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Rickshaw is a San Diego based biotech company focusing on discovering treatments for autoimmune and inflammatory diseases.  Treatment options for conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis are limited and represent areas with severe unmet therapeutic need.  Rickshaw is committed to the discovery and development of novel treatments which may better serve those afflicted with these conditions.





Rickshaw is currently engaged in 3 therapeutic development programs

  • Inhibitors of Protein Arginine Deiminases 2/4 for the potential treatment of multiple autoimmune indications

  • 2 other undisclosed target programs addressing autoimmune/autoinflammatory conditions


Rickshaw is focused on the efficient early stage development of therapeutics for multiple autoimmune/autoinflammatory conditions.  As such we currently integrate our experienced management team with an outsourced operations model to carry out our development efforts.  Our vision is that, through partnerships with Universities, Institutions, and Contract Research Organizations, we can maintain a nimble and efficient flow of operations allowing us to move rapidly toward clinical trials with promising drug candidate indicated for diseases that are in desperate need of better treatment options.



Our Team

Seasoned group of biotech entrepreneurs with significant exit experience including: Pharmasset which went public and was sold for $10.8B to Gilead, Padlock Therapeutics which was sold for up to $600M to BMS and Amira which was sold to BMS for $325M

Dr. Todd Huffman

Dr. Todd Huffman is a co-founder of Rickshaw Therapeutics. Todd previously directed drug discovery partnerships and led new venture initiatives at the Scripps Research Institute where he cofounded and sat on the board of Padlock Therapeutics (acquired by BMS). Prior to Scripps, Todd worked in venture capital at Research Corporation Technologies (RCT) BioVentures where he sourced, advised, and managed early stage development for drug discovery portfolio companies. Todd earned a Ph.D. in molecular pharmacology from the University of Virginia and has served on the board of the University of Virginia School of Medicine’s clinical translation initiative for diabetes.


Ms. Vanessa Jacoby

Ms. Jacoby has over 18 years of finance and accounting experience.  She is VP Finance at PharmAkea as well as CFO of Rickshaw Therapeutics.  Prior to joining PharmAkea, Ms. Jacoby worked with numerous biotechnology and life science organizations performing various activities, including SEC reporting and Sarbanes-Oxley implementation and compliance. From 2008 to 2012, Ms. Jacoby served as the Director of Accounting and Controller of BrainCells, Inc. From 2006 to 2008, she served as a Senior Finance Manager of Artes Medical, Inc., a publicly traded medical device company. From 2000 to 2006, she served in various positions, including Revenue Manager of Diversa Corporation (now Verenium Corporation), a publicly traded biotechnology Company and as Performance Analyst for Nicholas Applegate Capital Management, an institutional investment company. Ms. Jacoby began her career as an auditor for Ernst & Young where she served both public and private companies. Ms. Jacoby holds a bachelors degree in Business Administration from Fundação Armando Alvares Penteado in Sao Paulo, Brazil (1998) and a MBA from National University, CA (2003). She is a Certified Public Accountant with the State of California.



Dr. Christopher King has 15 years of pharmaceutical and medical device industry experience including 8 years at Merck & Co and Johnson & Johnson PRD, where he worked in basic research, with several drugs advancing to FIH trials. At Amira Pharmaceuticals, he worked closely with research and clinical development contributing to five IND candidates from FLAP, DP2, LPA1 receptor antagonist programs. Dr. King was a co-founder and President of Ra Medical Systems, a medical device for the treatment of psoriasis, vitiligo, and other dermatological diseases. In addition to over 30 scientific manuscripts, Dr. King has experience in sales and marketing, project management, and business development. Dr. King received his B.Sc. from Beloit College, Beloit, Wisconsin, his Ph.D. in Drug Metabolism and Toxicology from Iowa Carver School of Medicine, Iowa City, Iowa, and his MBA from California State University, San Marcos.


DR. Dave Lonergan

Dave Lonergan is Senior Directory of Chemistry at PharmAkea where he is responsible for day to day chemistry operations. He is the chemistry lead on PharmAkea's ATXi program and manages CMC activities for the LOXL2 program. Since 2013, Dr. Lonergan has been an advisor for the US business operations at Enamine, the world's largest manufacturer of medicinal chemistry building blocks. Prior to PharmAkea, Dr. Lonergan was responsible for managing chemistry sourcing at eMolecules, the largest supplier of chemical compounds in the US, since 2010. He was instrumental in establishing procedures to manage costs and efficiencies at several big pharma companies for their chemistry CRO operations in China, India and eastern Europe. Prior to eMolecules, Dr. Lonergan was a venture associate at Research Corporation Technologies where he managed out-sourced drug discovery. From 2001-2007, He served various roles at Nanosyn, a drug discovery CRO, including Director of Chemistry and Site Head of Nanosyn San Diego. Dr. Lonergan’s professional career began at Tranzyme in 1998 where he was a group leader in combinatorial chemistry and was involved in the development of TZP-102, an orally‑administered ghrelin agonist in Phase 2b development for diabetic gastroparesis. He is an inventor on over 50 patents and applications.


