Our leadership team is a highly successful and uniquely experienced group of clinicians, scientists, corporate executives, and investment professionals.

Our focus: deliver novel antiviral medicines to the right people at the right time, to significantly reduce morbidity, mortality, and costs associated with viral infections among vulnerable populations.

Altesa’s world-class scientific founders have already developed medicines that have saved – and are continuing to save – countless lives. Specifically, Altesa’s founders have invented emtricitabine (Emtriva®), which combats HIV/AIDS, and molnupiravir (Lagevrio®), which prevents hospitalization and death from COVID-19. Altesa’s clinical, regulatory, and scientific teams also have helped develop and market medicines such as brincidofovir (Tembexa®) to treat smallpox, and enfuvirtide (Fuzeon®), the first HIV fusion inhibitor to treat people living with HIV/AIDS.

Management Team

Brett P. Giroir, MD

Chief Executive Officer

Full Bio

  • Former US Assistant Secretary for Health and Admiral, US Public Health Service
  • Former Acting FDA Commissioner
  • Inaugural CEO, ViraCyte (now AlloVir)

John M. Clerici, JD

President and Chief Operating Officer

Full Bio

  • Founder, Tiber Creek Partners LLC, Raised over $6B in Non- Dilutive Capital
  • Former Partner & Life Sciences Chair, McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP
  • Former Board Member, Aeolus Pharmaceuticals Inc.

Katie Laessig, MD

Chief Medical and Regulatory Officer

Full Bio

  • Former Deputy Director, Division of Anti-infective Products, FDA
  • Former VP Therapeutic Strategy, IQVIA
  • Board Certified in Infectious Diseases

Andy Drechsler

Chief Financial Officer

Full Bio

  • Former CFO, Provention Bio and VaxInnate Corp.
  • Over 25 years of financial and operational leadership experience in life sciences companies

Melissa Allaband

VP Operations and Program Management

Full Bio

  • Former VP Operations, Antios Therapeutics
  • 20+ years experience in pharmaceutical operations and manufacturing

Laura K. Smart, BA, MA

VP Corporate

Full Bio

  • Former Principal and Co-founder, Tiber Creek Partners, LLC
  • Former Policy Advisor, McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP

Alan Parr, PharmD, PhD

VP Manufacturing

Full Bio

  • Former Vice President of Biopharmaceutics, GlaxoSmithKline


Erica Bitten, MHA, SPHR

VP Human Resources

Full Bio

  • Former Program Director, Human Resources, Emory Institute for Drug Development
  • 15 years Experience in Human Resources and Corporate Culture

Katherine Squires, PhD

VP, Preclinical and Translational

Full Bio

  • Doctorate in Molecular Pharmacology, Emory University
  • Former Director of R&D at Antios Therapeutics


Seth Rudnick, MD


Full Bio

  • Chairman, DRIVE Advisory Board
  • Former Canaan Partners, General Partner
  • Former CytoTherapeutics, CEO & Chairman
  • Forbes Midas List: top deal makers in biotechnology (named twice)

Brett P. Giroir, MD



Full Bio

  • Former US Assistant Secretary for Health and Admiral, US Public Health Service
  • Former Acting FDA Commissioner
  • Inaugural CEO, ViraCyte (now AlloVir)


Moncef Slaoui, PhD


Full Bio

  • Former chair of global vaccines for GlaxoSmithKline
  • Previously served on Moderna’s board of directors
  • Led U.S. government’s Operation Warp Speed during the COVID-19 pandemic

Ittai Harel, BSc, MSc

Managing General Partner Pitango

Full Bio

  • Former Director of Corporate Development at Nektar Therapeutics
  • Previous management roles with IDEXX Laboratories and IDGene Pharmaceuticals.

Nick Williams

Medicxi, Partner

Full Bio

  • Creating and investing in their therapeutic companies across of full spectrum of development


George R. Painter, PhD

Altesa Co-Founder and Chair

Full Bio

  • Professor, Pharmacology and Chemical Biology, Emory University School of Medicine
  • CEO, Drug Innovation Ventures at Emory and Executive Directory, Emory Institute for Drug Development
  • Decades of experience in discovery and development of drugs; inventor of Molnupiravir

James F. Donohue, MD

No Title

Full Bio

  • Former Professor of Medicine, Division of Pulmonary Diseases and Critical Care Medicine, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Recipient of the “Breathing for Life Award” from the American Thoracic Society, the highest honor given for philanthropy, scientific achievement and commitment to mentorship
  • Has led trials for the most commonly used inhaled therapies for COPD and asthma

Gary Ferguson, MD

No Title

Full Bio

  • Clinical Professor of Medicine, Michigan State University
  • Director Emeritus, Pulmonary Research Institute of Southeast Michigan
  • Former Director of the Emphysema/COPD program, National Jewish Medical Center

Dennis C. Liotta, PhD

Altesa Co-Founder

Full Bio

  • Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor, Department of Chemistry, Emory University
  • Professor, Department of Pharmacology and Chemical Biology, Emory University School of Medicine
  • Co-founder, Pharmasset
  • Co-founder, DRIVE and Emory Institute for Drug Development
  • Co-inventor emtricitabine and lamivudine

MeiLan K. Han, MD, MS

No Title

Full Bio

  • Professor of Medicine and Chief of the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care at the University of Michigan
  • Member, Scientific Advisory Committees for the COPD Foundation and the American Lung Association
  • Member of the Global Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD) scientific committee

Richard Whitley, MD

No Title

Full Bio

  • Professor of Microbiology, Medicine and Neurosurgery, University of Alabama, Birmingham
  • Past President of the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA)
  • Inaugural recipient of the Distinguished Clinical Research Scholar and Educator in Residence at the NIH Clinical Center.
  • Recipient of the 2020 National Foundation for Infectious Diseases John P. Utz Leadership Award


Partners / Collaborators

Emory University, DRIVE

Altesa has an innovative relationship with Drug Innovation Ventures at Emory (DRIVE),formed by Emory University to discover and advance new medicines against viral infections. DRIVE is both a key scientific collaborator and a founding shareholder of Altesa.

George R. Painter, PhD, and Dennis C. Liotta, PhD are Altesa scientific co-founders and serve on the Scientific Advisory Board. Drs. Painter and Liotta were instrumental, respectively, in the discovery and successful commercialization of molnupiravir, which treats the virus causing COVID-19, and emtricitabine, which is one of the most widely used medicines for prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS.

The unprecedented partnership agreement between Altesa and DRIVE led to the licensing of a late-stage preclinical, antiviral drug (ALT-2023) in January 2022. ALT-2023 is a broad-spectrum nucleoside analog that is active against most enteroviruses and flaviviruses, including rhinovirus and hepatitis C. Altesa has a unique, preferred relationship with DRIVE/Emory, giving Altesa exclusive access to up to five additional DRIVE molecules to combat other viral respiratory diseases.