Novonco Therapeutics is working to save lives.

In 2014, two of the leading scientists in cancer research–David Horne, of the City of Hope, and Larry Overman of the University of California at Irvine–partnered with biotech entrepreneur and physician, Jack Kavanaugh, to create Novonco Therapeutics. The company has since secured sponsored research and patent licensing agreements to develop three highly-targeted platforms based on novel small molecules. These first-in-class therapies demonstrate potent anti-cancer properties.


Jack Kavanaugh, MD, MBA
Chairman, Acting CEO

Jack Kavanaugh

Dr. Kavanaugh’s background as a physician and a business executive has led to the development of an unusual skill set. That, coupled with a talent for discerning what’s truly innovative and an ability to accurately gauge the commercial potential of a given research project, start-up or company, has resulted in an impressive array of business accomplishments. He has developed and managed companies at every stage – from inception to successful sale – creating industry-leading products and investor profits. Although his work spans a number of industries, he has focused on the health and science technology sector, capitalizing on his background in medicine and business to lead mergers, acquisitions, turnarounds, and corporate strategic development and initiatives.

Dr. Kavanaugh holds D.D.S., M.B.A. and B.A. degrees from UCLA, and an M.D. from U.S.C. He completed his residency in ophthalmology at UCLA’s Jules Stein Institute, where he later taught surgery as a part-time visiting professor. Besides his chairmanship at Novonco, Kavanaugh is also Chairman and co-founder of Nanotech Energy, which is moving the world’s leading edge research on graphene supercapacitors from the laboratory to the marketplace; and SuperMetalix, Inc., which is developing a cost-efficient product that is more than twice as hard as carbide. Last May, he also accepted chairmanship of Orbsen Therapeutics, an Irish-based company that has developed a leading platform stem cell technology.

Among Dr Kavanaugh’s business accomplishments: As CEO and Chairman of ZetaRx Biosciences, Inc, he successfully combined the intellectual property from three globally-recognized health care and research institutions, assembled a highly respected management team, and lead the development of the FDA clinical trial strategy. In late 2013, ZetaRx was sold, becoming the core of Juno Therapeutics, which went on to have the largest biotech IPO of 2014, attaining a market cap of approximately $6 billion. Recently, Juno reported 91% clinical trial complete remission of terminal cancer patients treated with their immunotherapy.

Prior to that, he served as Chairman of Calhoun, a biotech firm that developed the world’s only light adjustable intraocular lens for cataract surgery. Its industry-leading product has already completed FDA Stage III clinical trials. In 1996, Dr. Kavanaugh founded Amerident, a health care service provider, serving as Chairman and CEO. Under his tenure, the company organically grew its employee-ranks to over 600 by 1999, when it was sold to a public company. Amerident received over 30 community service awards and a state congressional medal of honor for its work with infants. As founder, Chairman and CEO of Team Global, Dr. Kavanaugh was responsible for taking the company public, helping guide and create value as the public share price rose from an initial investor cost of 11 cents per share to approximately $27 per share. He was until recently a member of the board of Materia, a company that holds more than 300 patents and is instrumental in the production of over 100 pharmaceutical products.

David Horne, Ph.D.
Scientific Advisory Board

David Horne

David Horne, Ph.D., is vice provost and associate director of Beckman Research Institute at the City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center, in Duarte, California. In this role, he oversees the Irell and Manella Graduate School of Biological Sciences, the Postdoctoral Training Office, International Research Programs, and the Office of Faculty Affairs. He is internationally recognized for his work in natural products synthesis and medicinal chemistry. He holds a Ph.D. in chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and B.S. in chemistry from UCLA. He was also a National Institutes of Health Postdoctoral Fellow.

Significant Awards and Honors

  • 2011 Member, Scientific Advisory Board, Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation
  • 2004 Olaf Boedtker Faculty Inspiration Award, College of Science, Oregon State University
  • 2002 Harris Teaching Award, Department of Chemistry, Oregon State University
  • 2001 Lloyd Carter Teaching Award, College of Science, Oregon State University
  • 1996 Great Teacher Award, Honorable Mention, Columbia University
  • 1995 National Science Foundation Young Investigator Award
  • 1993 Becton-Dickson Fellow
  • 1992 Beckman Young Investigator Award
  • 1989 National Institutes of Health Postdoctoral Fellow

Past Positions

NIH Postdoctoral Fellow, California Institute of Technology, 1989
Assistant Professor of Chemistry, Columbia University, 1992 – 1997
Associate Professor of Chemistry, Columbia University, 1997 – 1998
Associate Professor of Chemistry, Oregon State University, 1998 – 2004
Professor of Chemistry, Oregon State University, 2004 – 2006
Professor, Department of Molecular Medicine, City of Hope Beckman Research Institute, 2006
Chairman, Department of Molecular Medicine, City of Hope Beckman Research Institute, 2008
Co-Leader, Developmental Cancer Therapeutics Program, 2009
Scientific Advisory Board, Beckman Foundation, Irvine, CA, 2011
Co-Founder Meditope Biosciences, Inc., 2013

Larry Overman, Ph.D.
Scientific Advisory Board

Larry E. Overman

Dr. Overman is a Distinguished Professor of Chemistry at the University of California, Irvine, where he has served on the faculty since 1971. He is also affiliated with the Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, UC Irvine. Overman’s research interests center on the invention of new reactions and strategies in organic synthesis and the total synthesis of natural products and their congeners. Overman is a Member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is a member of the board of directors of Organic Syntheses and Organic Reactions and a former member of Scientific Advisory Boards of Pharmacopeia and Cytokinetics. He is also the former Editor-in-Chief of Organic Reactions and a Member of the Board of Consulting Editors of Tetrahedron Publications.

