Gaurav Shah, MD
Chief Executive Officer & President

Gaurav Shah serves as Chief Executive Officer and President of Rocket Pharma. Prior to this role Gaurav was a Global Program Head in the Cell & Gene Therapies Unit at Novartis, where he had strategic oversight of 12 functions and helped spearhead pivotal trials with CART-19 for patients with leukemia and lymphoma. Earlier roles at Novartis included Global Clinical Program Head for CART-19 and for Biosimilars, and lead physician for Afinitor in several global oncology submissions. Gaurav started his career in industry at ImClone/Eli Lilly as a Medical Director overseeing oncology trials focused on monoclonal antibodies.

Gaurav graduated from Harvard College (summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa) with a degree in Behavioral Neuroscience. He received his MD from Columbia (AOA), completed his internal medicine residency at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and hematology/oncology fellowship training at Memorial-Sloan Kettering. After receiving board certification in medical oncology, he served as an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Oncology at Columbia.

Gaurav also has a passion for Indian classical music and has toured extensively including performances at Carnegie Hall and on National Geographic TV, and a feature in the Smithsonian.

Jonathan Schwartz, MD
Chief Medical Officer & Head of Clinical Development

Jonathan Schwartz is Chief Medical Officer and Head of Clinical Development for Rocket Pharma. Jonathan was most recently Vice President for Clinical Development at Stemline Therapeutics where he oversaw early development efforts for anticancer immunoconjugate, vaccine and small-molecule platforms.  Prior to his role at Stemline, Jonathan had a seven year tenure at ImClone/Eli Lilly, where he oversaw the development of the antiangiogenic monoclonal antibody Ramucirumab (CYRAMZA) from end-of-phase-1 through a phase 3 program resulting in stomach, lung and colorectal cancer approvals by the FDA and international health authorities.  Jonathan has also participated in multistage development of several additional monoclonal antibodies.

Prior to joining the industry, Jonathan was Associate Professor of Medicine at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York, specializing in the treatment and translational research of hepatobiliary malignancies; he was also Director for the Hematology-Oncology Fellowship training program.  Jonathan received a BA in American Civilization from Brown University and an MD from Washington University in St. Louis.  He completed post-graduate Internal Medicine and Hematology-Oncology training at the Mount Sinai and New York Presbyterian Hospitals.  Jonathan enjoys running, cooking and gardening and is a foremost authority on 1970s soul and funk music.

Kinnari Patel, PharmD, MBA
Chief Operating Officer & Head of Development

Kinnari Patel is a Chief Operating Officer and Head of Development for Rocket Pharma. She has fifteen years of rare disease Research & Development experience including in Regulatory Science, Pharmacovigilance, Policy and Quality Compliance gained at leading pharmaceutical companies including AstraZeneca, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Novartis, Hoffmann La-Roche and Pfizer. She has led both small molecule and biologic development programs from Phase I through Phase IV across multiple therapeutic areas including immuno-oncology, oncology, respiratory, virology, transplantation and metabolism.  Most notably, Kinnari has worked on Opdivo (nivolumab) from Phase I through BLA filing for metastatic melanoma, RCC and NSCLC, submitted and gained approval of Myalept (metreleptin) for ultra-rare lipodystrophy disease, and submitted Valcyte® (valganciclovir hydrochloride) NDA for prevention of cytomegalovirus disease in pediatric kidney and heart transplant patients.

Kinnari received the dual degrees of B.S. in Biology and Doctorate of Pharmacy from the USciences in Philadelphia, PA. She also completed a two-year Post-Doctoral Regulatory Affairs Fellowship through Rutgers University. Most recently, she received her Executive MBA from NYU Stern School of Business with specialization in Corporate Finance, Leadership and Strategy.

In her spare time, Kinnari has a passion for mentoring, teaching and volunteering for non-profit organizations.

Raj Prabhakar, MBA
SVP. Business Operations & Corporate Strategy

Raj Prabhakar is Head of Business Operations and Corporate Strategy for Rocket Pharma. Raj has 20 years of broad experience in the biopharmaceutical sector including the last 16 years at clinical development-stage biotech companies.  Raj comes to Rocket from Caladrius Biosciences, which through the subsidiary PCT as well as proprietary Regulatory T-cell and CD34 cell therapy programs, had direct hand-on business and operating experience in clinical-stage autologous ex-vivo cell and cell-based gene therapy programs.  Prior to Caladrius Raj spent nearly ten years at Celsion Corporation leading multiple oncology candidates from Phase I through Phase III pivotal programs, spanning platforms including small and large molecules, including oligonucleotides and in-vivo non-viral gene therapy approaches to cancer.   Prior to holding strategic planning and business development roles, Raj has also worked in clinical program management, manufacturing and operations.  Raj has also worked at non-profit organizations such as PATH Vaccine Development Program, and private-staged companies such as Osiris Therapeutics and Protiveris.  

