Red Tree Venture Capital was founded in 2020 by Heath Lukatch, Ph.D., and Jennifer Cochran, Ph.D., two experienced life science industry veterans with deep connections to the West Coast academic and biopharma ecosystems.
The firm is led by an accomplished team with decades of combined experience investing in, founding and operating life science companies across various stages, sectors and therapeutic areas. Together, we have compiled a track record of exceptional financial returns driven by a talent for translating scientific innovation into successful businesses.
Dr. Lukatch co-founded Red Tree Venture Capital and serves as the firm’s managing partner. A highly regarded and accomplished life science industry investor, his 37 career investments have resulted in 23 value-creating liquidity events including 12 companies entering the public market and 11 being acquired.
From 2015-2020, Dr. Lukatch worked at TPG where he was partner, managing director and life sciences investment team leader in TPG’s Biotech, Growth and RISE platforms. In 2006, Dr. Lukatch co-founded Novo Ventures’ San Francisco office, where he was a partner through 2015. Prior to joining Novo Ventures, Dr. Lukatch was a managing director responsible for biotechnology venture investments at Piper Jaffray Ventures and SightLine Partners.
Dr. Lukatch currently serves as chairman of Acrigen Biosciences and Magnus Medical and is a board member at Bicara Therapeutics, Excellergy Therapeutics, and Vaxcyte (PCVX), and is a board observer at Alladapt Immunotherapeutics and Ceribell. Previously Dr. Lukatch was chairman of Cianna Medical (acquired by Merit Medical), Engage Therapeutics (acquired by UCB), Inogen (INGN), Satsuma Pharmaceuticals (STSA), and Spinifex (acquired by Novartis), and served on multiple life sciences company boards, including Amira (acquired by BMS), AnaptysBio (ANAB), Cargo Therapeutics (CRGX), Ceribell, Elevation Pharma (acquired by Sunovion), Flexion (FLXN, then acquired by Pacira), FoldRx (acquired by Pfizer), InSound Medical (acquired by Sonova), Synosia Therapeutics (acquired by BioTie) and ViaCyte (acquired by Vertex). Dr. Lukatch was also a board observer at Alios BioPharma (acquired by J&J), Dynavax (DVAX), Fluidigm (FLDM) and SI-Bone (SIBN).
Prior to becoming an investor, Dr. Lukatch worked as a strategy consultant with McKinsey & Company and was co‐founder and CEO of AutoMate Scientific, a biotechnology instrumentation company. In addition, he was a bench scientist at Chiron, Roche Bioscience and Cetus, doing molecular biology, electrophysiology and protein chemistry, respectively. Dr. Lukatch received his Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Stanford University where he was a DOD USAF Fellow, and his B.A. with high honors in Biochemistry from the University of California at Berkeley.
Dr. Cochran co-founded Red Tree Venture Capital and serves as the firm’s chief scientific advisor.
Dr. Cochran was recruited to Stanford University in 2005 as one of the founding faculty members in the new Bioengineering department. She is currently the Senior Associate Vice Provost for Research at Stanford, and prior to this role served as the Chair of the Stanford Department of Bioengineering from 2017-2022. She is the Addie and Al Macovski Professor of Bioengineering and, by courtesy, Chemical Engineering and a member of the Cancer Biology, Biophysics, and Immunology graduate programs. Dr. Cochran is the Co-Director of the Stanford/NIH Biotechnology pre-doctoral training program, and Co-Founder and Director of the Stanford Faculty Entrepreneurial Leadership Program. She is also the Director of Protein Therapeutics at the Stanford Innovative Medicines Accelerator (IMA).
Dr. Cochran’s research and translational interests span protein-based drug discovery and development for applications in oncology and regenerative medicine, and development of new technologies for high-throughput protein analysis and engineering. She is a serial innovator and a named inventor on over fifty pending and issued patents. A number of therapeutic molecules/technologies invented by her team are under advancement, including AVB-500 (baxtiracept), lead asset of Aravive, Inc. (NASDAQ: ARAV), currently in clinical trials for ovarian, kidney and pancreatic cancers. Dr. Cochran also brings extensive company formation and entrepreneurial experience, having founded several companies based on research from her academic lab, including xCella Biosciences (acquired by Ligand, now OmniAb (NASDAQ LGND and OABI) in 2020) and Combangio (acquired by Kala Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: KALA) in 2021). In 2015, Dr. Cochran co-founded and served as Chief Scientist of Lagunita Biosciences, a healthcare investment company and incubator, a position she held until 2020. Dr. Cochran is a board member at Excellergy Therapeutics, Biograph 55, OmniAb, and Revel Pharmaceuticals, and a board observer at Acrigen Biosciences and Tachyon Therapeutics.
Dr. Cochran obtained her Ph.D. in Biological Chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she also completed a postdoctoral fellowship in Biological Engineering.