Dr. Amy Ripka

Dr. Amy Ripka has garnered more than 18 years of drug discovery and medicinal chemistry expertise ranging from big pharma to CROs. At Bristol-Myers Squibb, Amy was part of the teams that discovered and developed Asunaprevir and Daclatasvir, for the treatment of Hepatitis C. Later as Head of Chemistry at EnVivo/FORUM, Amy directly led the discovery and development of their PDE10 inhibitor into a Phase 1 Trial. She has also worked on compounds for GPCRs, kinases, ion channels, phosphatases, ADCs, and HDACs, some of which have also entered clinical trials.

Amy has extensive biotech experience in multiple therapeutic areas including cardiovascular, oncology, pain and CNS having worked at several notable Boston biotechs including Infinity, HydraBiosciences, FoldRx and EnVivo/FORUM.

Amy was on the Executive Team at two large life science CROs, Sai Life Sciences in India and WuXiAppTec in China. Her role was to advise and guide clients from academic labs and nascent biotechs/foundations through the preclinical drug discovery process. This included the development of chemical matter, SAR analysis, DMPK triaging as well as screening tree strategies, patenting of chemical matter as well as IND planning and engagement of VC and Foundation partnering contacts.

Most recently Amy founded Lucy Therapeutics, a Boston-based biotech focused on improving mitochondrial function both directly and indirectly for the treatment of neuronal impairment and neurodegenerative diseases.

Amy chaired the prestigious Medicinal Chemistry Gordon Conference in 2012 and has been a member of the MEDI Executive Committee at the American Chemical Society since 2012. She has also been on the SABs of several national and international meetings (Frontiers in Medicinal Chemistry, National Medicinal Chemistry Symposium) and is currently on the SAB of the venture capital group Q Biomed.



Robert F. Williamson, III

Robert F. Williamson, III is CEO of privately held PharmAkea, a fibrosis drug development company, financed through a partnership with Celgene (NASDAQ: CELG) and acting CEO of Rickshaw Therapeutics.  He is on the boards of privately held Naia Limited, Aegle Therapeutics, Sidecar Therapeutics and the Coulter Center.  He is also active in assisting public and private companies through his consultancy, LaSalle Venture Advisers.  Previously, as an early Director, he helped finance, grow, take public and sell Pharmasset, Inc. (NASDAQ: VRUS), which was bought by Gilead (NASDAQ:GILD) for $11B.  He was also on the board of Progen Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: PGLA) after he sold CellGate to Progen, and has been on numerous private boards.  Earlier, Mr. Williamson was CEO of Arriva Pharmaceuticals, President and COO of Eos Biotechnology, which he sold to Protein Design Labs (NASDAQ: PDLI), and COO of DoubleTwist, Inc., acquired in part by Merck (NYSE: MRK) and Hitachi (NYSE: HIT).  Before managing life sciences companies, Mr. Williamson was a partner with The Boston Consulting Group.  Mr. Williamson started his career as a research assistant for the Federal Reserve Board of Governors in Washington, D.C., supporting monetary policy.  He received a B.A. in Economics from Pomona College and an M.B.A. from Stanford GSB.


Dr. Shanta Bantia has more than 20 years of experience in drug discovery and early clinical development. At BioCryst, She advanced a number of compounds into the clinic in virology, oncology and inflammatory disease space. She was the key contributor to the discovery and advancement of RAPIVAB for the treatment of influenza and procurement of $200+ million grant from an US government agency to advance the program. She was also key contributor to the discovery and advancement of Mundesine (approved in Japan) for the treatment of relapsed/refractory peripheral T-cell lymphoma. She discovered and advanced BCX4430, viral RNA polymerase inhibitor, as broad spectrum anti-viral agent (BSAV) for the treatment of Marburg Ebola and other deadly viral diseases. She also worked on purine nucleoside phosphorylase, plasma kallikrein and HCV polymerase inhibitors, some of which entered the clinic. Recently, she founded Nitor Therapeutics, a Birmingham based company, where she has discovered a novel immuno-oncology agent, first-in-class with novel mechanism of action. She was invited reviewer for the NIH/NIAID review of Biodefense, Emerging infectious disease and other proposals. She holds over 10 patents and authored over 50 publications.