Senior Management Team
David M. Epstein, Ph.D. – Co-Founder, President and Chief Executive Officer
David M. Epstein, Ph.D., is a biopharmaceutical leader and executive who has successfully led large and small R&D teams in academic, start-up, mid-size, and global large-pharmaceutical settings. His teams have progressed multiple novel agents through development in oncology, cardiovascular disease, and retinal degeneration.
Before his appointment as Black Diamond’s President and CEO, David was Vice Dean, Innovation & Entrepreneurship, and Associate Professor in Cancer & Stem Cell Biology, at Duke-NUS Medical School, Singapore, where he founded and built Duke-NUS’s Centre for Technology & Development, which has developed a pipeline of innovation projects. Previously, he was Chief Scientific Officer at OSI Pharmaceuticals, a pharmaceutical company acquired by Astellas Pharma, and founder of Archemix Corporation, where he led the advancement of multiple product candidates into the clinical in multiple therapeutic areas.
David earned a Ph.D. in Biochemistry at Brandeis University and completed a joint post-doctoral fellowship, leading a collaboration in protein structure, function, and NMR dynamics between the labs of Steven Benkovic (Penn State) and Peter Wright at The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California. He received a B.Sc. in Chemistry from Lewis & Clark College.
Elizabeth Buck, Ph.D. - Co-Founder, Executive Vice President, Discovery & Translational Sciences
Elizabeth Buck, Ph.D., was instrumental in developing Black Diamond’s MAP platform through which she made critical discoveries leading to our understanding of the properties of allosteric mutations in oncogene activation.
She has more than 15 years of experience in oncology therapeutics in biotechnology and large pharmaceutical companies. Her expertise and productivity are evidenced by more than 40 peer-reviewed publications and patents. Prior to co-founding Black Diamond and being named its Executive Vice President, Discovery and Translational Sciences, Liz was Assistant Director of Advanced Preclinical Pharmacology at OSI Pharmaceuticals, where she led discovery and translational research to advance a series of oncology programs to clinical development. During her tenure at OSI, she managed multidisciplinary global teams and spearheaded major academic collaborations to progress programs to investigational new drug applications.
Liz earned a Ph.D. in Cellular and Molecular Biology from New York University/Mount Sinai School of Medicine and completed postdoctoral work with Jim Wells at Sunesis Pharmaceuticals. She received her undergraduate degree in Physics from the University of New Hampshire.
Brent Hatzis-Schoch - Chief Operating Officer, General Counsel
With more than 20 years’ experience in the global pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry, Brent Hatzis-Schoch has held leadership positions at both commercial and development-stage companies.
Prior to joining Black Diamond as Chief Operating Officer, General Counsel, Brent was Senior Vice President (SVP), General Counsel and Corporate Secretary at Radius Health, Inc., a publicly traded commercial-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on the areas of osteoporosis and oncology. While at Radius, Brent had responsibility for the legal, intellectual property, contracts management, compliance, regulatory, and quality assurance functions, and helped build the company from a development-stage company to a commercial organization. Previously, he served as SVP and Chief Legal Counsel at Merz Pharma, an international healthcare company, in Frankfurt, Germany, where he had global responsibility for the legal, IP, and compliance functions. Brent began his legal career in private practice and later held senior legal positions in the U.S. and internationally, including as General Counsel to two publicly traded development-stage German biopharmaceutical companies, European legal counsel for Baxter International, and Associate General Counsel of Pharmacia Corporation.
Brent holds a Juris Doctor from George Washington University and was a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Cologne, Germany. He received his B.A. in International Relations from the University of Delaware.
Christopher Roberts, Ph.D. – Chief Scientific Officer
As Black Diamond’s Chief Scientific Officer, Chris Roberts, Ph.D., brings more than two decades of experience leading discovery and development functions and clinical development projects for multiple therapies in oncology and immunology, among other areas. He joined Black Diamond from SR One, the corporate venture capital arm of GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), where he was an Entrepreneur in Residence.
Previously, Chris was the Vice President (VP) of Chemistry and Early Development at Syros Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a publicly traded biotechnology company focused on gene control and drugging transcription, where he built and led a variety of discovery and development functions and helped guide two oncology assets into clinical development. Prior to joining Syros, Chris held numerous positions of increasing responsibility at GSK, including VP and Head of the Host Defense Discovery Performance Unit, and also led multiple clinical development projects. He joined GSK as Senior Director of Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) Medicinal Chemistry via its acquisition of Genelabs Technologies. As a medicinal chemist at Genelabs, Chris was significantly involved in establishing Genelabs’ HCV research focus. His work has been extensively published.
Chris earned a Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from the University of California, Riverside, and completed a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Bern, Switzerland. He graduated with a B.A. in Chemistry from Whitworth University.
