Management Team

We have assembled a team of senior executives with significant experience in the anti-infective market and a track record of successfully developing and commercializing many anti-infective products.

Jeffrey Stein, Ph.D.

President and Chief Executive Officer

Dr. Stein has been President, CEO and Director of Cidara since January 2014. Previously he was CEO of Trius Therapeutics, Inc. from 2007 until its acquisition by Cubist Pharmaceuticals, Inc. in September 2013. During his tenure, Trius developed the antibacterial drug tedizolid, which received marketing approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in June 2014. Tedizolid is now marketed by Merck under the name Sivextro. Dr. Stein currently serves as a Director of Paratek Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: PRTK) and Ideaya Biosciences. He is also founding Chairman and President of the Antimicrobials Working Group, an industry leading 501(c)(6) organization. Previously, Dr. Stein was a Venture Partner and Kauffman Fellow with Sofinnova Ventures and opened the firm’s San Diego office in 2005. Prior to joining Sofinnova Ventures, Dr. Stein was co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer of Quorex Pharmaceuticals, which was acquired by Pfizer Pharmaceuticals in 2005. He has also served as a Principal Scientist with Diversa Corporation and the Agouron Institute. Dr. Stein conducted his postdoctoral research as an Alexander Hollaender Distinguished Postdoctoral Fellow at the California Institute of Technology and his graduate work as a NASA Graduate Student Researcher Fellow at the University of California, San Diego.

Taylor Sandison, M.D., M.P.H.

Chief Medical Officer

Dr. Sandison has been with Cidara since October 2015. He has extensive experience in anti-infective clinical trials and drug development in both academia and industry. Prior to joining the company, he served as senior medical director at Merck and prior to that held the same position at Cubist Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Dr. Sandison has also held positions at Trius Therapeutics and Novartis Diagnostics, and served as a member of the faculty in the Department of Medicine at both Stanford University and the University of Washington. He received B.S. and B.A. degrees from Dartmouth College, M.D. and M.P.H. degrees from the University of Washington, and a Diploma in Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (DTM&H) from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. He completed internal medicine residency training at the University of Colorado and infectious diseases fellowship training at the University of Washington. Dr. Sandison currently holds board certifications in Infectious Diseases and Internal Medicine.

Paul Daruwala

Chief Operating Officer

Mr. Daruwala has over 25 years of experience in the biopharmaceutical industry and leads multiple facets of Cidara’s operations and strategy, including portfolio and commercial strategy, manufacturing, medical affairs and corporate communications. Prior to joining Cidara in 2014, Mr. Daruwala was at Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, where he served as Vice President of the U.S. Viral Hepatitis Franchise and was responsible for leading the U.S. launch in HCV and running the HBV business for BARACLUDE. Prior to Bristol-Myers Squibb, Mr. Daruwala served as Vice President Commercial & Strategic Management at Vertex Pharmaceuticals, where he helped lead the U.S. launch of INCIVEK for HCV. At the time, INCIVEK became the fastest drug launch to achieve blockbuster status. Mr. Daruwala had previously spent 18 years at Merck in U.S. and global commercial leadership roles in antivirals, antifungals, anti-inflammatory products, business development and evaluation in anti-infectives and oncology, managed markets and sales management. Among these, he led the global commercialization efforts for the first approved echinocandin antifungal drug, caspofungin acetate (CANCIDAS). Paul received his degree in pharmacy from the University of Kentucky.

Neil Abdollahian, M.S., M.B.A.

Chief Business Officer

Mr. Abdollahian has over 16 years of corporate strategy, partnering and M&A experience in the biopharmaceutical industry and leads Cidara’s business development strategy and execution. Prior to joining Cidara, Mr. Abdollahian was Managing Director of Clarity Point Partners, a strategic advisory firm focused on managing corporate licensing efforts, product acquisitions and technology spin-outs for a number of biopharmaceutical companies. From 2008 to 2013, he served as Vice President of Corporate Development at Trius Therapeutics, where he led the corporate partnering initiatives that resulted in the Asia-Pacific and emerging markets strategic partnership with Bayer Healthcare, and ultimately, the acquisition by Cubist Pharmaceuticals in 2013. In 2008, Mr. Abdollahian served as Director of Special Projects in a biopharmaceutical focused investment bank in Sydney, Australia, and from 2001 to 2007, he held various business development positions focused on closing high-value transactions while at Avanir Pharmaceuticals, Isis Pharmaceuticals and Neurogen Corporation. Mr. Abdollahian holds an M.B.A. from Pepperdine University, an M.S. in the biomedical sciences from the University of New Mexico Medical School and a B.S. in biology from the George Washington University.

Matt Onaitis, J.D.

