Board of Directors

Michael Cola

Chief Executive Officer, Chairman of the Board

Mr. Cola brings a wealth of leadership experience in the biopharmaceutical industry. Prior to joining Avalo, Mr. Cola served as President and CEO of Aevi Genomic Medicine since September 2013. Prior to joining Aevi Genomic Medicine, Mr. Cola served as President of Specialty Pharmaceuticals at Shire plc, a global specialty pharmaceutical company (2007 - April 2012). He joined Shire in 2005 as EVP of Global Therapeutic Business Units and Portfolio Management. Prior to joining Shire, he was with Safeguard Scientifics, Inc., a growth capital provider to life sciences and technology companies, where he served as President of the Life Sciences Group. While at Safeguard, Mr. Cola served as Chairman and CEO of Clarient, Inc., a cancer diagnostics company subsequently acquired by GE Healthcare, and as Chairman of Laureate Pharma, Inc. Prior to Safeguard Scientifics, Mr. Cola held senior positions in product development and commercialization at Astra Merck, a top 20 US pharmaceutical company, and at AstraZeneca, a global biopharmaceutical company. Mr. Cola received a BA in Biology and Physics from Ursinus College and an MS in biomedical science from Drexel University. He serves on the Board of Sage Therapeutics and Phathom Pharmaceuticals, and currently serves as Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Philadelphia.

Steven J. Boyd

Mr. Boyd is the Chief Investment Officer of Armistice Capital. He founded Armistice in 2012, which was named "best new hedge fund" by Hedge Funds Review the following year. Prior to Armistice, Mr. Boyd had been an analyst at Senator Investment Group and York Capital. He started his career at McKinsey & Company. Mr. Boyd received a BA in Political Science, as well as a BS in Economics, from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

Suzanne Bruhn, PhD

Dr. Bruhn has served as lead independent director with Avalo since April 2020. Dr. Bruhn brings to Avalo her extensive experience in the biopharmaceutical industry, including her expertise in the development, commercialization, and partnering of products for the treatments of serious and rare diseases. Dr. Bruhn currently serves as the President and CEO, and as a Director of Tiaki Therapeutics. Prior to that, she served as the President and CEO, and as a Director of Proclara Biosciences, and previously at Promedior. Dr. Bruhn currently serves on the Board of Directors of Aeglea BioTherapeutics, Retrophin, and Pliant Therapeutics. Dr. Bruhn received her BS in Chemistry from Iowa State University and her PhD in Chemistry from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dr. Bruhn was appointed as an independent director on our Board in April 2020.

Phil Gutry

Mr. Gutry has served as an independent director with Avalo since April 2015. He has over 20 years of experience in the biopharmaceutical industry in a variety of senior investment, business development, and strategic roles.  Mr. Gutry currently serves as Chief Business Officer and Head of Finance & Investor Relations at Graphite Bio. Mr. Gutry brings to this role extensive business development, strategy, finance, and investor relations experience with a successful track record of raising capital and establishing partnerships for biotech companies.  Mr. Gutry most recently worked at Kronos Bio, a clinical-stage oncology company focused on targeting dysregulated transcription, where he served as Chief Business Officer. In this role, he led the acquisition of Gilead’s spleen tyrosine kinase inhibitor portfolio, which transformed Kronos into a clinical-stage company and was the primary catalyst for raising $500 million in equity capital, including the company’s initial public offering. Previously, Mr. Gutry served in senior business development and finance roles at Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, MPM Capital, and Gilead Sciences, during which he led or managed over 30 transactions raising over $2 billion in equity, debt, and R&D funding. Mr. Gutry received his BA in Earth Sciences from Dartmouth College and his MBA in Healthcare Management from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

Gilla Kaplan, PhD

Dr. Kaplan is recognized as an authority on various aspects of the host immune response to mycobacterial pathogens, including the causative agents of leprosy and tuberculosis. Most recently, she was the Director of the Global Health Tuberculosis program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF; January 2014 - April 2018). Her scientific work has encompassed developing a deep, holistic understanding of the cellular immune response and how to harness it for host adjunctive therapies. She spent her career as an academic research scientist leading her laboratory in investigations focusing on human disease control. Building on her research experience at Rockefeller University in New York City (for 20 years) and then at the Public Health Research Institute Center at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey in Newark (for 10 years), she led the reshaping of the TB program at the BMGF. Dr. Kaplan is the recipient of multiple grants from the NIH-NIAID and other funding organizations for her research. Dr. Kaplan served on the Board of Directors at Celgene from 1998 to 2018 and is currently a member of Tyra Biosciences, Inc.’s Board of Directors. Dr. Kaplan received her BSc from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Israel, and her MSc and PhD from Tromso University Norway. Dr. Kaplan was appointed as an independent director to the Avalo Board in October 2020.

Joseph Miller

Mr. Miller brings a wealth of financial and operating experience to Avalo. He currently serves as the Chief Financial Officer of Aurinia Pharmaceuticals. With over 2 decades of experience as a senior executive managing financial operations and supporting enterprise growth in companies across the health sciences, biotech, and pharmaceutical sectors, he most recently served as Chief Financial Officer, Principal Executive Officer, and Corporate Secretary at Cerecor, Inc. At Cerecor, he completed the acquisition of Ichorion Therapeutics, Inc. and purchase of Aevi Genomic Medicine, and facilitated a strategic transformation of the organization by leading the divestiture of the company’s commercial portfolio in a transaction with Aytu BioScience, Inc. in 2019. Prior to his Cerecor experience, Mr. Miller was the Vice President of Finance at Sucampo Pharmaceuticals, Inc., where he was responsible for building out the finance organization to effectively support the company’s rapid growth, ultimately leading to the $1.2 billion merger with Mallinckrodt in early 2018. Prior to Sucampo, he served in various progressive finance and management roles at QIAGEN, Eppendorf, and KPMG LLP. Mr. Miller received his BS in Accounting from Villanova University and is a Certified Public Accountant.

Magnus Persson, MD, PhD

Dr. Persson has served as an independent director with Avalo since August 2012. Dr. Persson is currently serving as CEO of Karolinska Institutet Holding AB in Stockholm, Sweden. He has also served as an Associate Professor in Physiology at Karolinska Institutet since September 1994. Dr. Persson has served as a practicing pediatrician at CityAkuten in Stockholm, Sweden, since December 2012. Dr. Persson served as a Partner at HealthCap, a Swedish-based venture capital firm (January 2008 - December 2009), and as a Managing Partner at The Column Group, a San Francisco–based venture capital firm (January 2010 - November 2011). Dr. Persson co-founded Aerocrine AB, a medical technology company, in 1994. Dr. Persson has also served on the boards of Karolinska Institutet Innovations AB, a technology transfer company, since December 2011; Galecto AB, a biotechnology company, since January 2013; AscendxSpine Inc., a medical device company, since December 2012; SLS Ventures AB, a life science venture capital firm, since March 2012; Karolinska Institutet Information AB, a healthcare IT-software company, since October 2015; Immunicum AB, a biotechnology company, since December 2015; and Albumedix AS, a biotechnology company, since January 2016. Dr. Persson received his MD and PhD in Physiology from Karolinska Institutet.