Avtar Dhillon, MD | President & Executive Chairman
Dr. Dhillon is a life sciences entrepreneur with more than 20 years’ experience building public companies through mergers and acquisitions, leading innovation in scientific, engineering and farming enterprises, securing government grants and NGO funding (more than US$75 million to date), and building dominant IP portfolios through partnering. During his tenure as President and CEO at Inovio Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ: INO), Dr. Dhillon led the turnaround of the company through restructuring and acquisitions. Under his leadership, Inovio completed financing totaling over US$250 million and several licensing deals with global pharma leaders, such as Merck, Wyeth (now Pfizer), and Roche. Before joining Inovio, he was Vice President of MDS Capital Corp. (now Lumira Capital Corp.), one of North American’s leading healthcare venture capital organizations. Dr. Dhillon practiced family medicine for over 12 years and currently sits on the board of the Cannabis Association of Canada. He has a BSc (Honours) in Human Physiology and an MD from the University of British Columbia.
Jim DeMesa, MD, MBA | CEO
Dr. DeMesa has 27 years of experience in biotech product development, clinical and regulatory management, and partnerships with pharmaceutical, biotech, and medical device companies. He has raised more than $150 million to advance product development into clinical stage, regulatory approval, and commercialization. He is the former CEO of two public biotech companies: Migenix and GenSci Regeneration Sciences (now part of Integra LifeSciences). Dr. DeMesa also currently serves as director for two biotech companies: OncoSec and Induce Biologics. Previously, he was Vice President, Medical and Regulatory Affairs at Biodynamics International (now part of RTI Surgical) and Bentley Pharmaceuticals (now part of Teva Pharmaceuticals). Dr. DeMesa received his BA in Chemistry, MD, and MBA from the University of South Florida.
Jill Broadfoot | Chief Financial Officer
Ms. Broadfoot served as Vice President, US Corporate Controller at GW Pharmaceuticals, a global leader in cannabinoid based medicines. In this role, she upgraded its finance and accounting functions and established commercial operations in the US. Ms. Broadfoot previously served as Chief Financial Officer of Vical Incorporated, a DNA delivery technology company, and Vice President, Finance at DJ Orthopedics, Inc., a medical device company, with broad responsibilities in corporate strategy, finance, accounting, legal and business development. She also served as an audit manager at Ernst & Young LLP, where her clients included life sciences, computer software, and telecommunications companies as well as government contractors. Ms. Broadfoot received her Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and Accounting from San Diego State University and is a Certified Public Accountant.
Nancy Coulson, MBA | Vice President, Regulatory and Quality Affairs
Ms. Coulson has nearly 30 years of experience in providing strategic counsel for regulatory, clinical, and quality affairs. As a senior advisor for medical device and pharmaceutical companies, she manages US and international regulatory documents, briefing packages, and global regulatory dossiers across multiple product categories. Ms. Coulson has also completed several successful pre-approval inspections for new drug and device manufacturing facilities. Most recently, she was Worldwide Director, Regulatory Affairs at Cordis, a Johnson & Johnson company, where she provided strategic direction on global regulatory submissions. She also held scientific and senior regulatory positions at Bristol-Myers Squibb, Bausch & Lomb, GenSci, and Migenix. She received her MBA from Chapman University.
Eduardo Muñoz, PhD, MD | Chief Scientific Officer
Dr. Muñoz is a Professor of Immunology in the Department of Cell Biology, Physiology and Immunology of the University of Córdoba (Spain) and Director of the inflammation and cancer research group at the Institute Maimonides for Biomedical Research of Córdoba. Dr. Muñoz has more than 30 years of experience in biomedical research, and is the author of nearly 200 articles, patents, and book chapters with almost 5,000 citations. He is an expert in the mechanism of actions of cannabinoids and endocannabinoids as well as the development of cannabinoid-based new chemical entities. Dr. Muñoz belongs to the editorial board of several scientific journals and is a co-founder of two biotech companies, VivaCell Biotechnology (Spain) and Glactone Pharma AB (Sweden). He received a PhD in Medicine and Surgery at the University of Córdoba and was an associate researcher at Tufts University in Boston, and at the Institute Pasteur in Paris.
Mari Luz Bellido, PhD, MBA | Vice President, European Operations
Dr. Bellido is the Managing Director of VivaCell Biotechnology España SL, a privately held, preclinical-stage pharmaceutical company focused on the discovery and development of new cannabinoid and cannibigerol derivatives. She has extensive experience in pharmaceutical drug discovery, R&D financing, and project management of cannabinoids for therapeutic use and has co-authored numerous peer-reviewed papers and patents. After joining VivaCell as Chief Scientific Officer in 2008, Dr. Bellido became a partner in 2012 and was appointed Managing Director. In this role, she oversees all aspects of preclinical development from research to fundraising. Dr. Bellido received her PhD in Molecular Biology from the University of Córdoba and MBA from Spain’s ESIC Business and Marketing School.
Giovanni Appendino, PhD | Scientific Advisor
Dr. Appendino has studied cannabis and cannabinoids for more than 15 years and is regarded by the global scientific community as one of the world’s most influential thought leaders in cannabinoid research. He is the Director of Research and Development at Indena SpA and Professor of Pharmaceutical Chemistry at the University of Eastern Piedmont in Italy. Dr. Appendino was the local coordinator of three European research programs, and his research on natural products chemistry focuses on medium-sized cyclic compounds, such as cannabinoids. He also serves as Editor in Chief of the scientific journal Fitoterapia, and belongs to the publishing advisory board of several journals for organic chemistry and natural products. Dr. Appendino authored more than 250 articles and 10 book chapters, and holds six patents (four related to cannabinoids).