Hands Making a Heart Shape

Our Team

Our founders are highly accomplished scientists, physician scientists and drug development professionals with extensive track record of success in academia, big pharma and biotechnology companies.


Isan Chan

Isan Chen, M.D.

Founder, President & CEO

Dr. Chen is board-certified in internal medicine, hematology, and medical oncology. He has more than 20 years of experience in oncology and clinical trials, from first-in-humans through global Phase 3 studies designed to support regulatory registration.

He also has experience interacting with regulatory agencies in the US and Europe. Prior to MBRACE Therapeutics, Dr. Chen served as the EVP, Chief Medical & Development Officer of Mirati Therapeutics from September 2013 to May 2020, CMO of Aragon Pharmaceuticals which was acquired by Johnson & Johnson for $1Billion in 2013. At Aragon, Dr. Chen was responsible for the clinical development path of Apalutamide based on the novel endpoint of metastasis free survival for castration resistant prostate cancer, Vice President of Tumor Strategy, Pfizer Oncology in La Jolla and was responsible for the clinical development path that led to the successful approval of Sutent and Axitinib in renal cell carcinoma, Crizotinib in EML-ALK NSCLC and Palbociclib in combination with anti-estrogens in ER positive, HER2 negative breast cancer.

Dr. Chen completed his hematology/oncology fellowship at University of California, San Diego and was an Assistant Professor at University of Texas, MD Anderson Cancer Center, GU Medical Oncology.


Renata Pasqualini, Ph.D.

Founder, CSO

Dr. Pasqualini is the Inaugural Chief of the Division of Cancer Biology and Tenured Professor of Radiation Oncology at Rutgers University and Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey.

Dr. Pasqualini serves as Founder and Chief Scientific Officer at MBRACE Therapeutics. She earned her Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research and the Institute of Chemistry at the University of São Paulo, Brazil. Dr. Pasqualini completed her research training at Harvard Medical School, the Harvard-Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston and at The Burnham Institute in La Jolla, CA.

Renata Pasqualini

During her distinguished career, including 14 years at The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Dr. Pasqualini has won international acclaim for her scientific contributions in cancer biology and drug development. Working with her husband, Dr. Wadih Arap, in their joint laboratory, she developed novel diagnostic and imaging tools for cancer and obesity. Their research has long been supported by funding from the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Defense, and several philanthropic foundations including the American Association for Cancer Research, The Marcus Foundation, The Prostate Cancer Foundation, and the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.

Dr. Pasqualini has published over 200 peer-reviewed scientific papers and holds or has applied for more than 110 patents worldwide. Among her many honors are the Susan G. Komen Career Development Award in Basic Cancer Research (1999), The V Foundation Award on Translational Cancer Research (2001), The Living Legend Faculty Achievement Award from M.D. Anderson Cancer Center (2005), the Edith and Peter O'Donnell Award from The Academy of Medicine, Engineering and Science of Texas (2009), and The Lombroso Award in Cancer Research from the Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel (2011). She has also been named as one of the nation’s “Top 400 Inventors.”


Wadih Arap

Wadih Arap, M.D., Ph.D.

Founder, Head of Scientific Advisory Board

Dr. Arap is a physician-scientist and the Director of the Rutgers CINJ at University Hospital. He treats cancer patients and co-leads the Arap/Pasqualini Laboratory. Dr. Arap also serves as Founder and Head of Scientific Advisory Board at MBRACE Therapeutics.

Dr. Arap earned his M.D. degree from the University of São Paulo Medical School in Brazil and completed his clinical training at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York. He earned his Ph.D. in Cancer Biology from Stanford University and the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research in La Jolla. Before his move to UNM in 2013.

Dr. Arap spent 14 years at The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, where he first gained international recognition for his clinical expertise in prostate cancer treatment specifically with broader research interests focusing on the development of new cancer drugs and therapies that are precisely targeted to cancer cells. His research, supported by the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Defense, and several philanthropic foundations, has led to numerous patents worldwide and the publication of over 200 scientific articles.

Among his many honors are The V Foundation Award on Translational Cancer Research (2001), The Edith and Peter O'Donnell Award from The Academy of Medicine, Engineering and Science of Texas (2009) and election to the American Society for Clinical Investigation.


Fernanda I. Staquicini, Ph.D. 

Director, Research & Development

Dr. Staquicini is an Assistant Professor at the Division of Cancer Biology in the Department of Radiation Oncology, Rutgers University and Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey.

Dr. Staquicini also serves as the Director of Research and Development at MBRACE Therapeutics. She earned her Ph.D. in Immunology from the Federal University of São Paulo, Brazil and completed her post-doctoral research training at The University of Texas, M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

Fernanda Staquicini

Dr. Staquicini has extensive experience with phage display technologies -- in animal models and human subjects -- and receptor identification and detection of protein-protein interactions in the context of in vivo and in vitro phage display. She co-developed the SPARTA methodology along with Drs. Arap and Pasqualini.


Tracy Smith

Tracey L. Smith, Ph.D.

Intellectual Property & Drug Development Liaison

Dr. Smith acts as the liaison for internal Rutgers departments and external collaborators. She works with the Rutgers Office of Research & Economic Development for patent filings, tech transfer, and corporate contracts, ensuring that investigators and all collaborators comply with University policies.