About Us

We are a team of passionate entrepreneurs reinventing drug development.


The beauty and complexity of life is near limitless, with the world around us based on the cyclicality of the seasons and marking a shift in the progression of life. When the rains come, they bring sustenance to the life all around us, from which there is renewal and replenishment.  Water and the rain help reinvigorate life and strengthen us for the path forward.  

Rain Oncology was named to symbolize the renewal, sustenance and replenishment that reinvigorates life afforded by the rains.  In the same way, we hope to provide a renewal and reinvigoration for patients debilitated by cancer.  Rain Oncology hopes to leverage industry-leading insight into the mechanisms triggering cancer to find precision therapeutic strategies that may offer patients an improved chance of getting their lives back.

Rain Oncology was founded in 2017 as a precision oncology company leveraging a deep scientific knowledge of drug mechanism and designing clinical trials with the most appropriate patient population most likely to benefit from treatment. Rain is focused on a few critical objectives: (1) strive to greatly enhance probabilities of therapeutic success for patients by focusing on genetic biomarkers that may predict optimal therapeutic strategies, and (2) pursue biomarker-based trial designs of limited size that enable rapid decision-making and redirecting of strategy when needed, minimizing expense and preserving capital resources.

Rain at a glance

Our vision is to help cancer patients live life to the fullest.
our team is over 50% women
we speak over 20 languages
Our team has a combined total of
28PhDs & advanced
Milademetan could be a viable therapy in up to
which includes a range of cancers that are p53 wild-type and MDM2-dependent.

Management Team

Board of Directors

Avanish Vellanki, MBA

Avanish Vellanki is passionate about offering cancer patients better treatment options, and he firmly believes that precision oncology strategies are the best manner in which to achieve that goal. He has 20 years of experience across the healthcare and investment banking sectors and began his career on Wall Street at Bear, Stearns & Co. in 2004 in equity research, covering small/mid-cap biotechnology companies. Following his time at Bear, Stearns, Avanish transitioned to Global Healthcare Investment Banking at Citigroup where he focused on large-cap global biopharmaceutical strategic and financing transactions. He subsequently moved to industry, joining Proteolix in 2009 prior to its acquisition by Onyx Pharmaceuticals, where he helped develop carfilzomib (Kyprolis(R)) for patients with multiple myeloma. Prior to founding Rain, Avanish was senior vice president and chief business officer at Aptose Biosciences. Avanish holds a BA from Carleton College, an MBS in biochemistry from the University of Minnesota and MBA from the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota.

Franklin Berger, CFA

Franklin is managing director at FMB Research as well as a consultant to the biotechnology industry, including major biopharmaceutical firms, mid-capitalization biotechnology companies, specialist asset managers and venture capital companies, providing business development, strategic advisory, financing, partnering and royalty acquisition advice. Franklin is also a biotechnology industry analyst with over 25 years of experience in capital markets and financial analysis at Sectoral Asset Management, NEMO Fund and J.P. Morgan Securities. Franklin received a BA in international relations and an MA in international economics, both from Johns Hopkins University and an MBA from the Harvard Business School.

Aaron Davis, MA

Aaron is cofounder and chief executive officer of Boxer Capital, LLC, the healthcare arm of the Tavistock Group. After joining Tavistock Group as Portfolio Manager, Aaron scaled Tavistock’s healthcare investing activities and formed Boxer Capital. Aaron leads Boxer Capital’s research team, deal structuring and portfolio management. He is currently chairman of the board of CiVi Biopharma and is a member of the board of directors of iTeos Therapeutics, Mirati Therapeutics, Inc., Odonate Therapeutics, Sojournix, Inc. and Tango Therapeutics. Aaron received an MA degree in biotechnology from Columbia University and a BBA degree in finance from Emory University.

Gorjan Hrustanovic, PhD

Dr. Hrustanovic is Managing Director at BVF Partners L.P., where he has been leading both public and private biotechnology investments since 2015. Prior to joining the BVF Partners L.P., Dr. Hrustanovic obtained his PhD in cancer biology and cell signaling at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), with a primary focus on precision medicine and resistance to targeted therapies in lung cancer. While at UCSF, he also cofounded a small biotech-focused investment fund. His graduate research led to publications in leading scientific journals such as Nature Medicine, Cell Reports and others. Dr. Hrustanovic also and serves on the board of Olema Oncology, Kymera Therapeutics and is a board observer at 4D Molecular Therapeutics. Dr. Hrustanovic holds a BS degree in molecular biology, and a BS in economics and management science from the University of California, San Diego.

Tran Nguyen, MBA

Tran is the chief operating officer and chief financial officer of Prothena. He has over 20 years of finance experience in the healthcare, banking and private equity industries. Prior to joining Prothena, Tran was chief financial officer at Metabasis Therapeutics, Inc. and chief financial officer of Somaxon Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Earlier in his career, Tran was part of the healthcare investment banking group at Citi Global Markets, Inc., and served in various capacities as a healthcare investment banker at Lehman Brothers, Inc. Tran earned his BA in economics and psychology from Claremont McKenna College and his MBA from the Anderson School of Management at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Peter Radovich, MBA

Peter is the chief operating officer of Mirum Pharmaceuticals. Prior to joining Mirum, he was senior vice president, operations of Global Blood Therapeutics. Before that, he served as vice president of program leadership at Onyx Pharmaceuticals, Inc., which was acquired by Amgen, Inc. He was previously senior director at Onyx, where he led the company’s global, cross-functional product team responsible for the development and commercialization of Kyprolis®. Prior to that, he held a variety of roles of increasing responsibility in Onyx’s commercial organization. Previous to Onyx, Peter was at Chiron Corporation (now Novartis AG) in product marketing. Peter holds a BA in biology and chemistry from Texas Christian University and an MBA from Washington University.

