Board of Directors

Michael Cola

Chief Executive Officer, Chairman of the Board

Mr. Cola brings a wealth of leadership experience in the biopharmaceutical industry. Prior to joining Avalo, Mr. Cola served as President and CEO of Aevi Genomic Medicine since September 2013. Prior to joining Aevi Genomic Medicine, Mr. Cola served as President of Specialty Pharmaceuticals at Shire plc, a global specialty pharmaceutical company (2007 - April 2012). He joined Shire in 2005 as EVP of Global Therapeutic Business Units and Portfolio Management. Prior to joining Shire, he was with Safeguard Scientifics, Inc., a growth capital provider to life sciences and technology companies, where he served as President of the Life Sciences Group. While at Safeguard, Mr. Cola served as Chairman and CEO of Clarient, Inc., a cancer diagnostics company subsequently acquired by GE Healthcare, and as Chairman of Laureate Pharma, Inc. Prior to Safeguard Scientifics, Mr. Cola held senior positions in product development and commercialization at Astra Merck, a top 20 US pharmaceutical company, and at AstraZeneca, a global biopharmaceutical company. Mr. Cola received a BA in Biology and Physics from Ursinus College and an MS in biomedical science from Drexel University. He serves on the Board of Sage Therapeutics and Phathom Pharmaceuticals, and currently serves as Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Philadelphia.

June Almenoff, MD, PhD

June Almenoff M.D., Ph.D., is an accomplished biopharma executive with close to 25 years of leadership experience. She brings expertise in R&D, commercialization, and executive leadership to this role. Dr. Almenoff served as President and Chief Medical Officer of Furiex Pharmaceuticals, which was acquired by Actavis for $1.2B. Furiex developed eluxadoline (Viberzi®), which was approved both in the United States and Europe. Prior to joining Furiex, Dr. Almenoff was at GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) for 12 years, where she held various positions of increasing responsibility.

Dr. Almenoff is currently Chief Medical Officer at RedHill Biopharma Inc. (Nasdaq: RDHL), where she serves on the commercial executive team. She has deep expertise in many therapeutic and development areas having led or contributed to numerous submissions, product approvals and launches. Dr. Almenoff is on the investment advisory board of the Harrington Discovery Institute, a private venture philanthropy. She serves as a Board Director to Brainstorm Therapeutics (BCLI: Nasdaq) and Tenax (TENX: Nasdaq). She previously served as a Board Director to Tigenix (TIG: Nasdaq, acquired by Takeda), Kurome Therapeutics, RDD Pharma (Chair), and Furiex Pharmaceuticals. Dr. Almenoff has also served as an advisor to venture capital organizations and biopharma hedge funds.

Dr. Almenoff received her B.A. cum laude from Smith College and graduated with AOA honors from the M.D.-Ph.D. program at the Icahn (Mt. Sinai) School of Medicine. She completed post-graduate medical training at Stanford University Medical Center and served on the faculty of Duke University School of Medicine. She is an adjunct Professor at Duke, a Fellow of the American College of Physicians (FACP) and has authored over 60 publications.

Steven J. Boyd

Mr. Boyd is the Chief Investment Officer of Armistice Capital. He founded Armistice in 2012, which was named "best new hedge fund" by Hedge Funds Review the following year. Prior to Armistice, Mr. Boyd had been an analyst at Senator Investment Group and York Capital. He started his career at McKinsey & Company. Mr. Boyd received a BA in Political Science, as well as a BS in Economics, from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

Phil Gutry

Mr. Gutry has served as an independent director with Avalo since April 2015. He has over 20 years of experience in the biopharmaceutical industry in a variety of senior investment, business development, and strategic roles.  Mr. Gutry currently serves as Chief Business Officer and Head of Finance & Investor Relations at Graphite Bio. Mr. Gutry brings to this role extensive business development, strategy, finance, and investor relations experience with a successful track record of raising capital and establishing partnerships for biotech companies.  Mr. Gutry most recently worked at Kronos Bio, a clinical-stage oncology company focused on targeting dysregulated transcription, where he served as Chief Business Officer. In this role, he led the acquisition of Gilead’s spleen tyrosine kinase inhibitor portfolio, which transformed Kronos into a clinical-stage company and was the primary catalyst for raising $500 million in equity capital, including the company’s initial public offering. Previously, Mr. Gutry served in senior business development and finance roles at Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, MPM Capital, and Gilead Sciences, during which he led or managed over 30 transactions raising over $2 billion in equity, debt, and R&D funding. Mr. Gutry received his BA in Earth Sciences from Dartmouth College and his MBA in Healthcare Management from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

