Mina Sooch, M.B.A.
Chief Executive Officer
Mina Sooch is a co-founder of Ocuphire and serves as President and Chief Executive Officer. She has served on the Ocuphire Board since founding in 2018. With over 25 years of pharmaceutical and biotech experience as CEO, entrepreneur, venture capitalist, and strategist, Ms. Sooch has successfully raised hundreds of millions of dollars for over 10 biotechnology, pharmaceutical, and medical device companies, which included two successful IPOs. Prior to Ocuphire, Ms. Sooch was a co-founder and CEO of Gemphire Therapeutics, a publicly-traded, clinical-stage cardiovascular company. Ms. Sooch’s leadership was instrumental in the company’s successful IPO in 2016. From July 2012 to May 2014, Ms. Sooch was a co-founder and CEO of ProNAi Therapeutics, a public, clinical-stage oncology company, and a member of the board of directors from its founding in 2004 through May 2014. At ProNai, Ms. Sooch guided the company through several important milestones, including a podium presentation at ASH 2013 on ProNai’s lead drug candidate’s cancer response rates in Phase 2 trials, and raised $60 million from over 10 institutional investors, setting up the IPO. Ms. Sooch also co-founded Apjohn Ventures Fund, a venture capital firm that invests primarily in early-stage life sciences companies and has served as its Managing Partner since its founding in 2003. Earlier in her career, from 1993-2000, Ms. Sooch served as a global account manager at Monitor Group, a top-tier global strategy consulting firm based in Boston. Ms. Sooch worked on the multi-billion Pharmacia & Upjohn merger in 1995 and later co-led the launch of the Corporate Finance group, specializing in M&A, valuations, and merger integration. Ms. Sooch has served on the boards of more than 10 private, public, and nonprofit firms, and has been the recipient of numerous awards, including being named one of the Deal Makers of the year in 2016 by Crain’s Detroit Business. Ms. Sooch received an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School and a B.S. summa cum laude in Chemical Engineering from Wayne State University in Michigan.
Charlie Hoffmann, M.B.A.
VP of Corporate Development and Operations
Charlie Hoffmann serves as the Vice President of Corporate Development and Finance at Ocuphire. From 2008 to 2018, Mr. Hoffmann served as an advisor to the founders of Ocularis Pharma, the original developer of Nyxol, to help them raise capital for clinical development and evaluate possible strategic transactions for the company. After Ocularis and Ocuphire merged, he joined Ocuphire. Since 2004, Mr. Hoffmann has served as a financial and strategic advisor to emerging pharmaceutical development companies, including SynDevRx, Inc., a pioneer in the field of metabo-oncology. As a Director at Prudential Vector Healthcare from 1996 to 2001 and a partner of EHS Securities from 2001 to 2003, Mr. Hoffmann managed numerous PIPE, IPO, and follow-on offerings, as well as strategic and license transactions. Previously, Mr. Hoffmann gained extensive experience in corporate finance and merger and acquisition transactions and managed capital markets relationships at Goldman Sachs and Credit Suisse First Boston. Mr. Hoffmann earned his M.B.A. from the Tuck School of Business and his undergraduate degree from Dartmouth College.
Amy Rabourn, CPA
VP of Finance
Amy Rabourn serves as VP of Finance of Ocuphire. She has 18 years of finance and accounting experience, including public company, with a focus on life sciences. In her most recent role, she was Director of Finance at Gemphire Therapeutics, Inc. which merged with NeuroBo Pharmaceuticals, Inc. in December of 2019. She was with the company since inception as its first finance employee. She implemented processes and procedures and supported the Company through private fund raising and its IPO in August of 2016. She oversaw daily financial transactions, performed budgeting and forecasting, and managed the financial reviews and audit, SEC filings and tax preparation. Upon departure of the CFO in September of 2018, she assumed additional responsibilities including management of insurance and HR activities and reporting to the Audit Committee. After the merger, she continued as a consultant to NeuroBo in the same role as they transitioned to public company status. Prior to that, she held a position as Controller of a software start-up, performed financial consulting in the life sciences space and worked in Finance at Pfizer. She is a licensed CPA with public accounting experience from PricewaterhouseCoopers, LLP where she worked in the audit practice. Amy is a graduate of the University of Michigan where she earned a MAcc (Master of Accounting) and BBA with a Finance and Accounting concentration.
Konstantinos Charizanis, Ph.D., M.B.A.
Senior Director of Market Strategy and R&D
Konstantinos Charizanis, Ph.D., serves as Director of Market Strategy and R&D of Ocuphire. Dr. Charizanis has 15 years of experience in medical research, including biotech R&D, and pharmaceutical business development. He spent the first decade of his career exploring the underlying causes of orphan genetic diseases that affect the neuromuscular system. In 2012, Dr. Charizanis joined the University of Florida’s Department of Molecular Genetics as a research fellow, where he discovered the underlying causes of the brain-related phenotype of myotonic dystrophy, a rare genetic disorder that affects 40,000 people in the U.S. In 2015, he joined Rubicon Genomics as a research scientist and contributed to the exit and acquisition by Takara Holdings for $75 million in 2017. Following the exit, he served as a business development consultant for Gemphire Therapeutics, a pharmaceutical startup in the space of cardiovascular and liver diseases. Dr. Charizanis holds a Ph.D. in Molecular Genetics from the University of Florida and an M.B.A. from the University of Michigan Ross School of Business.
