Leadership Team

Laura Shawver, PhD

Chief Executive Officer

Dr. Shawver is an experienced Biotech executive with more than 25 years of experience in the development of small molecule drugs for cancer and other serious diseases.   Prior to joining Cleave Biosciences as Chief Executive Officer and driving the $54M Series A financing, she was an Entrepreneur in Residence for 5AM Ventures beginning October 2010.  From 2002 - 2010, Dr. Shawver was the Chief Executive Officer of Phenomix Corporation where she also served on the Board of Directors.   Phenomix was a venture-backed company that developed dutogliptin through a successful Phase 3 clinical trial and attracted collaborations from Forest Laboratories and Chiesi Farmaceutici.  Previously, Dr. Shawver was the President of SUGEN Inc. from 2000 after holding various positions since 1992.  SUGEN focused on understanding key molecular pathways of cancer cells and developed the drugs Sutent™ and Palladia™.  The company was acquired by Pharmacia in 1999.  Prior to SUGEN, she was employed at Berlex Biosciences, formerly known as Triton Biosciences.  She is an active member of the American Association for Cancer Research and also a member of American Society for Clinical Oncologists.   Dr. Shawver is the Founder of The Clearity Foundation, a nonprofit organization providing access to molecular profiling for ovarian cancer patients to improve their treatment options.  Shawver received her PhD in Pharmacology and a BS degree in Microbiology, both from the University of Iowa.

Kerry Kelly, Esq

Sr. Vice President, Operations

Kerry Kelly is a highly experienced lawyer, licensed to practice in California for the past 30 years, with over 15 years in the biotechnology industry. Most recently, Ms. Kelly has been representing a number of small biotechnology and biopharmaceutical companies, primarily in the Bay Area. In this capacity, she provided broad legal and business services to support research, pre-clinical and clinical development, intellectual property, fundraising, and human resources. Ms. Kelly previously served as the General Counsel of Ambit Biosciences, where she was a member of the executive team and responsible for legal and G&A functions, and was involved in the company’s financings and pharma collaborations. Before her role at Ambit, Ms. Kelly was the Associate General Counsel at The Scripps Research Institute, overseeing conflicts of interest, corporate compliance, and advising the technology transfer group. Prior to joining Scripps, she served as Senior Director and Head of Corporate and Legal Affairs for SUGEN (later acquired by Pharmacia/Pfizer), where she was responsible for business development and strategic alliances, oversight of IP, and general legal matters. Earlier in her career, Ms. Kelly was a partner in a California commercial law practice. Ms. Kelly received her J.D. from Santa Clara University and her B.A and M.A. from Stanford University.

Han-Jie Zhou, PhD

Vice President, Chemistry & CMC

Dr. Zhou has over 15 years of experience in pharmaceutical research and development of small molecule drugs in oncology, immunology and other diseases, medicinal and process chemistry and early discovery and development projects. Currently Dr. Zhou is a Senior Director of Chemistry at Cleave Biosciences and responsible for discovery chemistry and global outsourcing, and he also serves as a project leader and a member of the leadership team. Dr. Zhou has made a substantial contribution to its lead drug candidate, CB-5083, a first-in-class, oral inhibitor of p97, a critical enzyme that controls various aspects of protein homeostasis.

Prior to joining Cleave Biosciences in 2011 as Director of Chemistry and participating in the Series A financing, he was an Associate Director at PPD. Dr. Zhou oversaw multiple projects and managed 60+ scientists. From 2004 - 2009, Dr. Zhou worked at Proteolix as a Group Leader. Dr. Zhou played substantial role in the discovery of Carfilzomb. He also served as a Program Leader to lead the discovery of oprozomib, a novel oral proteasome inhibitor and oversaw the chemistry effort that leads to the discovery of ONX0914, an immunoproteasome-selective inhibitor. Prior to Proteolix, Dr. Zhou was employed at Cytokinetics and contributed to the discovery of Omecamtiv mecarbil.

Dr. Zhou was trained as a Postdoctoral Associate in Professor Robert Holton's laboratory at Florida State University and earned his Ph.D. degree in organic chemistry from the University of Fribourg, Switzerland and M.S. degree from Nankai University, China. He is a named inventor and author on +30 patents and publications.

Ronan Le Moigne, PhD

Sr. Director, Pharmacology

Dr. Le Moigne has been working in oncology drug development for over 8 years. Prior to joining Cleave in 2012, he was laboratory head in the pharmacology oncology group for Sanofi from 2006-2012. In Paris and Boston, MA, Dr. Le Moigne led groups that participated in target validation efforts of new kinase inhibitors, advanced small molecules and antibodies to preclinical development and supported the progression of Aflibercept, a VEGF Trap biologic, during its clinical development. During his years at Sanofi, Dr. Le Moigne actively participated in several very diverse projects including those targeting mitosis, apoptosis, stress responses, angiogenesis, MAPK signaling, p53 and the PI3K pathway. He received his PhD in pharmacology from the University Paris XI, France and earned his BS degree in cellular physiology from the University of Bretagne Occidentale, France.

Jesse Vargas, PhD

Head of Biology

Dr. Vargas has 5 years of research experience in cell-based assay development for immune systems signaling and oncology target discovery and validation. Prior to joining Cleave, Dr. Vargas managed multidisciplinary microscopy core facilities for the Quantitative and Computational Biosciences Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles and the San Diego Center for Systems Biology at the University of California, San Diego. Dr. Vargas received his PhD in molecular and cell biology from the University of California, San Diego in conjunction with the Salk Institute for Biological Studies where he was awarded the AGEP, Cota-Robles, and Rose-Hills Foundation fellowships, and the Graduate Student Association Leadership Award for policy work. He received a MS in Molecular and Cellular Physiology from the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, Carbondale were he was awarded an NSF Fellowship, and a BS in Chemistry and a BS in Biology from the University of California, Irvine.