About us

Disc Medicine is a hematology company harnessing new insights in hepcidin biology to address ineffective red blood cell production (erythropoiesis). Focused on the hepcidin pathway, the master regulator of iron metabolism, Disc is advancing first-in-class therapies to transform the treatment of hematologic disease.

Disc Team

Donald W Nicholson

Donald W Nicholson, PhD
Executive Chairman of the Board of Directors

Don is a medical scientist / entrepreneur with deep experience in both BioTech and large Pharma. Most recently he was the CEO of Nimbus Therapeutics, a computational sciences-based drug discovery BioTech focusing on immunology, metabolic diseases and oncology. Prior to that, he spent 25 years at Merck, culminating his career there as VP & Worldwide Discovery Head for multiple therapeutic areas (immunology, respiratory, endocrine, bone, muscle, urology & anemia). He received his Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the University of Western Ontario, and trained as an MRC post-doctoral fellow at the University of Munich. Don has co-authored more than 150 publications and is the recipient of multiple academic and professional honors. He is also a member of the Board of Directors of Kymera, Generation Bio, Jnana and NodThera.

John Quisel

John Quisel
Chief Executive Officer

John is the CEO of Disc Medicine. Previously, John was Chief Business Officer at Acceleron Pharma, where he spent more than thirteen years helping to build the company from a privately-held startup to a public biotech with a market cap of approximately $5 billion. At Acceleron, John served in various roles including General Counsel, Senior Vice President of Corporate Development and finally Executive Vice President and Chief Business Officer. John led the in-licensing of sotatercept for pulmonary hypertension from Bristol-Myers Squibb and helped negotiate the collaboration agreement governing the development and commercialization of luspatercept (now marketed as Reblozyl®️). Prior to Acceleron, John worked at the law firms of Ropes & Gray and Foley Hoag. He received his undergraduate degree from Harvard College, summa cum laude, MSc from Stanford University, PhD from MIT in Biological Sciences, and JD from Harvard Law School.

Brian MacDonald

Brian MacDonald, MB, ChB, PhD
Founder and Senior Advisor

Brian is the founding CEO of Disc Medicine and has founded two companies engaged in the discovery and development of hepcidin-targeting therapeutics. Prior to Disc Medicine he was the Founder and CEO of Merganser Biotech working on minihepcidin peptides. He has 25 years of drug development and executive management experience in a range of different therapeutic areas at companies that include Zelos Therapeutics, 3-Dimensional Pharmaceuticals and GlaxoSmithKline. He is a research physician with an academic and clinical background in musculoskeletal biology and rheumatology. He received his MB, ChB and PhD from the University of Sheffield and is a Member of the Royal College of Physicians

Maria Beconi

Maria Beconi, PhD
SVP, Translational R&D

Maria is the Senior Vice President of Translational R&D. Prior to joining Disc Medicine she held leadership positions in startup biotechs (Goldfinch Bio and Retrophin) and large pharmaceutical companies (Abbott and Merck). She brings over 20 years of experience in research and development and has supported many successful international regulatory submissions and registrations in multiple therapeutic areas. She was a key contributor to the elucidation of the mechanisms of toxicity of a chemical class of DPP-IV inhibitors, which led to the discovery of Sitagliptin. Dr. Beconi, a native of Argentina, received a Ph.D. in Biochemistry from Michigan State University. She has authored and co‑authored over 50 peer-reviewed articles and meeting presentations.

Srikanth Venkatraman

Srikanth Venkatraman, PhD
SVP, Head of Chemistry

Srikanth is the Senior Vice President of Medicinal Chemistry and has twenty years of research experience in medicinal chemistry and drug discovery with particular expertise in the design of novel protease inhibitors. Prior to joining Disc Medicine, he worked at Schering Plough (later Merck) where he was the co-inventor of Victrelis and Arlansa, first generation HCV protease inhibitors. For these accomplishments, he received the Heroes of Chemistry award from the American Chemical Society. Srikanth received his doctoral degree from the University of Pittsburgh and did his postdoctoral training at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign.

