Who is Neurana Pharmaceuticals
Meet the leadership team
President and Chief Executive Officer
Mr. Thompson joined Neurana Pharmaceuticals as President & Chief Operating Officer in June 2018. Prior to Neurana, Mr. Thompson was President & Chief Executive Officer of Anthera Pharmaceuticals. His previous experience includes Chief Operating Officer for Tetraphase Pharmaceuticals and he previously served as Chief Commercial Officer for Trius Therapeutics through the acquisition of Trius by Cubist Pharmaceuticals. Prior to Trius, Mr. Thompson served in various global and U.S. commercial roles at Pfizer Inc. ultimately serving as Vice President of Marketing for Pfizer’s Specialty Care Business Unit. Previous to Pfizer, Mr. Thompson served in positions of increasing responsibility at Merck & Co., Inc
Mr. Thompson holds a Bachelor’s degree in Commerce from McMaster University and an M.B.A. from the University of Notre Dame.
Judy Caron, PhD
Chief Operating Officer & Head of Clinical Development
A co-founder of Neurana, Dr. Caron joined the company in 2015 as the Chief Operating Officer and Vice President of Clinical Development. Her responsibilities include Project Management, Clinical Development, Chemistry and Pharmaceutical Development, and Regulatory Operations. Dr. Caron has over 25 years of experience in pharmaceutical development. She began her career at Sandoz Pharmaceuticals where she managed projects in the therapeutic areas of oncology and immunology. In 1997, she joined Sepracor Inc., a research-based pharmaceutical company focused on the development and commercialization of products in the field of CNS and respiratory disease, as Vice President of CNS Drug Development. At Sepracor, Dr. Caron directed several CNS projects, including the development and approval of Lunesta® in the US and Japan, where Lunesta® became the first CNS drug to be approved via a bridging strategy. In 2008, Dr. Caron became COO and a partner at BioNevia Pharmaceuticals, LLC, a biotech focused on diabetic treatments. Dr. Caron holds a PhD in molecular genetics.
Senior Vice President of Medical Operations and Program Management
Ms. Foster brings over 25 years of clinical development and project management experience including international management of over 50 drug trials from first-in-human Phase 1’s to large complex global Phase 3’s, inclusive of challenging orphan drug populations.
Ms. Foster was most recently at Sanifit, Inc. as EVP of Development Operations, starting up their US subsidiary office and conducting their first Phase 2 trials in calcification disorders. Previously she was SVP Clinical Operations and Project Management Office at Orexigen Therapeutics, enrolling over 10,500 patients in 6 months that led to the company’s first regulatory approvals (FDA/Contrave®, EMA/Mysimba®) for an oral CNS therapeutic indicated in chronic weight management. She also managed the company’s initial planning (PMO) for their first non-US commercial partners and US product launch. Ms. Foster has held other key Clinical and Project Management leadership positions at both CROs and small biotechnology companies, notably at Quintiles, PAREXEL, PRA Health Sciences, BioVascular and La Jolla Pharmaceutical. Ms. Foster holds a Master’s in Organizational Management.
Chief Financial Officer
Ms. Scott is the Chief Financial Officer of Neurana Pharmaceuticals and a Venture Partner at Hale BioPharma Ventures. Ms. Scott is also the Chief Financial Officer for some of Hale BioPharma Ventures’ portfolio companies, including Adigica Health and Recros Medica. Ms. Scott was previously the CFO of Clarify Medical, MDRejuvena, Oncternal Therapeutics, BioSurplus and FeRx.
Previously Ms. Scott was a Partner at RA Capital Advisors, a San Diego private investment bank providing financial advisory services. She spent over 15 years with RA Capital Advisors, completing billions of dollars of mergers, acquisitions, divestitures, and restructurings for a broad range of corporate clients. Ms. Scott started her career as an auditor in Arthur Andersen’s San Diego office, focusing on both public and private clients. She is a CPA and CFA charter holder.
Thomas C. Wessel
MD, PhD, Chief Medical Officer
Dr. Wessel is a board-certified neurologist and gained extensive experience in all stages of drug development at Johnson & Johnson, Sepracor, Acorda Therapeutics, Flex Pharma and as an independent consultant for over 20 years. Dr. Wessel served as the medical lead for the FDA-approved drugs RAZADYNE® (galantamine), LUNESTA® (eszopiclone) and AMPYRA® (dalfampridine). He has worked closely with nonclinical and clinical experts in the process of drug optimization, interpretation of animal model results, special safety considerations, criteria for advancement of compounds into phase 1, clinical trial design, dose optimization, indication prioritization, NDA assembly, phase 3b and 4 studies and marketing strategies for CNS drugs.
Mr. Hale is Chairman and CEO of Hale BioPharma Ventures, LLC, a private company focused on the formation and development of biotechnology, specialty pharma, diagnostic and medical device companies. He was involved in the formation and development of SkinMedica, an aesthetic skincare company, and served as Executive Chairman and Chairman through the sale of the Company to Allergan in 2012. Mr. Hale served as Chairman of Santarus, Inc. prior to its sale to Salix Pharmaceuticals in 2014, Micromet prior to its sale to Amgen in 2012, Somaxon Pharmaceuticals prior to its sale to Pernix in 2013, and Crisi Medical Systems, Inc. prior to its sale to Becton Dickinson & Co. in 2015.
Mr. Hale is a serial entrepreneur who has been involved in the formation and/or development of a number of life sciences companies. In addition to the companies above, these include Hybritech, Viagene, Gensia Sicor, CancerVax, Neurelis, MDRejuvena, Dermata, Adigica Health, Oncternal, Clarify Medical, Agility Clinical and Biocept. He serves on the board of two public companies, Conatus and Biocept.
