Prof Darren Kelly
CEO AND MANAGING DIRECTOR
Darren is the Company’s CEO and Managing Director bringing over 25 years of management and research expertise in the life sciences and biotech sector. Concurrent to his role with OccuRx, Darren is the Associate Dean (Innovation and Enterprise, MDHS) at The University of Melbourne, the Director of Innovation and Enterprise at the Centre for Eye Research Australia (CERA) and the Director Biomedical Research in the Department of Medicine, St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne, where his research expertise lies in progressing pre-clinical novel interventions and developing experimental models of cardiovascular disease. He has published over 200 manuscripts in the field of translational research and novel interventions many of which have had a direct impact on human disease. In 2009, Darren was a recipient of the prestigious TJ Neale award for outstanding contribution to nephrology. In 2015 Darren joined the Medical Research Commercialisation Fund as Venture Partner.
Darren has proven history in translational research. He was previously Founder, CEO and Director of Fibrotech Therapeutics, a company that developed orally active anti-fibrotic inhibitors to treat underlying pathological fibrosis in kidney and heart failure, which was ultimately acquired by Shire Plc for a record 75 million USD upfront including milestone payments up to 600 million USD.
Darren has a PhD in Translational Medicine from the University of Melbourne, and an Executive Diploma Business Administration. He is a current member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, AusBiotech, BioMelbourne Network and a Fellow of the American Society of Nephrology.
Dr Chris Nave
CHAIRPERSON AND DIRECTOR
Chris is a founding partner of Brandon Capital Partners and Principal Executive of the Medical Research Commercialisation Fund. In addition to OccuRx, Chris currently holds directorships with Spinifex Pharmaceuticals, Osprey Medical Inc., PolyActiva Pty Ltd, Global Kinetics Corporation and Otifex Therapeutics Pty Ltd. Chris previously was Director of Commercialisation at the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute, Melbourne, Australia. He was responsible for the commercialisation of technologies developed at the Baker and the Alfred Hospital, including the management of local and international spinout companies.
Prior to this, Chris was the Manager of the Biotechnology Team at Melbourne Ventures, the commercialisation company of the University of Melbourne. Concurrently during this period, he was an Investment Manager for, and on the investment committee of, Uniseed Pty Ltd, a $60 million pre-seed fund. Chris has international experience with Leiras Pharmaceuticals in Finland, a wholly owned subsidiary of Schering AG, working for their Business Development group. He successfully moved companies to the US, securing investment from US investors for these companies. Past directorships have seen Chris involved directly in the management, fundraising, and successful spinout of various companies in the life sciences industry. Chris was also Chairperson of Fibrotech Therapeutics at the time of its successful sale to Shire. In 2014, he was awarded the AusBiotech Johnson & Johnson Industry Leadership Award.
Chris has a first-class Honours degree in Science and a PhD in Endocrinology and Physiology from the University of Melbourne and he has completed the Private Equity and Venture Capital Program at Harvard Business School, Boston, MA.
Dr John Kurek
John is the Biotechnology Investment Manager of the Uniseed venture fund, operating at the Universities of Melbourne, Queensland, Sydney, New South Wales and the CSIRO. In this role, John is responsible for identifying new investment opportunities and managing Uniseed’s overall biotechnology and life sciences portfolio. John has 20years of industry experience as a Biotechnology Manager with a focus on the strategic design and implementation of drug development programs.
John’s previous roles have included Pharmaceutical Development Manager at BioDiem Ltd., managing the preclinical, clinical and regulatory aspects of BioDiem’s drug development programs, and Preclinical Development Manager at Amrad Corporation Ltd., where he was responsible for the management of preclinical drug development projects. His experience extends from drug discovery to the clinical phase of drug development.
John has a PhD in neuroscience and a Post Graduate Diploma in drug evaluation and pharmaceutical science, both from the University of Melbourne, and is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.
Ms Ann Hamer
CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER
Ann’s expertise is in organisational and operational management having spent over 12 years in various management roles within the healthcare and biotech sector ranging from Not-For-Profit, University, and private enterprise positions. Prior to her role with OccuRx, Ann was Operations Manager for Fibrotech Therapeutics, where she was responsible for managing the operational activities of the Company, whilst contributing to the development and implementation of Company strategies, policies and practices, including the corporate governance and due diligence processes associated with the successful acquisition of the Company to Shire in 2014. Concurrent to her role with OccuRx, Ann also holds a position with the University of Melbourne, managing commercial and contract research for the Department of Medicine, St Vincent’s Hospital.
Ann has a Masters degree in Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP), University of Melbourne, a Bachelor degree in Psychology and Communications, Monash University and a Diploma in Management, University of Melbourne.
