Pheast Appoints Jacopo Leonardi as Chief Executive Officer

PALO ALTO, Calif.--()--Pheast Therapeutics, a private biotechnology company developing novel innate immune checkpoint inhibitors to unleash the power of macrophages on aggressive, difficult-to-treat cancers, today announced the appointment of Jacopo Leonardi as Chief Executive Officer. Mr. Leonardi brings more than 25 years of executive leadership spanning commercial and research and development (R&D) sectors for global pharmaceutical companies as well as experience in building new companies focused on developing novel therapeutics for high unmet medical needs.

Amira Barkal, M.D., Ph.D., principal founder and founding CEO of Pheast Therapeutics, will now serve as Chief Development Officer. Dr. Barkal said, “Pheast will benefit from Jacopo’s expertise in building inclusive, inspired teams that reach the ultimate goal of delivering meaningful therapeutics to patients.”

“Jacopo’s proven leadership from biopharmaceutical R&D and commercial strategy to early-stage company creation, as well as his experience in advancing new therapeutics in immunology and oncology, will be instrumental in building the team and translating the breakthrough discovery of CD24 blockade into new immunotherapies,” added Irving Weissman, M.D., cofounder of Pheast Therapeutics.

“I am excited to join this team of scientific experts and leaders in the field of cancer immunotherapy and innate immunity responsible for several foundational discoveries of novel, tumor-specific macrophage-activating pathways,” said Mr. Leonardi. “I look forward to building a purpose-inspired, high-performing team at Pheast to deliver the next generation of innate immunotherapies and provide better treatment options for patients with aggressive, difficult-to-treat cancers.”

Mr. Leonardi serves as a Venture Advisor to Agent Capital and on the Board of Directors of AIS Healthcare and recently served on the Boards of Carbon Biosciences and Pyxis Oncology. Previously, he served in key development and global leadership roles in general management, R&D, new product planning, marketing, and sales at Horizon Therapeutics, Baxalta, Baxter Healthcare, Eli Lilly, and Johnson & Johnson. At Baxalta, Mr. Leonardi was Executive Vice President and President of Immunology and was a member of the Executive Leadership Team that spun Baxalta out of Baxter Healthcare, which was subsequently acquired by Shire PLC.

Pheast completed its Series A financing of $76M in April 2022, led by high profile investors, Catalio Capital Management and Arch Venture Partners. Dr. Jacob Vogelstein, Managing Partner of Catalio and Board Director of Pheast, said, “We have been impressed with the power of Pheast’s discovery platform and the early progress being made to elucidate drug candidates that promote anti-tumor responses via interference with CD24 signaling. We look forward to helping the company take maximum advantage of its discoveries to enable the development of new and powerful approaches to the treatment of cancer.”

About Pheast Therapeutics

Pheast is a preclinical stage immuno-oncology company focused on targeting cancer immune evasion pathways to activate the innate immune system in the fight against cancer. Founded in 2020 as a spinout from Stanford University and led by scientific experts in innate immunity and cancer immunotherapy, Pheast is aiming to develop novel therapies for some of the most difficult-to-treat and aggressive cancers. For more info, visit and connect on LinkedIn.


Jessica Yingling, Ph.D., Little Dog Communications Inc.,, +1.858.344.8091

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Pheast Therapeutics, a private biotechnology company developing novel innate immune checkpoint inhibitors, appoints Jacopo Leonardi as CEO

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Jessica Yingling, Ph.D., Little Dog Communications Inc.,, +1.858.344.8091