About Us

Evecxia Therapeutics was founded by Marc Caron, PhD and Jacob Jacobsen, PhD, two neuropharmacologists from Duke University. Dr. Jacobsen’s unique insight was that 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) had shown intriguing evidence of clinical efficacy in a range of brain disorders - despite no appropriate 5-HTP drug product being available, and despite 5-HTP being too short-acting and poorly absorbed in the human body to be a practical drug treatment. Dr. Jacobsen hypothesized that 5-HTP’s drug properties would be markedly improved if 5-HTP administration was made longer acting and 5-HTP’s absorption improved. Subsequent translational studies in Dr. Caron’s laboratory provided compelling evidence for this hypothesis. The resultant intellectual property and know-how formed the foundation for Evecxia.

 

Evecxia Therapeutics is the first company committed to realizing the therapeutic potential of 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) to help people with mental illness lead fuller, more meaningful lives.

Our Values

Serving Patients

Substantial evidence suggests that appropriate 5-HTP-based Rx drugs could improve the lives of millions of patients with mental disorders not helped by current treatments. Working tirelessly to advance our drug candidates to the market is what drive us.

Capital Efficiency

We best serve our stakeholders and mental healthcare by maximizing the funds going towards drug development and by optimizing the value produced per dollar. To that end, we maintain a lean organization, right-size R&D activities, and use diligence in contracting with vendors and partners.

Opportunity

There can be multiple paths to the goal of helping patients and ensuring success for our company and stakeholders. We remain adaptable in meeting the challenges of changing contingencies and vigilant in seeking value-adding opportunities.

Who We Are

Evecxia Therapeutics' leadership team, Board of Directors, Scientific Advisory Board, and its compliment of independent advisors and consultants have unsurpassed CNS drug development experience.

Team

John Kaiser

Chief Executive Officer

Interim Chairman, Board of Directors

Before joining Evecxia, Mr. Kaiser led Cerecor, Inc., a public, CNS-focused biopharmaceutical company, where he was the Chief Executive Officer and Chief Business Officer. His responsibilities included corporate strategy, strategic marketing, and business development, where he directed the acquisitions of multiple product CNS candidates from Merck and Lilly and led the sale of CERC-501 (aticaprant) to Johnson & Johnson.

Earlier leadership roles also included:
• Vice President of Commercial and Business Development at ACADIA Pharmaceuticals Inc. where Mr. Kaiser played the lead role in defining the commercial and life-cycle strategies for pimavanserin (Nuplazid®), a novel treatment for Parkinson’s Disease Psychosis.
• Serving on the Boards of Directors for NH Therapeutics and numerous nonprofit organizations.

Mr. Kaiser came into these leadership positions after holding various positions of increasing responsibility in CNS for more than 25 years at Eli Lilly and Company. Company experience includes leading the global commercialization efforts of many of Lilly’s multi-billion dollar CNS brands including Prozac®, the global strategic marketing efforts for Cymbalta®, and the commercial success of Zyprexa® internationally. Additionally, he co-led the development and execution of the company’s CNS strategy and was responsible for the commercial efforts associated with the CNS pipeline.

Mr. Kaiser received his BS in Pharmaceutical Sciences from the James L. Winkle College of Pharmacy at the University of Cincinnati.

Jennifer Hart, MS

Executive Director, Operations

Ms. Hart serves as Evecxia’s Executive Director of Operations. Prior to Evecxia, she was VP of Cohortias, a Latin American CRO (Clinical Research Organization) where she helped build the quality, sales, training, and operations divisions for phase I-III clinical trials. Ms. Hart previously held the title of Senior Director Business Development for Duke Clinical Research Institute (DCRI) with responsibilities for growth in the CNS space for early phase clinical research through CNS device studies, creation of an EEG coordinating center for global phase III trials, managing CNS projects, and providing the strategic marketing vision for DCRI in the CNS space.

Prior to joining DCRI, Ms. Hart held increasing responsibilities as a HPLC analytical chemist, in quality assurance leading audits for GLP, GCP, GMP regulations, and business development/marketing for various organizations including RTI (Research Triangle Institute), AAI (Applied Analytical), and Clinsys International.

Ms. Hart’s activities in the nonprofit sector include founding in 2008 Women in Science Tomorrow as a nonprofit organization to close the gender gap for girls in scientific careers. In addition to being a member for several years, Ms. Hart has taken on the role of Southeast fundraising lead for the RTP chapter of HBA (HealthCare Businesswomen’s Association).

Ms. Hart received her B.S. in Microbiology and B.A. in Chemistry from North Carolina State University in Raleigh, NC.

Jacob Jacobsen, PhD

Co-Founder

Chief Scientific Officer

Dr. Jacobsen is the inventor of the 5-hydroxytryptophan slow-release (5-HTP SR) concept. Prior to joining Evecxia as Chief Scientific Officer, he was a scientist at Duke University and Duke-National University Singapore, where he was the driver of a cross-disciplinary team executing seminal research on the 5-HTP SR therapeutic concept. He was also intimately involved in establishing the intellectual property estate.

