June 2024

O’Donnell Honored for Entrepreneurial Achievement by UC San Diego’s Rady School of Management

San Diego, CA (June 5, 2024) – UC San Diego’s Rady School of Management named Niall O’Donnell, Ph.D. (Rady MBA Class of 2006) the Sullivan Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation’s 2024 Entrepreneurial Achievement Award recipient.


The award celebrates entrepreneurship’s impact in the San Diego region and beyond. Lisa Ordóñez, dean of the Rady School of Management, and Robert Sullivan, founding dean (pictured), presented the award.

“Niall exemplifies the Rady School’s mission of translating ideas to impact. We are enormously proud of his entrepreneurial accomplishments and the benefits of his work for improving human health.”

Lisa Ordóñez , dean of UC San Diego’s Rady School of Management

“Thank you to Deans Ordóñez and Sullivan for this great honor, and to Ernest and Evelyn Rady for their generous support of what is now ranked the #2 best business school for entrepreneurship in the country,” said O’Donnell. “I took a gamble 20 years ago by joining the inaugural class of MBAs at Rady, and it has paid off handsomely.”

O’Donnell joined RiverVest Venture Partners, a leading life sciences venture capital firm, as a Kauffman Fellow in 2006, while completing his coursework at Rady. He became a managing director in 2014.


To learn more about Niall’s journey to entrepreneurship through life sciences innovation and venture capital, please watch this excellent “Success Story” video produced by the Rady School.  

At RiverVest, O’Donnell has founded or co-founded five biopharmaceutical startups, directed clinical strategy, co-founded key patents, and helped to raise over a billion dollars in venture capital for early-stage companies addressing significant unmet medical needs. One of the companies, Mirum Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq: MIRM), co-founded in 2018, has become an established leader in the development and commercialization of life-changing rare disease medicines, with three standard-of-care medicines in four indications and a pipeline of additional medicine in development in high-need orphan indications.

O’Donnell is currently chairman of the board of Avalyn Pharma, and a board member of Engrail Therapeutics, Glycomine, and Sparrow Pharmaceuticals.

Prior to joining RiverVest, O’Donnell spent five years as an immunologist at Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical Research and Development in San Diego, where he was part of a successful cross-disciplinary team of chemists and biologists that drove small molecule anti-inflammatory drugs into clinical trials.

About The Sullivan Center

The Sullivan Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the UC San Diego Rady School of Management empowers students and alumni with programs, experiences, networks, and a mindset to embrace disruption as an opportunity — to identify needs and solutions to society’s problems and to create an impactful future for themselves and their communities.


About RiverVest

RiverVest Venture Partners is a leading venture capital firm building life science companies to address significant unmet needs of patients and deliver consistently strong returns to investors. With headquarters in St. Louis and offices in San Diego and Cleveland, RiverVest accesses forward-thinking research and clinical expertise at leading institutions across the country to found and fund biopharma and medical device companies.



© Copyright RiverVest® All Rights Reserved.