About

World-class protein design innovators backed by top-tier global investors.

Leadership

Members of the scientific team at Cyrus have published some of the seminal demonstrations of protein structure prediction, protein AI algorithm development and protein/protein interaction design in numerous programs at the Institute for Protein Design (IPD) and other institutions. The team has worked on computational discovery and novel IP for over 30 partner firms including Janssen, Genentech, Nimbus, and Selecta. The executive team brings experience from multiple INDs, large BD transactions and biotech IPOs, complementing the scientific innovation at Cyrus.

Management

Lucas Nivon

Chief Executive Officer

Yifan Song

Chief Scientific Officer

Mark Benjamin

President & EVP
Business Development

Eric Tarcha

VP of Drug Discovery

Erik Procko

Director of Discovery

Gabor Illei​

Senior Clinical Advisor​

Scientific Advisors

David Baker

Scientific Co-Founder
& Advisor

Will Chen

Scientific Advisor

Mohammed AlQuraishi

Scientific Advisor

Manuel Baca

Scientific Advisor

Derek Pociask

Scientific Advisor

Board of Directors

Eric Bell

Board Observer

Lucas Nivon

Chief Executive Officer & Board Member

Geeta Vemuri

Board Observer

Yifan Song

Chief Science Officer & Board Member

Chad Waite

Board Member

Carl Gordon

Board Observer

Ting Xie

Board Observer

Jason Smith

Board Member

Investors

Cyrus is backed by a number of largest global VC firms in biotechnology, as well as major Tech investors and local seed investors in Seattle.

Lucas Nivon

Chief Executive Officer

Lucas is trained in computational biophysics and protein engineering. He brought Cyrus to sales with over 120 BioPharma companies and collaboration on over 30 discovery stage programs, including work with the majority of top-20 BioPharma firms including Janssen, Genentech, Selecta Bio, and the Broad Institute. At Cyrus, Lucas was a co-founder of the OpenFold consortium in Protein AI software with Genentech, Amazon, Outpace and Arzeda. Prior to Cyrus he was a Translational Investigator & Senior Fellow at the Baker lab at UW, developing small-molecule binding proteins and protein design algorithms, and leading efforts to improve the stability and usability of the Rosetta software package. Lucas’ academic work includes a patented computationally designed enzyme, an RNA-dynamics-modeling software toolkit he built from scratch during his PhD, and algorithm optimization for automation of computational protein design. Harvard A.B., Biochemical Sciences (summa cum laude and Goldwater Scholar) and Ph.D., Biophysics; Hertz Fellow.

Yifan Song

Chief Scientific Officer

Yifan has been at the forefront of computational protein modeling and biophysics in a variety of fields. Yifan was the lead developer on core Rosetta protein modeling functionality, and the project manager at CCNY for an electrostatics calculation software package, MCCE. He pioneered a number of technical refinements in protein structure energy evaluation currently used in Rosetta. Yifan is a leader in computational protein modeling, with experience ranging from ab initio protein structure prediction to crystallography to protein-protein interaction design and over 20 scientific publications in leading journals. He is a former Translational Investigator & Research Scientist at the Baker lab at the University of Washington. Yifan completed a B.S. in Physics at Fudan University and earned his Ph.D. in Physics at CCNY.

Mark Benjamin

President and EVP Business Development

Mark is a trained scientist and seasoned business development professional. Prior to joining Cyrus, Mark was Chief Business Officer at Q-State Biosciences, a Harvard University company focusing on neuroscience drug discovery. Mark served as CEO of Galenea, an MIT spin out from the lab of Nobel laureate Susumu Tonegawa, which – through partnerships with Otsuka, CHDI, Novartis, Eisai and Janssen, worked on drug discovery for a number of neurodegenerative and neuropsychiatric disorders. Prior to Galenea, he was Chief Business Officer at Nura, a company formed out of Nobel Laureate Linda Buck’s GPCR work at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. Mark spent some time in Geneva helping to build and eventually sell a Serono spin-out DNA-sequencing company – Manteia – the core of which forms part of the Illumina sequencing platform, and he was an early employee at Rosetta Inpharmatics – a gene expression profiling and microarray company founded by a Seattle-based team including Nobel laureate Lee Hartwell and systems biology pioneer, Lee Hood, where he headed up Business Development. He has a D.Sc. in Cancer Biology from Harvard University and a B.Sc. (First class, with honors) in Genetics from the University of London.

