To restore vision for people with retinal degeneration

Investors & Partners


Paul Bresge


Paul Bresge has been a leader in the cell and gene therapy biotech space for over a decade. He is co-founder and Chief Executive Officer at Ray Therapeutics, an optogenetics gene therapy company for blinding diseases. Prior to co-founding Ray Therapeutics, Paul served as Chief Executive Officer at jCyte, a late-stage clinical cell therapy company developing a treatment for retinitis pigmentosa. He was involved with jCyte prior to its inception in 2012 and concluded a $252M licensing deal with Santen Pharmaceutical in 2020. In addition to his current role as CEO, Paul is on the board of directors of Healios, an iPSC company with programs in ophthalmology and oncology, and is a mentor on the Winning Pitch Challenge. Paul is passionate about supporting companies with emerging technologies that have great potential to address unmet needs for patients with blinding and other diseases.

Peter Francis, MD, PhD

Chief Medical & Scientific Officer

Peter Francis is a highly experienced biotechnology executive and an ophthalmologist clinician-scientist with expertise in ophthalmic genetics and retinal disease. He graduated from medical school in the U.K. and undertook residency in London. He obtained his PhD in ophthalmic genetics from University College, London and is fellowship trained in Retina. Peter has almost two decades of experience in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries where he has led a number of gene therapy products from discovery to early-stage clinical development. Most recently he served as Chief Scientific Officer at 4D Molecular Therapeutics, a leader in AAV-based gene therapy and was prior, their first Chief Medical Officer and Head of Translational Research. Previously, Peter was Chief Medical Officer at RetroSense Therapeutics, the first visual optogenetics company which was successfully sold to a large pharmaceutical company.   Peter is a member of the Macula Society, the American Ophthalmological Society and the American Academy of Ophthalmology. He has held academic faculty positions at St. Thomas’ Hospital, London and Casey Eye Institute, OHSU, Portland, OR. He has published about 100 peer-reviewed articles.

Jenny Holt

Chief Development Officer

Jenny Holt, PMP is an experienced biotech and pharmaceutical executive with more than 25 years of experience primarily in gene therapies, ophthalmology, and oncolytic viral research. She is a graduate of UC Santa Barbara. Her first roles included scientist positions at UCSF Gladstone Institutes, Onyx Pharmaceuticals, and Novartis Institute of Biomedical Research. Most recently Jenny was head of project management at 4D Molecular Therapeutics, a leading AAV-based gene therapy company, where she managed five gene therapy products from discovery to early-stage clinical development. Jenny also was a co-founder/advisor at Ignite Immunotherapy which was purchased by Pfizer in 2019.

Terry O’Neal


Terry O’Neal has more than thirty years of executive start-up and restructure experience in several industries. He started his career at The Walt Disney Company and was later recruited by McDonnell Douglas to restructure their transportation subsidiary, which he transformed into a multi-million dollar division. Terry was then recruited by Carl Icahn as founding director and COO of Lowestfare.com, the first discount online travel site. In three years, he leveraged an initial seed investment of $100,000 to more than $300 million in annual revenues and an $800 million market enterprise value. Prior to joining Ray Therapeutics, Terry formed jCyte with Drs. Henry Klassen and Jing Yang and Paul Bresge, a cell therapy company treating blinding diseases, where he played a critical role in the Company from its inception through three clinical studies.

Amy Kritikos

Executive Administrator

Amy Kritikos brings over 10 years of strategic, administrative, and operational experience in support of corporate success. Amy spent years at multiple companies managing schedules, deliverable, and budgets to successfully execute projects with highest quality and customer happiness. She brings that attention to detail to biotech as the Executive Assistant to the CEO and management team

Tyler McQuillan

Legal Counsel

Before serving as Ray Therapeutics’ internal legal counsel, Tyler McQuillan worked in law firms advising venture capital investors and the life science and technology businesses they funded. He primarily handled venture capital transactions for corporate venture arms and traditional venture funds, technology and commercial transactions and day-to-day corporate matters for early- and growth-stage life sciences and technology companies. In that practice, his passion lied in helping create, build and grow successful life sciences and technology companies. Tyler holds a B.A. from the University of California San Diego and a J.D. from the University of San Diego School of Law.

Jonathan Melnick

VP of Research

Jonathan Melnick has over 15 years of experience in the biotechnology industry, with a focus on platform development in the fields of high throughput biology and gene therapy. He received his bachelor’s degree from Cornell University in Chemistry and Biology, and his PhD in 2006 from The Scripps Research Institute. Jon specializes in a multidisciplinary approach to platform refinement and optimization, combining the principles of chemical biology with next generation sequencing (NGS) and bioinformatics/machine learning. Jon’s career has focused on early stage biotechs, where he has established teams and brought in new capabilities to expand academic platforms into industrial discovery engines.