An experienced financial executive, Matt offers Red Tree expertise across a range of key functions including investment reporting, legal, compliance and administration. He is managing member of venture CFO consulting firm Lomond Hill, LLC, has served as CFO & partner of Delphi Ventures and was controller of a venture-backed software startup. Matt holds a B.S. in business administration with concentrations in accounting and finance from Cal Poly, is a certified public accountant and is a member of the California State Board of Accountants.
Dr. Caldwell is a partner at Red Tree Venture Capital. A widely respected executive and scientist with deep industry expertise built through a decorated career of industry and venture activities, Dr. Caldwell’s accomplishments span from creating innovative drug development companies to driving discovery, development and translation of novel therapies. He has forged deep ties to the San Diego and San Francisco Bay Area biotechnology communities, as well as far-reaching relationships within the global pharmaceutical space.
Most recently Dr. Caldwell was CEO of Inception Therapeutics, Versant Ventures’ San Diego-based discovery engine for new company formation, a venture partner with Versant Ventures and a member of the firm’s investment team. In these roles, he co-led in the formation of Chinook Therapeutics (acquired by Novartis for $3.5B), and co-led the investment and formation of Lycia Therapeutics, Belharra Therapeutics, Light Horse Therapeutics, among others, acting as founding CEO and board director of each. Prior to Inception/Versant, Dr. Caldwell was an entrepreneur-in-residence at Third Rock Ventures, where he participated in the genesis and formation of Revolution Medicines (RVMD), Pliant Therapeutics (PLRX), Decibel Therapeutics (DBTX), Relay Therapeutics (RLAY) and Nurix Therapeutics (NRIX). He also played key roles in the foundational science on which Rigel, Inc. (RIGL), and Kalypsys, Inc., were formed, as well as advising in the evolution of Syrrx, Inc. (acquired by Takeda for $270M).
With drug discovery and development expertise primarily focused on oncology, immunology, neurology and cardiometabolic disease, Dr. Caldwell is credited with significant contributions to research leading to four commercial drugs. He previously served as executive vice president and chief scientific officer at Ardelyx, Inc., where he advanced a portfolio of novel anti-fibrotic and cardiorenal therapeutics to the clinic. His career has also included key leadership roles with Sirna, Merck Research Laboratories, and the Genomics Institute of the Novartis Research Foundation (GNF).
Dr. Caldwell is a member of the board of Sardona Therapeutics and Biograph 55. He received a B.A. in molecular and cellular biology with an emphasis in neuroscience from the University of California at Berkeley and a Ph.D. in molecular pharmacology from Stanford University.
Jodi served as a partner for B Capital, Balderton, and March. Prior to that, she founded a hedge fund and was an e-commerce entrepreneur in China. Jodi started her career in banking at Citi and HSBC. She holds a B.S. from the University of Pennsylvania (Wharton) and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School. Jodi is thrilled to be a steward of capital towards a better future for humankind. RedTree is creating that future a little bit every day!
Dr. Wahid has broad life science industry experience, both as an investor and a team member at innovative drug development companies. He most recently worked at SR One Capital Management, where he focused on early-stage biopharma investment opportunities, as well as new company creation. Prior to SR One, he served as a member of the healthcare team at OCA Ventures. Dr. Wahid also worked with LAVA Therapeutics, a clinical-stage immuno-oncology company, where he supported the company’s growth strategy. Additionally, he was an early team member of Myoarete, an innovative start-up that was spun out of the University of Pennsylvania to develop innovative therapies for the treatment of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD). His career has also included investment banking and consulting experience at J.P. Morgan and L.E.K. Consulting.
He began his career as a practicing physician, followed by a position as a surgeon-in-training focused on pediatric surgery in the UK’s National Health Service. Dr. Wahid also has international clinical experience working with the pediatric surgery team at the Cleveland Clinic and volunteering in a hospital deep in the Amazon rainforest in Iquitos, Peru.
Dr. Wahid currently is a board observer at Magnus Medical, Biograph 55 and Excellergy. Dr. Wahid received his M.D. from Imperial College London with a triple distinction and an MBA from the Wharton School where he was a Thouron Scholar. He received his BSc in Medical Sciences and Management from Imperial College London with first class honors.
Yoko Sugimoto is the Executive Assistant to the Red Tree team. She brings 25 years of administrative experience to the team.
Before joining Red Tree in 2022, Yoko worked as an Executive Assistant at Homestead Capital USA. Previously, she served as Executive Assistant to the President & CEO of Takeda Ventures, Inc.
Originally from Japan, Yoko holds a B.A. in Business Administration and Information Science from Hamamatsu University (formerly Tokoha Hamamatsu University). After graduation, Yoko moved to England where she spent 3 years studying English and attended a Secretarial College.
Scientific Advisory Board
The Red Tree Venture Capital team is augmented by a scientific advisory board of academic thought leaders affiliated with the West Coast’s most prestigious institutions. These individuals, who include department chairs, division chiefs and institute heads, are also established entrepreneurs collectively credited with founding more than 25 companies.
Further supplementing the firm’s leadership is a team of senior advisors comprised of experienced biopharma executives that provide Red Tree Venture Capital broad expertise across key aspects of the life science industry, including company creation/building, business operations and drug development.