Management Team


Dani P. Bolognesi, PhD

Chief Executive Officer

Dr. Bolognesi is Professor Emeritus at Duke Medical Center, presently serving in a special capacity within Duke University Medical Center. He is chair of the Joint Steering Committee of MedBlue Incubator, Inc., an entity formed to identify and assist in the development of promising ideas, discoveries, innovations, and/or technologies from Duke faculty that have commercial potential.

His career spans all phases of drug development, and he has held a number of senior management positions. He was Founder, CEO and Chief Scientific Officer at Trimeris, Inc., a publicly traded biotechnology company that successfully obtained FDA approval for Fuzeon®, a first-in-class HIV fusion inhibitor, and he led the execution of its development and commercial collaboration with F. Hoffmann-La Roche AG. He also served as CEO and Chairman of b3Bio, Inc; CEO, Enci Therapeutics, Inc.; and CEO, C2 Regenerate, Inc.

Dr. Bolognesi’s scientific career spans three decades, during which he has held many positions at Duke University, including: James B. Duke Professor of Surgery, Professor of Microbiology/Immunology, Vice Chairman for Research and Development – Department of Surgery, Deputy Director of the Duke Comprehensive Cancer Center, and Director of the Duke University Center for AIDS Research. While at Duke, he and his research team contributed to the discovery of AZT (the first anti-HIV drug), identified the HIV protein targeted by fusion inhibitor drugs, and established a central laboratory that supported all HIV vaccine clinical trials sponsored by the National Institutes of Health. He also directed the NIH Central Laboratory for AIDS Vaccine Clinical Trials.

Robert R. Bonczek

Chief Administrative Officer

Mr. Bonczek has been instrumental in helping companies through IPOs, secondary equity offerings, private placements, transactional advice for M&As, strategic planning, and collaboration agreements. He is also President and Chief Financial Officer of MedBlue Incubator, Inc.,  and has served as President, Director, CFO and General Counsel of b3 bio, Inc.; CFO, General Counsel and Chief Administrative Officer of Trimeris, Inc.; and Chief Counsel and Global Director of Safety, Health and Environment, Dupont.

Mr. Bonczek is founding partner, Director and President of Aspen Tree Capital. He serves on the boards of several other life science-related companies including NeurOp, Inc., Senex Biotechnology, Upstream Therapeutics, Inc., Deep Blue Medical Advances, Inc., Track X Technology, and Cellective Biotherapy, Inc.  He also serves on advisory boards for several companies, including Valence Advantage Life Sciences Fund, and Centre Partners. Mr. Bonczek received an AB in chemistry and a JD degree from the University of North Carolina. He also holds an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

Timothy Creech

Chief Financial Officer

Mr. Creech has over 30 years of experience with public and private technology companies and has been involved in transactions raising over $3 billion in debt and equity capital. He was most recently Chief Financial Officer of Heat Biologics, Inc. from November 2015 to April 2016. Prior to Heat, Mr. Creech served as Acting Chief Financial Officer of Salix Pharmaceuticals, Ltd. from November 2014 until its sale for $11 billion to Valeant Pharmaceuticals International, Inc. in April 2015. From 2008 to 2014, he served in various positions of increasing responsibility at Salix. Prior to Salix, Mr. Creech served as Vice President, Finance at Voyager Pharmaceutical Corp.; Vice President, Finance, Principal Accounting Officer and Secretary at Trimeris, Inc.; Corporate Controller at Performance Awareness Corporation; Director of Finance and Assistant Secretary at Avant! Corporation (formerly Integrated Silicon Systems); and worked at KPMG LLP in various positions of increasing responsibility progressing to Senior Manager. Mr. Creech earned a B.S. in Business Administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an M.B.A. from the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University.

Henry S. Friedman, MD

Chief Medical Officer

Dr. Freidman is the James B. Powell, Jr. Professor of Neuro-Oncology and the Division Chief for Neuro-Oncology in The Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center in the Department of Neurosurgery at Duke University Medical Center. He has been an international leader in medical and pediatric neuro-oncology for 25 years. He has been a leader in getting a number of agents currently in standard of care for glioblastoma approved, such as temozolomide and Avastin®. He will supervise Istari’s clinical trials with the agents currently in its portfolio, such as the genetically modified poliovirus (PVSRIPO) and the pseudomonas exotoxin D2C7-IT. Dr. Friedman has published 499 peer reviewed full-length papers, many of which are in high impact journals. These publications include basic, pre-clinical and clinical work in neuro-oncology. In addition, he has published many chapters and reviews, numerous abstracts and unpublished presentations. Dr. Friedman is a consultant to many of the major pharmaceutical companies and makes presentations about neuro-oncology for them.

Bud Nelson, PhD, JD

Chief Intellectual Property Counsel

Dr. Nelson has more than 20 years’ experience in intellectual property protection and technology development and management and more than 15 years of experience in general corporate legal matters and as a member of a corporate management team. His previous positions include Vice President of BioCrystal Ltd.; Chief Intellectual Property and Corporate Counsel of Trimeris, Inc.; Vice President, Corporate Counsel, and Director of Intellectual Property of Affinergy, Inc.; Chief Intellectual Property Counsel of b3Bio, Inc.; General Counsel, Executive Director, Technology Development and Co-Managing Director of The Hamner BioSciences Accelerator of The Hamner Institutes; and a member of the board of directors of DILisym Services, Inc. In addition to his role at Istari, he serves as Director of Operations of DILIsym Services, Inc., and General Counsel and Chief Technology Officer of MedBlue Incubator, Inc.

Andrea True Kelly, PhD

Director, Medical Affairs and Clinical Operations

Dr. True Kelly served a pivotal role in creating and managing several clinical programs at Trimeris, Inc. (a Duke spin-out), for both Fuzeon® (enfuvirtide) and the IND filing and first-in-man trial of its next-generation fusion inhibitor, TRI-1144. She has worked to advance promising therapeutics toward the clinic in several indications with both industry and academic medical centers. She currently serves as a member of NeurOp. Inc.’s Clinical Development team for pH-activated NR2B-specific NMDA receptor antagonists that appear to offer therapeutic effects with improved safety in subarachnoid hemorrhage, neuropathic pain and depression. Her most recent position was Director of Medical Affairs and Clinical Operations with Midatech Pharma US, Inc., supporting their portfolio of oncology and oncology-supportive care products and a robust development pipeline. Her doctoral degree is in pharmacology from the University of Illinois College of Medicine in Chicago.