Kazuyoshi Hirao, MBA
Chief Executive Officer
Mr. Hirao is currently Chief Executive Officer and President of Cellular Dynamics International (CDI), a FUJIFILM company. He previously served as business development manager of FUJIFILM’s pharmaceutical division from 2013 to 2015, where he had responsibility for the M&A transactions and licensing activities in the global markets. At FUJIFILM headquarters, he held international leadership and management roles for global business operations, including the non-destructive test business director of the industrial products division from 2010 to 2013 and senior operations manager for business development and global governance of the electronic materials division from 2005 to 2010. Between 1998 and 2005 he held various project management roles at the corporate planning division in connection with FUJIFILM Second Foundation. Mr. Hirao earned his B.A. from the Keio University in Tokyo and his M.B.A. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He completed the University of Tokyo Executive Management Program in 2012.
David Gamm, MD, PhD
Co-Founder & Chief Scientific Officer
Dr. Gamm is a practicing pediatric ophthalmologist at the University of Wisconsin, and a leader in the field of retinal cell differentiation from human pluripotent stem cells. At the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Dave holds positions as RRF Emmett A. Humble Distinguished Director of the McPherson Eye Research Institute, Associate Professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, Sandra Lemke Trout Chair in Eye Research, and Principal Investigator in the Waisman Center Stem Cell Research Program and the UW Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine Center. His laboratory at the Waisman Center utilizes stem cell technology to 1) investigate the cellular and molecular events that occur during human retinal differentiation and 2) generate cells for use in human retinal disease modeling and cell-based rescue or replacement strategies. Three-dimensional optic vesicle-based differentiation of human pluripotent stem cells into retinal cells, including photoreceptors, was first described in Dr. Gamm's laboratory.
Mr. Cliff is founder and CEO of Vascugen, a regenerative medicine company developing treatments for intractable vascular diseases, and founder of RPRD Diagnostics, a precision medicine company focused on clinical comprehensive pharmacogenomics. Previously he served as Director at Cellular Dynamics International (CDI), a FUJIFILM company. During his tenure at CDI, he established a pipeline of therapeutic development programs targeting age-related macular degeneration (AMD), heart failure, and Parkinson's disease. Prior to Cellular Dynamics, he held positions at leading drug discovery tools companies, including Meso-Scale Discovery, Life Technologies, Ingenuity Systems, and Upstate Biotechnology.
Chief Technology Officer
Mr. Okada is Chief Technology Officer of Cellular Dynamics International (CDI), a FUJIFILM company, since October 1, 2015. He previously served as manager of FUJIFILM’s Healthcare Business Development Office from 2009 to 2015, where he had responsibility for Intellectual Property (IP) management in the fields of pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, functional foods and regenerative medicine. In conjunction with the strategic expansion of FUJIFILM’s business, he was in charge of IP due diligence in mergers and acquisitions and licensing opportunities. Before he joined FUJIFILM in 2006, he worked for Asahi Kasei Corporation, where he was in charge of business development and licensing activities for the pharmaceutical division, technology scouting for its U.S. subsidiary, IP prosecution and legal searching for the IP department and its U.S. affiliated law firm, and manufacturing development of cell culture in its research laboratory. Mr. Okada earned a B.S. in Agriculture from the University of Tokyo and a Bachelor of Laws from Meiji University..
Lucas Chase, PhD
Director, Research & Development
Dr. Chase is Director, Ocular Cell Therapy, at Cellular Dynamics International (CDI), a FUJIFILM company, where he has led the development of induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC)-based ocular therapeutics since 2014. Prior to that, he was Group Leader in Cell Biology R&D at CDI where he led efforts to develop a series of iPSC-derived neural cell models. Before joining CDI, Dr. Chase worked at Life Technologies (now Thermo Fisher Scientific) where he focused on the development of cGMP stem cell culture medium, advanced cellular models and drug discovery assays. Dr. Chase obtained his Ph.D. in 2006 from the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities in the Molecular, Cellular, Developmental Biology and Genetics Program in the Lab of Dr. Catherine Verfaillie.
Joe Phillips, PhD
Director, Preclinical Studies
Dr. Phillips brings 17 years of retinal research experience to Opsis Therapeutics. His work has spanned the field of vision research, including pre-clinical testing for subretinal prosthetics (Optobionics, Atlanta VA hospital), visual psychophysics (University of Georgia), neuroprotective strategies (Emory University), and retinal stem cell and regenerative medicine (University of Wisconsin). He received a PhD in Vision Science from the University of Houston and is currently a lead scientist in Dr. David Gamm’s laboratory, where he spearheads stem cell derived photoreceptor production and transplantation studies in animal models of retinal disease. Dr. Phillips brings pertinent knowledge to this venture, including years of experience with animal models, retinal transplantation techniques and visual function testing.
Amanda Mack, PhD
Director, iPSC Technologies
Dr. Mack is Director, iPSC Reprogramming at Cellular Dynamics International (CDI), a FUJIFILM company, where she has led the development of induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) technology since 2007. The iPSC platform is a core competency at CDI, and in 2013 it was was successfully implemented at CDI's facility in Novato, CA, where the world's largest bank of iPSC lines is being generated on behalf of a California Institute of Regenerative Medicine (CIRM)-funded project. Currently, she leads ongoing efforts to develop GMP-compliant protocols for therapeutic grade iPSCs , both autologous and haplotype-matched, which serve as the starting point for the development and manufacturing of a range of cell therapy products. Dr. Mack obtained her Ph.D. in Cancer Biology from the McArdle Laboratory for Cancer Research at the University of Wisconsin Madison under the mentorship of Dr. Bill Sugden in 2007.