Edwin J. Thomas – CEO
A biotechnology executive and entrepreneur, Mr. Thomas has been principal and founder of several successful life science companies, creating value for investors, and achieving timely and profitable exits. He has occupied leadership positions (CEO, COO, CFO) at Precision Pharmaceuticals (Gainesville, FL – anti-inflammatories), CMI (Princeton, NJ – antivirals), and Avid Therapeutics (Philadelphia, PA – antivirals). Before Eleison, Mr. Thomas was COO of Provid Pharmaceuticals (North Brunswick, NJ), a hybrid company engaged in the discovery and development of autoimmune disease therapeutics, and a fee-for-service medicinal chemistry provider to the biotech and pharmaceutical industry, where he continues to serve on the Board of Directors. Prior to his tenure in the biotech field, Mr. Thomas was CFO of Nobel Learning Communities, Inc. (Nasdaq: NLCI), an early education services provider. Mr. Thomas studied biochemistry and economics at the University of Pennsylvania (Bachelor of Science), and received his Masters in Business Administration from The Wharton School.
Guangtao Zhang, PhD – Vice President of CMC, and Asian Business Development
Dr. Zhang has more than 15 years of pharmaceutical industry experience in the U.S. and China. Before industry, he was a research associate at the Harvard Medical School and a postdoctoral fellow at MIT. He earned his Ph.D. at the Shanghai Institute of Organic Chemistry and the University of Science and Technology of China, and has authored more than 25 journal and conference articles and holds several patents.
Michael J. Otto, PhD – Chief Scientist (Part-time)
Dr. Otto previously served as Chief Scientific Officer of Pharmasset Inc. from 1999 until the company was acquired by Gilead Sciences in 2012. He led the research team responsible for the discovery of sofosbuvir for the treatment of HCV infections. In previous capacities he has served as Associate Director of Anti-Infectives Clinical Research at Rhône-Poulenc Rorer, Vice President for Research and Development at Avid Therapeutics, Inc., Research Manager at DuPont Pharmaceuticals and DuPont Merck Pharmaceuticals and as Group Leader in the Virology Dept. at Sterling Drug in Rensselaer, NY. Prior to joining Sterling drug, Dr. Otto was Research Assistant Professor at Yale University School of Medicine, Dept. of Pharmacology. Dr. Otto also has served as the US editor for Antiviral Chemistry & Chemotherapy from 1989 until the present. Dr. Otto holds a B.S. degree from Loyola University of Chicago and a Ph.D. degree in medical microbiology from The Medical College of Wisconsin. He is the author or coauthor of over 100 research papers and book chapters and named inventor on several patents and patent applications. Dr. Otto Currently serves on the Board of Directors for ContraFect, a company focused on therapeutics treating bacterial and viral infections.
Karen Brunke – SVP Business Development (Part-time)
Dr. Brunke brings to Eleison more than 30 years of broad managerial/executive/BOD experience, from managing discovery research, drug hunting, business development (in-licensing, out-licensing, contracts), intellectual property management, and general operations as well as clinical trial design and execution, and general strategic positioning of companies. She was the founding officer of entrepreneurial biotech startups with key roles in VC fundraising, merger, IPO, and building and managing teams; and has thirteen years of experience with Japanese pharma/licensing including successful licensing of assets from Japan as well as in- and out- licensing in US/Europe for Japanese/US biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies. As a consultant, Dr. Brunke conducted diligence for Mitsui Global Investment and assisted other start-up companies in a variety of capacities (sourcing investment opportunities, BD, M&A, strategy).
Keith Darragh, CPA, CGMA – Chief Financial Officer
Mr. Darragh brings to Eleison more than 20 years of financial and operational leadership experience in both public and private life sciences companies. Prior to joining Eleison in 2016, Mr. Darragh was recruited to Kolltan Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a privately held biotechnology company, to serve as Vice President, Finance & Administration and Treasurer and assist with an initial public offering. Prior to Kolltan, from 2009 to 2014, he was Vice President, Finance and Principal Financial & Accounting Officer for Vision-Sciences, Inc., a publicly traded medical device manufacturer. Mr. Darragh held positions of increasing responsibility in accounting and finance at Datascope Corp., SYMS Corp, Sankyo Pharma, Inc., and Genzyme Biosurgery Corp. Mr. Darragh is a certified public accountant and chartered global management accountant, and holds a Bachelor of Science in accounting (summa cum laude) and a Master of Business Administration from Montclair State University.