Jerrod Denham


Jerrod is a seasoned CMC leader in cell and gene therapy with over 2 decades of biotech experience. His first jobs were at 3 cell therapy therapeutic product development companies- Geron, ViaCyte and StemCells where he had increasing roles of responsibility in R&D, process and analytical development, pilot plant, GMP manufacturing and MSAT. He was then hired by Dark Horse Consulting Group as the first full-time employee and first Principal where he gained CMC experience in multiple types of cell therapies, ex vivo gene therapies and in vivo gene therapies including AAV products. After working at DHC, Jerrod took on a new challenge at Ology/National Resilience as VP of Cell Therapy Tech Ops for a CDMO. Most recently, Jerrod was VP of Cell Therapy Tech Ops at Athenex where we went back full circle to therapeutic product development of CAR-NKT cell therapy products.

Gabe Bolender

Associate Director, Program Management

Gabe Bolender is a biotech program manager with four years of experience managing ocular gene therapy programs . He received his master’s degree in pharmacology from UC Santa Barbara and is a certified PMP. His first role out of graduate school was at 4D Molecular Therapeutics, a leader in AAV-based gene therapy, where he managed several ocular gene therapy programs in various stages of preclinical and early-stage clinical development, helping to bring two through IND submission and into the clinic.

Akshata Korgaonkar

Senior Scientist

Akshata Korgaonkar is a translational scientist with extensive experience in discovery biology, gene therapy, neurodegenerative diseases, and animal models. Akshata did Biomedical engineering from Mumbai University, India. She obtained her PhD in Biomedical sciences from Rutgers university, NJ. Akshata has over 13 years of experience in planning, developing, executing assays and analysis for development of novel target engagement and disease biomarkers readouts for discovery biology and neurodegenerative diseases. Most recently she served as project lead at Alector, where she managed 3 projects from early discovery stage to late pre-clinical phase.

Vicki Klutzaritz

Head of Clinical Operations

Vicki Klutzaritz has over 30 years of clinical development operations experience in the biopharmaceutical industry. She has made significant contributions at companies ranging from biotech start-ups to large pharmaceutical companies, including contract research organizations. Working in small biotechs has allowed her to excel in clinical operations, data management and statistical programming. Therapeutic experience includes ocular diseases, neurodegenerative impairment, non-abusive pain therapy alternatives, and oncology. She is a graduate of Lehigh University.

Board of Directors

Sean Ainsworth

Sean Ainsworth


Sean Ainsworth is a serial entrepreneur with multiple successes in starting, leading, and selling biotechnology companies. Previously, he founded and led RetroSense Therapeutics, an optogenetic gene therapy company that advanced into human clinical trials and sold to Allergan in 2016. Earlier, he was deeply involved in the launch of Compendia Bioscience, Inc., which was acquired by Life Technologies in 2012. Sean is currently CEO and Chairman of Immusoft, a cell therapy company dedicated developing B cells as biofactories for sustained delivery of therapeutic proteins in rare pediatric indications.

Raymond Camahort, Ph.D.

Partner, Novo Holdings Venture Investments

Raymond Camahort, Ph.D., is Partner at Novo Holdings Venture Investments. He has over 15 years of combined investment, business, and research experience, with expertise in biochemistry, genetics, and gene therapy/editing. Prior to joining Novo Ventures, Ray worked in business development at the Harvard University Office of Technology Development where his role was to facilitate commercialization of technologies developed in the chemistry and stem cell/regenerative biology departments. Ray has served on the Board of Directors of numerous companies, including Arcellx, Inspirna, iECURE, and Riva Therapeutics. He completed a National Institute of Health post-doctoral training fellowship at Harvard University and was a pre-doctoral fellow at the Stowers Institute for Medical Research in Kansas City, Missouri. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of Kansas in biochemistry and molecular biology and a B.S. in biological sciences from the University of California Santa Barbara.
Dmitry ‘Dima’ Kuzmin MSc (Oxon) PhD MRSB MIoD

Dmitry Kuzmin, PhD

Board Member

Dmitry ‘Dima’ Kuzmin MSc (Oxon) PhD MRSB MIoD is the co-founder and managing partner of 4BIO Capital, a London-based investment firm focused on advanced therapies and a pioneer of advanced therapies investments. Before founding 4BIO, he served in several academic roles with research interests spanning structural biology and rational design of ion channels, optogenetics, gene therapy of neurological and psychiatric diseases, brain-computer interfaces, and information processing in the brain. He serves or served in the past on several company boards, including Araris Biotech, Redpin Therapeutics, RetroSense Therapeutics (acquired by Allergan), and others.

Hannah H. Chang, M.D., Ph.D.

