Barry Kappel Headshot

Barry Kappel is the founder, President, Chief Executive Officer and Director of Sapience Therapeutics. As a biotechnology entrepreneur, executive and native New Yorker, Dr. Kappel is driven to help develop and foster the biotechnology community in New York, and Sapience is the latest example of this effort. 

Prior to founding Sapience, Dr. Kappel was a senior executive of ContraFect Corporation, a company that he played an integral part in founding in 2009. As the Senior Vice President of Business Development, he was involved in all aspects of the company, including financing activities, licensing of the company’s key technologies, establishing scientific collaborations with academic and corporate partners, presenting to regulatory authorities and developing a corporate strategy. Prior to ContraFect, Dr. Kappel was a Senior Consultant at Easton Associates, LLC, a boutique life science consulting firm located in Manhattan. Easton Associates has since been acquired by Navigant Consulting. 

Dr. Kappel holds a B.A. in Chemistry from Emory University, a Ph.D. in Immunology and Pharmacology from the Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, and an M.B.A. from the S.C. Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University. Dr. Kappel was also chosen as a Howard Hughes Pre-Doctoral Fellow and has published 17 articles in peer-reviewed scientific journals.

Marisa Frackman Headshot

Marisa Frackman is the Chief Financial Officer at Sapience Therapeutics. She is a seasoned financial executive with 18 years of biotechnology capital markets experience.

Most recently, she served as Managing Director at ICR Westwicke within the Healthcare Capital Markets Advisory team. In this capacity, she advised a wide array of private and public clients on strategies related to the preparation and execution of IPOs, follow-ons and pre-IPO financings.

Prior to ICR Westwicke, Ms. Frackman spent 15 years in investment banking. As Director on the Equity Capital Markets team at Wells Fargo Securities, she was responsible for the origination, structuring and execution of equity financing transactions for clients across the healthcare sector. In this capacity, she executed active bookrun transactions ranging in size from $20 million to $5 billion and played a key role in growing the firm’s biotechnology franchise. Ms. Frackman began her Wall Street career as a member of the Healthcare Investment Banking group at Deutsche Bank Securities, where she gained experience in both strategic and financing transactions for public and private companies. During her years as an investment banker, she executed more than 250 equity offerings which raised more than $90 billion in aggregate.

Ms. Frackman graduated cum laude from the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University with a major in finance and a minor in English.

Abi Vainstein-Haras

Dr. Abi Vainstein-Haras is the Chief Medical Officer of Sapience. Dr. Vainstein brings more than fifteen years of experience in oncology drug development and treatment of patients with cancer and other diseases. She joins Sapience from BioLineRx, where she spent the last eight years serving in multiple roles of increasing responsibility, most recently serving as Chief Medical Officer since January 2021. BioLineRx is a biopharmaceutical company with a focus in oncology, with late-stage programs in Phase 2 and 3 for difficult-to-treat cancers like solid tumors and hematological diseases. Prior to being named Chief Medical Officer, she served as Vice President of Clinical Development and Senior Medical Director, where she was responsible for the clinical development of all clinical phase projects. Prior to joining BioLineRx, she was the Director and Clinical Program Leader at Teva for COPAXONE®, a medication used to treat multiple sclerosis (MS), and before that, she served in several medical positions in the Innovative R&D team at Teva. Dr. Vainstein holds an M.D. from the University of Buenos Aires, is licensed to practice medicine in Israel and has authored twenty-five research presentations and publications.

Seth Rubin Headshot

Seth Rubin is General Counsel of Sapience Therapeutics. He brings over 25 years of experience in legal matters, including serving as outside general counsel to many of his clients. Prior to joining Sapience Therapeutics, Mr. Rubin was a partner at Ruskin Moscou Faltischek, where his practice focused on corporate and securities law. He represented private and public companies in a wide range of matters including mergers and acquisitions, strategic joint ventures, corporate finance, public and private financings, licensing, technology, and clinical trial agreements. He was also responsible for ensuring SEC compliance for his public company clients. Mr. Rubin provided a broad range of advice to early stage, late stage, and growth companies, including structuring financing for acquisitions, working capital, expansion, and exit strategies.

Mr. Rubin received his Juris Doctor from the University of Pennsylvania Law School and his Bachelor of Arts, cum laude, from Hobart College. Mr. Rubin is admitted to practice law in the State of New York.

