Management Team

Wesley D. Sterman, M.D.

President and Chief Executive Officer

Dr. Sterman is a healthcare executive and investor, who has founded, directed, managed, and funded numerous companies. Prior to Signature Therapeutics, he was a founding director and investor of Theravance, Inc., which went public in late 2004. Before Theravance, Dr. Sterman founded and acted as CEO of Heartport, Inc., a manufacturer of less invasive cardiac surgery products, which was taken public in 1996. Heartport was acquired by Johnson & Johnson in 2001. Previously, Dr. Sterman was founder and CEO of EndoVascular Technologies, Inc. Following its IPO, the company was acquired by Guidant, Inc., which is now a division of Boston Scientific, Inc. Prior to that, he led the healthcare investment efforts at Menlo Ventures. During his tenure there, Gilead Sciences, now a $30 billion public biotechnology company, was incubated internally at Menlo Ventures. Dr. Sterman holds a California medical license and earned both M.D. and M.B.A. degrees from Stanford University. He currently serves as a voluntary instructor at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. 

Matt Ackerman, MBA


Mr. Ackerman has over 20 years of experience in Silicon Valley with a variety of start-up technology companies in both the hardware and software sectors ranging from domestic and international, private and public. Mr. Ackerman has held a variety of senior management positions at technology start-ups in the areas of automotive, gaming, online advertising, chips stacking and interconnect, loyalty marketing, and travel. Mr. Ackerman was the first financial executive at GetThere where he helped lead the growth of the company from $.5M in revenue to over $15M and a successful IPO. Mr. Ackerman was an early employee at Conner Peripherals where he helped manage the growth of the company’s revenue from $100M to $2.4B producing hardware storage solutions. He has been involved in raising equity, IPO’s, Strategic Investments and Mergers and Acquisitions. Mr. Ackerman earned a B.S. in accounting from the University of California at Berkeley and an M.B.A. from Cornell University.

John Donovan, M.D.

Business Development

Dr. Donovan is a practicing anesthesiologist who has been a member of the business development team since June 2012. Prior to joining Signature Therapeutics, he spent the previous 10 years working with companies in the anesthesia and pain space, including Anesiva where he was Executive Director for Business Development.

In addition to his industry experience, John has spent the past 15 years practicing anesthesia as a member of a large private practice that provides anesthesia at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Berkeley California. Dr. Donovan has played a leading role in the growth of the group and has held various leadership positions including department chair and group president, a position he currently holds.

Dr. Donovan earned B.S. and M.D. degrees from Georgetown University and an M.B.A. from the Haas School of Business at the University of California Berkeley. He completed his residency in anesthesiology at the University of California San Francisco where he continues to maintain an active faculty appointment.

Craig Husfeld, Ph.D.


Dr. Husfeld is a synthetic and medicinal chemist with 12 years of pharmaceutical experience. Dr. Husfeld leads Medicinal Chemistry at Signature Therapeutics. Since joining the company in May 2008, Dr. Husfeld has successfully overseen synthetic development of various programs, including early-stage CMC. Prior to joining Signature Therapeutics, Dr. Husfeld held research and managerial positions at Theravance Inc, a publicly traded pharmaceutical research and development company, from 2001 to 2008. Dr. Husfeld has co-authored numerous patents and peer-reviewed papers in the field of medicinal chemistry Dr. Husfeld earned a B.S. in chemistry from the University of California, Riverside and a Ph.D. in synthetic organic chemistry from Stanford University.

Judy A. Magruder, MBA


Ms. Magruder is a pharmaceutical executive and consultant with more than 25 years of pharmaceutical experience. Prior to Signature Therapeutics, she was President of VSI Development Company, where she consulted with numerous San Francisco Bay Area pharmaceutical and biotech companies. Before that, she was Senior Vice President of Development at Durect Corp. where she led development programs and supervised various functional areas, including Project and Portfolio Management, Regulatory Affairs, Clinical Operations, and Quality Assurance, with budgetary responsibilities in excess of $25 million. She has also worked for Vascular Therapeutics, and spent more than 15 years in a variety of positions at ALZA Corp. leading and contributing to a number of successful product development efforts and product approvals. Ms. Magruder is an inventor and holds 48 United States patents. She earned a B.S. in Animal Science from the University of California at Davis and an M.B.A from Santa Clara University.

Steven L. Shafer, M.D.

Medical Affairs

 Dr. Shafer is a co-founder of Signature Therapeutics and a professor in the Department of Anesthesia at Stanford University where he received his medical degree and did a clinical fellowship in pharmacology. He also holds a similar appointment in biopharmaceutical sciences at the University of California at San Francisco. 

In addition to his academic responsibilities, Dr. Shafer is editor-in-chief of the peer-reviewed journal Anesthesia & Analgesia and has served as the chair of the Anesthesia and Life Support Drug Advisory Committee at the FDA.

Dr. Shafer is a graduate of Princeton University and completed his anesthesia residency at the University of Pennsylvania. An expert in mathematical modeling of drug behavior, Dr. Shafer has conducted and led numerous clinical studies on the intravenous opioid drugs and hypnotics used in anesthetic practice.

Carol Talkington Verser, Ph.D, Patent Agent

Intellectual Property

Dr. Verser has more than 20 years of experience managing and protecting intellectual property in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology fields, both for industry and academia. She has been an IP strategy consultant for six years with Signature Therapeutics as well as with other biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies. Prior to 2007, Dr. Verser was executive vice president, intellectual property and business development at Heska Corporation, a publicly-traded companion animal health care biotechnology company in Loveland, Colo. Previously, Dr. Verser was a patent agent and technical specialist at Sheridan Ross, an intellectual property law firm in Denver. She also spent several years conducting and directing research in the biotechnology industry.

Dr. Verser earned a B.S. in biological sciences from the University of Southern California and a Ph.D. in cellular and developmental biology from Harvard University. Dr. Verser also completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the National Institutes of Health.