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Since 2019, Lex H.T. Van der Ploeg is Chair, President, and CEO for Yao - The Bard, LLC a digital therapeutics biotech company, located in the Boston/Cambridge area, focused on the treatment of diverse learning disabilities and other neurologic indications. Lex also functions as Managing Director for VDP, LLC, an independent consulting agency focused on guiding Research and Development for the Biotechnology and Pharmaceutical Industries and private investors. At VDP, LLC, Lex focuses on supporting R&D initiatives from a strategic and tactical perspective, as an integrated member of management and R&D teams. In this capacity, Lex functions as a member of the Board of Directors for Retrotope Inc., as an advisor to and DeuteRx, LLC, a member of the SAB for Excellentia Global partners, an Advisor to Inkef Capital, NonPareil biotechnologies and Rhythm Pharmaceuticals.
Lex’s expertise includes development of Diagnostics and Therapeutics including cancer, neurodegenerative disorders, metabolic disorders and infectious diseases. Prior to starting Yao - The Bard, LLC, Lex was CSO at Rhythm Pharmaceuticals (2011-2019) where he focused on development of therapeutics for diabetic gastroparesis and obesity. Rhythm became a NASDAQ listed public company in 2017. Lex functioned as an adviser to Deuteria (2011-2012), which was acquired by Celgene in 2012. Lex was the Sr. Vice President of Integrative Medicine and Translational Science at Abraxis Bioscience (2009-2011), which was acquired by Celgene in 2010. Previously, Dr. Van der Ploeg held the position of, Vice President, Basic Research, and site head at Merck Research Laboratories Boston (2003-2008) opening the laboratory, and focusing on oncology and neurodegenerative disease in Aug-2004. Prior to starting Merck Research Laboratories Boston in December 2003, Dr. Van der Ploeg held diverse functions at Merck Research Laboratories including site head MRL San Diego (2002-2003) and Head Obesity research for Merck Rahway and Banyu, Japan (1996-2003). At Merck (1991-2008), Lex held leadership roles in obesity and metabolism, oncology, neurodegenerative disease research and diagnostics. At Merck, Lex was responsible for the discovery of the growth-hormone secretagogue (ghrelin) receptor and contributed to the discovery of the target for ivermectin and the development of vorinostat. During this time, Lex led the development of numerous drug-development programs.
Dr. Van der Ploeg received his M.S. degree (Summa Cum Laude) in Biochemistry in 1980 from the University of Amsterdam and his PhD in Biochemistry/Enzymology/Genetics in 1984 from the University of Amsterdam/Netherlands Cancer Research Center. Following receipt of his PhD, Dr Van der Ploeg joined the faculty of the Dept. of Genetics and Development of Columbia University, as an Assistant Professor and received tenure at Columbia University in 1987. At Columbia, Lex contributed broadly to our understanding of the genetics of parasitic protozoa and our understanding of the genetics of host-parasite interactions. Dr. Van der Ploeg held an adjunct faculty position at the Dept. of Genetics and Development of Columbia University from 1992 through 2009. Dr. Van der Ploeg received numerous awards and grants for his research and has broadly published on his research in peer-reviewed journals. He is an inventor on over 50 patents and patent applications.
Dr. Sheila DeWitt is a Life Sciences Executive & Serial Entrepreneur with 30 years of experience in pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies. She is currently the Chair, President, & CEO of DeuteRx, a biopharmaceutical company located in the Boston area. During the past eight years, she has founded and led two successful deuterated drug companies, culminating in two exits to publicly traded companies, Celgene (Dec 2012) and Poxel SA (Aug 2018). During this time, she raised $5 Mil in angel funding and delivered returns to investors of up to 20x based on upfront payments and up to >100x based on future success-based milestones (not including royalties).
Sheila has led the start-up or turnaround of 8 biotechnology companies or business units, led transactions totaling >$2 Bil in value, led the shutdown and sale of assets of a publicly traded company, and managed global R&D organizations with annual budgets of up to $30Mil. She is also internationally recognized as a scientist for her pioneering contributions to automated and high-throughput chemistry. She earned her B.A. in Chemistry from Cornell University in 1982 and Ph.D. in Synthetic Organic Chemistry from Duke University in 1986.
