Leadership Team

Ming Wang, PhD, MBA
Ming Wang, PhD, MBA
President and CEO

Dr. Ming Wang is Founder, President and CEO of Phanes Therapeutics, Inc. based in San Diego. The company focuses on drug discovery and development to treat cancer and metabolic complications. Ming was formerly Vice President and Disease Area Leader of Diabetes/Metabolism in Janssen, the pharmaceutical sector of Johnson & Johnson, with global responsibility for the diabetes portfolio (from discovery stage to phase 2). In this role, he was responsible for setting strategies for internal innovation and external partnerships, making investment decisions and building a portfolio of assets for disease treatment and prevention. Under his leadership, J&J built a strong pipeline of metabolic assets ranging from discovery stage programs to clinical assets. During his tenure at J&J, Ming’s team built many external partnerships with biotech companies and academic institutions. Ming was also the champion in formulating a strategy for NASH (non-alcoholic steatohepatitis) and other metabolic disease areas for the group. Previously, Ming was Executive Director and Head of Diabetes Research at Amgen where he headed a group of ~50 scientists located in Amgen’s headquarter (Thousand Oaks) and San Francisco, working on developing novel therapies for metabolic diseases. Before joining Amgen, Ming championed drug discovery programs in cardiovascular and metabolic diseases and managed corporate partnerships in Parke-Davis, Pfizer and Pharmacia.

Ming served on multiple advisory boards, including the Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) of Amgen Ventures. He is a frequent organizer and speaker of biotech and pharma conferences and has 59 publications and a book entitled “Metabolic Syndrome: underlying mechanisms and drug therapies” (publisher: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.). He is an Associate Editor of Frontiers in Experimental Pharmacology and Drug Discovery. He holds a PhD in Biochemistry and a MBA in General Management.

Hui Zou, PhD
Hui Zou, PhD
Chief Scientific Officer (CSO), Head of Research and Development (R&D)

Dr. Hui Zou is an experienced and accomplished oncologist in both academia of biological research and industry of drug development. Before joining the industry, Hui was a tenured Associate Professor of the Department of Molecular Biology at UT Southwestern Medical Center. He was awarded American Cancer Society Research Scholar and Kenneth G. and Elaine A. Langone Scholar of Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation. His work was supported by NIH R01 and other private and public foundations. Before joining UT Southwestern Medical Center, Hui was a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Marc W. Kirschner at Harvard Medical School. He was a fellow of Jane Coffin Childs Memorial Fund for Medical Research. As a graduate student, postdoctoral fellow and independent PI, Hui made important discoveries in the mechanism of sister chromatid recombination, cohesion and separation during mitosis. His discoveries generated many important publications, including 4 manuscripts published in Science or Cell as first or corresponding author.
Hui joined the industry in 2012 to translate his scientific expertise into biomedical drug discovery and development. Hui joined Phanes in 2017 and currently is the Chief Scientific Officer (CSO) and Executive VP. As the Head of R&D, Hui oversees the drug discovery and the process development teams. As his first position in the industry, Hui became Senior Director at Crown Biosciences in 2012. He led a team of 20 biologists and chemists in two integrated service projects contracted by Eli Lilly. Both projects leveraged novel cell cycle regulators to treat cancers, one of which has been advanced by Lilly into clinical development.
Hui holds a PhD degree of genetics and development from Columbia University.

Jeremy Barton, MD
Jeremy Barton, MD
Chief Medical Officer (interim)

Jeremy Barton, M.D. has over 30 years of experience in all phases of oncology drug development in the pharmaceutical industry in Switzerland, UK and currently in the US. He is now working as a self-employed consultant, advising biotech companies on strategic oncology drug development

Most recent industry responsibilities in the US have included Chief Medical Officer roles at Biogen Idec, eFFECTOR Therapeutics and Mirati Therapeutics. He was also head of early Oncology Development at Pfizer (San Diego) for 5 years overseeing the transition of all Oncology compounds from research through IND to proof of concept studies.

After obtaining a Masters Degree in Physiology from Oxford University and his M.D. degree at University College Hospital Medical School in London, he trained in Internal Medicine and Clinical Oncology in the United Kingdom and practiced for 11 years in the National Health Service.

Jeremy is Board Certified in Internal Medicine and Clinical Oncology, a Member of the Royal College of Physicians, a Fellow of the Royal College of Radiologists (Clinical Oncology) and a Member of Faculty of Pharmaceutical Medicine.

