Personal Interests: running, travel

Niall O’Donnell, Ph.D.


San Diego is a great place to develop medicines for patients with unmet medical needs—the entrepreneurs we work with are passionately focused on driving forward life-changing new therapies.

Niall joined RiverVest in 2006 as a Kauffman Fellow and became a Managing Director in 2014. He focuses on biopharmaceutical opportunities, building and operating RiverVest portfolio companies. Niall is a co-founder and board member of Reneo Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: RPHM) and Mirum Pharmaceuticals, (NASDAQ: MIRM), and a board member of Avalyn Pharma, Glycomine, Inc., Sparrow Pharmaceuticals, and Spruce Biosciences ( NASDAQ: SPRB). He was interim CEO of Reneo Pharmaceuticals, and was interim chief medical officer at Lumena Pharmaceuticals, prior to the company’s acquisition by Shire Plc (now part of Takeda America Holdings) in 2014. Niall also helped co-found and seed Excaliard Pharmaceuticals, Inc., developing the company’s clinical strategy. The company was subsequently acquired by Pfizer, Inc.

Prior to joining RiverVest, Niall spent five years as an immunologist at Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical Research and Development in San Diego. He co-authored the first paper validating the newly-discovered histamine H4 receptor as a key regulator of immune pathologies. Niall was also a member of the scientific advisory board of Ziarco Ltd., a developer of H4 receptor antagonists. Ziarco was acquired by Novartis International AG in 2016.

Niall earned a Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the University of Dundee, Scotland, and an M.A. in Biochemistry from Pembroke College, Oxford. He also received an M.B.A. from the Rady School of Management of the University of California, San Diego. His professional affiliations include the American Thoracic Society and American Association of Immunologists.


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