Significant Awards and Honors

  • National Academy of Sciences, elected 1996
  • American Academy of Arts & Sciences, elected 1996
  • American Chemical Society Awards: Roger Adams Award in Organic Chemistry 2015; Arthur C. Cope Award, 2003; Herbert C. Brown Award for Creative Research in Synthetic Methods, 2010; Award for Creative Work in Synthetic Organic Chemistry, 1995; American Chemical Society, Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award, 1989
  • Ryoji Noyori Prize, 2015
  • Tetrahedron Prize for Creativity in Organic Chemistry, 2008
  • The Nagoya Medal of Organic Chemistry, 2007
  • Centenary Medal, Chemical Society, United Kingdom, 1997

Earlham College, Richmond, Indiana; B.A., 1965, Chemistry
University of Wisconsin, Madison; Ph.D., 1969, Organic Chemistry
Columbia University, New York, 1969–1971, NIH Postdoctoral Fellow

Past Positions
Assistant Professor of Chemistry, UC, Irvine, 1971–1976
Associate Professor of Chemistry, UC, Irvine, 1976–1979
Professor of Chemistry, UC, Irvine, 1979–1994
Chair, Department of Chemistry, UC, Irvine, 1990–1993
Distinguished Professor of Chemistry, UC, Irvine, 1994—

More than 350 in refereed journals in the fields of synthetic organic and medicinal chemistry

Professional Activities (partial list)
Chair, Chemistry Section, National Academy of Sciences, 2008–2011
Consultant: Allergan Pharmaceuticals, 1983—; Amgen, 2003–2014; Pfizer Global Research & Development, 2000–2008; Roche, Palo Alto (formerly Syntex), 1987–2008; Chiron Corporation, 1999–2002; Warner–Lambert Pharmaceuticals, 1999–2000; Agouron Pharmaceuticals, 1995–1999; SmithKline Beecham, 1986–1998
Scientific Advisory Board Founding Member, Cytokinetics, Inc., 2002—2007; Pharmacopeia, Inc., 1993–2002
Co-Chair, National Research Council Board on Chemical Sciences & Technology, 1997–2000
Editor-In-Chief, Organic Reactions, 1999—2007
Board of Directors, Organic Reactions, 1993—
Board of Directors, Organic Syntheses, 1996—

Robert Snukal
Member, Board of Directors

Robert-SnukalRobert Snukal, the chief executive officer of National Quality Care, Inc., will use his expertise to develop prototypes and launch initial products in a number of industries. His work with Dr. Kavanaugh dates back to 2009 when he joined ZetaRx Biosciences, Inc. as Board member. There, he was integrally involved in its sale to create Juno Therapeutics.

In 1985, Mr. Snukal founded Fountain View, Inc., (now Skilled Healthcare) where he served as CEO. Under his management, Fountain View grew to operate 50 skilled nursing facilities, three institutional pharmacies and two therapy companies. In 2001, Mr. Snukal left active management, although he remained a member of the board and major stockholder until 2005, when the company was sold.

Mr. Snukal founded ITASCA Pictures in 1993 where he served as chairman.

Keith Black, MD
Member, Board of Directors

Dr. Keith Black, Chairman and Professor of the Department of Neurosurgery at Cedars-Sinai, is an internationally renowned neurosurgeon and cancer researcher. He is the founding director of the Maxine Dunitz Neurosurgical Institute and Cochran Brain Tumor Center at Cedars-Sinai.  Dr. Black was previously on the faculty of the University of California, Los Angeles, for 10 years. A professor of surgery and neurology, he held the Department of Surgery’s Ruth and Raymond Stotter Chair and served as head of both Neurosurgical Oncology and the Comprehensive Brain Tumor Program at UCLA Medical Center.

He is the founder of Arrogene, Inc., a biotechnology company developing nano-diagnostic and therapeutic agents on natural polymer and beta-polymalic acid.  Dr. Black has published more than 260 peer reviewed scientific papers and authored the book Brain Surgeon: A Doctor’s Inspiring Encounters with Mortality and Miracles in March 2009. His work has been the subject of numerous broadcast and print media stories, including a 1996 PBS program, The New Explorers, a Time magazine cover and feature article in 1997 on heroes in medicine, and a segment on CBS Sunday Morning in 1999. He often is called upon by CNN and other national media to discuss news events related to brain tumors or injuries.