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 O’Donnell, Ph.D.


Niall focuses on our biopharmaceutical opportunities, building and operating RiverVest portfolio companies. He is chairman of the board of Avalyn Pharma and a board member of Engrail Therapeutics, Sparrow Pharmaceuticals, and Glycomine.

As a portfolio company co-founder, Niall served as interim CEO of Reneo Pharmaceuticals and interim chief medical officer at Lumena Pharmaceuticals, prior to the company’s acquisition by Shire Plc (now part of Takeda America Holdings) in 2014.

In 2018, Niall helped spin the Lumena assets out of Takeda Pharmaceutical, after Takeda’s acquisition of Shire, and drove the creation of Mirum Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: MIRM). In 2021, the FDA approved Mirum’s LIVMARLI for the treatment of Alagille Syndrome. 

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.

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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