The Velicept Therapeutics leadership team, led by Dr. James C. Walker, combines many years of comprehensive pharmaceutical, operational and commercialization experience.
Dr. James C. Walker
Chief Executive Officer
Jim has over 25 years in the pharmaceutical industry. Jim founded and was CEO and Chairman of Octagon Research Solutions, Inc. (Octagon), a global pharmaceutical services and software company. Octagon was acquired by Accenture (NYSE: ACN) in September, 2012. Prior to founding Octagon, Jim worked as a Regulatory Affairs professional at both Johnson & Johnson and Schering-Plough.
Jim is a graduate of Villanova University earning a B.S. in Science Comprehensive. Jim also earned an M.S. in Environmental Science from Rutgers University and an M.B.A. from Duke University and his Doctorate degree from the University of Pennsylvania. His dissertation was an exploratory study on adaptability in the workplace.
Jim served on the Board of Directors for the Cadient Group, acquired by Cognizant (Nasdaq: CTSH) in October, 2014. Jim is also the Chairman of TrialScope, Inc. and Zoomi, Inc. He also serves on the Advisory board of EmeraldStage2 ventures.
Chief Financial Officer
Mr. Gessl has over 12 years of experience in biotech and nearly 20 years in the financial services sector. Mr. Gessl is also a partner in NeXeption. Previously he served as Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer of Ceptaris Therapeutics (acquired by Actelion) and Chief Financial Officer and Senior Vice President of Ception Therapeutics, a bipharma company (acquired by Cephalon). Previously, Mr. Gessl was a Senior Vice President with Einhorn Associates where he acted as financial advisor for mergers and acquisitions as well as lead advisor for the first institutional financing for Fulcrum Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a legacy company to Ception. Mr. Gessl’s experience prior to entering the biopharmaceutical industry covers approximately 20 years, completing merger and acquisition transactions, public and private capital and structured finance offerings for clients. He also held roles in international strategic planning and consulting. Mr. Gessl received his M.B.A. from the University of Chicago and a B.B.A. in Finance, Investments and Banking from the University of Wisconsin.
Dr. Clarence Young, MD
Chief Medical Officer
Dr. Young has nearly 25 years pharmaceutical industry experience, building and leading high performing product development teams and organizations. Prior to joining Velicept, Dr. Young was Senior Vice-President and Chief Medical Officer at Iroko Pharmaceuticals, LLC, where he provided clinical and medical leadership for three NDA filings and approvals and built a medical affairs organization to support multiple product launches. Other prior industry leadership positions include: Vice President, Integrated Hospital Care and Vice-President, Targeted Therapies, at Novartis Pharmaceutical Corporation, leading a group that piloted a virtual development model and Vice President, Drug Development and Chief Medical Officer at Protez Pharmaceuticals, which was acquired by Novartis. Dr. Young began his pharmaceutical industry career at GlaxeSmithKline where he was Vice President and Global Head, Anti-Infectives Clinical Development. He is the author of numerous peer reviewed articles, reviews and scientific presentations.
Dr. Young is a Fellow of the Infectious Diseases Society of America and is Board certified in Internal Medicine and Infectious Diseases. He recently served on the White House Task Force on Antimicrobial Resistance (2014). He is a graduate of Williams College and Harvard Medical School. He completed internal medicine residency training at New York Presbyterian Hospital and Infectious Diseases fellowship training at the Massachusetts General Hospital and the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.
Dr. Eliot Ohlstein
Chief Scientific Officer
Dr. Ohlstein has more than 25 years of experience in the pharmaceutical & biotechnology industry. Previously, Dr. Ohlstein was Senior Vice President of the Cardiovascular Urogenital Center of Excellence in Drug Discovery (CEDD) at GlaxoSmithKline. He was accountable for a research portfolio of both clinical and preclinical drugs. During his 25-year tenure with GSK, he was involved in taking seven drugs to market and led a clinical research group that achieved eight clinical proof of concepts in seven years. Dr. Ohlstein left GSK in April 2008 to initiate the spinning-out a new start-up biotech company, Venuvics Pharmaceuticals and became CEO/CSO of this new company. Upon completing his work with Venuvics, he was a co-founder of AltheRx Pharmaceuticals Inc. where he was CSO and Head of R&D. Dr. Ohlstein sits on the Scientific Advisory Boards for several Biotech companies. He is currently an adjunct Professor of Pharmacology at Drexel University Medical School.