Dr Chris Burns
VP, DRUG DISCOVERY AND PHARMACOLOGY
Dr Burns has worked for over 25 years in drug discovery and development in both commercial and academic settings. He has extensive experience in early stage and translational drug discovery and is an inventor on over 30 patents and co-author of over 60 scientific papers. Dr Burns was the lead inventor of the drug momelotinib currently undergoing Phase III trials in the US and licensed by Gilead Sciences in 2013 for US510m. Throughout his career he has worked in a range of disease areas including oncology, inflammatory disease and auto-immunity.
Dr Burns has a PhD in Organic Chemistry from the University of Melbourne and subsequently worked at Pfizer UK and with Australian biotech Ambri, prior to becoming Research Director at Melbourne-based biotech company Cytopia. Dr Burns has held academic positions at the University of Sydney and the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute for Medical Research in Melbourne and was most recently CEO and Research Director at privately-held biotech Metabloq Pharmaceuticals. In addition to his role at Certa, Dr Burns is also employed as Chief Commercial Officer for oncology-focused biotech MecRx Pty Ltd, and is also a founder and board member of ASX-listed company Amplia Therapeutics.
Dr Burns is a Fellow of the Royal Australian Chemical Institute and of the Royal Society of Chemistry, and is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.
Dr Fay Khong
SENIOR ASSOCIATE, RESEARCH & COMMERCIALISATION
Fay brings to OccuRx over 7 years of medical research training and expertise in the preclinical testing of novel pharmaceutical interventions in cardiovascular disease, focusing on inflammation and fibrosis in disease progression. Concurrent to her role with OccuRx, Fay is a Research Fellow at the Biomedical Translational Research Group, Department of Medicine (St Vincent’s Hospital), The University of Melbourne, In 2014 she interned with Brandon Capital Partners under the Medical Research Commercialisation Fund program, where she gained valuable experience in evaluating the commercial potential of health and life science innovations. Previously, Fay worked with the team at Fibrotech Therapeutics and was involved in the project management for the Company’s R&D programs.
Fay has a first-class Honours degree in Pharmacology and Biotechnology and a PhD in Medicine from the University of Melbourne. She is a current member of AusBiotech.
Dr Michelle Papadimitriou
RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT MANAGER
Michelle Papadimitriou joined OccuRx as a Project Manager in 2017. She has 9 years of medical research training and experience in the field of immunology, with a specific emphasis on the role of innate immune cells in the pathogenesis of autoimmune disease. Michelle previously worked as a postdoc at the Center for Regenerative Therapies in Dresden, Germany where she developed a single-cell gene expression assay, analysed large data sets using complex tools and developed a data management system for tracking clinical study samples and research data.
Michelle completed her PhD in the Immunology and Diabetes Unit at St Vincent’s Institute, Melbourne, Australia.
CLINICAL OPERATIONS MANAGER
Nicole has over 25 years’ experience in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry, with over 20 years in the clinical research field. Fulfilling various roles, she has worked with major pharmaceutical companies, Contract Research Organisations and small and medium-sized biotechnology companies to implement and manage their clinical research projects and programs. Nicole is responsible for ensuring delivery of high quality clinical trials at OccuRx.
Mr Marc Gleeson
R&D/BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT CONSULTANT
Marc brings to OccuRx over 23 years of experience within the Biotech and Life Sciences sector. Starting his career as a sales representative, Marc’s breadth of expertise extends across a range of disciplines with increasing responsibility spanning various geographies.
Marc spent 14 years working with Allergan Inc.’s Ophthalmology Franchise, his most recent role being Vice President, US Marketing for Glaucoma and External Disease. Prior to that, Marc spent 7 years in the Global Strategic Marketing group at Allergan based in Irvine California, first as Senior Director, Global Strategic Marketing – Retina and from 2010-2013 as Vice President of Global Strategic Marketing – Eye Care. During this time Marc lead the global commercial strategy for the Allergan Eye Care Franchise as well as the Business Development strategies for the Eye Care Franchise.
Prior to joining Allergan, Marc worked at Janssen-Cilag where he lead the Australian and New Zealand Procrit/Eprex Franchise and additionally established and lead the Government Relations Function.
Marc is a key consultant to OccuRx, providing strategic advice and direction relating to the Company’s R&D and business development activities.
Ms Kylie Fields
Kylie has extensive project coordination and administrative experience working in health, university and government sectors. She is particularly adept in corporate communications, managing projects and providing high level executive support.
Kylie provides executive support to the OccuRx management team and facilitates the execution of research and commercial contracts, working closely with collaborators, commercial entities and internal and external stakeholders to achieve project milestones. She also assists with financial administration, staff recruitment and procurement.