Chief Financial Officer, General Counsel and Secretary

Mr. Onaitis brings a wealth of public company general counsel experience to Cidara. Prior to joining Cidara, Mr. Onaitis was General Counsel and Secretary of Ignyta. Previously, he was General Counsel and Secretary of Trius Therapeutics, Inc. from May 2013 through its acquisition by Cubist Pharmaceuticals, Inc. in September 2013. Following the acquisition Mr. Onaitis remained with Cubist assisting with the integration through December 2013. Mr. Onaitis was Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary at Somaxon Pharmaceuticals from May 2006 through Somaxon’s acquisition by Pernix Therapeutics Holdings in March 2013. Prior to Somaxon, Mr. Onaitis served as Associate General Counsel at Biogen Idec, as Director, Legal Affairs at Elan Corporation, and in private practice specializing in corporate and commercial law. Mr. Onaitis is a director of SNP Bio, Inc. Mr. Onaitis holds a J.D. from Stanford Law School and a B.S. in mechanical engineering from Carnegie Mellon University.

Carmen Betancourt, M.B.A.

Senior Vice President, Regulatory Affairs and Quality Assurance

Ms. Betancourt has brought over 40 years of development experience in the biopharmaceutical industry to Cidara Therapeutics since 2014, leading the Regulatory Affairs strategy and overseeing the Quality Assurance function. Ms. Betancourt brings a broad regulatory expertise in drug development across multiple therapeutic areas, principally including indications focused on anti-infectives, metabolic, oncology, cardiovascular, and pulmonary, as well as broad range of product types including genetically engineered and naturally derived biological proteins, small molecules, vaccines and drug/device combination products. Prior to joining Cidara, she was the managing member and senior regulatory advisor to the pharmaceutical industry, advising clients in regulatory strategy and implementation of development programs from pre-IND through Phase 3, as well as preparation and submission U.S. and international investigational and marketing applications. Ms. Betancourt began her career in the pharmaceutical industry in 1977 where she served for 15 years at Bayer AG (Cutter Biologicals), focused primarily on international regulatory affairs with responsibility for maintaining registrations for Bayer’s commercial plasma product portfolio. She left Bayer in 1992 to take a position in international regulatory affairs at Genentech, where she was responsible for managing the international regulatory programs for PULMOZYME, HERCEPTIN and RITUXAN. She joined Coulter Pharmaceutical in 1997 and led the regulatory strategy for development and BLA filing for BEXXAR, and went on to serve as Vice President of Regulatory at Titan Pharmaceuticals, KaloBios Pharmaceuticals, Cerexa Inc., and Sangart. She also served as a senior regulatory advisor to BioMarin Pharmaceuticals. Ms. Betancourt holds an MBA in International Corporate Management from Golden Gate University, and a B.S. in Biological Sciences from the University of California at Davis.

Les Tari, Ph.D.

Vice President, Discovery Research

Dr. Tari has over 19 years of experience in early stage drug discovery in both industry and academia. He has led a number of discovery programs and is an author or inventor on over 50 publications and patents. Previous to Cidara, Dr. Tari held positions of increasing responsibility at Trius Therapeutics from 2007 until its acquisition by Cubist Pharmaceuticals in 2013. At Trius, Dr. Tari led the efforts to generate and advance a novel class of dual-targeting broad spectrum antibacterial agents. Prior to Trius, Dr. Tari was a co-founder and Director of Structural Biology from 2003 to 2007 at ActiveSight Inc., where he led all research efforts in inflammation and oncology. From 2001 until 2003, Dr. Tari was a member of the scientific staff during the start-up phase of Syrrx Inc., where he participated in the design and development of the first industrial high-throughput structural genomics platform that aided in the discovery of Alogliptin, subsequently approved for the treatment of type II diabetes. Previous to his career in industry, Dr. Tari held an academic position as an Alberta Heritage Foundation Scholar for Medical Research at the University of Calgary, where he conducted research focused on antibiotic discovery. Dr. Tari holds a B.Sc. in Chemistry, and a Ph.D. in Chemistry and Structural Biology from the University of Manitoba.

Laura Navalta

Senior Vice President of Clinical Operations

Ms. Navalta has over 30 years of extensive experience in the clinical operations arena and heads Cidara Therapeutics’ clinical trials team. Prior to joining Cidara, she was responsible for leading clinical, regulatory and project management functions, while serving as Chief Operating Officer at C3 Jian Therapeutics and Novalar Pharmaceuticals. Ms. Navalta also served as Executive Director of Clinical Operations at Vical, Inc. and was responsible for all clinical trials in the oncology and infectious disease programs. She has also held management positions at Baxter Healthcare Corporation where she was the Senior Director of Global Clinical Operations, BioScience Division, overseeing the company’s global clinical studies involving coagulation disorders, biosurgery and critical care areas. Ms. Navalta has served in clinical operations senior advisory roles across multiple therapeutic areas and all phases of drug development. Ms. Navalta received her B.A. in Developmental Psychology from the University of Southern California.