Stefani Wolff

Stefani has over 34 years of experience in the biopharmaceutical industry. She had served as Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President of Product Development at Nurix. She also previously served a variety of roles at Principia Biopharma, where she was the chief development officer and formerly senior vice president of strategy and operations. During her four years at Principia, she generated and spearheaded successful clinical development strategies as she led clinical, manufacturing and technical operations, regulatory and medical affairs, and commercial and communications functions. She also worked at Onyx Pharmaceuticals, where she was vice president of development and global project team leader, Genentech, Inc., where she had increasing roles of responsibility over her 13-year tenure, and at Eli Lilly & Co., where she served as product manager, market analyst, hospital and retail sales for over nine years. Ms. Wolff earned her bachelor’s degree in chemistry and pharmacy from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Scientific Advisory Board

Robert Doebele, MD, PhD

Dr. Doebele is a pioneer physician-scientist and board-certified medical oncologist who lives and breathes new biology-based, tumor-agnostic strategies to offer hope. Dr. Doebele has expansive clinical and research expertise in targeted therapies and precision oncologystrategies having led research at the University of Colorado that launched the TRK field by demonstrating that that NTRK1/2/3 gene fusions represent a novel tumor agnostic target in cancer, a strategy that ultimately led to the approval of larotrectinib (Loxo) and entrectinib (Ignyta). Prior to joining Rain full time, Dr. Doebele was an associate professor of medicine in the division of medical oncology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. He also served as the director of the thoracic oncology research initiative at the University of Colorado Cancer Center; and was the principal investigator of the University of Colorado Lung Cancer Specialized Program of Research Excellence. He is also a senior editor of the AACR journal, Clinical Cancer Research. Dr. Doebele received his AB in molecular biology from Princeton University, and received his MD, PhD in immunology from the University of Pennsylvania. He conducted his internal medicine residency and a medical oncology fellowship at the University of Chicago.

Lori Kunkel, MD

Dr. Kunkel currently serves on the board of directors of Loxo Oncology, Inc., Curis, Inc., Maverick Therapeutics, Inc. and Tocagen, Inc. Previously she has served as acting chief medical officer of Loxo Oncology, Inc., Pharmacyclics, LLC and Proteolix, Inc. and vice president of clinical development at Xencor, Inc. Prior to her career in biotechnology, Lori spent a decade in academic medicine as a faculty member at the bone marrow transplant unit in the division of hematology/oncology at University of California, Los Angeles. Lori has held board certifications in hematology and oncology and holds a BA in biology from the University of California, San Diego and an MD from the University of Southern California.

Chris Kirk, PhD

Dr. Kirk is cofounder, president and chief scientific officer of Kezar Life Sciences. Dr. Kirk has worked in the biotechnology industry since 2001 and has held numerous positions in drug discovery and development. Prior to forming Kezar, Dr. Kirk was the vice president of research at Onyx Pharmaceuticals, where he played a key role in the discovery and development of two proteasome inhibitors, carfilzomib (KYPROLIS™) and oprozomib. Dr. Kirk joined Onyx via the acquisition of Proteolix in 2009, where he was one of the first scientific hires after their Series A funding. Dr. Kirk received his BS from U.C. Davis and his PhD in cellular and molecular biology from the University of Michigan in 1999.

Trever Bivona, MD, PhD

Dr. Bivona is a professor in residence and an attending physician in thoracic oncology at UCSF, and serves on the advisory boards for AstraZeneca, Novartis, Array Biopharma, Revolution Medicines, Inventiva, Takeda and Jazz Pharmaceuticals. As a physician-scientist with training in medical oncology and a PhD in cell and molecular biology, he directs a laboratory-based research program in basic and translational oncology at UCSF. He has successfully translated six laboratory-based discoveries into clinical trials over the last eight years in the form of investigator-initiated (6) and company-sponsored (2) clinical studies. His areas of interest include cancer, lung, kinases, oncogenes, tyrosine kinase inhibitors, genomics and signal transduction. Dr. Bivona has served as an ad hoc reviewer for over 20 professional publications and has supervised/mentored a multitude of predoctoral students, postdoctoral fellows/residents and faculty members. Dr. Bivona received his BS with honors in molecular biology at Vanderbilt University, his PhD in molecular and cell biology at NYU School of Medicine in 2004 and his MD at NYU School of Medicine in 2005. He was a clinical fellow at Harvard, a fellow of oncology at Memorial Sloan-Kettering and postdoctoral fellow at Memorial Sloan-Kettering. He is board certified in internal medicine and medical oncology.

Nicholas A. Saccomano, Ph.D.

Dr. Saccomano is a seasoned research and development (R&D) leader with over 35 years of experience in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries, including twenty years at the executive level in R&D organizations. He has extensive expertise across discovery research, having led over 25 INDs, clinical development for multiple mechanisms and products, portfolio strategy for various therapeutic areas and modalities, pharmaceutical sciences, life science technology, clinical candidate licensing, and strategic scientific partnering. Prior to joining Rain, Dr. Saccomano was chief scientific officer (CSO), senior vice president, and site head at Pfizer R&D, Inc., where he led a 150-person research and development site focused on oncology that executed a portfolio of small molecule drug programs from inception to proof of concept. Before Pfizer, Dr. Saccomano served as CSO of Array BioPharma and chief technology officer at SomaLogic. He currently serves as a scientific advisor for Entos, Dyve Biosciences, and Volastra Therapeutics and sits on the board of directors for OnKure Therapeutics. Dr. Saccomano graduated with a BS in chemistry from the State University of New York at Buffalo and received his Ph.D. in organic chemistry from Columbia University.