Senior Leadership Team
Wes Kaupinen, President and CEO
Wes Kaupinen has served as president and CEO since Palvella’s inception. Mr. Kaupinen brings more than 15 years of entrepreneurial life sciences experience as an operating executive and early stage investor. Prior to Palvella, Mr. Kaupinen was a senior executive at Insmed Incorporated (NASDAQ: INSM), a global biopharmaceutical company focused on the unmet needs of patients with rare diseases, where he served as senior vice president of corporate development and commercialization. While at Insmed, he led the global corporate development and U.S. commercial functions, with key responsibilities including corporate strategy, acquisitions and in-licensing, R&D pipeline strategy, patient advocacy, marketing, and pricing and reimbursement. Previously, Mr. Kaupinen was a principal at Quaker Partners, a life sciences venture capital firm with $700mm under management, where he worked on several public and private venture capital investments in the life sciences space. At Quaker, he was responsible for the recruitment of new senior leadership to Insmed to execute on the company’s rare disease strategy, and he was involved in Quaker’s investments in Horizon Pharma (NASDAQ: HZNP) and Achillion Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: ACHN). In addition, he led Quaker’s Series A investments in Intact Vascular (backed by NEA, Quaker, and HIG) and TELA Bio (backed by OrbiMed, Quaker, and Signet), playing a key role in the investor syndication, leadership recruitment, and corporate strategy development for each. Mr. Kaupinen has operating experience at two Johnson & Johnson operating companies, including Cordis Cardiology where he worked on the CYPHER sirolimus-eluting stent, the first drug-eluting stent ever launched which leveraged the multi-modal therapeutic properties of sirolimus to significantly improve outcomes for patients with coronary ischemic disease. Earlier in his career, Mr. Kaupinen was an associate at Apax Partners, a global private equity firm, and an analyst in the Life Sciences Investment Banking Group at Robertson Stephens.
Mr. Kaupinen has served as a board director or observer for more than ten companies, including Palvella, Intact Vascular, and TELA Bio. He is currently the chief strategy officer for The Castleman Disease Collaborative Network, a non-profit dedicated to finding a cure for Castleman Disease, a rare autoimmune disease. Mr. Kaupinen earned an M.B.A. from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania where he was the recipient of the William L. Kissick MD Scholarship Award. He holds a B.A. in economics from The University of Virginia.
Braham Shroot Ph.D., Chief Scientific Officer
Dr. Braham Shroot is the chief scientific officer of Palvella Therapeutics and brings to the team over 30 years of hands-on experience in drug research and development specializing in skin disorders. Dr. Shroot has played a key role in the research, development, and approval of several commercially available drugs, including Differin, Atralin, Vectical, and Diflucan (Fluconazole). He is the recipient of the American Skin Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award and an honorary lifetime member of the Society for Investigative Dermatology.
Prior to Palvella, Dr. Shroot has held a number of senior roles in the biopharma industry, including president of Galderma Research, chief scientific officer of Barrier Therapeutics (sold to Stiefel), and CSO and vice president of R&D for DFB Pharmaceuticals. Dr. Shroot also served as the chief executive officer of Signum Biosciences, a company developing small molecule therapeutics for dermatological applications. Dr. Shroot is an inventor on over 50 patents, author of over 260 publications, editor of several books, and a member of the editorial boards of several prestigious dermatology journals.
Dr. Shroot earned a B.Sc. in chemistry and a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from Glasgow University, Glasgow, Scotland. His postdoctoral research was under Professor RB Woodward, Nobel Laureate, on vitamin B12 at Harvard University.
Kathleen McGowan, Chief Financial Officer
Kathleen McGowan joined Palvella in 2018 as chief financial officer, bringing over 35 years of diversified financial experience in the pharmaceutical and biotech industry. Before Palvella, Ms. McGowan served as chief financial officer of VaxInnate, a private company developing vaccines for influenza, malaria, and dengue. Prior to VaxInnate, she led financial operations at Tobira Therapeutics (acquired by Allergan plc), a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company developing and commercializing therapies for non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) and other liver diseases. Earlier in her career, Ms. McGowan held positions as director of finance and controller for Discovery Laboratories, Inc. (now Windtree Therapeutics); director of financial analysis at Claneil Enterprises, Inc.; and financial controller at The Liposome Company, Inc. (acquired by Elan Corporation). From 1983-1995, she held various financial management positions with Johnson & Johnson, primarily at Ortho-McNeil Pharmaceutical (now Janssen) and Johnson & Johnson Corporate.
Ms. McGowan served on the SEC Advisory Committee on Small and Emerging Companies, which was established in 2011 to advise on policies for the confidential filing of initial public offerings under the JOBS Act. She received her B.S. in finance and accounting from Drexel University and holds an M.B.A. in finance from Fairleigh Dickinson University.
Emily Cook, VP of Clinical Operations
Emily Cook joined Palvella in 2019 from Complexa, where she was the director of clinical operations. During her 15-year career, Ms. Cook has managed clinical operations for large and small pharmaceutical companies where she has executed clinical development programs for various phases of a product’s life cycle.
Prior to joining Complexa, she served as the director of clinical operations for Trevena, Inc., where she contributed to the completion of a number of Phase 1 through Phase 3 clinical trials for the company. Emily also held positions as a project manager at Applied Clinical Intelligence and as a lead clinical research associate at Yaupon Therapeutics. She began her career in pharmaceuticals as a senior sales professional at Sanofi-Aventis Pharmaceuticals.
Emily received her B.A. in microbiology from Miami University and earned a certification as a clinical research associate from the Association of Clinical Research Professionals.
Stephen Yoo, M.D., Senior Clinical Advisor
Dr. Stephen Yoo is a senior clinical advisor at Palvella Therapeutics. Dr. Yoo brings to Palvella deep expertise in the relevant areas of rare diseases and serious skin disorders from his time serving in senior drug development roles in industry as well as from his clinical training and practice as a dermatologist.
Dr. Yoo currently serves as chief medical officer at REGENXBIO, a leading publicly traded clinical-stage biotechnology company seeking to improve lives through the curative potential of gene therapy. Prior to joining REGENXBIO, Dr. Yoo served as medical science director of clinical development and group director of clinical development at AstraZeneca. In previous roles at MedImmune, he provided strategic clinical leadership for early phase programs. Dr. Yoo led early and late-phase clinical trials for both common and rare autoimmune diseases. Prior to MedImmune, Dr. Yoo served as associate director of clinical development at Abbott Laboratories.
Dr. Yoo earned a B.A. in molecular and cell biology from the University of California, Berkeley and an M.D. from the UCLA School of Medicine. His postdoctoral fellowship focused on nuclear receptors in human diseases of the skin, and he served a member of the board of directors (resident member) for the Society for Investigative Dermatology. He is the author of several publications in top dermatology journals.