Director of Clinical Operations and Vendor Management
Drey Coleman serves as the Director of Clinical Operations and Vendor Management for Ocuphire. Ms. Coleman has approximately fifteen years of experience in pharmaceutical research and development. From May 2012 to July 2019, Ms. Coleman was General Manager of Oculos Clinical Research, a clinical research organization dedicated to human clinical trials in ophthalmology. In this position, she had responsibility for management of Oculos business operations, guidance and support of clinical project teams and oversight of clinical trial activities, including responsibility for P&L vendor management and client relations. Prior to that, from October 2006 to December 2010, she was Director of Contracts and Compliance with Sirion Therapeutics, Inc., a successful ophthalmic pharmaceutical company. During this time, she was responsible for the creation of compliance programs, policies, and training associated with drug commercialization activities. In addition, Ms. Coleman acted as chair of Medical/Legal/Regulatory review team for promotional materials and aided with the development and support of programs for educational and investigator-initiated trial grants. She was also a key member in support of investment funding arrangements more than $80 million related diligence and responsibility for associated disclosures. Following the sale and liquidation of Sirion’s assets with multiple entities in 2010, Ms. Coleman was an integral part of the wind down team and execution of the wind down plan. Ms. Coleman has extensive knowledge of the laws and regulations affecting the pharmaceutical industry, along with a proven track record of successful contract negotiations. Ms. Coleman holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Central Florida.
Daniela Oniciu, Ph.D.
Head of CMC and Global Clinical Supply Manufacturing
Daniela C. Oniciu has two decades of industry expertise and executive leadership in (bio)pharmaceutical companies, with a broad reach across the entire spectrum of pharmaceutical development: early discovery and medicinal chemistry, chemical R&D and nonclinical operations, integrated clinical development planning (nonclinical/clinical/CMC) for all clinical phases and NDA, translational medicine. Dr. Oniciu is an inventor of bempedoic acid (Nexlitol®, Nilemdo®), an FDA- and EMA-approved drug for the treatment of dyslipidemia and cardiovascular risk, and was a co-leader of its CMC and nonclinical program for early clinical phases. Dr. Oniciu’s expertise encompasses process development and manufacture of small molecules, biologics, and lipids; she led teams of CMC operations from early R&D to production of global clinical supply and was an inventor and head of development of several nonclinical small molecule programs in the United States and European Union. Dr. Oniciu was a co-founder of four biotechs and CROs and instrumental in launching emerging companies. Dr Oniciu has experience in multiple therapeutical areas: cardiovascular, lipid and liver disorders, NAFLD/NASH, inflammation, cancer, ophthalmic, neuroprotective, cannabinoid, and endocrine drugs. Dr. Oniciu’s prior positions include Vice-President of Preclinical R&D and Manufacturing at Gemphire Pharmaceuticals Inc., Senior Director of Chemistry at Cerenis Therapeutics Holding SA, Associate Director of Chemistry at Pfizer Global Research and Development, and Senior Director of Chemical R&D at Esperion Therapeutics Inc. Dr. Oniciu has recently founded Creative Pharma Advisors LLC to provide independent advice for the pharmaceutical industry. She is a Courtesy Faculty in the Chemistry Department of the University of Florida at Gainesville. Dr. Oniciu received her MS in Chemical Engineering and her PhD in Chemical Engineering and Organic Chemistry Technologies from the Polytechnic Institute of Bucharest (Romania), where she held faculty positions from 1985 until 1997.
Mitchell Brigell, Ph.D.
Head of Clinical Development and Strategy
Dr. Brigell joins Ocuphire with over 15 years of experience leading clinical strategy and development of therapeutic agents targeting highly prevalent ophthalmic diseases. Dr. Brigell was the Vice President of Clinical Development at Aerpio Pharmaceuticals from 2013 to 2019. While at Aerpio, Dr Brigell directed the development of a pipeline of novel small molecules and monoclonal antibodies for the treatment of diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, wet AMD and DME. Before Aerpio, Dr. Brigell was Executive Director of Translational Medicine, Ophthalmology at Novartis Institutes of BioMedical Research and held roles of increasing responsibility at Parke-Davis/Pfizer in Experimental Medicine and Clinical Technologies. He originally joined the pharmaceutical industry as part of the Clinical Development team for Pregabalin (Lyrica).
Dr. Brigell spent over a decade in academic medicine at Loyola University and the University of Chicago in the Departments of Neurology, Neuroscience and Ophthalmology. His area of academic interest focused on electrophysiological and behavioral effects of diseases of the retina and optic nerve. He has published over 70 scientific papers and is a Fellow of the Association of Research in Vision and Ophthalmology. Dr. Brigell is on the Editorial Board of Translational Vision Science and Technology and Documenta Ophthalmologica.