August 31, 2015

Our team


Miguel de los Rios, Ph.D., FounderChief Executive Officer, Chief Engineering Officer, Board of Directors

Miguel founded RIFT with Cory Bentley in 2015. Trained in protein engineering and polymer biophysical chemistry, Miguel brings both scientific and entrepreneurial expertise to help RIFT pioneer its novel method of breaking cancer immune-based resistance with antibodies. He was formerly Vice President of Research and Development at Sevion Therapeutics, a publicly traded therapeutics company with a focus in oncology and autoimmune disorders.Previously, Miguel founded Chimeros, Inc., a venture-backed biologics therapeutic company, while working to complete his Ph.D. At Chimeros, he served as both the Chief Executive Officer as well as the Chief Scientific Officer from 2003-2011, and was the inventor of the company’s core technologies. He received his Ph.D. in Biophysical Chemistry and a B.S. in Cell Biology, both at UCSB. He also advises several start-up biotechnology companies, venture capital firms, and is a member of the UC Innovation Council, which advises the UC President on building a UC system-wide culture of entrepreneurial innovation. Miguel is lead author or inventor on 50 scientific publications, patents and patent applications. In his spare time, he is working to earn journeyman status as a blacksmith.


Cory Bentley, Ph.D., M.B.A., FounderChief Scientific Officer

Cory founded RIFT to develop antibodies to novel targets on immune cells to overcome cancer immune-based resistance to treatment. Cory has more than 10 years experience in target selection and validation, and antibody discovery and development. Prior to founding RIFT, she was the Director of Discovery at Sevion Therapeutics, previously Fabrus, an antibody discovery company with a focus on autoimmunity and oncology. Cory’s biological insight on target selection, development, and clinical strategy are informed by both her experience in drug development and her work with the Clearity Foundation, improving treatment options for ovarian cancer patients. Cory has a Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences from UCSD, an M.B.A. from UCSD’s Rady School of Management, and a B.A. in Chemistry from Occidental College.


Jeff Pitman, Ph.D., Founder – Research Director

Jeff leads the target discovery and development at RIFT. Jeff has considerable expertise in molecular biology and genetics. Prior to his work at RIFT, Jeff performed postdoctoral research in metabolic disease and genetics at The Scripps Research Institute, and the molecular/developmental genetics of behavior at Brown University and the Salk Institute, where he was an American Cancer Society postdoctoral fellow. Jeff has a Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences from UCSD, and a B.S. in Biology from Harvey Mudd College.


Ian B. Walters, M.D., M.B.A. – Board of Directors (Chairman of the Board)

Dr. Walters joined our board of directors in March, 2017.  Dr. Walters is currently CEO and Executive director of SalvaRx. Additionally, he is an Entrepreneur in Residence at Mediqventures and is part-time CMO of Intensity Therapeutics, Inc. Over his 16-year career, he has demonstrated both leadership and expertise in drug development, including the advancement of multiple cancer compounds from research stages through approval.

Ian specializes in the evaluation, prioritization, and the innovative development of new therapies for the treatment of severe diseases. He has worked at PDL BioPharma, Inc., Millennium Pharmaceuticals, Inc., and Sorrento Therapeutics, Inc., leading corporate development, translational medicine, clinical development and medical affairs.

Ian spent seven years at Bristol-Myers Squibb, where he managed physicians overseeing the international development of more than eight oncology compounds (including nivolumab (anti-PD-1), ipilimumab (anti-CTLA-4), brivanib (anti VEGF/FGF), anti-IGF/IR, VEGFR2 biologic, elotuzumab (antiCS1), as well as biomarker and companion diagnostic work. He was a core member of Bristol- Myers Squibb’s Strategic Transactions Group, evaluating and executing licensing agreements, mergers and acquisitions, clinical collaborations, and the company’s immuno-oncology strategy.

Ian was a lead investigator at the Rockefeller University and initiated advanced immunology research to understand the mechanism of action of several compounds. Ian received his MD from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and an MBA from the Wharton School of The University of Pennsylvania.


Briggs Morrison, M.D. – Board of Directors

Dr. Morrison joined our board of directors in March of 2017.  He currently serves as a managing director of MPM Capital, while also serving as CEO of Syndax Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Briggs has had a fruitful career in pharmaceutical companies as well.  At AstraZeneca, he was head of global medicines development, where he oversaw all clinical development functions and late- stage clinical development projects. As Head of Clinical Development at Pfizer, he oversaw Phase I-III development and operations for all therapeutic areas before being appointed the head of Development, Medical Affairs, Safety and Regulatory Affairs for all Pfizer human health businesses. While serving as head of Oncology Development at Merck, Briggs oversaw the development and approval of vorinostat (Zolinza ®) for the treatment of cutaneous T-cell lymphoma.  Briggs formerly served as Chairman of the Board of Transcelerate, an industry-funded company charged with improving aspects of clinical trials. Briggs received a B.S. in biology from Georgetown University, and an M.D. from the University of Connecticut.