At Bright Peak we are using our world-class protein engineering capabilities to create the next-generation of multifunctional precision immunotherapies.


At Bright Peak we are rapidly advancing a robust portfolio of next-generation, multi-functional, cytokine-based immunotherapies for the treatment of patients with cancer and autoimmune disease. We accomplish this by leveraging our world-class protein engineering capabilities and our unique cell-free technology platform to chemically synthesize and conjugate novel protein therapeutics that reflect state-of-the-art insights into cytokine and immune checkpoint biology.

Our proprietary protein synthesis platform provides unparalleled flexibility to engineer cytokines, allowing us to simultaneously fine-tune biological properties while adding exploitable features such as conjugation handles. Working with master cytokines such as IL-2 and IL-18, we have created optimized Bright Peak’s cytokines with enhanced properties that can be easily conjugated to existing monoclonal antibodies (e.g., anti-PD-1) to optimize biological effects. As a result, our enhanced cytokines serve as ‘payloads’, creating a novel class of dual-targeting biologics we call “Bright Peak Immunoconjugates”.

Our pipeline stretches from discovery to IND-enabling and encompasses enhanced, half-life extended cytokines, antibody-cytokine conjugates and other novel formats.­

Bright Peak’s chemical protein synthesis technology was initially developed by our Founders Vijaya Pattabiraman and Jeffrey Bode at ETH Zürich and the company was seeded and launched by Versant Ventures at the firm’s Ridgeline Discovery laboratories. Bright Peak is currently funded by leading healthcare investors and is co-located in Basel, Switzerland and San Diego, California.

Our Leadership


Jon Wigginton MD

President of Research and Development

Jon Wigginton serves as our President of Research and Development. He has over 25 years of experience in clinical oncology and most recently served as Senior Advisor and Chairman of the Scientific Advisory Board at Cullinan Oncology, Inc., having previously served as the company’s Chief Medical Officer. Prior, Jon was Chief Medical Officer at MacroGenics, where he led the company’s evolution of a fully-integrated clinical-stage cancer immunotherapy organization. Dr. Wigginton also held leadership positions at Bristol Myers Squibb as Therapeutic Area Head and Executive Director, Immuno-Oncology Early Clinical Research and as Group Medical Director of Discovery Medicine-Clinical Oncology. There, he led early clinical development of the BMS Immuno-Oncology portfolio, including checkpoint inhibitors such as anti-PD-1 (Nivolumab)/Opdivo®) and anti-PD-L1 (BMS-936559), checkpoint inhibitor-based combinations including anti-CTLA-4 (Yervoy®)/anti-PD-1 (Opdivo®) among others, and a spectrum of other I-O agents. He also co-founded and co-led the BMS International Immuno-Oncology Network (IION). Dr. Wigginton also previously served as President of the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC). Earlier in his career, Dr. Wigginton worked at the National Cancer Institute for 15 years, and served as Head of the Investigational Biologics Section in the Center for Cancer Research (NCI intramural program). There, he demonstrated the initial therapeutic synergy and key mechanisms of action by several novel cytokine-based regimens including IL-2 in combination with IL-18, as well as IL-12 and IL-27 among others. Dr. Wigginton is currently a member of the Board of Directors of Sutro Biopharma. He earned his M.D. and B.S in biology from the University of Michigan.