Board of Directors
Mr. Wood is the founder and principal of Alta Berkeley (London, Geneva), a premier European venture capital firm investing in early stage communications, information technology, media and health care companies in Western Europe, USA and Israel. He has invested in 40 companies, resulting in nine IPOs (six on NASDAQ) and fourteen trade sales (mostly cross-border). He served as non executive director of 50 companies, public and private in ten European countries, USA and Israel. Previously, Mr. Wood was European Finance Vice President of Gould Inc and held several other European and US finance and operating positions in various companies. Mr. Wood obtained his Bachelor in Science in Industrial Engineering from the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and his MBA from the Harvard Business School in Boston.
Mr. Seidman is the founding principal and continues to serve as President of Capital Solutions, Inc., a real estate development and private equity firm. Since 2001, Capital Solutions, Inc. has facilitated over $700 million of transactions. From 1997 to 2000, he was a cofounder and managing director of Balanced Capital LLC, a real estate and venture capital firm. During this time, Balanced Capital closed on six venture capital investments and seven real estate investments. Prior to Balanced Capital, Mr. Seidman was a principal of Preferred Real Estate Investments, Inc., was associated with MSK Associates and Silver Harting and Co., and worked for seven years as a CPA at Laventhol & Horwath, an international certified public accounting firm. He holds a B.S. in Business Administration from Drexel University, where he majored in accounting and is currently a member of the Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants (PICPA). In addition, Mr. Seidman sits on various boards of companies in which he is a principal shareholder.
Lane Wiggers is the founding principal of Cordam Group, LLC, an early stage, Philadelphia based, private equity and venture capital firm. Through his involvement, Mr. Wiggers has helped to grow several companies into industry leaders. From 2006 to 2013, Mr. Wiggers served as partner of Capital Solutions, Inc. Prior to joining Capital Solutions, Inc., Mr. Wiggers was a Director for CD Ventures, a Philadelphia based private equity firm where he focused on the call center, aviation, and records management industries as well as overseeing the general capital formation function for the group. Prior to CD Ventures, Mr. Wiggers was an investment banker in the Defense, Aerospace and Technical Services ("DATS") Group at First Union/Wachovia Securities where he focused on M&A and public offerings. Mr. Wiggers early career included operational, engineering and managerial roles with Rockwell International, Cooper Industries and Cummins Engine. Lane holds an undergraduate degree from Clemson University in Mechanical Engineering and an MBA from Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland. While at Maryland he was a Lamone Scholar, Treasurer of the MBA class and served as portfolio manager of a segment of the business school's endowment fund.
Joel Morganroth, M.D.
Dr. Morganroth is an academic cardiologist and a founder, prior CEO and Chairman of eResearchTechnology, Inc., a company providing clinical research services specializing in cardiac and respiratory safety and patient reported outcomes in new drug research. Dr. Morganroth's experience includes memberships on Data Monitoring Committees for the National Institutes of Health and the Veterans Administration research programs and several major Pharmaceutical clinical trials. For ten years he was a Medical Review Officer/Expert for the Food and Drug Administration and has also served in a similar capacity for Health Canada and has been an advisor to Europe regulators. He is a Fellow of the American College of Cardiology, the American College of Physicians, Councils of Clinical Cardiology and Atherosclerosis of the American Heart Association, American College of Clinical Pharmacology, and other such organizations. He was a Clinical Professor of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and Adjunct Professor in Clinical Pharmacology at Jefferson Medical School both in Philadelphia. Dr. Morganroth has served on the editorial boards of Circulation, Journal of the American College of Cardiology, The American Journal of Cardiology, and many others. He has published more than 350 articles and edited over two-dozen books.