Eric Tarcha

VP of Drug Discovery

Eric joined Cyrus in March of 2022 as Vice President of Drug Discovery. He is a seasoned biotech drug hunter with over 20 years of experience in discovery research and translational drug development, assembling and leading multi-disciplinary, cross-functional teams to advance first-in-class therapeutic candidates into the clinic. He has achieved key development milestones in the fields of immuno-oncology, infectious disease, autoimmunity/inflammation, and neuroscience, taking multiple early-stage therapeutics through preclinical development and into early clinical studies. Prior to Cyrus, Eric was a founding scientist and held leadership positions at Kineta Inc., most recently as Executive Vice President of Research and Development responsible for leading discovery, non-clinical, CMC, regulatory and clinical R&D operations. Before Kineta, he was a scientist at Illumigen Biosciences leading efforts in assay development, in vitro and in vivo pharmacology, and CMC process development. Eric is a co-inventor and co-author on numerous patents and publications related to drug discovery, therapeutics formulation and manufacturing, vaccinology, pharmacology, and clinical development. Eric received his B.S. and M.S. degrees in Medical Technology and Clinical Laboratory Sciences at Michigan State University and earned his PhD in Microbiology and Immunology from the Medical University of Ohio at Toledo.

Erik Procko

Director of Discovery

Erik holds an Associate Professorship at the University of Illinois, Urbana, and is a pioneer in the use of Big Data mutagenesis to understand membrane proteins and engineer receptors. He was the first to computationally design a truly de novo protein with function – blockade of a viral oncogene associated with pediatric cancers – and apply deep mutational scanning to human GPCRs and transporters to guide modeling algorithms. He is an inventor on multiple patents and has been published in Cell, Nature, and Science. He is the former co-founder and CEO of Orthogonal Biologics, which merged with Cyrus Biotechnology in 2021. Erik graduated with a B.Sc. in Immunology from the University of Adelaide and a Ph.D. in Molecular Biology from Harvard University.

David Baker

Scientific Co-Founder & Advisor

David is a Professor at the University of Washington and an HHMI Investigator. David is the originator of the Rosetta software package and is responsible for numerous scientific breakthroughs and “firsts” in computational modeling of protein structures and design of novel proteins. Highlights include:

  1. The first reliable prediction of small-protein 3D structures.
  2. The design of the first fully de novo protein structure in a computer.
  3. The design of the first protein-protein binding interactions in a computer
  4. The creation of a specific ligand-binding protein by computational methods.
  5. David has published over 330 peer-reviewed scientific papers, including over 20 in Science and Nature alone.

Will Chen

Scientific Advisor

Will Chen is a leader and innovator in target validation using combined computational and experimental approaches. He was a junior faculty member at Harvard Medical School heading an effort in systems pharmacology before moving to industry to work on neurology and immunology drug discovery. Currently he is a Senior Director at Biogen in the Translational Biology group. His work relates to the systematic integration of human genetics and genomics, molecular and clinical data through advanced analytics and disease pathways to generate novel understanding of disease biology and patient outcomes. Will has also been part of the multi-partner private-public consortium Open Targets that counts a number of biotech and pharmaceutical companies as members including Biogen, GSK, Takeda, Sanofi and Celgene. Will completed his bachelors in physics at UC Berkeley and his PhD at Harvard University in biophysics working on protein folding and soft matter systems.

Mohammed AlQuraishi

Scientific Advisor

Mohammed AlQuraishi is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Systems Biology and a member of Columbia’s Program for Mathematical Genomics, where he works at the intersection of machine learning, biophysics, and systems biology. The AlQuraishi Lab focuses on two biological perspectives: the molecular and systems levels. On the molecular side, the lab develops machine learning models for predicting protein structure and function, protein-ligand interactions, and learned representations of proteins and proteomes. On the systems side, the lab applies these models in a proteome-wide fashion to investigate the organization, combinatorial logic, and computational paradigms of signal transduction networks, how these networks vary in human populations, and how they are dysregulated in human diseases, particularly cancer.
Dr. AlQuraishi holds undergraduate degrees in biology, computer science, and mathematics. He earned an MS in statistics and a PhD in genetics from Stanford University. He subsequently joined the Systems Biology Department at Harvard Medical School as a Departmental Fellow and a Fellow in Systems Pharmacology, where he developed the first end-to-end differentiable model for learning protein structure from data. Prior to starting his academic career, Dr. AlQuraishi spent three years founding two startups in the mobile computing space. He joined the Columbia Faculty in 2020.