Skip to content Skip to footer

Management and Team

Management and Team

SMURF-Therapeutics, Inc.

SMURF-Therapeutics, Inc. is developing small molecule therapeutics to activate or block Smurf2 for cancer, anemia and wound healing.

The company was founded by Wafik El-Deiry, MD, PhD, FACP in 2021 to develop small molecule compounds targeting hypoxia responses based on numerous academic research papers and reviews published over 3 decades.

Mechanisms involve activation of specific key cellular factors that inhibit HIF proteins in cancer therapy or which activate HIFs to treat anemia and wound healing.


Smurf Therapeutics, Inc.

Wafik El-Deiry, MD, PhD, FACP

American Cancer Society Research Professor, Director of the Legorreta Cancer Center at Brown University, Associate Dean for Oncologic Sciences at the Warren Alpert Medical School, and Mencoff Family University Professor of Medical Science at Brown University.

Dr. El-Deiry is a practicing physician-scientist who sees patients with colorectal cancer, rare cancer-susceptibility disorders, and is a translational-oncology investigator focused on cell death, drug resistance, new drugs, and precision oncology, continuously funded by the NIH since 1998.

He served as Deputy Director for Translational Research, co-Leader of Molecular Therapeutics Program, Professor of Oncology, and William Wikoff Smith Endowed Chair in Cancer Research at Fox Chase Cancer Center until 2018. From 2010 through 2014 Dr. El-Deiry was the Rose Dunlap Division Chair, Professor of Medicine and Chief of Hematology-Oncology at Penn State University. He was a tenured Professor of Medicine, Genetics, and Pharmacology at the University of Pennsylvania, co-Leader of the Radiobiology and Imaging Program at the Abramson Cancer Center at Penn (2004-2010) and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator from 1995-2004.

He earned MD/PhD degrees from the University of Miami School of Medicine and completed internal medicine residency at Johns Hopkins Hospital and medical oncology fellowship at Johns Hopkins Oncology Center. Dr. El-Deiry has investigated hypoxia as a cancer therapy resistance mechanism since the late 1990’s. His group discovered a non-canonical mechanism of regulation of Hypoxia-Inducible Factor #1 (HIF1)-alpha expression through phosphorylation by Cyclin-Dependent Kinases (CDK’s) including CDK4/6. After moving to Brown University, his laboratory discovered that the binding of E3 ubiquitin ligase Smurf2 protein to HIF1-alpha accelerates the degradation of the HIF1-alpha protein in CDK4/6 inhibitor treated cancer cells. SMURF-Therapeutics, Inc. was founded in 2021 to develop therapeutics for cancer, anemia, and healing wounds through the targeting of Smurf2.

He has >500 peer-reviewed publications, 6 edited-books, and his H-index is 128 with >101,000 citations in Google Scholar. In his career, Dr. El-Deiry founded 3 companies (Oncoceutics, Inc. acquired by Chimerix in 2021, p53-Therapeutics, Inc., and SMURF-Therapeutics, Inc.) and holds 19 issued patents. He received the Inventor of Year Award from Brown University in 2022 and 2023, and is among the 2023 top Molecular Biology Scientists in the United States (#81; In 2023, Dr. El-Deiry was named as a Top Doctor in Oncology in Pennsylvania and Rhode Island and was elected as the Chair of the Worldwide Innovative Network (WIN) Consortium in personalized cancer medicine.


Smurf Therapeutics, Inc.

Emile Youssef, MD, PhD

Visionary leader with 20+ years of experience in accelerating organizational growth and profitability.

Dr. Youssef is a highly skilled Physician Scientist who holds a robust track record spanning academia, pharmaceuticals/biotech, and CRO sectors, with a foundation forged during a pioneering post-doctoral tenure in oncology at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, TX, complemented by board certification in oncology from Osaka City University Medical School in Japan. With a wealth of experience as a principal investigator in academic oncology, Dr. Youssef possesses a deep understanding of pharmaceutical industry practices, ranging from early clinical development to pivotal registration studies. His exceptional leadership skills shine through as he adeptly guides multifunctional teams, encompassing preclinical research, translational studies, regulatory affairs, biostatistics, CMC, PK/PD analysis, pharmacovigilance, biometrics, and operations.

His contributions to the field of cancer treatment have been nothing short of remarkable. He has played a pivotal role in advancing the development of small-molecule drugs, particularly in the domain of targeted therapies within leading pharmaceutical companies. Notably, he was instrumental in the creation of several small-molecule drugs tailored for targeted anti-cancer treatment, including Afinitor (Novartis) and eribulin (Eisai), both designed to address the complexities of breast cancer therapy. Furthermore, He made indispensable contributions as an integral member of Hospira’s (Pfizer) team, significantly contributing to the successful development and approval of the first biosimilar of epoetin alfa, a critical treatment for anemia. His expertise also extends to the development of hypomethylating agents like decitabine (Eisai), with a focus on addressing myelodysplastic syndrome.

In addition to his role as a distinguished researcher and innovator, Dr. Youssef serves as a respected reviewer for leading cancer research and clinical cancer journals. He concurrently acts as a consultant to top-tier pharmaceutical companies and clinical and molecular diagnostic enterprises, providing invaluable insights and expertise. Dr. Youssef is actively engaged in renowned global hematology/oncology societies across America, Europe, and Japan, further enhancing his standing in the international medical community. His proven track record extends to successful capital-raising endeavors, where he has secured essential resources to drive innovation and propel biotech companies toward groundbreaking advancements in the field of oncology.



Arthur Jackson, PhD

Patent Attorney

Andrew Bond, PhD

Sr. Dir BD, Brown Univ

Evelyn William

Admin, treasurer

Gary Olson, PhD


Jeremy Savage

Legal Counsel

Neil Veloso

Exec. Dir BD, Brown Univ

Shuai Zhao, PhD

Co-inventor Smurf2 tech

Director of R&D

Director of CMC

Go to Top