Joanne Bryce

Joanne Bryce, CPA
Consultant, Chief Financial Officer

Joanne brings over 25 years of experience leading the finance and operations organizations of early-stage companies. She previously served as chief financial officer of Quartet Medicine, a biotechnology company that focused on developing novel treatments for chronic pain. Prior to her career in the biotechnology industry, Joanne held chief financial officer roles at a number of technology companies, including WiTricity, Speedy Packets and Narrative Communications, where she led the finance role in the sale of Narrative to At Home Corp. Joanne began her career at Arthur Andersen & Co. and is a certified public accountant licensed in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Joanne holds a B.S. from Babson College.

Board of Directors



Donald W Nicholson, PhD
Executive Chairman of the Board of Directors

Donald W Nicholson, PhD
Executive Chairman of the Board of Directors

Don is a medical scientist / entrepreneur with deep experience in both BioTech and large Pharma. Most recently he was the CEO of Nimbus Therapeutics, a computational sciences-based drug discovery BioTech focusing on immunology, metabolic diseases and oncology. Prior to that, he spent 25 years at Merck, culminating his career there as VP & Worldwide Discovery Head for multiple therapeutic areas (immunology, respiratory, endocrine, bone, muscle, urology & anemia). He received his Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the University of Western Ontario, and trained as an MRC post-doctoral fellow at the University of Munich. Don has co-authored more than 150 publications and is the recipient of multiple academic and professional honors. He is also a member of the Board of Directors of Kymera, Generation Bio, Jnana and NodThera.

John Quisel
Chief Executive Officer

John Quisel
Chief Executive Officer

John is the CEO of Disc Medicine. Previously, John was Chief Business Officer at Acceleron Pharma, where he spent more than thirteen years helping to build the company from a privately-held startup to a public biotech with a market cap of approximately $5 billion. At Acceleron, John served in various roles including General Counsel, Senior Vice President of Corporate Development and finally Executive Vice President and Chief Business Officer. John led the in-licensing of sotatercept for pulmonary hypertension from Bristol-Myers Squibb and helped negotiate the collaboration agreement governing the development and commercialization of luspatercept (now marketed as Reblozyl®️). Prior to Acceleron, John worked at the law firms of Ropes & Gray and Foley Hoag. He received his undergraduate degree from Harvard College, summa cum laude, MSc from Stanford University, PhD from MIT in Biological Sciences, and JD from Harvard Law School.

Kevin Bitterman, PhD
Partner, Atlas Venture

Kevin Bitterman, PhD
Partner, Atlas Venture

Kevin Bitterman focuses on creating and investing in companies that translate groundbreaking science into innovative medicines. Kevin serves on the boards of Akero Therapeutics (NASDAQ: AKRO) and Navitor Pharmaceuticals. He is a co-founder and board member of Disc Therapeutics, and is chair of the board of Vedere Bio. He was the founding CEO of Editas Medicine (NASDAQ: EDIT), Morphic Therapeutic and Visterra (acquired by Otsuka), and co-founded Genocea Biosciences (NASDAQ: GNCA). Prior to joining Atlas Venture in 2017, Kevin was a partner at Polaris Partners, where he had been a member of the healthcare team since 2004. Kevin received a BA in biology, summa cum laude, from Rutgers University before completing his PhD in genetics at Harvard Medical School.

Liam Ratcliffe, MD, PhD
Access Biotechnology

Nilesh Kumar, PhD, MBA
Novo Ventures

Nilesh Kumar, PhD, MBA
Novo Ventures

Nilesh Kumar is a Partner at Novo Ventures and is responsible for investments in Morphic Therapeutics (NASDAQ:MORF), Milestone Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:MIST), Tarveda, Anokion, Cirius and Rgenix. Prior to joining Novo, Nilesh was Senior Director at Merck Ventures where he invested in early stage life science companies. He led the initial investments and served on the Boards of Padlock Therapeutics (acquired by BMS), f-Star, RaNA Therapeutics (NASDAQ:TBIO) and Auxogyn (NASDAQ:PGNY).

