Dietrich A. Stephan, Ph.D.

Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, Founder

Dr. Stephan is an industry veteran who is considered one of the fathers of the field of precision medicine, having trained with the leadership of the Human Genome Project at the NIH and then going on to lead discovery research at the Translational Genomics Research Institute and serve as professor and chairman of the Department of Human Genetics at the University of Pittsburgh. Stephan has identified the molecular basis of dozens of genetic diseases and published extensively in journals such as Science, the New England Journal of Medicine, Nature Genetics, PNAS and Cell. In parallel, Dr. Stephan has founded or co-founded 14 biotechnology companies and has advised an additional 12 companies. These companies are backed by the top-tier investors such as Sequoia Capital, KPCB, Thiel Capital, and Khosla Ventures as well as corporate partners such as Life Technologies, Pfizer, and Mayo Clinic. Dr. Stephan received his Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh and his BS from Carnegie Mellon University.

Robert Friedlander, M.D.

Consulting Chief Medical Officer

Dr. Friedlander is a renowned neurologist. Prior to NeuBase, he became the fourth Chairman of the Department of Neurological Surgeons at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Prior to joining the department, Dr. Friedlander was professor of neurosurgery at Harvard Medical School and vice-chairman of neurosurgery and associate director of cerebrovascular surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. Presently, Dr. Friedlander is the Walter E. Dandy Professor of Neurosurgery, Neurology and Neurobiology, and Co-Director of the UPMC Neurological Institute. His work has been published in many top tier journals including Nature, Science, Nature Medicine, Nature Neuroscience and PNAS, and he has been recognized through many academic awards. In 2006, he was elected as a member of the prestigious American Society for Clinical Investigation. Dr. Friedlander is one of only three neurosurgeons elected as a member of the American Association of Physicians, and in 2018, he was elected to the National Academy of Medicine.

Sam Backenroth

Chief Financial Officer and SVP of Business Development

Mr. Backenroth has extensive executive experience in financing and building biotechnology companies and most recently comes from Ohr Pharmaceutical. While at Ohr, he was instrumental in the company’s growth from startup to a market capitalization of several hundred million and in moving a product from preclinical into late stage clinical development. He previously worked as an investment banker with The Benchmark Company LLC, an investment banking firm specializing in micro-cap biotechnology transactions. While at Benchmark, Sam helped numerous small biotechnology companies raise equity growth capital through a variety of structures. Mr. Backenroth also acted as an advisor to multiple public and private biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies in assisting with business development activities, joint ventures, licensing, strategic partnerships, and mergers & acquisitions. He graduated with honors from Touro College with a BS in finance.

William Mann, Ph.D.

Chief Operating Officer

Prior to joining NeuBase, Dr. Mann founded Lodestar Biopharma Solutions LLC, a consultancy supporting early stage companies, in 2018 and supported Stony Brook University’s Center for Biotechnology as a BioEntrepreneur in Residence. Dr. Mann previously served as President and Chief Executive Officer of Helsinn Therapeutics (U.S.), Inc., a supportive cancer care company, from September 2009 to February 2018 where he helped transform the R&D start-up with sixteen employees into a profitable commercial company of over one hundred. Prior to Helsinn, Dr. Mann was Vice President of Corporate Development at Sapphire Therapeutics, Inc. where he facilitated the sale of the company while managing the lead Phase 2B program. He also held senior level R&D and business development positions at Novartis and served on its global Cardiovascular & Metabolism Business Franchise Board. Dr. Mann earned an MBA from Rutgers University, a Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the University of Aberdeen, Scotland, and pursued postdoctoral studies in human genetics at The Rockefeller University.

Kia Motesharei, Ph.D.

Chief Business and Strategy Officer

Most recently, Dr. Motesharei was Senior Vice President, Business Development & Corporate Strategy at Akcea Therapeutics, a late-stage development and commercial biopharmaceutical company focused on rare diseases, where he led and executed the regional partnership of Akcea’s marketed products Tegsedi® and Waylivra® with Sobi in Europe and the Middle East. Prior to Akcea, Dr. Motesharei headed Global Licensing & Business Development, Neurology & Immunology (N&I) at EMD Serono, the biopharmaceutical business of Merck KGaA. He was a core member of the N&I Franchise Leadership Team that executed the overall strategy of the $1.8 billion franchise, including product and pipeline development, partnering, regulatory and commercial and marketing decisions. He managed the global licensing team responsible for search and evaluation and transactions across the entire R&D spectrum for the immunology, neurology, allergy, fertility, medical device and global health franchises. Previously, Dr. Motesharei was a member of the management team and investor relations team at Dyax Corporation, a pharmaceutical company focused on development and commercialization of novel biotherapeutics for prevention of hereditary angioedema. He led the business development, alliance management and competitive intelligence functions covering Dyax’s phage display platform as well as pipeline products including Kalbitor® and DX-2930 (now approved as Takhzyro®) that contributed to its approximately $6.5 billion acquisition by Shire. Earlier in his career, he held a series of leadership positions at Genfit Corporation, ActivX Biosciences and Lion Bioscience. He currently serves on the board of Ariana Pharma. Dr. Motesharei received a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from the UCLA and a B.A. in chemistry from Colorado College. He completed his postdoctoral training as an NIH fellow at The Scripps Research Institute.

Sandra Rojas-Caro, M.D.

Chief Medical Officer

Dr. Rojas-Caro has broad R&D leadership, executive management and team-building experience in private and public biotech companies and large pharma. She has been directly involved in successful global regulatory submissions, including an FDA and EMA approval and more than 10 investigational new drug (IND) applications. Most recently, she was Chief Medical Officer for Gemini Therapeutics, a company focused on redefining age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and linked disorders with precision medicine. At Gemini, she led development through several milestones, including the company’s first IND and the first cohorts of genetically selected patients dosed with the company’s leading biologic therapeutic. Prior to Gemini, Sandra served as Chief Medical Officer for Aeglea BioTherapeutics, a biotechnology company developing a new generation of enzyme-based therapeutics to treat inborn errors of metabolism (IEM). Prior to Aeglea, she served as Group Vice President of Clinical Research and Development at Synageva BioPharma where she was instrumental in leading the clinical development team that secured the FDA and EMA approval of Kanuma® (sebelipase alfa) for the treatment of lysosomal acid lipase deficiency, as well as advancing the clinical development of other IEM programs. Following the acquisition of Synageva by Alexion, Dr. Rojas-Caro served as Vice President and R&D Project Team Leader for the Metabolic Rare Diseases Unit, and she supported the post-merger integration. Earlier in her career, she held roles in clinical and translational research with increasing levels of responsibility at Roche, Array BioPharma and Pfizer, where she was responsible for the design and implementation of early development clinical strategy across a broad range of indications.

Robert Zamboni, Ph.D.

Chief of Preclinical Development

Dr. Zamboni has 25 years of experience in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry. His career has been devoted to chemistry drug discovery, which has resulted in many compounds in clinical development and over 114 publications and 28 patents. Previously, he served as Vice President of Research and as a Senior Research Chemist at Merck & Co., Inc. and as an adjunct professor of chemistry at McGill University. Dr. Zamboni is a Member of the American Chemical Society and is the recipient of numerous prestigious awards, including the Prix Galien and the Prix Lionel-Boulet and a Heroes' of Chemistry Award from the American Chemistry Society in recognition of his work in discovering and developing Singulair, for the treatment of asthma. Dr. Zamboni received a BSc in Honors Chemistry and his PhD in Organic Synthesis from McGill University and completed postdoctoral fellowships at the University of Pittsburgh and Yale University.