Previously, Dr. Jacobsen spent 8 years in pharma-biotech, NeuroSearch and Lundbeck, where he executed various drug discovery and target validation projects. He is well-published, including in the highest ranking journals in the field of Psychiatry, and is an inventor on all 5-HTP SR issued and pending patents.

Dr. Jacobsen received his PhD in Neuropharmacology from the University of Copenhagen.

Key Consultants

Joel Raskin, MD

Chief Medical Advisor

Dr. Raskin was a consultant to public and private industry before joining the pharmaceutical industry in 1999. He retired after 20 years at Eli Lilly and Company in 2019, where he held various roles in neuroscience drug development and commercialization. He worked on various medications for mood and anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, dementia, migraine, and pain, and helping to strategize and implement the global lifecycle clinical trials program for duloxetine (Cymbalta®). He then managed the Emerging Markets Neuroscience medical group where he was involved with many international organizations and governments. From 2011-2018, he was Senior Director leading the medical affairs team for Alzheimer’s Disease diagnostics and therapeutics. He most recently led the medical affairs team for acute treatment of migraine.

Dr. Raskin was a community and academic psychiatrist who completed his medical training (1981) and psychiatric residency (1986) at the University of Toronto, where he maintains an adjunct staff position in the Department of Psychiatry. Formerly, he was the Head of the Depression Clinic and ran the mood disorders clinical research program at the Center for Addiction and Mental at the University.

Additionally, Dr. Raskin has engaged with governments, regulators, payers, scientific organizations, physicians, educators, and advocacy groups. He has published nearly 100 scientific articles and been cited more than 3300 times. He has presented at international conferences and academic institutions and coached and mentored many aspiring researchers and professionals.

Bret Berner, PhD

Chief Technology Advisor

Dr. Berner has 40 years industrial experience in drug delivery and material sciences. After obtaining his PhD in Neurosciences/Physical Chemistry in 1978 at UCLA, he joined Procter & Gamble Company for nearly 5 years as a staff scientist studying surfactants, diffusion, and skin permeation.

Dr. Berner was Director of Basic Pharmaceutics Research at Ciba-Geigy (1983-1994), where he worked to develop multiple novel transdermal and oral controlled-release pharmaceuticals. He was then Vice President of Development at Cygnus (1994-1998), during which time the contraceptive patch and reverse iontophoretic glucose monitoring were developed. Following this, Dr. Berner was Chief Scientific Officer at Depomed (1998-2007), where 5 oral controlled-release gastric retentive products were developed.

Since 2007, Dr. Berner has been a pharmaceutical consultant in drug delivery, formulation, and pharmacokinetics. He holds 59 US patents, has authored more than 80 publications, and has edited 2 books on drug delivery.

Board of Directors

John Kaiser

Chief Executive Officer

Interim Chairman, Board of Directors

Before joining Evecxia, Mr. Kaiser led Cerecor, Inc., a public, CNS-focused biopharmaceutical company, where he was the Chief Executive Officer and Chief Business Officer. His responsibilities included corporate strategy, strategic marketing, and business development, where he directed the acquisitions of multiple product CNS candidates from Merck and Lilly and led the sale of CERC-501 (aticaprant) to Johnson & Johnson.

Earlier leadership roles also included:
• Vice President of Commercial and Business Development at ACADIA Pharmaceuticals Inc. where Mr. Kaiser played the lead role in defining the commercial and life-cycle strategies for pimavanserin (Nuplazid®), a novel treatment for Parkinson’s Disease Psychosis.
• Serving on the Boards of Directors for NH Therapeutics and numerous nonprofit organizations.

Mr. Kaiser came into these leadership positions after holding various positions of increasing responsibility in CNS for more than 25 years at Eli Lilly and Company. Company experience includes leading the global commercialization efforts of many of Lilly’s multi-billion dollar CNS brands including Prozac®, the global strategic marketing efforts for Cymbalta®, and the commercial success of Zyprexa® internationally. Additionally, he co-led the development and execution of the company’s CNS strategy and was responsible for the commercial efforts associated with the CNS pipeline.

Mr. Kaiser received his BS in Pharmaceutical Sciences from the James L. Winkle College of Pharmacy at the University of Cincinnati.

Jacob Jacobsen, PhD

Co-Founder

Chief Scientific Officer

Dr. Jacobsen is the inventor of the 5-hydroxytryptophan slow-release (5-HTP SR) concept. Prior to joining Evecxia as Chief Scientific Officer, he was a scientist at Duke University and Duke-National University Singapore, where he was the driver of a cross-disciplinary team executing seminal research on the 5-HTP SR therapeutic concept. He was also intimately involved in establishing the intellectual property estate.