Business Advisory Board
Philip S. Schein, M.D., DSc (Hon), FRCP
Dr. Philip Schein is widely regarded as a leading international authority in the treatment of cancer. He has recently served for a decade as a Visiting Professor in Cancer Pharmacology, University of Oxford and President of The Schein Group, which provides consultative services to the biotech/pharmaceutical industry. Dr. Schein served as a Senior Investigator and Head of the Clinical Pharmacology Section of the Medicine Branch, National Cancer Institute. His next appointment was at the Georgetown University School of Medicine in Washington, DC, as Professor of Medicine and Pharmacology, Chief of Medical Oncology and Scientific Director of the Vincent T. Lombardi Cancer Research Center. Subsequently he served as Vice President of Worldwide Clinical Research and Development, and Director of the Laboratory of Molecular Oncology, SmithKline & French Laboratories, where he had responsibility for all SK&F clinical research and development activities. In 1987 Dr. Schein founded U.S. Bioscience, a publicly-traded pharmaceutical company focused on cancer and AIDS, and while serving as Chairman and CEO he took three products, Ethyol (the first combined radiation/chemotherapy protection agent), Hexalen and Neutrexin, through development and regulatory approval in the US, Europe, Canada and other countries. Most recently he was elected onto the Board of Directors of the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), the organization that manages the National Research Laboratory on the International Space Station, and has been appointed Vice Chairman of the Board.
Barry Selick, Ph.D.
Barry Selick, Ph.D. is currently the Vice Chancellor of Business Development, Innovation and Partnerships at the University of California, San Francisco, a position that he has held since April 2017. Previously, Dr. Selick served as Threshold Pharmaceutical’s Chief Executive Officer from June 2002 until March 2017. From June 2002 until July 2007, Dr. Selick was also a Venture Partner of Sofinnova Ventures, Inc., a venture capital firm. From January 1999 to April 2002, he was Chief Executive Officer of Camitro Corporation and its wholly-owned subsidiary, Camitro UK, Ltd, biotechnology companies. From 1992 to 1999, he was at Affymax Research Institute, the drug discovery technology development center for Glaxo Wellcome plc, most recently as Vice President of Research. Prior to working at Affymax he held scientific positions at Protein Design Labs, Inc. and Anergen, Inc. As a staff scientist at Protein Design Labs, Inc. (now PDL BioPharma, Inc., or PDL) he co-invented the technology underlying the creation of fully humanized antibody therapeutics and applied that to PDL’s first product, Zenapax (daclizumab), which was initially developed and commercialized by Roche for the prevention of kidney transplant rejection and more recently developed by Biogen and AbbVie and approved as Zinbryta for treatment of adults with relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis. Dr. Selick serves as Lead Director of PDL, a public company, and is Chairman of the board of directors of Molecular Templates, Catalyst Biosciences, and Protagonist Therapeutics, all public drug discovery and development companies. Dr. Selick received his B.A. in Biophysics and Ph.D. in Biology from the University of Pennsylvania and was a Damon Runyon-Walter Winchell Cancer Fund Fellow and an American Cancer Society Senior Fellow at the University of California, San Francisco.
Mr. Whitten currently is the Chief Commercial Officer of Taiho Oncology, Inc., headquartered in Princeton, NJ. Previously Mr. Whitten was President and CEO of Insmed Inc. (Nasdaq: INSM), and is the former President and CEO of Transave, Inc. and Senior Vice President of Commercial Operations and Business Development of Pharmacyclics, Inc. Earlier, Mr. Whitten spent 16 years at Bristol-Myers Squibb Company (BMS). His roles included Vice President, Global Marketing, Oncology, Immunology and Pulmonary Diseases; Vice President, U.S. Marketing, Bristol Myers Oncology and Immunology; and Vice President, Global Pravastatin Initiative. During his 16 years in marketing, sales and strategic planning at BMS, Mr. Whitten led the successful U.S. launch and marketing of Taxol® (paclitaxel) Injection, an oncology product. He also led the company's strategic direction for the global oncology and immunology franchises. Mr. Whitten earned his master's degree in business administration from Colgate Darden Graduate School of Business Administration at University of Virginia and received his pharmacy degree magna cum laude from West Virginia University.