Raj hold dual bachelor of sciences degrees in Biology and Mechanical Engineering from MIT and an MBA from the Harvard Business School.

Claudine Prowse, PhD
SVP Corporate Development & IRO

Claudine Prowse joined Rocket in 2018 as SVP, Head of Investor Relations and Corporate Development. Prior to this role, she was Vice President of Strategy, Corporate Development and IRO at Inotek, where she identified and spearheaded the merger transaction with Rocket Pharma.

Claudine has 18 years of experience in the biotechnology industry spanning small, mid and large cap biotech companies. She served in similar Strategy and Investor Relations roles at Inotek, Biogen, Human Genome Sciences; and Ionis Pharmaceuticals, as well as Vice President and Product Manager of Medacorp, Leerink Swann.

Claudine holds a BS in Biomedical Engineering from the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) School of Engineering and a PhD in Biomedical Sciences from the UCSD School of Medicine. Claudine also has a passion for Tae Kwon Do, and has competed in various competitive sports activities.

John Militello, CPA
Controller, Principal Financial & Accounting Office

Mr. Militello joined the Company in January 2018 as Controller and serves as principal financial officer and principal accounting officer.  From April 2015 to November 2017, Mr. Militello worked at Immune Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a publicly traded biotechnology company, where he most recently served as VP of Finance and Controller and served as the principal financial officer.  Prior to that, Mr. Militello was an Assistant Controller with Retrophin, Inc., a San Diego based biotech company, and the Manager, External Reporting & Compliance at Volt Information Sciences, Inc., a publicly traded staffing company. Prior to Volt Information Sciences, Inc., Mr. Militello was a Senior Manager with BDO USA, LLP serving multi-national SEC registrants and a member of the Life Sciences Practice. Mr. Militello is a Certified Public Accountant and earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from St. Joseph’s College.

Christopher Ballas, PhD
Vice President of Manufacturing

Chris brings over 20 years’ experience working on cell and gene therapies.  Most recently he served as Senior Director of Process Development and Commercialization for WuXi Apptec after having had responsibility there for Manufacturing Operations and Program Management for gene therapy clients.  Chris was responsible for key programs including CAR-T, TIL, and classic CD34+ stem cell gene therapy.

Previously Chris was responsible for running autologous cell therapy clinical trials for Cook Medical which included several different indications and studies from feasibility through Phase III/pivotal.  Prior to Cook, Chris was at the Indiana University School of Medicine in several roles. He developed the initial, scalable, clinical production capabilities for lentiviral vector at the IU Vector Production Facility.  He also served as faculty and developed his own research programs on targeting of stem cells for gene therapy which resulted in collaborative development of an ultra-high throughput microinjection device with colleagues at the University of California Riverside (US9885059).  Chris has served as an expert consultant to numerous companies on gene therapy and the production and use of viral vectors for gene therapies with contributions to CMC, regulatory filings, and regulatory meetings.

Chris has a Ph.D. in Cellular and Molecular Pathology from Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and was a Children’s Brittle Bone Foundation Fellow during his post-doctoral fellowship at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine.  He has a passion for driving gene therapy forward by solving the practical challenges associated with producing and using viral vectors to treat genetic diseases.

Deirdre W. O’Donnell
Associate Director, General & Administrative Operations

Deirdre is the Associate Director of General and Administrative Operations for Rocket Pharma. Deirdre was a participant in Goldman Sachs’ 2015 Returnship Program and worked as a freelance personal assistant to a C-level Executive prior to joining Rocket Pharma. Deirdre spent 7 years in Morgan Stanley’s Fixed Income Division initially in the Marketing area responsible for training, event planning, as well as recruiting for both the MBA and Analyst programs before joining the Mortgage-Backed Securities Trading Desk as a marketing Associate.

While taking time off to raise her children, Deirdre was heavily involved in the not-for-profit sector. She has served as an Executive Board member responsible for the planning and execution of seven PGA Tour Majors. In addition, she served as a four-time Board member of the Junior League of Westchester on the Sound and is actively involved with The Furniture Sharehouse, Westchester County’s only furniture bank.

Deirdre is a graduate of Gettysburg College with a BA in Management and a concentration in Finance. An avid golfer, she enjoys the great outdoors, her dog Georgia and spending time with her family.