Managing Director, Platanus

Hannah H. Chang is a Managing Director at Platanus, a global evergreen investment fund. Dr. Chang leads the firm’s healthcare venture capital strategy, investing in innovative biotechnology companies with transformative therapeutic potential. Representative investments include Korro Bio, Semma Therapeutics (acquired by Vertex Pharmaceuticals), Akouos (NASDAQ: AKUS, acquired by Eli Lilly), Inipharm, and Nuvig Therapeutics. She was previously an investment professional at 5AM Ventures where she helped found IDEAYA Biosciences (NASDAQ: IDYA) and served as a Board Observer for Crinetics Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: CRNX), among others. Earlier in her career Dr. Chang was a Project Leader at The Boston Consulting and a member of the Healthcare Practice in their Boston office. Dr. Chang obtained her M.D. from the Harvard-MIT Program in Health Sciences and Technology, Ph.D. in Biophysics from Harvard University, and B.A. in Chemistry from Princeton University. Her research has been published in Nature, Lancet, and Physical Review Letters. Dr. Chang trained clinically in internal medicine and ophthalmology at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, respectively. She is a licensed physician in the District of Columbia.

Tiba Aynechi, Ph.D.

General Partner, Norwest Venture Partners

Tiba Aynechi is a biotech investor with 20+ years of research and investment experience. Based in the Norwest San Francisco office, she invests in healthcare with a focus on early to mid-stage companies within the therapeutics sector. Prior to joining Norwest, Tiba spent over ten years at Novo Holdings A/S, one of the top life sciences investment firms, with offices in the US and Europe. In her previous role, she was responsible for the deployment of ~280M of capital in private biotech, MedTech and HCIT companies. Earlier in her career Tiba was a banker focused on M&A, licensing, and financing transactions involving biotech/pharma. Tiba attended the University of California Irvine where she received a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics with a Biomedical concentration. She also holds a Ph.D. in Biophysics from the University of California San Francisco, where she also did her Postdoctoral Fellowship. Tiba is also a published author of scientific articles and book chapters in rational drug design.
Gary Abrams, MD

Gary Abrams, MD

Director and Clinical Advisor

Gary Abrams, MD is an ophthalmologist and retina specialist and is professor and former chair of the Department of Ophthalmology at Wayne State University (WSU).  He founded the Ligon Research Center of Vision, dedicated to restoring vision in the blind, at WSU in 2000.  Dr. Abrams is former President of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) and has received many honors including the 2005 Paul Kayser International Award in Retina Research from the Schepens International Society and the 2015 Pyron Award in Retina Research from the American Society of Retina Specialists.

Paul Bresge


Paul Bresge has been a leader in the cell and gene therapy biotech space for over a decade. He is co-founder and Chief Executive Officer at Ray Therapeutics, an optogenetics gene therapy company for blinding diseases. Prior to co-founding Ray Therapeutics, Paul served as Chief Executive Officer at jCyte, a late-stage clinical cell therapy company developing a treatment for retinitis pigmentosa. He was involved with jCyte prior to its inception in 2012 and concluded a $252M licensing deal with Santen Pharmaceutical in 2020. In addition to his current role as CEO, Paul is on the board of directors of Healios, an iPSC company with programs in ophthalmology and oncology, and is a mentor on the Winning Pitch Challenge. Paul is passionate about supporting companies with emerging technologies that have great potential to address unmet needs for patients with blinding and other diseases.

Jason Ruth Ph.D.

Board Observer: Partner, MRL Ventures Fund

Jason Ruth, Ph.D. joined MRL Ventures as a Partner in 2022. He currently serves as an Observer on the board of Aktis Oncology and LifeMine Therapeutics. Previously, he helped establish 5AM Venture’s public fund where he led investments in Janux Therapeutics (NASDAQ: JANX), Disc Medicine (NASDAQ: IRON), and Avidity Biosciences (NASDAQ: RNA). He played early operating roles in Vor Biopharma (NASDAQ: VOR), Entrada Therapeutics (NASDAQ: TRDA), and Seeker Therapeutics, which he also co-founded, and previously held board observer roles at Expansion Therapeutics, Vor Biopharma (NASDAQ:VOR), Homology Medicines (NASDAQ: FIXX), Cabaletta Bio (NASDAQ: CABA), and Entrada Therapeutics (NASDAQ: TRDA). Earlier in his career he was a Postdoctoral Fellow with Levi Garraway at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, where he studied PRMT5 dependency in MTAP-null cancers. Dr. Ruth volunteers as Chief Scientific Officer and as a Scientific Advisory Board member for the Castleman Disease Collaborative Network. He received his Ph.D. in Bioengineering from the University of Pennsylvania as an HHMI-Interfaces Fellow and received a Ruth L. Kirschstein NRSA Predoctoral Fellowship to investigate cancer immunology with Lewis Chodosh. Dr. Ruth received a B.S. in Biomedical Engineering as a UCLEADS scholar from the University of California in Irvine. His work is published in journals including Science and Lancet Hematology.

