John McKearn, Ph.D.

John McKearn, Ph.D., Managing Director

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John McKearn joined RiverVest® in April 2008 as a venture partner and became a managing director in April 2011.  He has 25 years experience as a successful “drug hunter and developer” in both large and small biopharma, including a decade in small-cap and venture-backed companies.

John serves on the board of Otonomy, Inc., Lumena Pharmaceuticals, Inc.,  and Allakos, Inc., all RiverVest Fund II portfolio companies.  Prior to joining RiverVest, he was president and CEO of Kalypsys, Inc., and has served on the boards of IDM Pharma, Inc. (acquired by Takeda), Epimmune and Keel Pharmaceuticals, Inc.  John holds more than 50 patents and numerous patent applications, primarily in the areas of cancer treatment and inflammatory disease.


“The RiverVest team is unique in several ways. RiverVest is highly collaborative, experienced, and thoughtful in its work with portfolio companies and its investors. This ‘personality’ is one of the key reasons the firm creates and builds value.”


John worked as a scientist with Searle / Pharmacia, from 1987-2003, including head of discovery research from 1997-2003. Through his efforts, John helped establish the groundwork for new studies that led to the commercialization of several major products, including DayPro, Arthrotec, and most notably, Celebrex, one of the leading pharmaceuticals to treat arthritis.

Prior to 1987, John was a senior scientist at E.I. DuPont de Nemours and Company;
a member of the Basel Institute for Immunology in Basel, Switzerland; and a research associate in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at Washington University
in St. Louis.

Additionally, he has co-authored more than 70 published, peer-reviewed scientific papers. John completed his Ph.D. in immunology from the University of Chicago and his B.S. in biology from Northern Illinois University.

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