Concurrent to this role, Kylie provides executive support to Professor Darren Kelly in his capacity as Associate Dean (Innovation and Commercialisation, MDHS) assisting with administration of research and commercial funding portfolios and engagement activities.
Kylie has a Bachelor Degree in Arts and a Post Graduate Diploma in Education.
Prof Jonathan Crowston
Jonathan is the Ringland Anderson Professor of Ophthalmology, University of Melbourne and Managing Director of the Centre for Eye Research Australia (CERA). He is a practising glaucoma specialist and leads glaucoma research at CERA.
He gained his ophthalmology training at Moorfields Eye Hospital, London and a PhD for research in ocular fibrosis at the Institute of Ophthalmology, University College London (2000). He subsequently completed Glaucoma Fellowships at the University of Sydney and UC San Diego where he then joined the glaucoma faculty, prior to moving to Australia in 2006.
Professor Crowston serves as a director on a number of boards including the Centre for Eye Research Australia (CERA), ORIA (2008+), World Glaucoma Association, CERA Technologies Pty Ltd (2015+), Et al Research Pty Ltd (2015+), Oculo and Sight for All (2016).
He has published over 160 peer-reviewed manuscripts and co-authored three books. Jonathan has received a number of awards for his research and training. He is the recipient of the 2016 Peter Watson Medal from Cambridge Ophthalmology Society and the inaugural recipient of 2016 ARVO David L Epstein Award recognising outstanding research in Glaucoma and for mentoring young clinical investigators.
Dr Thomas Hohman
Thomas Hohman, PhD was formerly Head of Retina Discovery and Vice President of Retina Translation Medicine at Allergan, where he was responsible for discovering and advancing new treatments for retinal diseases. Prior to retiring, his efforts at Allergan focused on identifying biomarkers and methods quantifying retina functional changes that predict disease progression. These efforts formed the basis for clinical interventional studies of novel treatments for exudative age related macular degeneration and geographic atrophy.
Prior to his tenure at Allergan, Dr. Hohman held leadership positions at Alcon Research as VP of Retinal Research and Development, and at Novartis as Disease Area Section Head for Ophthalmology Clinical Research and Development.
Prof Robyn Guymer
Robyn is Professor of Ophthalmology at Melbourne University and Deputy Director of the Centre for Eye Research Australia. She is also a senior retinal specialist at the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital. She is a clinician scientist who leads a team of 20 researchers primarily investigating Age related macular degeneration (AMD).
She has investigated genetic and environmental risk factors for AMD, predictors of response to treatments for late AMD, as well as being a principal investigator in many industry sponsored trials. She is on several pharmaceutical advisory boards and is part of the Mactel consortium, the Beckman/Ryan AMD initiative (USA) and the International classification of Atrophy group. She was part of the scientific leadership group of Bionic Vision Australia.
She is currently investigating new strategies for treating early stages of AMD with a nanosecond laser and is working to identify novel imaging and functional biomarkers and surrogate endpoints to improve the feasibility of conducting early intervention trials. She is a member of the Macular society and an inaugural fellow of the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences. Robyn was awarded the NHMRC’s 2016 Elizabeth Blackburn Fellowship for the top ranked female research fellowship in clinical medicine.
Dr Giovanni Staurenghi
Giovanni is presently Professor of Ophthalmology and Chairman of the University Eye Clinic and Director of the University Eye Clinic Department of Biomedical and Clinical Science “Luigi Sacco” at the Luigi Sacco Hospital in Milan, Italy. He received his medical degree at the University of Pavia and his residency training at the University of Milan, both in Italy. He was a Research Fellow and, subsequently, a visiting scientist at the Schepens Eye Research Institute. His research, publications, and lectures have an important bearing on retinal degeneration; his work is focused on different types of imaging and treatment.
Dr. Staurenghi is a member of the Macula Society, The Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO), Ophthalmic Photographer Society, and American Academy of Ophthalmology. He was a member of the Annual Meeting Program Committee of ARVO from 2008 to 2010. He is a Scientific Advisor for the Digital Angiography Reading Center and visiting Professor and Consultant for the Belfast Ophthalmic Reading Center at the Central Angiographic Resource Facility.
Dr. Staurenghi is a member of the editorial board of IOVS, Retina and American Journal of Clinical Cases. He is a reviewer for many international scientific journals including the American Journal of Ophthalmology, Archives of Ophthalmology, British Journal of Ophthalmology, European Journal of Ophthalmology, Graefe’s Archives of Ophthalmology, International Ophthalmology, IOVS, Ophthalmology, Ophthalmologica, and Retina.