Brian Chow Ph.D.,

Board Observer: Principal, Deerfield

Brian Chow, Ph.D., is a Principal on the Therapeutics team and joined the Firm in 2022. Prior to Deerfield, Dr. Chow spent 10 years at the University of Pennsylvania, most recently as an Associate Professor of Bioengineering. Before that, he was the Head of Research Operations and Alliances for Sage Therapeutics and a Venture Associate at Third Rock Ventures. Dr. Chow holds a B.S. in Chemistry from Stanford University and a Ph.D. in Media Arts and Sciences from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

SAB and Advisors

David S. Boyer, M.D.

David Boyer, MD

Clinical Advisor

David S. Boyer, M.D. is a world-renowned clinician, surgeon, and educator at the Retina-Vitreous Associates Medical Group in Southern California. He is board certified in ophthalmology and has completed formal sub-specialty training in medical and surgical diseases of the retina, vitreous, and macula. Dr. Boyer is currently a leading investigator for various national clinical trials on retinal diseases and serves as an advisor for multiple research, educational and charitable institutions. He received his medical degree from the Chicago Medical School, finished his residency at the Los Angeles County – USC County Medical Center, and completed his retinal surgery fellowship at the Wills Eye Hospital in Philadelphia. He is currently an Adjunct Clinical Professor at USC/Keck School of Medicine.
Jeffrey Heier, M.D.

Jeff Heier, MD

Clinical Advisor

Jeffrey Heier, M.D. is the Co-President and Medical Director, Director of the Vitreoretinal Service, and Director of Retina Research at Ophthalmic Consultants of Boston. Dr. Heier is on the Executive Board of the Retina Society, the Executive Committee of the American Society of Retina Specialists, is the Past President of the New England Ophthalmological Society, and a member of the Macula Society. He is one of the leading retinal clinical researchers, and is a scientific advisor to many biotechnical or pharmaceutical companies, lectures nationally and internationally, and has authored numerous, peer-reviewed works. Dr. Heier received his medical degree from Boston University, did an internship and residency at Fitzsimons Army Medical Center, and vitreoretinal fellowship at OCB/Tufts School of Medicine. Dr. Heier served as a physician in a Combat Support Hospital in the Persian Gulf War, where he was awarded a Bronze Star.
Peter K. Kaiser, M.D.

Peter Kaiser, MD

Clinical Advisor

Peter K. Kaiser, M.D. is the Chaney Family Endowed Chair for Ophthalmology Research and a Professor of Ophthalmology at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine. He graduated magna cum laude with Highest Honors from Harvard College and magna cum laude from Harvard Medical School. He completed an internal medicine internship at Massachusetts General Hospital, an ophthalmology residency at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, and a vitreoretinal fellowship at Bascom Palmer Eye Institute before joining the vitreoretinal department of the Cole Eye Institute at the Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, Ohio. As a RO1 NIH-funded investigator, Dr. Kaiser leads a team involved in the evaluation of vascular biology in AMD and diabetic retinopathy. He is director of the Cole Center for ocular Research and Evaluation (CORE). He is the founder and director of the Digital Optical Coherence Tomography Reading Center (DOCTR).
Eliot Lazar, M.D.

Eliot Lazar, MD

Clinical & Business Advisor

Eliot Lazar, M.D. is a clinical ophthalmologist who serves as the President of El Con Medical Consulting, and the Principal of ElCon Medical in Buffalo, New York. Eliot Lazar has extensive experience in the commercial side of ophthalmology as well as other specialties. He has worked broadly in the development of devices, therapeutics, and diagnostics, and has participated in many of the critical drug delivery advances in ophthalmology and other specialties. Eliot Lazar has also collaborated with financial institutions of all sizes and scopes on both due diligence as well as at the BOD level. Eliot Lazar has worked collaboratively with both local and global organizations on endeavors ranging from pre-clinical through the commercial stage. Eliot Lazar holds a BS from the University of Pennsylvania, an MS in Immunology from the Royal College of Surgeons at SUNY, and an MD from Georgetown University School of Medicine.
Zhuo-Hua Pan, PhD

Zhuo-Hua Pan, PhD

Scientific Advisor

Zhuo-Hua Pan, PhD is the Edward T. and Ellen K. Dryer Endowed Professor of Ophthalmology, Visual and Anatomical Sciences at Wayne State University, and Scientific Director of the Ligon Research Center of Vision at the Kresge Eye Institute. Dr. Pan pioneered the field of optogenetic vision restoration in 2006 when he demonstrated that ectopic expression of microbial-type channelrhodopsin-2 (ChR2) in the retina restores visual responses in mice with photoreceptor degeneration. His work over the years has contributed to improve optogenetic tools and treatment strategies for vision restoration, including the development of the most light-sensitive and effective channelrhodopsins for vision restoration to date and the basis for Ray-001.