Scientific Advisory Board


Edith Janssen, Ph.D., Chair of the Scientific Advisory Board

Edith Janssen, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor at The Children's Hospital in Cincinnati and an expert in innate immunology. She collaborated with Dr. Bruce Beutler (Nobel Prize in Medicine, 2011) to understand the relationship between innate and adaptive immunity, which had historically been viewed as separate entities. Through this collaboration, she was able to assess the effect of different innate sensing pathways on DC activation and subsequent induction of adaptive immune responses. With this group they identified TRIF as a critical component of the TLR4 and TLR3 signaling pathway and its contribution to adjuvant induced immune. The novel concept of innate-adaptive immune interaction significantly contributed to the optimization of vaccines, cancer therapies, and therapies targeting autoimmunity, transplantation, and infection. Her pioneering work in  defining the role of CD4+T cell in CD8+T cell priming and memory development, a long-standing paradox in cellular immunology was published in Nature and Nature Immunology. The Janssen Laboratory aims to define the molecular and cellular mechanisms in professional human and murine dendritic cells that balance the pro- and anti-inflammatory immune response to self after cell death in order to translationally exploit these insights for the development of effective therapeutic options.


Darrell Irvine, Ph.D.

Darrell Irvine, Ph.D., is a Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. He also serves on the steering committee of the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT, and Harvard.  His research is focused on the application of engineering tools to problems in cellular immunology and the development of new materials for vaccine and drug delivery.  Current efforts are focused on problems related to vaccine development for HIV and and immunotherapy of cancer.  Dr. Irvine’s work has been recognized by numerous awards, including a Beckman Young Investigator award, an NSF CAREER award, selection for Technology Review’s ‘TR35’, election as a Fellow of the Biomedical Engineering Society, election as a fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering, and appointment as an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.  He is the author of over 100 publications, reviews, and book chapters and an inventor on numerous patents.Darrell Irvine is a Professor at MIT with Howard Hughes Medical Institute/Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research. Engineering approaches grounded in immunology hold the key to the discovery and development of novel treatments for cancer, infectious disease, and autoimmunity. To this end, the overarching goal of the Irvine laboratory is to engineer immunity through a fusion of immunology with biotechnology and materials chemistry, employing a materials science-centric approach to create new therapies based on the controlled modulation of the immune system. His work toward this goal divides into three complimentary themes, all focused on adapting engineering principles to enhance the ability of the immune system to prevent and treat human diseases.


Paul Rennert, Ph.D. 

Paul Rennert, Ph.D., is an experienced Biotechnology Executive and seasoned researcher with extensive strategic and leadership experience and demonstrated success in bench to IND development of small molecule and biologic drugs for oncology, autoimmunity, chronic inflammation and fibrosis. He has deep experience in therapeutic area analysis and strategic development, opportunity assessment, due diligence, and alignment of research, commercial and clinical strategies. His recent accomplishments include working intensively with Co-Stim Pharmaceuticals' executive team to prioritize and launch that company's Cancer Immunotherapeutic portfolio acquired in 2014 by Novartis. He is the editor of the newly released book, Novel Immunotherapeutic Approaches to the treatment of Cancer: Drug Development and Clinical Application.


Management Team


Sam Shrivastava, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board of Directors

Sam Shrivastava has served as our Chairman and Chief Executive Officer since 2016. Prior to Venn Therapeutics, Mr. Shrivastava founded Blackbird Bio, in 2014 to develop therapeutic cancer vaccines in combination with checkpoint inhibitors, which had a successful exit to NASDAQ traded CBMG in 2015. Mr. Shrivastava is a former banker focused on Operational Excellence. Over the last 15 years he has followed the biotechnology and pharmaceutical field as a private investor and has developed a keen interest in partnering with academic medical institutions to translate compelling preclinical science into breakthrough therapies.


Mr. Shrivastava holds two Masters Degrees, one in Technology & Management from East Tennessee State University and another in Theology from Erskine Theological Seminary. He studied Mechanical Engineering for his Bachelors Degree from the National Institute of Technology, in India.

M. Brad Hill, Chief Administrative Officer, General Counsel and Company Secretary

Brad Hill served as an outside counsel for Venn Therapeutics since its inception and joined the company as Chief Administrative Officer and General Counsel in 2016. Previously, Mr. Hill worked as a litigation and corporate attorney at a firm in Raleigh, North Carolina. Mr. Hill has extensive litigation and advisory experience in areas such as employment law, regulatory compliance, corporate structuring and complex business disputes.

Mr. Hill holds a Bachelor of Science from University of North Carolina at Wilmington in Accounting and earned his Juris Doctor from the University of North Carolina School of Law.

Bruce Hrovat, Director

Bruce Hrovat has served as a member of our board of directors since 2016. Mr. Hrovat is a seasoned banker and has designed the future regulatory state of one of the eight largest banks in the United States and implemented new intraday regulations impacting payments and reporting. He has led a 5,000+ branch network as Teller Executive, was the Chief Operations Officer of a top 20 USA Regional Bank and Led Global Transaction Banking for a top 20 Global Transaction Bank driving nearly $400 billion of payments each day. Bruce is highly experienced in Retail, Commercial and Wholesale Banking.

Mr. Hrovat holds a Bachelor’s of Science from Marietta College in Economics and Petroleum Engineering.

Howard Winston, Director

Howard Winston has served as a member of our board of directors since 2016. Mr. Winston is the Partner at Montrose Capital Group, LLC and financial consultant to several family offices with significant assets. Formerly, he was the Principal at Waveland Capital Management, L.P. a hedge fund with $200MM capital managed. Mr. Winston focuses on deep value investment opportunities.

Mr. Winston holds a Bachelor’s of Arts in Economics from Emory University and an MBA from University of Cincinnati College of Business.

Dermatology clinic

Laboratory equipment