Leadership Team


President, Co-Founder, CEO

Dr. Ezekowitz currently serves as President and CEO of Abide Therapeutics, a company he co-founded in 2011 with Professors Dale Boger and Ben Cravatt from the Scripps Research Institute. Prior to creating Abide, Dr. Ezekowitz was Senior Vice President and Franchise Head, Bone, Respiratory, Immunology, Respiratory, Bone and Muscle, Dermatology and Urology at Merck Research Laboratories, where he was responsible for the drug discovery and development process from target identification through proof of concept. He worked closely with his commercial General Manager to develop the life cycle strategy for approved drugs in those areas. He co-chaired the Joint Venture with Jansen to oversee the development of Remicade and Simponi in the EU.

Prior to Merck, Dr. Ezekowitz was the Charles Wilder Professor of Pediatrics at the Harvard Medical School and served as the Chief of Pediatric Services at the MassGeneral Hospital for Children and the Partners Healthcare System. He has served on multiple boards and committees, including the chair position of the Executive Committee on Research at Massachusetts General Hospital, the Board of Directors of the Partners Healthcare system and the MassGeneral Physicians Organization. He has also served on the Boards of Anika Therapeutics and Natimmune, a biotech company that he founded. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of Oxagen and Abide Therapeutics.

He served on many committees at the Harvard Medical School and chaired the committee that led to the establishment of the Academy at HMS and served as a Scholar and Founding Member. He is a member of the American Society of Clinical Investigation and a Fellow of AAAS. He has also been a part of multiple Subcommittees for the NIH. In 2008, he was honored with the establishment of the R. Alan Ezekowitz Professorship in Pediatrics at the Harvard Medical School.

He also directed the Laboratory of Developmental Immunology. He is a pioneer in the field of innate immunity and has over 150 publications. His group played a major role in defining the structure function of pattern recognition molecules like the mannose binding lectin and the macrophage mannose receptor. He was the Principal Investigator of an NIH Program Grant that included Jules Hoffmann (Nobel Laurette 2011 for the discovery of Toll receptors). His group’s contribution was the description of primordial phagocytic receptors. The work was published in Nature, Cell and Science. Furthermore, his work on phagocyte biology translated the effects of interferon gamma in vitro to create an FDA approved treatment for patients with Chronic Granulomatous Disease, a rare phagocytic disorder in humans.

Dr. Ezekowitz received his medical training at the University of Cape Town in South Africa and was awarded a Doctor of Philosophy degree from Oxford University, where he also completed a postdoctoral fellowship. At Children’s Hospital in Boston, he completed a second postdoctoral fellowship in the Division of Hematology and Oncology and his clinical training in pediatrics.


Vice President, Early Clinical Development

Dr. Fraser joined Abide in March of 2014 and is the Vice President of Early Clinical Development. He brought with him more than eight years of experience in the early phases of clinical drug development (clinical pharmacology and experimental medicine).

Prior to joining Abide, Dr. Fraser spent 7 years at Merck Research Laboratories where he was responsible for entry to the clinic of a number of development candidates across a diverse range of therapeutic areas including diabetes, inflammation, and infectious diseases. In addition, he oversaw the conduct of clinical pharmacology studies to support submission packages for later-stage development candidates. This included designing and supervising Phase 1 studies in pediatric patient populations in support of pediatric-specific regulatory submissions.

Dr. Fraser began his career as an attending physician in pediatric infectious diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital. There, his laboratory research focused on innate immunity and host-pathogen interactions. Dr. Fraser received his medical training at the University of Cape Town in South Africa and was awarded a Doctor of Philosophy degree from Oxford University where he attended as a Rhodes scholar. He completed his clinical training in pediatrics at the Children’s Hospital in Boston, prior to joining the staff at Massachusetts General Hospital.


Chief Financial Officer

Mr. Blackburn joined Abide in 2012 as the resident Chief Financial Officer. He has over 25 years of finance and accounting senior management expertise working with private venture backed life science and technology companies.

Mr. Blackburn co-founded BlackFord Partners, a consulting firm that integrates with the management of early stage companies to provide CFO financial guidance and leadership to the business’s financing strategies and financial reporting. In this role, he has closed well over $500 million in venture capital and debt financing transactions.

Mr. Blackburn has led companies through IPOs, most recently the $75 million IPO of aTyr Pharma in May 2015. Prior to founding Blackford Partners, Mr. Blackburn was a principal with Alitum, a financial advisory firm to emerging technology companies. Mr. Blackburn began his financial career at Arthur Andersen, is a licensed CPA, and received his Bachelor of Arts in Accounting from the University of Illinois.

Sapna Srivastava, Ph.D.

Chief Financial & Strategy Officer

Dr. Sapna Srivastava, Ph.D. is currently the Chief Financial and Strategy Officer. Most recently, she served as the Chief Financial and Strategy Officer of Intellia Therapeutics Inc. from April 2015 to December 2016, where she played a key role in developing and implementing Intellia’s financial and business strategies, including taking the company public.

Prior to which, Dr. Srivastava spent over a decade on Wall Street as a Senior Research Analyst for Biotechnology at Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and ThinkEquity Partners. She started her career as research associate at J.P. Morgan in 1999. She also served as an independent strategy advisor to biotech start-up companies and co-founded a neuroscience-focused biotechnology company, from mid 2012 to 2015.

Dr. Srivastava received a B.Sc. from University of Bombay, India and a Ph.D. in Neuroscience from New York University Medical Center.

Cheri Grice, PH.D.