Rita Laeufle, MD, PhD
Rita Laeufle, MD, PhD
Chief Medical Advisor

Dr. Rita Laeufle brings more than 18 years of experience in drug development in oncology and Immunotherapy, most recently serving as CMO at Imugene Biotech, Australia where she is responsible for their oncolytic virus and B-cell vaccine program. During her previous position at Oncolytics, she developed immunotherapy combination studies with the oncolytic virus pelareorep and anti-PD-L1 inhibitor in breast and GI cancer. Further roles included Vice president of Clinical Development & Medical Affairs at SFJ Pharmaceuticals where she developed a clinical program for a new drug substance class in colon cancer. Dr. Laeufle also worked at Genentech in South San Francisco as Senior Medical Director, U.S. Medical Affairs, gastrointestinal (GI) cancers where she led GI disease across molecules and indications. Prior moving to the United States she was Senior Medical Director and Clinical Science Leader in Oncology at Roche leading a team for the treatment of breast cancer with Avastin among other solid tumor indication fir several years. Prior that she was at Novartis roles included pharmacovigilance for oncology and drug development lead for infectious disease.

Prior joining the industry Dr. Laeufle spend 10 years in academia, she is a board-certified surgeon. She completed her general surgery residency at Buckland Hospital in Dover, England, Basel Switzerland and Ueberlingen, Germany, and was trained in surgical oncology at “Staedtisches Krankenhaus”, Singen Germany, where she focused on gastroenterological, thyroid and breast cancer. Dr. Laeufle completed medical school at Medical School Albert Ludwig University Freiburg i.Br. Germany, where she received her Ph.D. in exploring Her2 oncogenes in brain cancer. Dr. Laeufle’s work has been published in The Lancet Oncology, the European Journal of Cancer, the Journal of Hepatology and Human Pathology and she has had multiple posters presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), the World Congress on Gastrointestinal Cancer (WCGC) and the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO).

Paul Chu, MBA
Paul Chu, MBA
Vice President of Business Development

Paul Chu, MBA, serves as Vice President of Business Development at Phanes Therapeutics. Paul leads business development at Phanes, working with the Management Team to execute on the company’s partnering and strategic initiatives.

Paul is an experienced life science executive with over 10 years of experience in the industry.  He has held senior leadership roles in both small biotech companies and large multi-national corporations. Paul has experience in deal-making across international geographies and therapeutic areas and has closed deals valued at over $6 billion with a portfolio that spans across oncology, eyecare, neuroscience, and medical aesthetics.  Prior to joining Phanes Paul was Vice President of Business Development at HUYABIO International where he in-licensed two oncology assets, a Wee1 inhibitor and a KRASG12C inhibitor, for development in solid tumors.  Prior to HUYABIO Paul held similar roles at AiViva BioPharma, a privately held pharmaceutical company, and UroGen Pharma, a public company traded on NASDAQ.  Earlier in his career Paul was Director of Business Development at Allergan, Inc. where he spearheaded multiple M&A transactions.

Paul holds an MBA from the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business and a BA in Finance and Business Administration from California State University, Fullerton.

Ramzi Melhem, MD
Ramzi Melhem, MD
Medical Director, Oncology Clinical Development

Dr. Ramzi Melhem, MD serves as Medical Director, Oncology at Phanes Therapeutics. Dr. Melhem supports clinical development functions at Phanes, working with our Research and Process Development teams to advance Phanes’ lead molecules into Phase I studies. He serves as medical monitor for Phanes clinical studies and manages relationships with our clinical investigators/sites.

Dr. Melhem has broad and in-depth experience in clinical development and operations , from early phase to expansive  global studies. Prior to joining Phanes, he served as Medical Director at Senseibio. There he led the clinical development of  an immunophage, first of its kind cancer vaccine, and the immuno-oncology clinical group .   He has spent more than 10  years in the pharmaceutical/biotechnology industry holding leadership positions of increasing responsibility at CROs managing several sponsor studies and investigative sites.

Dr. Melhem earned his B.S. in Biology and Doctorate of Medicine MD from the American University of Beirut. He completed his Post-Doctoral Fellowship at the University of California, Davis.

Claudia Ramos
Claudia Ramos
Director, Clinical Operations

Claudia Ramos is the Director of Clinical Operations at Phanes Therapeutics. Claudia leads the Clinical Operations functions and supports the Process Development team to advance Phanes’ Phase I studies at the clinical sites.

Throughout her 17-year career she has held positions in the pharmaceutical/biotechnology industry of increasing responsibility in clinical operations and clinical program management. Prior to joining Phanes Therapeutics, Mrs. Ramos provided oversight and management of oncology clinical trials at Mirati Therapeutics. Prior to this role, she managed two Phase 3 registrational trials from inception through FDA/EMA inspections at Heron Therapeutics. She also supported Phase 2/3 Clinical trials at Halozyme Therapeutics, Cebix Inc., and Cytori Therapeutics where she supported a medical device and biologic (adipose derived stem cell) combo therapy for the treatment of acute myocardial infarction.

Claudia earned her B.A. in Organizational Management from Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego, CA