Gilla Kaplan, PhD

Dr. Kaplan is recognized as an authority on various aspects of the host immune response to mycobacterial pathogens, including the causative agents of leprosy and tuberculosis. Most recently, she was the Director of the Global Health Tuberculosis program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF; January 2014 - April 2018). Her scientific work has encompassed developing a deep, holistic understanding of the cellular immune response and how to harness it for host adjunctive therapies. She spent her career as an academic research scientist leading her laboratory in investigations focusing on human disease control. Building on her research experience at Rockefeller University in New York City (for 20 years) and then at the Public Health Research Institute Center at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey in Newark (for 10 years), she led the reshaping of the TB program at the BMGF. Dr. Kaplan is the recipient of multiple grants from the NIH-NIAID and other funding organizations for her research. Dr. Kaplan served on the Board of Directors at Celgene from 1998 to 2018 and is currently a member of Tyra Biosciences, Inc.’s Board of Directors. Dr. Kaplan received her BSc from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Israel, and her MSc and PhD from Tromso University Norway. Dr. Kaplan was appointed as an independent director to the Avalo Board in October 2020.

Keith Maher, MD

Dr. Keith Maher is a Managing Director at Armistice Capital. Prior to Armistice, Dr. Maher held senior roles at Schroder Investment Management, Omega Advisors, and Gracie Capital. He joined Gracie Capital from Valesco Healthcare Partners a global healthcare fund he founded in partnership with Paramount Bio Capital. Dr. Maher has also worked as a Managing Director at Weiss, Peck & Greer Investments, which he joined from Lehman Brothers, where he was an equity research analyst covering medical device and technology companies. Dr. Maher completed his clinical training at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in the Department of Medicine and holds an MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management as well as a BA from Boston University.

Joseph Miller

Mr. Miller brings a wealth of financial and operating experience to Avalo. He currently serves as the Chief Financial Officer of Aurinia Pharmaceuticals. With over 2 decades of experience as a senior executive managing financial operations and supporting enterprise growth in companies across the health sciences, biotech, and pharmaceutical sectors, he most recently served as Chief Financial Officer, Principal Executive Officer, and Corporate Secretary at Cerecor, Inc. At Cerecor, he completed the acquisition of Ichorion Therapeutics, Inc. and purchase of Aevi Genomic Medicine, and facilitated a strategic transformation of the organization by leading the divestiture of the company’s commercial portfolio in a transaction with Aytu BioScience, Inc. in 2019. Prior to his Cerecor experience, Mr. Miller was the Vice President of Finance at Sucampo Pharmaceuticals, Inc., where he was responsible for building out the finance organization to effectively support the company’s rapid growth, ultimately leading to the $1.2 billion merger with Mallinckrodt in early 2018. Prior to Sucampo, he served in various progressive finance and management roles at QIAGEN, Eppendorf, and KPMG LLP. Mr. Miller received his BS in Accounting from Villanova University and is a Certified Public Accountant.

Magnus Persson, MD, PhD

Dr. Persson has served as lead independent director since November 2021 and as an independent director with Avalo since August 2012. Dr. Persson is currently serving as CEO of Karolinska Institutet Holding AB in Stockholm, Sweden. He has also served as an Associate Professor in Physiology at Karolinska Institutet since September 1994. Dr. Persson has served as a practicing pediatrician at CityAkuten in Stockholm, Sweden, since December 2012. Dr. Persson served as a Partner at HealthCap, a Swedish-based venture capital firm (January 2008 - December 2009), and as a Managing Partner at The Column Group, a San Francisco–based venture capital firm (January 2010 - November 2011). Dr. Persson co-founded Aerocrine AB, a medical technology company, in 1994. Dr. Persson has also served on the boards of Karolinska Institutet Innovations AB, a technology transfer company, since December 2011; Galecto AB, a biotechnology company, since January 2013; AscendxSpine Inc., a medical device company, since December 2012; SLS Ventures AB, a life science venture capital firm, since March 2012; Karolinska Institutet Information AB, a healthcare IT-software company, since October 2015; Immunicum AB, a biotechnology company, since December 2015; and Albumedix AS, a biotechnology company, since January 2016. Dr. Persson received his MD and PhD in Physiology from Karolinska Institutet.