Selected honors include “Women to Watch” by Mass High Tech, “Buzz of BIO” Pipelines of Promise for Deuteria Pharmaceuticals, “The Perfect Pitch” at BioPharma America, “American Chemical Society (ACS) Famous Organic Chemist”, “Pioneer in Laboratory Robotics” from International Symposium on Lab Automation and Robotics (ISLAR), and Michigan Leading Edge Technologies Award. Sheila contributes her time and energy to several professional and non-profit activities including: Board of Directors, Yao - The Bard, LLC; Board of Trustees, The Derryfield School (Manchester, NH); and Board of Advisors, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. She is also a member of the Cornell Alumni Admissions Ambassador Network (CAAAN), New England Women in Science Executives (NEWISE), Springboard Enterprises (an international forum for women-led companies), and the American Chemical Society. In 2013, her family founded the Hobbs-DeWitt Science and Engineering Scholarship program which has awarded >$30,000 to graduating seniors from Royalton-Hartland (Roy-Hart) Central High School in Middleport, NY who are pursuing a 4-year college degree. Sheila graduated from Roy-Hart as a first-generation high school graduate and Valedictorian in 1978.
Deepak Savadatti has a track record of building and scaling companies from ground up. Most recently he was the Founder & President of Viome where he played a leading role in building a DTC health tech company from scratch, leading the creation of its industry-first product, and obtaining 100K+ customers. Prior to Viome, he ran a very profitable semiconductor business unit (with full P&L responsibility), and built it to >$200 million per year in revenue. Deepak has consistently pioneered industry-first technologies, managed their development and commercialization, and successfully took them to market. Deepak has directly managed all company functions, including R&D, engineering, operations, finance, HR, sales, and marketing. Built and led distributed teams of some of the world’s best software engineers, hardware engineers, scientists, marketeers, and operations professionals
Mike has more than 25 years of experience in healthcare and life sciences. He specializes in early-stage companies focused on targeted therapeutics and molecular diagnostics. Currently, he is the President and CEO of CXL Ophthalmics, a Phase 2 company developing a novel drug/device combination for the treatment of keratoconus.
He has been a founder and CEO of biotechnology companies, taking them from seed round funding through venture financing and NASDAQ IPO. He was the President and CEO of Tyrogenex, a venture-backed company developing an oral treatment for wAMD. Mike was the President and CEO of Allegro Diagnostics. Allegro was a venture-backed company acquired by Veracyte that developed a novel molecular diagnostic for lung cancer based-on technology from Boston University Medical Center. He was the founder and CEO of Anchor Therapeutics, a venture-backed company focusing on developing a new biology platform for drug discovery licensed from Tufts Medical Center. Prior to founding Anchor, he was the CEO of EPIX Pharmaceuticals from 1994 through 2005. During this period, EPIX grew from a venture-backed startup to be the world leader in discovery and development of pharmaceuticals for diagnostic imaging with MRl. At EPIX, he completed numerous financings and corporate partnerships including an IPO on NASDAQ. Mr. Webb joined EPIX from CIBA, where he was Senior Vice President, Worldwide Marketing and Strategic Planning of CIBA-Corning Diagnostics, responsible for global marketing, program management, corporate planning, business development and licensing. Prior to CIBA, Mr. Webb was a senior consultant at Booz, Allen & Hamilton, specializing in healthcare and life sciences.
Mr. Webb holds Bachelors degrees in Biochemistry and Economics from the University of Kansas (Summa Cum Laude) and an MA in International Relations from Sussex University in the UK, completing his thesis on "Pharmaceuticals Policy and the World Health Organization." In addition, Mr. Webb holds an MBA degree with honors from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University with a concentration in healthcare management. He is a past chairman of the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council and currently serves on the boards of DeuteRx and Veritas Genetics. He also serves on the advisory boards of the Healthcare Advisory Council at Kellogg and the Institute for Advancing Medical Innovation at the University of Kansas where he is chairman.
Michael Weiden MD is on the Board of Directors of Yao - The Bard, LLC and a Professor of Medicine and Environmental Medicine at NYU School of Medicine. He is an academic physician studying disease pathogenesis with a focus on predictors of disease progression and response to therapy using data from longitudinal cohorts.
He has published widely including reports of investigator initiated clinical trials. He received his undergraduate degree (1979) and a Masters degree (1980) in biochemistry from Stanford University. He received his MD (1984) from the State University of New York at Stoney Brook. He worked with Dr. Van der Ploeg at Columbia University from 1989-1990. He joined the faculty at NYU in 1992 and received tenure in 2004. His work has been consistently funded by NIH grants.
Vicki brings over 20 years of experience of strategic planning, marketing, analytics and management in the Life Sciences landscape. She began her career as a Research Assistant in AIDS research at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in New York City. After receiving her MBA, she transitioned her career focus to the business side of the healthcare environment as an executive with Pfizer where she led the U.S. Business of one of the top ten pharmaceutical brands. In her recent role as an independent consultant, she has provided insightful advice and support for the business and commercial development, project management support and pre-launch planning for various companies.
Vicki holds an MBA from the New York University (NYU) - Leonard N. Stern School of Business, an MS from NYU - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and a BA from NYU - Washington Square University College.
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