Vice President, Chemistry

Dr. Grice joined Abide Therapeutics in 2012 as Senior Director of Chemistry and was promoted to Vice President of Chemistry in 2015. In her current role, Dr. Grice leads the medicinal chemistry and CMC efforts for Abide’s portfolio of lead optimization programs and drug candidates in preclinical and clinical development. As one of the first Abide employees, Dr. Grice was instrumental in building the early research team, establishing the initial research programs, collaborations, the chemical library as well as all aspects of operations and laboratory facilities.

With over twenty years of experience in drug discovery, Dr. Grice has contributed to the invention and progression of numerous drug candidates in the areas of allergy and immunology. Prior to joining Abide, Dr. Grice was at the San Diego Johnson & Johnson research site from 1999 to 2012, where she assumed various responsibilities for early and late stage medicinal chemistry programs and projects related to compound and data management. From 1994 to 1999, Dr. Grice was a medicinal chemist at Schering-Plough in New Jersey, working in the areas of allergy and immunology.

She obtained her B.S. in Chemistry from Virginia Polytechnic Institute, and received her Ph.D. from Duke University in organic chemistry. She completed a post-doctoral fellowship at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center under the direction of Professor Samuel Danishefsky. Dr. Grice’s work has published in multiple journals , patent applications and book chapters.


Senior Vice President, Research

Dr. O’Neill currently serves as the Senior Vice President of Research at Abide Therapeutics after joining the company in October of 2013 as Vice President of Biology. He has more than 25 years of experience advancing therapeutic candidates from target drug discovery to clinical trials.

Prior to Abide, Dr. O’Neill worked at Merck Research Laboratories in Boston, where he held the roles of Discovery Site Head and Vice President. There he was responsible for Merck’s preclinical drug discovery programs in respiratory, immunology and oncology and was accountable for the business operations of In Vitro Pharmacology and In Vivo Pharmacology. Prior to his role at Merck-Boston, Gary was the Head of Biology at Merck Frosst Basic Research Laboratories, Montreal, Canada. There, he led a research team that advanced a number of small molecule candidates, focused primarily on the treatment of asthma, COPD, inflammation, pain, diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular indications, from the lab into the clinic.

Dr. O’Neill obtained his B.S. and Ph.D. in microbiology and immunology from McGill University and the University of British Columbia, respectively. He did his post-doctoral fellowship in molecular biophysics and biochemistry at Yale University. Since then, his successful research career has culminated in numerous prestigious honors, including the Merck Presidential Fellow award, and 80 peer-reviewed research publications, which highlight his diverse expertise spanning multiple disease areas.

Julianne Hunt, Ph.D.

Vice President, Scientific Operations

Dr. Hunt joined Abide as Head of Scientific Operations in January 2015. She has over 18 years of experience in end-to-end pharmaceutical drug development as a research scientist and project manager. For ten years she designed and synthesized potential drug candidates for programs in atherosclerosis, immunology, and infectious diseases at Merck Discovery Chemistry. She then transitioned to roles focused on the business of science in Merck Business and Research Integration, Project and Pipeline Management, External Research Operations, and Strategic Operations.

As Research Operations Lead, she directed operational support for sourced and collaborative discovery programs, including vendor relationship management, business oversight of over six hundred external chemistry FTEs, development and tracking of vendor performance metrics, and management of shipping and systems logistics across Merck’s external discovery network. As Discovery Chemistry and Site Operations Lead, she managed day-to-day operational activities at the Kenilworth Discovery Site and also ran strategic planning and change initiatives such as cross-site facilities consolidation projects. Finally, she held the role of meeting manager for a variety of Merck senior leadership teams, including the Respiratory & Immunology Franchise Coordinating Committee and Discovery Management Committee, the Discovery and Preclinical Sciences Leadership Team, and the Preclinical Development Leadership Team.

Dr. Hunt graduated from Harvard University magna cum laude with an A.B. in Chemistry. She received her Ph.D. in organic chemistry from Indiana University (Bloomington campus), and completed her NIH postdoctoral fellowship at the Department of Chemistry at Princeton University.


Chief Medical Officer

Dr. Beals joined the Abide team in January of 2016 as the Chief Medical Officer. He has more than 15 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry, and was most recently Vice President of Clinical Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics at Merck & Co., Inc, where he supervised the introduction of more than thirty molecules into human trials, of which eleven entered late stage clinical development.

Dr. Beals also was Entrepreneur-in-Residence with Merck Research Laboratories’ venture capital group. There, he evaluated nascent biotech companies and put together deal terms, internal investment consensus, and monitored progress. In 2010, Dr. Beals received the Merck Presidential Fellows Award for his contribution to Merck’s mission through outstanding achievement in drug discovery and development in his work as Head of Experimental Medicine. In that role he managed 10 physician-scientists and greatly augmented Merck’s ability to make early decisions on clinical candidates. Prior to his tenure at Merck, Dr. Beals was Director, Clinical Research in Inflammation and Strategic Partnerships at Pfizer and a Senior Scientist at ICOS Corporation. At Pfizer, he participated in the successful development of Macugen, the first approved intravitreal VEGF- binding aptamer for wet age related macular degeneration. For his work, Dr. Beals received the Pfizer Global Research and Development Achievement Award in 2003.

Dr. Beals earned his M.D. and a Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of Washington School of Medicine and his B.S. in chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He completed certification in pediatrics and pediatric rheumatology and received a Howard Hughes Postdoctoral Fellowship for Physicians, which supported his research studies at Stanford University and the University of California, San Francisco. Dr. Beals is a co-inventor on several patents and has authored numerous peer-reviewed scientific papers.