Chief Executive Officer and President

Dr. McKearn has three decades of drug discovery, development and investing experience in life sciences.  Dr. McKearn has been with RiverVest Venture Partners since 2008 and focuses primarily on early stage biotechnology deals.  Prior to RiverVest, Dr. McKearn was president and CEO of Kalypsys.  From 1987 to 2003, Dr. McKearn held increasingly responsible positions at Searle/Pharmacia, including Senior VP of Research. He helped establish the groundwork for studies that led to the commercialization of several major products, including DayPro, Arthrotec, and Celebrex, one of the leading pharmaceuticals to treat arthritis. Prior to 1987, Dr. McKearn was a senior scientist at E.I. DuPont de Nemours and Company, a member of the Basel Institute for Immunology in Basel, Switzerland, and a research associate in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at Washington University in St. Louis.

Dr. McKearn is also on the boards of Allakos, OncoResponse, Good Therapeutics, Arch Oncology and Adarza Biosystems.  He previously served on the boards of IDM Pharma (acquired by Takeda), Epimmune, Kalypsys, Keel Pharmaceuticals, Lumena Pharmaceuticals (acquired by Shire), Otonomy and ZS Pharma (acquired by Astra Zeneca).  Dr. McKearn has co-authored more than 70 published, peer-reviewed scientific papers, and holds more than 50 patents and numerous patent applications, primarily in the areas of cancer treatment and inflammatory disease.

Dr. McKearn holds a Ph.D. in Immunology from the University of Chicago and a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Northern Illinois University.


Founder and Chief Scientific Officer

Dr. Cooper has 15 years of research experience in the field of oncology and is dedicated to translation of medical research to patients through entrepreneurial enterprise. Currently, Dr. Cooper is an Instructor in Medicine in the Division of Oncology at Washington University School of Medicine, St Louis.  He completed his post-doctoral studies under the mentorship of Dr. John DiPersio, a renowned expert in the field of leukemia and stem cell biology.  Dr. Cooper’s work has focused on developing novel strategies to overcome barriers, such as GVHD and fratricide, that prevent the use of cellular therapies for treatment of T-cell malignancies.  His work at Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis led to the development of an ‘off-the-shelf’ fratricide-resistant CAR-T for the treatment of T-cell malignancies.  This work was fundamental to the inception of WUGEN.  Dr. Cooper has also been critical in establishing commitment and collaboration between WUGEN and Washington University.

Dr. Cooper holds a Ph.D. in Cancer Genetics from the University of Surrey, Guildford, UK.


Vice President, Corporate Development

Dr. Gheesling Mullis has over 20 years of experience in drug discovery and development in large and small biopharma companies.  She joined RiverVest in 2016 where she is President of RiverVest’s Archer Seed Venture Partners, L.L.C., investing in early stage biopharma companies.  Before joining RiverVest, Dr. Gheesling Mullis was Director Project Management at Pfizer where she worked as a team leader responsible for successful registration of XALKORI® for ROS1 positive NSCLC patients.  Dr. Gheesling Mullis worked in Clinical Development at Pfizer for over 12 years as an asset project manager for over two dozen early clinical development drugs in Oncology and Cardiovascular diseases including IBRANCE ® from early clinical development through commercial launch.   Prior to that, Dr. Gheesling Mullis worked as a scientist with Searle and Pharmacia organizations where she worked in roles of increasing leadership and management responsibilities in Cardiovascular Research, Business Development, Portfolio Management and Project Management.  Earlier in her career she was a postdoctoral fellow and research instructor at Washington University in St. Louis. 

Dr. Gheesling Mullis completed her Ph.D. in Biochemistry at University of Alabama, Birmingham and holds a B.S in Chemistry from Emory University.


Vice President, Regulatory Affairs

Dr. Scott has spent ~30 years in the global pharmaceutical/biotech industry working to develop novel small molecules and a wide range of biotherapeutics, including monoclonal antibodies, vaccines, peptibodies, siRNA and other novel constructs. Dr. Scott has served as the Principal for Katovar Consulting for four years and continues in that role. Prior to her role as an independent consultant, she served in positions of increasing responsibility at Trius Therapeutics, Pfizer, Amgen and Schering-Plough, providing regulatory support for therapeutics from the pre-IND/CTA stage to marketing applications, and marketed product support, in a wide range of therapy areas, with an emphasis in the oncology field. She has also provided development team leadership, document authoring/management team leadership, and worked with internal and external teams to support preclinical (drug metabolism and pharmacokinetics) programs.

Dr. Scott received a Ph.D. from Purdue University in Pharmacology (specialization neuroscience), followed by a postdoctoral fellowship at the Mayo Clinic in the emerging field of pharmacogenetics. She also holds an MBA in Pharmaceutical/Chemical Studies from Fairleigh-Dickinson University, an MS in Biology from California State University, Long Beach and a BS in Biological Sciences from the University of California, Irvine.


Finance and Business Operations

Mr. Tandon has five years of experience in finance and business analytics.  Mr. Tandon joined RiverVest in 2016 as an Analyst where he performs financial analysis on investment opportunities, existing portfolio companies and exit strategies in relation to valuation, capital structure, market size, competitors, potential acquirers and returns.  Additionally, Mr. Tandon is responsible for financial analysis and oversight of the portfolio companies of RiverVest’s Archer Seed Fund.

Prior to joining RiverVest, Mr. Tandon served as a Research Associate at S&P Global Market Intelligence where he provided content due diligence of several financial market data providers. He also performed pricing validations for constituents of various stock indices such as S&P 500, FTSE 100 and NYSE Composite and tracked key events such as spinoffs, stock splits and dividends for accurate reporting in the S&P Capital IQ platform. While at Washington University, St. Louis, he led a Finance Consulting Project with Wells Fargo.

Mr. Tandon is a Chartered Financial Analyst Level 3 Candidate and received a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Delhi, with Honors, and a Master of Science in Finance from Washington University in St. Louis.