Dr. Ohlstein has authored over 270+ scientific publications, spoken at over 50 invited seminars/symposia and in 1996 was honored with Prix Galien Award and Special Commendation for Innovation Research for endothelin receptors. In 2008, Dr. Ohlstein received PhRMA’s highest honor, the Discoverer’s Award, for his work on GSK’s Coreg® (carvedilol), the “standard of care” for chronic heart failure. Dr. Ohlstein is Vice-Chairman for the NC-IUPHAR, is the Editor for IUPHAR, is on the Editorial Board for Pharmacological Reviews, and is Editor-in Chief for Drug Discovery Today. Dr. Ohlstein is also Specialty Editor-in-Chief for the Web 2.0 journal Frontiers in Pharmacology—Urogenital Disorders.
Dr. Ohlstein has a Ph.D. in Pharmacology from Tulane University Medical School and a B.S. from Massachusetts College of Pharmacy. His graduate research on the discovery of nitric oxide as an important biological mediator contributed to the Nobel Prize in 1998.
Dr. Jeffrey S. Shaver
Head of Project Management
Dr. Shaver has more than 20 years’ experience in the pharmaceutical industry, encompassing large pharma, generic drug companies as well as biotech companies. Dr. Shaver is also a partner with NeXeption. He previously served as Vice President of Project Management and Operations at Ceptaris Therapeutics (acquired by Actelion) and Vice President of Project Management, Alliances and Information Technology for Ception Therapeutics, a biopharma company (acquired by Cephalon). He has held positions with Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories, Ltd., GlaxoSmithKline, and its predecessor, SmithKline Beecham. Prior to entering the pharmaceutical industry, Dr. Shaver also served in positions of increasing responsibility in engineering management, project management and policy in the United States Air Force. Dr. Shaver is a Distinguished Graduate from the United States Air Force Academy, and earned a M.S. from Purdue University and a Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Head of Operations
Mr. Stevens has over 20 years leadership experience in the life sciences with expertise in finance, IT, business development and product development and launch. Mr. Stevens was a co-founder and VP, Finance & Operations at AltheRx Pharmaceuticals. Prior to AltheRx, He was Vice President R&D Information Technology GlaxoSmithKline with responsibility for Preclinical and the Biopharmaceutical units. As such he was integrally involved in the operations of R&D and Preclinical specifically. Prior to joining IT Mr. Stevens spent several years in GSK Business Development with responsibility for out licensing technology and drug assets. He also spent several years within the R&D Finance organization initially responsible for R&D capital followed by roles of increasing responsibility. Prior to joining GSK, Mr. Stevens held a position at Anderson Consulting (Accenture) helping pharmaceutical companies improve methods for drug development and commercial launch. This work focused on helping teams within R&D to consider the commercial impact of their R&D decisions.
Mr. Stevens has an undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering from The Pennsylvania State University and an MBA with Honors from the Smeal College of Business, The Pennsylvania State University.
Kelly A. Copeland
Head of Commercial Strategy
Ms. Copeland has more than 18 years of experience working in the healthcare industry and is currently a partner in NeXeption. Previously, Ms. Copeland was the Vice President of Product Strategy and Marketing for Ceptaris Therapeutics (acquired by Actelion) and Vice President of Product Strategy and Business Development for Ception Therapeutics, a biopharma company (acquired by Cephalon). Prior to that, she spent six years with GlaxoSmithKline in positions of increasing responsibility in Global Commercial Strategy within R&D supporting the development of early & late stage development programs. Prior to GlaxoSmithKline, Ms. Copeland held positions at Henry Ford Health System and Provider Partnerships, Inc.
Ms. Copeland earned her M.S. in Health Services Administration and a B.S. from the University of Michigan. Additionally, she completed a post-graduate fellowship with Henry Ford Health System
Head of CMC and QA
Mr. Bennyhoff has over 15 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry encompassing large and small molecules in both clinical and commercial settings. Most recently Mr. Bennyhoff has served as the Sr. Manager of CMC/QA for Ceptaris Therapeutics, Cephalon/Teva and Ception Therapeutics. These roles encompassed a broad range of duties including oversight of drug substance/drug product manufacturing and testing, Regulatory submissions and management of the Quality programs. Prior to this, he served in increasing roles of responsibility with Johnson & Johnson (Centocor) and West Pharmaceutical Services. Dale holds a B.A. degree from the University of Rhode Island and is working towards a degree in Chemistry/Biology – Pre Med, from West Chester University.