Lazar Dimitrov PhD

Senior Vice President of Corporate Development

Lazar Dimitrov serves as our Senior Vice President of Corporate Development.  He brings more than 20 years of research, investment and operational experience in the life sciences to Bright Peak.  Most recently, Lazar was the Head of Business Development at Day One Biopharmaceuticals, a precision oncology company developing targeted therapies for patients of all ages. At Day One, Lazar negotiated the exclusive global license agreement with Merck KGaA to develop and commercialize the MEK inhibitors pimasertib and MSC2015103B in 2021 and the global collaboration with Foundation Medicine to advance pediatric cancer care in 2022.   Previously, Lazar served as Principal at the leading global life sciences investment firm Clarus Ventures, which now operates as Blackstone Life Sciences.   At Clarus, Lazar sourced, led the diligence, and negotiated several venture, co-development and royalty transactions across therapeutic areas, modalities and stages of development.  He was a Board Observer at SFJ Pharmaceuticals,  Galera Therapeutics, Graybug Vision, Lumos Pharma, and Tisbury Pharmaceuticals, and a Board Member at Tropicalis Finance Company.  Before Clarus Ventures, Lazar was a scientist at Crystal Biosciences (acquired by Ligand Pharmaceuticals).  Prior to his scientific training, he was an analyst at Rho Ventures and the M&A group at Merrill Lynch.  Lazar obtained his Ph.D. in Genome Sciences from the University of Washington and conducted his postdoctoral training at UC Berkeley.  He received his B.A. in Mathematics and Economics with high honors from Dartmouth College.


Sharon Gao PhD

Vice President of Chemistry, Manufacturing and Controls (CMC)

Sharon Gao has served as our Vice President of Chemistry, Manufacturing and Controls since November 2021. She brings over 20 years of experience in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries supporting R&D, accelerated CMC development with phase-appropriate strategies, and regulatory filings.  Prior to Bright Peak, Sharon worked at Synthrox, later known as Sanofi San Diego upon the company’s acquisition. At Synthrox/Sanofi, Sharon oversaw CMC analytical and formulation development, drug product manufacturing, GMP test release and stability for the Company’s IL-2 immuno-oncology program. She played a crucial role in correspondences to Health Authorities and actively participated in Type C meetings with FDA. Previously, Sharon was a senior director at La Jolla Pharmaceuticals where she oversaw the analytical development of a peptide drug candidate in Phase 1-2 and supervised QC release and stability for the phase 1 drug product. Sharon also participated in pre-approval inspection for the commercial launch of Giapreza. Before joining La Jolla Pharmaceutical, Sharon was the head of Analytical Chemistry and Quality Control at Quidel (formerly known as Alere Inc.), where she established the GMP testing and quality control facilities and supervised validations to support quality investigations and manufacturing. From 2005-2012, Sharon and her teams assessed the developability of monoclonal antibodies, multi-specific antibodies and pegylated proteins. Sharon received her PhD in Analytical Chemistry from the University of California, San Diego and completed post-doctoral training at Washington University in St Louis.

Our Team Members

Board of Directors

Asish is the Vice President, Venture Investments at Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JJDC, Inc. (JJDC) and is based at the Johnson & Johnson Innovation Center in South San Francisco, California.  Asish focuses on investments in biotechnology, digital health and machine learning.  Asish joined JJDC in 2004 and has led or co-led investments in over 30 biotech, diagnostics, digital health, machine learning and medtech companies.  Asish previously worked in business development at BioRexis Pharmaceutical Corporation (King of Prussia, PA) and Structural GenomiX, (San Diego, CA); and, in R&D at Message Pharmaceuticals (Malvern, PA).  He received a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Houston and an MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, where he graduated with honors. Asish received a Bachelor of Technology in Chemical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, India. Asish was a postdoctoral research fellow in the Department of Chemistry at the Johns Hopkins University.

Ms. Siu brings a strong track record of creating value and integrating financing strategy with corporate development to the Bright Peak board of directors. Ms. Siu is the chief operating officer in-residence at BridgeBio Pharma, Inc, and former chief financial officer at Eidos Therapeutics, Inc., a BridgeBio subsidiary, where she transformed Eidos from a preclinical biotech start-up company to a late-stage clinical public company. Prior to that, she was the chief business officer at The Bluefield Project to Cure Frontotemporal Dementia, where she built a therapeutic pipeline and executed seven collaborations with the pharmaceutical industry. Earlier, she was senior director, corporate development at Global Blood Therapeutics, Inc. (GBT), and before that, a venture principal at Third Rock Ventures, where she was part of the GBT launch team and first employee at GBT. Previously, Ms. Siu invested in life science companies in venture capital and private equity and held roles of increasing responsibility at Warburg Pincus LLC and Thomas, McNerney & Partners, LLC and began her career in healthcare banking at Bear, Stearns & Co. Inc. In addition to Bright Peak Therapeutics, Christine also serves on the board of Monte Rosa and Vividion Therapeutics. Ms. Siu holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and a B.S. with distinction in cellular molecular biology and economics from the University of Michigan.

