD – Regulatory
Dr. Lamendola is an Executive Partner at YourEncore. He is one of the world’s foremost regulatory experts with over 20 approved products to his credit. He has over 25 years of experience in large pharmaceutical companies including Bristol-Myers Squibb and Schering-Plough. He has collaborative relationships with FDA directors and reviewers in multiple divisions.
Cory Berkland, PhD – Science
Dr. Berkland is a professor in the departments of Pharmaceutical Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at the University of Kansas. He is a renowned scientist, entrepreneur, and inventor. He has founded companies such as Orion BioScience, Savara, and Orbis, and is a highly regarded advisor to Sofinnova Ventures.
Jeff Tepper, PhD, DABT, DSP – Toxicology
Dr. Tepper is a board certified toxicologist with more than 30 years of experience designing, implementing, and reporting pharmacology and toxicology studies for biopharmaceutical companies such as Genentech and Bayer Biotechnology, and helped found Aerovance, a respiratory biotechnology company. He has also consulted for several government agencies, academic institutions, and contract research organizations.