Thomas (Tommy) Leggett – Chief Financial Officer
Tommy Leggett brings nearly two decades of multi-disciplinary experience leading, obtaining financing for, and advising life science companies. As Black Diamond’s Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Tommy oversees all of the Company’s financial operations including financial strategy, investor relations, accounting operations, financial planning and analysis, tax and treasury.
He joined Black Diamond from Axcella Health, where Tommy was Senior Vice President of Finance and CFO. During his tenure at Axcella, Tommy was influential in three of Axcella’s financings, including its initial public offering in May 2019. Before joining Axcella, Tommy was Treasurer and Head of Business Development Finance at Purdue Pharma, L.P. Previously, he was an investment banker for the healthcare groups at J.P. Morgan Securities, Lazard Frères & Company, and UBS Securities, respectively.
Tommy holds an M.B.A. in Finance from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and a B.A. in Economics from Columbia University.
Karsten Witt, M.D., Senior Vice President of Clinical Development
As Black Diamond’s Senior Vice President of Clinical Development, Karsten Witt is responsible for the Company’s clinical and regulatory strategies as it transitions into a clinical-stage organization. He brings more than 30 years of clinical development and regulatory affairs experience in the areas of oncology and inflammatory disease.. Prior to joining Black Diamond, Karsten served as Vice President, Clinical Sciences & Drug Safety at Array BioPharma, and as Senior Vice President, Pharmaceutical Operations at OSI Pharmaceuticals, where he was involved in the development of small-molecule targeted oncology therapies. He has served on executive management and global development committees, and as a chair of scientific committee for TopoTarget, a Copenhagen-based biotechnology company, until its merger with BioAlliance, which resulted in the formation of Onxeo.
Karsten earned his M.D. from the University of Copenhagen and practiced medicine at Hvidovre University Hospital in Copenhagen in the internal medicine subspecialties of gastroenterology, infectious disease, and cardiology, before transitioning to the biopharmaceutical industry.
Matt Lucas, Ph.D. – Vice President, Chemistry
Matt Lucas has more than 17 years of drug discovery experience at small and mid-sized biotech companies and large pharmaceutical organizations. Prior to joining Black Diamond, he served as Senior Director of Chemistry at Yumanity Therapeutics. Before that, Matt served as Director of Chemistry at Cubist Pharmaceuticals, and as Head of Exploratory Inflammation Chemistry at Roche. He has led multiple projects from discovery into clinical development, and worked in numerous therapeutic areas including oncology, immunology, anti-infectives, pain, cardiovascular, and neuroscience.
An author of dozens of patent applications and scientific articles, Matt earned his Ph.D. in Chemistry and Biochemistry from the University of Southampton, UK, and completed postdoctoral research at Florida State University.
Tai-An Lin, Ph.D. – Vice President and Head of Biology
Tai-An Lin, Ph.D., is an accomplished leader in drug discovery and translational research, with extensive global pharmaceutical experience in advancing multiple drug discovery programs from target identification to early clinical trials in oncology, immuno-oncology (IO), and immunology. Prior to joining Black Diamond, he was Director of IO Translational Innovation Platform and Experimental Medicine at Merck KGaA/EMD Serono, where he led IO, biomarker, and precision medicine efforts. For 20 years prior, Tai-An led multidisciplinary drug discovery teams at Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS), Roche, and Janssen Pharmaceuticals.
A co-inventor of more than a dozen patents who is widely published, Tai-An completed his postdoctoral fellowship at Washington University in St. Louis after earning his Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the University of Missouri-Columbia. He received a B.S. in Food Science from Tunghai University, Taiwan.
Nigel Waters, Ph.D., DABT – Vice President, Preclinical Development
Nigel Waters joined Black Diamond Therapeutics as Vice President, Preclinical Development in April 2019, and is responsible for all nonclinical development activities, including clinical pharmacology. With more than 15 years of drug discovery and development experience, Nigel is well-versed in building and leading Nonclinical Development teams within biotech organizations having previously held positions of increasing responsibility at Epizyme, Syros Pharmaceuticals, and Relay Therapeutics. He spent his early career in pharmaceutical research and development with AstraZeneca and Novartis. Nigel has contributed to the discovery and development of multiple novel agents, particularly in oncology, including asciminib and tazemetostat, and coauthored more than fifty peer reviewed papers, book chapters and patents, in the areas of drug discovery, drug metabolism, clinical pharmacology and preclinical safety assessment.
Nigel earned a Ph.D. in Chemistry at Imperial College London and is a Diplomate of the American Board of Toxicology (DABT). He received a B.Sc. Honours Degree in Biochemistry and Associateship of the Royal College of Science from Imperial College, London.