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Camino Pharma is a San Diego-based startup company focused on discovering and developing first-in-class therapies for patients suffering from cancer and CNS disorders. We target signaling proteins based on emerging biological concepts and discover novel mechanisms for modulating these targets with small molecule drugs. Our leadership team has proven expertise in the relevant target biology, as well as extensive experience in drug discovery and development.



Gonul Velicelebi, Ph.D.

Founder & CEO

Dr. Velicelebi is a scientist-entrepreneur with more than 30 years of experience in the discovery and development of first-in-class small molecule drugs.  She has successfully built several discovery platforms based on novel biology and innovative technology. Prior to Camino Pharma, she was the founding CEO and Director at CalciMedica, a privately-held biotechnology company focused on the discovery and development of selective CRAC channel inhibitors for autoimmune and inflammatory disease. During her tenure at CalciMedica, Dr. Velicelebi raised $42M of venture capital and advanced the technology from concept to the clinic. Profile on LinkedIn

Reto Gadient, Ph.D.

Founder & CSO

Head of Pharmacology

Dr. Gadient is a scientist with 20 years of experience in the discovery and development of small molecule drugs. During his time in the pharmaceutical and biotech industry, he accompanied molecules from their inceptions as far as Phase II clinical trials. A cell and molecular biologist by training, his main expertise is within the CNS area. Prior to Camino Pharma, Dr. Gadient was Director of Biology at BrainCells, where he was responsible for the PK and translational plans of BCI-632, an mGlu2/3 antagonist in Phase I development for TRD. Prior to BrainCells, Dr. Gadient was a team and project leader for AstraZeneca where he worked on many different mechanism and receptor systems. Profile on LinkedIn


Nicholas Cosford, Ph.D.

Dr. Cosford is Professor and Associate Director of Translational Research at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute (SBP). As a medicinal chemist with >20 years’ experience leading small-molecule drug discovery and hit-to-lead optimization projects, he worked in both biotech and big pharma prior to joining SBP in 2005. At SIBIA Neurosciences and at Merck Research Laboratories he directed multidisciplinary research teams focused on hit-to-lead optimization and was responsible for moving several lead compounds through to the clinical phase. Dr. Cosford’s laboratory at SBP engages in chemical biology to investigate important problems in cancer, neuroscience, and infectious diseases. 

Lutz Tautz, Ph.D.

Dr. Tautz is a Research Associate Professor at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute (SBP). He received his Ph.D. in chemistry and biochemistry from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT, Germany) in 2002. For his postdoctoral training he joined Tomas Mustelin's group to investigate protein tyrosine phosphatase (PTP)-dependent signaling mechanisms using chemical genomics. As Research Faculty at SBP, Dr. Tautz has established an innovative research program on novel technologies to develop specific PTP inhibitors as potential therapeutics for the treatment of cancer and other human diseases.

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