Escient Pharmaceuticals Strengthens Leadership Team with Key New Hires

SAN DIEGO--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Escient Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a clinical-stage company advancing novel small molecule therapeutics for the potential treatment of a broad range of neurosensory-inflammatory disorders, today announced the addition of three key new members to its leadership team.

Aaron Mishel has joined the company as Chief Financial Officer, David Houck as Vice President of CMC (Chemistry, Manufacturing & Controls), and Greg Balani as Director of Business Development.

“We are pleased to welcome Aaron, David, and Greg to Escient Pharmaceuticals” said CEO Joshua Grass. “These new hires will help drive our growth and transition to an innovative clinical development company. In 2023 we plan to initiate five clinical trials, all while retaining our leading drug discovery capabilities. Our pipeline includes two novel, first-in-class small molecule product candidates to treat an array of neurosensory-inflammatory diseases: EP262 (MRGPRX2 antagonist) for chronic spontaneous urticaria (CSU), chronic inducible urticaria (CindU) and atopic dermatitis (AD) and EP547 (MRGPRX4 antagonist) for cholestatic pruritus.”

Aaron Mishel – Chief Financial Officer

Mr. Mishel brings over twenty years of experience in the life sciences and financial services sectors to the company. Prior to Escient, he served as CFO or head of finance for several venture-backed private healthcare companies including GenEdit, Magnetic Insight, and Modis Therapeutics. Previously, he worked in business and corporate development at BioMarin Pharmaceutical, spent six years in Equity Research at Deutsche Bank and Thomas Weisel Partners, and held positions of increasing responsibility in finance at CV Therapeutics. He holds a B.S. in Biomedical Engineering and a B.A. in Economics from Brown University and an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

Dr. David Houck – Vice President of CMC (Chemistry, Manufacturing & Controls)

Dr. Houck has over 35 years of biopharmaceutical industry experience in regulatory affairs, formulation development, manufacturing, and quality control of pharmaceutical products. Previously, Dr. Houck was Chief Development Officer at Aptinyx Inc. and held various senior R&D positions at Merck, Sterling Winthrop, Sanofi, OSI Pharmaceuticals, and Scynexis. He has led CMC programs for a variety of dosage forms which contributed to the advancement of several clinical and marketed pharmaceutical products. He was trained in biochemistry and medicinal chemistry, completed degrees at Alma College (B.S.), Purdue University (M.S.), and Ohio State University (Ph.D.), and served as a postdoctoral fellow at the Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Greg Balani – Director of Business Development

Prior to Escient, Mr. Balani served as Director of Business Development at Zogenix, where he was instrumental in the company’s sale to UCB. Before Zogenix, Mr. Balani held positions of increasing responsibility at Bayer in the U.S. Business Development & Licensing and the Global Mergers, Acquisitions & Licensing groups, where he worked on in-licensing assets, acquisitions, and asset divestitures. Prior to Bayer, he worked as a management consultant at Huron within its Corporate and Operational division. He received a PharmD from the University of California San Francisco and a B.S. from DePaul University.

About Escient Pharmaceuticals

Escient Pharmaceuticals is a clinical-stage company focused on developing novel therapeutics to address a broad range of neurosensory-inflammatory disorders. The company’s pipeline includes two first-in-class small molecule antagonists targeting MRGPRX2 for the treatment of various mast cell mediated disorders and MRGPRX4 for cholestatic pruritus. Based in San Diego, California, Escient is led by an experienced management and scientific team and funded by top-tier life science investors.

Visit to learn more.


Aaron Mishel
Chief Financial Officer
Escient Pharmaceuticals, Inc.


Source: Escient Pharmaceuticals

Back to news