Katerina Leftheris, Ph.D.

Katerina Leftheris, Ph.D.

Senior Vice President
Drug Discovery

Dr. Katerina Leftheris has extensive experience in small molecule drug discovery and early development from early screening for hits to clinical development. Throughout her career, Katerina and her teams have advanced over 15 small molecule drugs into development/clinical trials spanning many molecular targets. Her teams have multiple assets in Ph I, II and III targeting immune modulation, fibrosis, oncology and I/O indications.

Previously, Katerina held multiple positions in Drug Discovery including VP of Chemistry at Pliant Therapeutics, a Third Rock backed biotech company focused on novel treatments for fibrotic diseases. She helped build Pliant’s drug discovery capability and to date, the discovery effort at Pliant has led to two drugs in the clinic (one partnered with Novartis) for the treatment of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) and NASH with a third compound focused on immuno-oncology in early development.

Prior, Katerina was Sr. Director in Discovery for Celgene, San Diego, where she built and led teams in advancing five novel clinical candidates in immunology and oncology. She introduced new technologies to Celgene to enhance early hit identification through external partnerships and served on several JRC/JSC boards with external Celgene partners. Prior to joining Celgene, Katerina was Sr. Director at Vitae Pharmaceuticals, a biotech company in the Philadelphia area where she helped build the company and advanced multiple compounds to the clinic in the metabolic disease and neuroscience areas. Earlier in her career, Katerina held positions of increasing responsibility in Discovery Oncology and Immunology Chemistry at Bristol-Myers Squibb. To date, she has over 130 publications and issued patents.

Katerina was recently elected to the National Council of the American Chemical Society and currently serves on the Executive Committee of the ACS MEDI division. She has chaired multiple scientific sessions at Drug Discovery conferences including Gordon conferences and has been an invited lecturer at multiple venues including conferences and universities.

Katerina earned her B.A. in chemistry/biochemistry from Smith College, Ph.D. in organic chemistry from the University of California, San Diego and completed postdoctoral studies at the University of Pennsylvania.