Emily Minkow is a Venture Partner at RA Capital, where she focuses on creating and leading new biotech companies.  Since joining RA, Emily has served as Interim CEO of Stylus Medicine, a stealth-stage genome engineering company, and contributed to the founding of and investment in several other companies in the genetic medicine, rare disease, immunology, and oncology spaces. Prior to joining RA, Emily was Chief Business Officer of Prevail Therapeutics, a gene therapy company focused on genetic forms of neurodegenerative disease, from the company’s inception through its IPO and its acquisition by Eli Lilly in 2021. Previously, Emily spent over seven years at Celgene Corporation in positions of increasing responsibility in business development, in global marketing for the launch of Otezla for psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis, and as Principal to the Chairman and CEO. Emily started her career in strategy consulting at Frankel Group. She received a BA from Princeton University and an MBA from Harvard Business School.  

Fredrik Wiklund serves as our President and Chief Executive Officer, having previously served as our Chief Operating Officer since January 2020. Fred brings over 20 years of operational experience with significant breadth of management responsibility with both emerging and large biotechnology companies. Most recently, Fred served as the Chief Operating Officer at Bioniz Therapeutics Inc., a company developing cytokine-based therapies for the treatment of cancer and autoimmune diseases. At Bioniz, Fred negotiated the company’s ~$500M Option and Merger agreement with Almirall S.A. in late 2019. Previously, Fred served as the Vice President of Corporate Development and later as President and Chief Executive Officer of Celladon Corporation (CLDN). Under Fred’s leadership, Celladon completed an IPO in 2014 and merged with Eiger Pharmaceuticals in 2016. Before Celladon, Fred served as Head of Corporate Development and Investor Relations at Tercica Inc. (TRCA) where he guided the company through its IPO and later its ~$650M acquisition by the Ipsen Group in 2009. Earlier, Fred was an investment banker with Lehman Brothers serving in the Healthcare Group based in London, UK.  Fred also spent five years at Gilead Sciences where he helped launch Gilead’s first commercial product in 1996. Fred holds a Bachelor of Arts from University of San Diego and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Southern California.

Dr. Chacko has served as CEO of ORIC Pharmaceuticals since April 2018. During Dr. Chacko’s tenure, ORIC has raised over $600mm in private and public financing, including its IPO in April 2020, and has advanced four programs into clinical trials. Prior to ORIC, Dr. Chacko was most recently CFO of Ignyta, a Nasdaq-listed precision oncology company acquired by Roche for $1.9 billion in February 2018. At Ignyta, he had a broad operational role and helped raise over $500 million in capital. Prior to Ignyta, Dr. Chacko was an investor at TPG Capital, where he helped lead teams that completed acquisitions having an aggregate value of over $10 billion. Prior to that, he was a consultant serving healthcare clients at McKinsey & Company.

Dr. Chacko currently serves on the board of directors of 4D Molecular Therapeutics (Nasdaq: FDMT) and chairs the Western Regional Selection Committee for the Marshall Scholarship. He previously served on the board of directors of Turning Point Therapeutics (Nasdaq: TPTX), Bonti (acquired by Allergan), EnvisionRx (acquired by Rite Aid), RentPath, and the Packard Children’s Health Alliance at the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford; and he was a board observer to Par Pharmaceutical (acquired by Endo), IMS Health and Quintiles Transnational.

Dr. Chacko concurrently received his MD with AOA honors from UCLA and his MBA with Distinction from Harvard Business School. He also received a MSc from Oxford University as a Marshall Scholar and undergraduate degrees from the University of Southern California, where he graduated as the University Valedictorian.