Nilesh received his PhD from the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Harvard University. He holds an MBA from Harvard University, and completed his undergraduate degree in Natural Sciences at the University of Cambridge, UK.

Brian MacDonald, MB, ChB, PhD
Disc Medicine

Scientific Advisory Board



Stefano Rivella, PhD
The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

Stefano Rivella, PhD
Research Faculty, Hematology
The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

Dr. Rivella has a long-term expertise in the pathophysiology and genetics of several disease of hematopoiesis-, inflammation-, and iron-related disorders as well as in the use of new drugs for for the cure of hemoglobinopathies. He characterized the role of seminal factors contributing to the morbidity and mortality in ß-thalassemia, sickle cell anemia, Polycythemia vera, hemochromatosis and in anemia of inflammation, such as such hepcidin, intereleukin-2 and ferroportin, the phosphokinase Jak2 and macrophages. For his research, Dr. Rivella has been awarded the New Investigator Award at the International Society of Experimental Hematology, the Sultan bin Khalifa International Thalassemia Federation Award, the Marcel Simon Award from the International BioIron Society (IBIS), numerous travel and fellowship awards from several international scientific societies, grants from the Cooley’s Anemia Foundation, Roche Foundation for Anemia Research (RoFAR) and 8 grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) as a PI.

Mark Fleming MD, DPhil
Boston Children's Hospital Harvard Medical School

Mark Fleming, MD, DPhil
Pathologist-in-Chief, Department of Pathology
S. Burt Wolbach Professor of Pathology, Harvard Medical School

Dr. Fleming hematological pathologist, who has been involved in iron metabolism research for >25 years. His research focuses on the area of iron and hematology. He has lead or has been involved in multiple discoveries in this domain, including the description of the transmembrane iron transporter DMT1/SLC11A2, the identification of the transferrin cycle endosomal ferrireductase STEAP3, the detection of mutations in TMPRSS6 in individuals with iron refractory iron deficiency anemia (IRIDA), as well as finding multiple genes responsible for novel forms of congenital sideroblastic anemia.

Uma Sinha, PhD
BridgeBio Pharmaceuticals

Uma Sinha, PhD
CSO at BridgeBio Pharma
Former CSO Global Blood Therapeutics

Uma Sinha PhD has served as Chief Scientific Officer of BridgeBio Pharma since April 2016. Previously, Dr Sinha served as CSO of Global Blood Therapeutics. She has extensive experience in discovery and preclinical development of agents involved in treatment of hematologic, cardiovascular and inflammatory diseases. At GBT, Dr. Sinha supervised activities related to development of Voxelotor for sickle cell disease. Dr Sinha and her team were responsible for initiation and progression of programs leading to development of Bevyxxa and Andexxa at Portola Pharmaceuticals

Srdan Verstovsek, MD, PhD
The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

Srdan Verstovsek, MD, PhD
United Energy Resources, Inc. Professor of Medicine, Department of Leukemia
The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX

Dr. Verstovsek is a distinguished hematologist-oncologist and global leader in myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPN). He is the founder and Director of the largest MPN Clinical Research Center worldwide, and has led over 60 clinical trials. He achieved international acclaim for his leadership in developing landmark therapeutics for MPN, which had a paucity of treatments prior to his era. He has published more than 500 articles in prominent medical journals. His profound contributions have been globally recognized with distinguished awards and numerous invitations as an expert speaker.

Discovery Advisory Board



Patrick Y.S. Lam, PhD
Distinguished Professor Baruch S. Blumberg Institute
Former Director, Medicinal Chemistry, Bristol-Myers Squibb

Patrick Y.S. Lam, PhD
Distinguished Professor, Baruch S. Blumberg Institute
Former Director, Medicinal Chemistry, Bristol-Myers Squibb

Drug discovery expert. Group leader/co-inventor responsible for the discovery of Eliquis®/Apixaban, a novel Factor Xa anticoagulant with the highest 2018 annual sales of all small-molecule drugs. In 2015, the Eliquis discovery team received the American Chemical Society Heroes of Chemistry Award for the benefits to human welfare. Responsible for discovery a total of eight clinical candidates. Co-discoverer of the powerful Chan-Lam Coupling Reaction, a complementary reaction to Nobel-Prize winning Suzuki-Miyaura Coupling Reaction.