Nancy Dong Headshot

Nancy Dong is the Chief Administrative Officer and Controller at Sapience Therapeutics. Ms. Dong, MPPM, CMA, SPHR has over 25 years of experience in accounting, strategic planning, budgeting, forecasting, organization development, financial systems and controls. Prior to Sapience, she served as VP Finance & Administration at ContraFect Corporation (Nasdaq: CFRX) where she helped grow the company from startup to a public company. Ms. Dong served as VP Finance & Administration at DCM, Inc. a teleservices firm supporting the performing arts and also held the positions of COO/CFO at Semaphore, a financial management software development firm. Ms. Dong started her career as a management consultant at Ernst & Young.

Ms. Dong received her BA degree from Yale University and a Master degree from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

Gene Merutka Headshot

Gene Merutka is the Senior Vice President of Chemistry, Manufacturing and Controls (CMC) and Operations at Sapience Therapeutics. Dr. Merutka has over 25 years of experience in the biopharmaceutical industry and specializes in the development of peptide therapeutics, including CMC, preclinical, quality and regulatory CMC. Prior to his role with Sapience, Dr. Merutka co-founded and served as Vice President and Head of Non-Clinical Development and CMC at Merganser Biotech, Inc., which was developing a Hepcidin mimetic to treat iron storage diseases. Previously, he served as the Head of CMC Development and Vice President at Azelon Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (alternate name Zelos Therapeutics Inc.), where he focused on novel formulations and delivery routes for parathyroid hormone (PTH 1-34). He also worked at Vicuron Pharmaceuticals, where he was responsible for product development and played an important role in the submission of two approved NDA filings, and at Trimeris Inc., where he was part of the team that developed Fuzeon (Enfuvirtide). 

Dr. Merutka holds a Ph.D. in Biochemistry from The University of Iowa and a B.S. in Chemistry from The University of Chicago. He completed a post-doctoral fellowship at The Scripps Research Institute.

Jim Rotolo Headshot

Jim Rotolo is the Senior Vice President of Translational Medicine and Head of Research at Sapience Therapeutics, where he leads the Company’s discovery and pre-clinical development efforts. Prior to Sapience, Dr. Rotolo was Director of Pharmacology at ContraFect Corporation with roles in R&D, non-clinical development and clinical operations. He was responsible for directing in vivo studies supporting the progression of the company’s lead candidate from proof of concept into Phase 2 of clinical development, including PK/PD assessments to inform dose selection for Phase 1 and 2 studies. In addition, Dr. Rotolo designed and directed toxicology, immunogenicity and efficacy experiments to evaluate discovery-phase molecules and in-licensed candidates. Prior to ContraFect, Dr. Rotolo’s research at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center culminated in the invention of an engineered antibody-fragment-based therapeutic for medical radiation countermeasures and autoimmune indications. This antibody has been licensed for commercial development and is supported by the NIH Radiation Nuclear Countermeasures Program.

Dr. Rotolo holds a B.S. in Chemistry from Emory University, an M.S. in Pharmacology and Toxicology from Long Island University, and a Ph.D. in Pharmacology and Immunology from the Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. His work has resulted in over 20 publications and multiple patents/patent applications.

Gina Capiaux Headshot

Gina Capiaux is the Vice President of Regulatory Affairs at Sapience Therapeutics. Gina has over 25 years of experience in the biotechnology/pharmaceutical industry and 17 years in regulatory affairs. Prior to Sapience, Gina was Sr. Director at Ultragenyx Pharmaceutical, where she helped develop the regulatory affairs department and led multiple programs for rare genetic disorders including the enzyme replacement therapy MepseviiTM for mucopolysaccharidosis 7 (MPS 7) and DojolviTM for long-chain fatty acid oxidation disorders (LC-FAOD). Previously, she held positions of increasing responsibility at BioMarin Pharmaceutical, where she led the program for Vimizim® for (MPS 4) and various other small molecule and biologic programs. Her leadership has led to >30 successful IND/CTA applications, 6 NDA/BLA approvals, and numerous expedited program designations/approvals worldwide.

Dr. Capiaux holds a B.A. in biochemistry from California State University Fresno and a Ph.D. in Pharmacology from the Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.