Melissa Epperly, CFO at Zentalis Pharmaceuticals, is a one-of-a-kind CFO. Her deep dedication and enthusiasm for her company, team and the life sciences industry are key factors contributing to both Zentalis’ and her own success. And the result? She is driving hard to ensure that Zentalis’ innovative science is well funded in order to advance its drug candidates to cancer patients in need. With over 18 years of global biotech and pharmaceutical experience, Melissa’s interesting background and expertise bring a differentiated, analytical approach to building companies and tackling corporate hurdles. Her infectious energy and comradery have helped shape Zentalis’ culture and work environment to be one where everyone feels empowered and motivated to work hard toward the Company’s common goal: to develop breakthrough medicines. From volunteering in hospitals and working in laboratories throughout college to later advising and investing in companies, she has always been fascinated by the intersection of business and medicine, as well as helping patients in need. These passions are what motivate Melissa to build a strong financial infrastructure for Zentalis – raising over $390 million in capital in 2020 from private and public market funds to support groundbreaking oncology innovation.
Melissa is an accomplished executive with extensive global healthcare experience building and improving organizations. Her multifaceted background, which includes previous roles as an investor, investment banker and equity research analyst, has led her to develop a creative and critical approach to problem-solving in the biotech sector, as well as understand the industry from numerous angles. This unique perspective allows her to proactively anticipate questions and needs.
In addition, Melissa can truly be considered a trailblazer. Most recently, at the height of market uncertainty in mid-March, she led and completed the first-ever fully virtual roadshow and IPO during the COVID-19 pandemic, which closed at an upsized $190 million in gross proceeds. Working with the bankers and Zentalis’ CEO, she created a new paradigm for the virtual IPO process that has been viewed as the gold standard and followed by numerous recently public companies. All in all, Melissa looks forward to helping drive science forward while striving to achieve new corporate and clinical milestones in the life sciences industry from the CFO seat.
About Zentalis Pharmaceuticals
Since inception, Zentalis has had the privilege of working with leading oncology scientists, academic institutions and investors to effectively and collaboratively address unmet needs in cancer. Using this deep industry experience and know-how, the Company has developed its Integrated Discovery Engine – a working model for generating potentially differentiated products for a wide range of cancers. This discovery engine combines extensive capabilities across cancer biology and medicinal chemistry to identify oncology targets that have been proven clinically, and in some instances, commercially. Zentalis is then able to evaluate key compounds targeting these fundamental biological pathways of cancer to assess their limitations, and in turn, design new molecules with differentiated product profiles that address the observed constraints. This de-risked time and capital efficient approach has allowed Zentalis to clear four Investigational New Drug (IND) applications with the FDA in only five years, building a diverse pipeline of oncology candidates with the potential to significantly improve the lives of patients with various types of cancer.
“The opportunity to innovate on a global scale is key for the Company’s mission and allows for the advancement of potentially best-in-class oncology therapeutics for patients with cancer around the world.”
Zentalis is continuously looking for ways to improve, innovate, and grow its revolutionary platform. With science constantly evolving, Zentalis places emphasis on being in the know on the latest trends and technology shaking up the oncology space. Back in May, Zentalis entered into a strategic platform collaboration with Tavros Therapeutics to apply Tavros’ functional genomic discovery platform to develop next generation therapeutics for Zentalis’ growing pipeline. This cutting-edge technology allows for an unbiased analysis of intricate cellular signaling pathways to discover novel targets, synthetic lethality pairs, mechanisms to overcome cancer resistance, and unique genetic signatures for clinical trials.
In May, Melissa also helped Zentalis establish Zentera Therapeutics, a majority-owned Chinese joint venture focused on developing and commercializing three Zentalis-discovered cancer therapies in China. The opportunity to innovate on a global scale is key for the Company’s mission and allows for the advancement of potentially best-in-class oncology therapeutics for patients with cancer around the world.
As a relatively new biotechnology company, Zentalis has incredibly ambitious goals for the near future. In addition to the 5 clinical trials already underway, the Company aims to double that number by the end of next year, leveraging its Integrated Discovery Engine, as well as technology from its strategic partnerships. Along these lines, Zentalis is constantly exploring new business development opportunities with companies and organizations that are admired and respected in the industry. As part of Zentalis’ philosophy to innovate in the oncology space, the team is humbled and motivated by the possibility of helping patients in need. IE