Malcolm MacCoss, PhD, FRSC.
Visiting Professor of Chemistry for Medicine, University of Oxford, UK
Former Vice President, Basic Research Basic Chemistry, Merck Research Labs

Malcolm MacCoss, PhD, FRSC.
Visiting Professor of Chemistry for Medicine, University of Oxford, UK
Former Vice President, Basic Research Basic Chemistry, Merck Research Labs

Dr. Malcolm MacCoss is the Founder of Bohicket Pharma Consulting LLC and currently, Visiting Professor of Chemistry for Medicine at the University of Oxford, UK. In 1976, he joined Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois. Dr. MacCoss began his pharma career at Merck as a Research Fellow in 1982, becoming Vice President, Basic Chemistry-Rahway in 1999. In 2008, Dr. MacCoss joined the Schering-Plough Research Institute as Group Vice President for Chemical Research. He serves on the SABs of Gilead and OxStem, and he has two Thomas Edison Awards; in 2009 he was inducted into the ACS Med Chem Hall of Fame.

John McCall, PhD
Vice President Research, Reveragen Pharma
Former Vice President Chemistry, Pharmacia

John McCall, PhD
Vice President Research, Reveragen Pharma
Former Vice President Chemistry, Pharmacia

John was Director of CNS Research with Upjohn and Vice President and Global Head of Chemistry for Pharmacia and Pharmacia & Upjohn and Vice President Research with Pfizer. John left big pharma in 2004. He serves on the NIH Blueprint and NeuroNEXT Steering Committees. John also serves on nine other administrative and scientific advisory boards and consults. He cofounded Reveragen Biopharma. Reveragen is now in Phase 3 in treating Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

Rick Keenan, PhD
Former Vice President Drug Discovery, GlaxoSmithKline

Rick Keenan, PhD
Former Vice President Drug Discovery, GlaxoSmithKline

Rick Keenan has over 30 years experience in drug discovery including nine years as a drug discovery consultant working with biotech, venture capital, philanthropic groups and large pharmaceutical company clients. Rick brings a critical approach to scientific problem solving derived from an integrated understanding of the entire drug discovery and development process. Over the course of his research career in medicinal chemistry, he has contributed directly to the discovery of numerous clinical development compounds from a variety of therapeutic areas, including two marketed drugs.

Thomas A. Baillie, PhD, DSc.
Professor and Dean Emeritus, School of Pharmacy, University of Washington
Former Vice President, Merck Research Labs

Thomas A. Baillie, PhD, DSc.
Professor and Dean Emeritus, School of Pharmacy, University of Washington
Former Vice President, Merck Research Labs

Dr. Baillie received PhD and DSc degrees in chemistry from the University of Glasgow, Scotland, before conducting postdoctoral studies at the Karolinska Institute in Stockhom, Sweden. This was followed by faculty appointments at the University of London, UK, UC San Francisco, and University of Washington, Seattle, where his major research interests centered on the application of mass spectrometry and allied techniques to the analysis of chemically reactive, toxic drug metabolites. Dr. Baillie also served 14 years as Global VP of Drug Metabolism for Merck Research Laboratories.

Alan Kaplan, PhD
Former Senior Director of Chemistry, Dart Neuroscience

Alan Kaplan, PhD
Former Senior Director of Chemistry, Dart Neuroscience

Dr. Kaplan was Senior Director of Chemistry at Dart NeuroScience, a company focused on treating cognitive dysfunction, with responsibilities for CMC activities in support of clinical development programs. Prior to a merge with Dart, he was Senior Director of Chemistry at Helicon Therapeutics, leading efforts in medicinal chemistry and CMC. Before joining Helicon, he was Director of Chemistry at ArQule. Dr. Kaplan received his BA in chemistry at Northwestern University before attaining his PhD from UC-Berkeley. He completed his academic trainings as a post-doc at Harvard University.