Our Story

Petra was founded in 2016 to advance more than 30-years of cutting-edge research conducted by Dr. Lewis Cantley of Weill Cornell Medicine and Dr. Nathanael Gray of Harvard Medical School and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Dr. Cantley is a leader in the field of lipid kinases and phosphoinositide (PI) signaling pathways. In 1988, Dr. Cantley discovered the signaling enzyme phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K).

His pioneering research continues to provide novel insights for developing new leading-edge drugs for treating cancer, such as his groundbreaking article in the August 2018 issue of Nature, “Suppression of insulin feedback enhances the efficacy of PI3K inhibitors”, shedding new light on PI3K inhibitor development.

The author of over 400 original papers and more than 50 book chapters and review articles, Dr. Cantley is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a member of the National Academy of Sciences. He was chief of the Division of Signal Transduction at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and a founding member of its Department of Systems Biology at Harvard Medical School. In 2007, he was appointed director of the Beth Israel Deaconess Cancer Center. He joined Weill Cornell Medicine as the Meyer Director of the Sandra and Edward Meyer Cancer Center in 2012.

Dr. Lewis Cantley and Dr. Nathanael Gray

Dr. Gray is a leader in the field of developing new pharmacological strategies for modulating protein kinase activity.  Dr. Gray’s research has resulted in the clinically approved kinase inhibitor, Zykadia, that targets mutated ALK in lung cancer. His research group has been responsible for the discovery of novel inhibitors of wild-type and mutant forms of EGFR (WZ4002), mTor (Torin1 and Torin 2), Bcr-Abl (GNF-2, GNF-5, HG-7-85-01), Mps1 (Mps1-IN-1 Mps1-IN-2), Erk5 (XMD8-92), b-Raf, LRRK2 (LRRK2-IN-1), Jnk1,2,3 (JNK-IN-8), Ephrin and CDK7,12,13 (THZ1, THZ531) kinases which have become widely used research tools and have inspired several drug discovery programs. The author of over 300 original papers, Dr. Gray is a Professor of Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology at Harvard Medical School and the Dana Farber Cancer Institute.

In 2016, Petra was launched with one of the largest biotech Series A financing rounds in New York history. The investors participating in the Series A investment in Petra Pharma include Accelerator New York’s investment syndicate partners: AbbVie, Alexandria Venture Investments, ARCH Venture Partners, Eli Lilly and Company, Harris & Harris Group, Inc., Innovate NY Fund, Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JJDC, Inc., The Partnership Fund for New York City, Pfizer Venture Investments, Watson Fund and WuXi PharmaTech.

Petra Pharma’s office and laboratory headquarters are located at the Alexandria Center for Life Science, New York City’s first and only premier life science campus.

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