Dr. Laura Shawver is President, Chief Executive Officer and director of Silverback Therapeutics, a biopharmaceutical company advancing a pipeline of therapies that are systemically delivered, but locally active and target fundamental disease pathways in cancer, fibrosis and virology. Prior to Silverback, Dr. Shawver was President and CEO of Synthorx, Inc., a company developing engineered cytokines for cancer and autoimmune disorders, from 2017 through its acquisition by Sanofi in 2020 for $2.5B. Previously, she was CEO of Cleave Biosciences and an Entrepreneur in Residence for 5AM Ventures. Earlier in her career Dr. Shawver was the CEO and Director of Phenomix Corporation and President of SUGEN, Inc. after holding various positions. She is the founder of the non-profit organization, The Clearity Foundation, which helps women with ovarian cancer improve their treatment options. In addition to Bright Peak Therapeutics, Dr. Shawver serves on the board of Silverback, Nkarta, Relay and Cleave Therapeutics (Chair). She received her Ph.D. in Pharmacology from the University of Iowa.

Dr. Leena Gandhi received her Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley and her M.D. from New York University prior to completing postgraduate training at Massachusetts General Hospital and at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. She was a thoracic oncologist working in Early Drug Development at DFCI until 2016 when she moved to NYU Perlmutter Cancer Center to serve as the Director of Thoracic Medical Oncology.  She has focused her research on novel drug development and biomarkers for selection in lung cancer with a particular focus on immuno-oncology. She led pivotal studies demonstrating the utility of PDL1 as a biomarker for efficacy of anti-PD1 agents in lung cancer and studies demonstrating the value of combining immunotherapy and chemotherapy in the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer. She served as Vice President of Immuno-Oncology Development at Eli Lilly leading the development of novel immuno-oncology agents across cancer types and returned to DFCI in 2020 as the Director of the Center for Cancer Therapeutic Innovation, an integrated clinical/translational research center that brings together specialized cancer expertise to develop and conduct innovative early phase clinical trials spanning multiple malignancies.

Thomas Woiwode, Ph.D., has served as a member of our board of directors since the company’s inception in 2018.  Since 2002, Dr. Woiwode has served in various investment and operational roles at Versant Venture Management, LLC, including Managing Director since July 2014 and a Venture Partner from 2011 to 2014. From 2011 to 2013, Dr. Woiwode served as Chief Operating Officer of Okarios AG, a biopharmaceutical company. Previously, Dr. Woiwode co-founded EuroVentures, a wholly owned biotechnology incubator within Versant, and in this role, served as the founding Chief Business Officer for three  biotechnology portfolio companies. Prior to Versant, Dr. Woiwode served as a Research Scientist at XenoPort, Inc.. Dr. Woiwode currently serves on the boards of directors of Adverum Biotechnologies, Inc., Aligos Therapeutics, Inc., Gritstone Oncology, Inc. and Passage Bio, Inc., as well as several private companies. Dr. Woiwode previously served on the board of directors of Audentes Therapeutics, Inc. and Crispr Therapeutics AG. Dr. Woiwode received a B.A. in English and a B.S. in Chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley and a Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry as an NSF Fellow from Stanford University

Scientific Advisory Board

Gordon Freeman, PhD., Professor of Medicine at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (DFCI) and Harvard Medical School, is renowned for discovering the PD-L1 and PD-L2 proteins. Dr. Freeman showed that PD-L1 and PD-L2 bound to PD-1 to turn off the immune response and that blockade of PD-L1/PD-1 enhanced immune responses.  He further showed that PD-L1 is highly expressed on many tumors and allows these tumors to resist immune attack. Dr. Freeman’s work led directly to the development of a successful strategy for cancer immunotherapy – blocking the PD-1-ligand interaction. Dr. Freeman has published over 400 scientific papers and holds over 90 US patents on immunotherapies. He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Inventors, is a Fellow of the AACR and SITC Academies, and has received numerous awards, including the William B. Coley Award for Distinguished Research in Tumor Immunology, the Warren Alpert Foundation Prize, and the Richard Smalley, MD, Memorial Award. Dr. Freeman received his Ph.D. degree in Microbiology and Molecular Genetics from Harvard University.