Dan Becker, M.D., Ph.D.
Dr. Becker joined New Leaf Venture Partners in 2015. Prior to joining New Leaf, Dr. Becker was a Principal at the Boston Consulting Group where he was a core member of their Health Care practice and led projects across the health care sector with an emphasis on biopharma R&D. Prior to BCG, Dr. Becker was a Research Fellow at Harvard Medical School, and trained clinically in internal medicine and nephrology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital. Dr. Becker graduated summa cum laude with a B.S. in Physiology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and obtained both his M.D. and Ph.D. (Cellular and Molecular Biology) degrees from the University of Michigan. Dr. Becker has co-authored multiple scientific publications in peer-reviewed journals, including Nature Genetics and the Journal of Cell Biology. He is Board-certified in Internal Medicine.
Mr. Brian T. Dorsey has served in the Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology industries for over 20 years where he has provided high-level drug development, regulatory, and QC/QA leadership of pharmaceutical candidates from early development through FDA approval. He has held various senior management roles with Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology companies. Mr. Dorsey lives in the San Diego area with his family.
Mr. Dorsey is currently a Founding Partner at MagnaSci Ventures, a healthcare fund focused on investing in early stage life science companies. Additionally, Mr. Dorsey serves as Chief Development Officer for Apricus BioSciences and CEO of Po5 Pharma LLC where he and his team provide consulting services to the life science industry focused primarily on drug development and regulatory affairs. He serves on the Board of Directors for Neurana Pharmaceuticals, Cell Machines, Forge Therapeutics, and Tao Life Sciences as well as board observer for Oncternal Therapeutics, and MDRejuvena. He is a founder of Kalyra Pharmaceuticals and Septum Solutions. He also serves as an advisor to several small start-up companies in the San Diego area. Mr. Dorsey received his Master of Science in Executive Leadership and his B.A. in Chemistry from the University of San Diego.
David Kabakoff, Ph.D.
Dr. Kabakoff has been an Executive Partner with Sofinnova since 2007 and a Partner in HealthQuest Capital since 2013. Prior to entering venture capital, Dr. Kabakoff had more than 30 years of experience leading technology and product development programs in the pharmaceutical, biopharmaceutical, diagnostics, and drug delivery fields. Dr. Kabakoff currently serves as Chairman of NextCure, Chairman of Lineagen, as a Director of Antiva Biosciences, Dauntless Pharmaceuticals, Principia Biosciences, BioClin Therapeutics, Castle Biosciences and BioTheranostics. Formerly he served as Chairman of Trius Therapeutics (acquired by Cubist), Chairman of Amplimmune (acquired by Astra Zeneca), as a Director of InterMune, Inc. (acquired by Roche), and Director of Allylix, Inc. (acquired by Evolva). Dr. Kabakoff also served as a Board Observer at Intellikine (acquired by Takeda).
Dr. Kabakoff co-founded Salmedix, Inc., a developer of cancer drugs, and served as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (acquired by Cephalon Inc.). Dr. Kabakoff also held the positions of Executive Vice President of Dura, a specialty respiratory pharmaceutical and pulmonary drug delivery company, and President and Chief Executive Officer of Spiros Development Corp. Prior to Dura, Dr. Kabakoff was Chief Executive Officer of Corvas International and held senior executive positions with Hybritech, Inc. Dr. Kabakoff received his Ph.D. from Yale University and his B.A. from Case Western Reserve University.
Josh Richardson, M.D.
Dr. Richardson is a Managing Director at Longitude Capital. Dr. Richardson was previously with Longitude Capital from 2011 to 2014, and prior to re-joining Longitude Capital in 2016, Dr. Richardson was a Public Equities Analyst at HealthCor Management where he managed small and mid-cap biotechnology investments. Prior to joining Longitude in 2011, Dr. Richardson was an Engagement Manager with McKinsey & Company.
Dr. Richardson currently serves on the boards of Neurana Pharmaceuticals and Sublimity Therapeutics and has been involved with a number of Longitude investments including Aimmune Therapeutics (AIMT), Collegium Pharmaceuticals (COLL), Cadence Pharmaceuticals (CADX, acquired by Mallinckrodt), InfaCare Pharmaceuticals (acquired by Mallinckrodt) and Precision Dermatology (acquired by Valeant Pharmaceuticals). Dr. Richardson holds an M.D. from the University of Virginia and a B.S. in biomedical science from the University of South Florida.
Mr. Zisson joined H.I.G. BioHealth Partners as a Managing Director in January 2016. Mr. Zisson focuses on investments in the biopharmaceuticals industry, and currently serves on the board of directors for Leiter’s Pharmacy, Clarus Therapeutics, and Neurana Pharmaceuticals. Previous board seats included Auspex Pharmaceuticals (sold to Teva), InnoPharma (sold to Pfizer), Quinnova (sold to Amneal), Celator (public), Zogenix (public), Tranzyme (merged with Ocera) and observer roles at PCI Pharma Services (sold to Partners Group) and Coley Pharmaceutical (sold to Pfizer).
Prior to H.I.G. Capital, Mr. Zisson spent 13 years at Thomas, McNerney & Partners, and 11 years in the research department at Hambrecht & Quist (and its successor firms Chase H&Q and JPMorgan). After the merger of Chase and JPMorgan, Mr. Zisson became the firm’s healthcare strategist. He was named twice in The Wall Street Journal All-Star Analysts Survey. He graduated magna cum laude from Brown University, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa.