RiverVest Venture Partners Promotes Karen Spilizewski and Isaac Zike to Managing Director and Pascal Krotee to Principal


ST. LOUIS (December 14, 2023)

ST. LOUIS, December 14, 2023 – RiverVest Venture Partners today announced the promotions of three current team members: Karen Spilizewski and Isaac Zike, Ph.D. to Managing Director and Pascal Krotee, Ph.D. to Principal.

Karen Spilizewski, a biomedical engineer by training, joined RiverVest in 2008 as a Vice President managing the Cleveland office, where she split her time between RiverVest and a Cleveland-based venture accelerator until 2020. Her strong ties to academic, clinical, and innovation communities help the firm identify and evaluate emerging technologies in the early-stage life science opportunity landscape. Her extensive background in the medical device sector, coupled with a penchant for mentorship, makes her an invaluable resource to portfolio company CEOs as they accelerate their products through development and into the marketplace. ,

Karen serves on the board of VentureMed Group and is a former director of Securus Medical Group (acquired by Boston Scientific Corporation) and Standard Bariatrics (acquired by Teleflex Incorporated), as well as a former observer at Neuros Medical. She earned an M.B.A., an M.S. in Macromolecular Science, and a B.S. in Biomedical Engineering from Case Western Reserve University. Karen had extensive business development experience when she joined RiverVest, most notably with Avery Dennison Corporation.

Isaac Zike, Ph.D., joined RiverVest in 2019 as a Senior Associate and was promoted to Principal in 2021. He embodies a rare combination of scientific and investment expertise that adds depth and rigor to deal origination, due diligence, and portfolio company support. Drawing on his broad scientific expertise, as well as his analytical and product development strengths, Isaac has been instrumental in advancing several early-stage drug candidates during his tenure with RiverVest. 


Isaac serves as a director on the boards of SeQure Dx and a stealth biopharma company as well as a board observer of Glycomine, Sparrow Pharmaceuticals, and Wugen, all of which are RiverVest portfolio companies. He earned a B.S. from the University of Minnesota Twin Cities, double majoring in Biochemistry and in Genetics, Cell Biology, and Development. Following his undergraduate studies, he completed a Ph.D. in Pharmacology at Vanderbilt University. He then worked as an associate with the Life Sciences practice at the Huron Consulting Group in New York City prior to joining RiverVest.

Pascal Krotee, Ph.D., joined RiverVest in 2021 as a Senior Associate. With her versatile background, Pascal focuses on sourcing and completing due diligence on prospective portfolio companies in both the biopharmaceutical and medical device sectors. Based in San Diego, Pascal provides key operational support for RiverVest’s portfolio companies.  She is a board member at Bluejay Therapeutics and at a stealth RiverVest portfolio company, and she acts as a board observer at Avalyn Pharma and Biolinq. 


Pascal earned a Ph.D. in Molecular Biology from UCLA and a B.S. in Developmental and Cell Biology with a Minor in Business Management from the University of California, Irvine. Immediately prior to joining RiverVest, Pascal was an Investment Associate at Kairos Ventures. She is a recipient of Biocom California’s 2023 Life Science Catalyst Award, which recognizes her as a top-ten “life science trailblazer” under the age of forty in California.

“At RiverVest, we pride ourselves on cultivating productive relationships with the management teams of our portfolio companies. Karen, Isaac, and Pascal exemplify our firm’s interactive approach; they are ready and willing to roll up their sleeves to help our portfolio companies realize their full potential.”

Niall O’Donnell, RiverVest Managing Director

“Karen, Isaac, and Pascal bring extensive and complementary scientific knowledge, industry-relevant operational experience, and financial expertise that are fundamental to RiverVest’s success,” said RiverVest Co-Founder and Managing Director Jay W. Schmelter. “Their promotions are a testament to their impact on furthering RiverVest’s mission: to improve the lives of patients, support entrepreneurs, and earn the trust of investors through science, strategy, and innovation. I couldn’t be more excited about the strength and cohesiveness of our team and the future of our firm.”

About RiverVest Venture Partners

RiverVest Venture Partners is a leading venture capital firm building life science companies to address significant unmet needs of patients and deliver consistently strong results to investors. 


Established in 2000, RiverVest has funded 56 portfolio companies, of which it founded 16 and successfully exited 22, and has approximately $600 million in assets under management. For more information, please visit




Media Contact

Derek Rapp

RiverVest Managing Director