Thomas Gajewski, M.D., Ph.D., is the AbbVie Foundation Professor in Cancer Immunotherapy, leader of the Immunology and Cancer program, and Director of Melanoma Oncology at the University of Chicago. Dr. Gajewski’s notable discoveries include the identification of the STING pathway and how it stimulates the body’s innate immune system to attack cancer, downstream pathways including Wnt/β-catenin that enable tumors to evade immune responses, and the connection between the immune system’s response to cancer and the gut microbiota. An author of more than 250 manuscripts, Dr. Gajewski is past president of SITC, a founding editor of the Journal for Immunotherapy of Cancer, past chair of the Cancer Immunopathology and Immunotherapy grant review study section at the NIH, has served on the program committees for ASCO and AACR, a grant reviewer for the Melanoma Research Alliance and Cancer Research Institute, and editor for Cancer Research. Among numerous honors, Dr. Gajewski has received the William B. Coley Award for Distinguished Research in Tumor Immunology, the ESMO award in Immuno-oncology, the American Cancer Society-Jules L. Plangere Jr. Family Foundation Professorship in Cancer Immunotherapy, and Distinguished Professor designation at the University of Chicago. He holds a B.S., Ph.D. in Immunology, and M.D. degrees from the University of Chicago where he also completed Internal Medicine Residency and Hematology/Oncology Fellowship.

Jason Luke, M.D., is the Director of the Immunotherapy and Drug Development Center at UPMC Hillman Cancer Center and Associate Professor at the University of Pittsburgh. Dr. Luke is an internationally recognized investigator in translational immuno-oncology, early phase drug development and the clinical management of cutaneous malignancies. Dr. Luke has designed and led two practice-changing studies in melanoma – the combination of anti-PD1 + low-dose anti-CTLA4 Ab in PD1 refractory disease, and establishing the role for, and FDA/EMA approval of, adjuvant anti-PD1 for stage IIB/C melanoma. More generally, Dr Luke has been a lead investigator for many first-in-human trials of novel immunotherapies and a major contributor toward the investigation of radiation, the microbiome and bioinformatic approaches in relation to cancer immunotherapy. Dr. Luke is an At Large member of the Board of Directors for SITC and has held leadership roles in SMR, AACR & ASCO. He is a member of the NCI Investigational Drug Steering Committee and the Immunotherapy Task Force co-Chair. He has received numerous awards including the Melanoma Research Foundation Humanitarian Award, ASCO Merit Award, and the NCI Cancer Clinical Investigator Team Leadership Award. Dr. Luke received an M.D. from Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science/Chicago Medical School, completed Internal Medicine Residency at Boston University Medical Center and Medical Oncology Fellowship at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and Weill Cornell Medical Center.

Ignacio Melero, M.D., Ph.D., is Co-Director of the Department of Immunology and Immunotherapy and Professor of Immunology at the Clinica Universidad de Navarra and at the Center for Applied Medical Research (CIMA) of the University of Navarra, Spain. Dr. Melero is an international leader in translational tumor immunotherapy research who focuses on cytokine gene therapy, immune-stimulatory monoclonal antibodies, and cell therapy for cancer. Dr. Melero is renowned for seminal discoveries in the function of NK cell inhibitory receptors (KIRs) and T-cell co-stimulation via CD137 (4-1BB). Dr. Melero has served as principal investigator in numerous clinical trials of cancer immunotherapy and has won multiple awards including the BIAL Prize of Medicine, the Conde de Cartagena Award from the Royal Academy of Medicine, Doctor Durantez LAIR Foundation Award and a Cancer Research Institute research award. Dr. Melero earned an M.D. degree from the University of Navarra School of Medicine, completed Residency in Immunology at the Hospital Universitario de la Princesa (Madrid), and earned a Ph.D. in Immunology at La Princesa Hospital, Autonomous University of Madrid, Spain.

Anthony Tolcher, M.D., is founder and CEO of NEXT Oncology, one of the most successful and respected Phase 1 programs in oncology research. Prior to founding NEXT Oncology, Dr. Tolcher was President and Co-Founder of START LLC, one of the world’s largest Clinical Phase I and early drug development operations in cancer medicine. Dr. Tolcher is a medical oncologist with over 25 years’ experience in early drug development and clinical trials and has been involved in more than 21 of the initial Phase 1 studies of new oncology agents that subsequently were FDA approved, including PD-(L)1 inhibitors, antibody-drug conjugates, anti-tumor-associated antigen antibodies, and numerous targeted therapies, and he is currently the principal investigator of over 20 Phase 1 studies. He has over 130 peer‐reviewed publications in scientific journals and has chaired the Developmental Therapeutics Review Committee for ASCO. Dr. Tolcher obtained his M.D. degree from the University of British Columbia and then completed Internal Medicine Residency at the University of Toronto, Oncology Fellowship at the University of British Columbia and a research fellowship at the NCI, Bethesda.


Vijaya R. Pattabiraman is a co-founder of Bright peak and serves as Chief Technology Officer. Vijay has made seminal contributions to Bright Peak’s technology and brings in extensive expertise and know-how on the EDC platform. He has more than 15 years of experience in biomolecules, small molecules discovery and development for academic and translational research. Vijay has co-authored several peer-reviewed publications and book chapters in the field of chemical protein synthesis, peptide antibiotics and small-molecules for inflammatory and cardiovascular diseases. He is also a co-inventor on multiple patents and serves as a co-founder of another ETH spin-off company that focuses on automation in chemistry. Vijay has fostered many academic and biotech collaborations and led multi-disciplinary global teams. Since 2012, he worked as a Senior Scientist with Prof. Bode at ETH Zürich and continues with this affiliation. He gained first insights in to the world of drug discovery and development in early 2000’s as a medicinal chemist at Dr. Reddy’s laboratories, a multinational pharmaceutical company. Vijay received his Ph.D. in organic chemistry from the University of Alberta, Canada and performed his postdoctoral studies at University of Pennsylvania, USA and at ETH Zürich, Switzerland.

Dr. Jeffrey Bode has been a Professor at The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zürich), since 2010 and is the scientific co-founder of Bright Peak Therapeutics.

Dr. Bode studied Chemistry and Philosophy at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas. After graduate and postgraduate studies at the California Institute of Technology, ETH Zürich, and the Tokyo Institute of Technology, he joined the University of California, Santa Barbara as an Assistant Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry. In 2007, he moved to the University of Pennsylvania as an Associate Professor and in 2010 returned to ETH Zürich as a Full Professor. Since 2013, he is also a Principal Investigator at the Institute of Transformative Biomolecules (ITbM) at Nagoya University in Japan. At ETH Zürich, he is a co-founder and Director of Studies for the new undergraduate study program in Biochemistry and Chemical Biology.

Research in the Bode Group has led to innovative new chemical and biological methods for the construction of pharmaceutically relevant compounds, including both small molecules and proteins. His pioneering approaches to synthesizing and tailoring proteins with atomic precision provides access to unique constructs for investigating and controlling biological pathways, including cancer immunotherapy, autoimmune diseases, and ubiquitin biology. He has served as Chair of the Editorial Board for Organic and Biomolecular Chemistry and is currently Editor-in-Chief of Helvetica Chimica Acta and an Executive Editor for the Encyclopedia of Reagents for Organic Synthesis. His research and teaching have been recognized by numerous awards including the Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award (2006), the E. J. Corey Award for Outstanding Young Investigator Award (2010), the Mukaiyama Prize (2018) and selection as a MIT Technology Review TR35 Innovator (2006) and Discover Magazine’s “Best Brains in Science” (2008). In addition to Bright Peak Therapeutics, he is a co-founder of Synple Chem AG and consults or collaborates with numerous pharmaceutical companies.

Investors Include