Previously, Dr. Jacobsen spent 8 years in pharma-biotech, NeuroSearch and Lundbeck, where he executed various drug discovery and target validation projects. He is well-published, including in the highest ranking journals in the field of Psychiatry, and is an inventor on all 5-HTP SR issued and pending patents.

Dr. Jacobsen received his PhD in Neuropharmacology from the University of Copenhagen.

Thomas H. Aasen

Mr. Aasen has served on Evecxia’s Board Of Directors since October 2020. He has over 30 years of professional finance, accounting and management experience focused primarily on the life sciences industry. Mr. Aasen served as a senior executive at ACADIA Pharmaceuticals from 1998 until his retirement in 2014, most recently as its Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer and Chief Business Officer. He was an integral member of the executive team that advanced ACADIA from an early-stage private company into a multi-billion dollar publicly held biopharmaceutical company. At ACADIA, Mr. Aasen played a lead role in overseeing its IPO and closing several private and public financings, raising over $700 million. He also served as a member of the Board Of Directors of Cerecor from 2016 through 2017. Earlier in his career, Mr. Aasen held financial management positions at several publicly traded life sciences companies, including Axys Pharmaceuticals, formally Sequana Therapeutics, Genta and Gen-Probe, and various positions at KPMG Peat Marwick, including Audit Manager.

Mr. Aasen received his B.S. in Business Administration (Accounting) from San Diego State University and is a licensed Certified Public Accountant (inactive status) in the State of California.

David Zaccardelli, PharmD

Investor

Dr. Zaccardelli has served on Evecxia’s board of directors since February 2016. Since February 2020, Dr. Zaccardelli has served as President and Chief Executive Officer of Verona Pharma and as a member of its board of directors.

From December 2018 until its acquisition by Swedish Orphan Biovitrum in November 2019, Dr Zaccardelli served as President and Chief Executive Officer of Dova Pharmaceuticals, a US company developing therapeutics for rare diseases. Previously, he was Acting Chief Executive Officer of Cempra, from December 2016 until the company’s merger with Melinta Therapeutics in November 2017. From 2004 until 2016, Dr. Zaccardelli served in several senior management roles at United Therapeutics Corporation, including Chief Operating Officer, Chief Manufacturing Officer and Executive Vice President, Pharmaceutical Development and Operations. Prior to United Therapeutics, he founded and led a start-up company focused on contract research positions and held a variety of clinical research positions at Burroughs Wellcome & Co, Glaxo Wellcome, and Bausch & Lomb Pharmaceutical. Dr. Zaccardelli currently serves on the Board of Directors of CoreRx, Inc., a privately held company.

Dr. Zaccardelli received a PharmD from the University of Michigan.

Scientific Advisory Board

Marc Caron, PhD, Chairman of the Scientific Advisory Board

• James B Duke Professor, Duke University, Depts. Of Cell Biology & Neurobiology
• Co-founder of Evecxia Therapeutics

Maurizio Fava, MD

• Director, Division of Clinical Research of the Massachusetts General Hospital Research Institute, Executive Vice Chair, Department of Psychiatry
• Executive Director, Massachusetts General Hospital Clinical Trials Network & Institute (CTNI)
• Associate Dean for Clinical & Translational Research, Slater Family Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School

Andrew Krystal, MS, MD

• Professor, Dept. of Psychiatry, University of California San Francisco
• Director of the Dolby Family Center for Mood Disorders
• Director of the UCSF Interventional Psychiatry Program and Co-Director of the TMS & Neuromodulation Clinic

John Rush, MD

• Professor Emeritus, Duke-NUS
• Adjunctive Professor, Duke University Medical School & Texas Tech University

Richard Shelton, MD

• Professor, Vice Chair for Research, Department of Psychiatry, University of Alabama

Partnerships

Duke University

In December 2015, Evecxia Therapeutics and Duke University School of Medicine entered into a worldwide license agreement granting Evecxia the exclusive right to develop and commercialize certain issued patents and pending patent applications involving 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP). In April 2018, the above-mentioned license agreement was expanded to include pending patent applications involving 5-HTP in combination with other pharmacological agents.

Duke-National University of Singapore

In September 2018, Evecxia Therapeutics and Duke-National University of Singapore Medical School, the National University Hospital of Singapore, and the Nanyang Technological University, entered into an exclusive worldwide license agreement granting Evecxia the exclusive right to develop and commercialize pending patent applications involving 5-HTP. Evecxia's lead candidate, EVX-101, results from a collaboration with Duke-NUS Medical School, Nanyang Technological University and National University Hospital, Singapore.

Tempus

In June 2020, Evecxia Therapeutics announced that it is working with Tempus, a technology company advancing precision medicine through the practical application of artificial intelligence in healthcare, to integrate genetic, metabolomics, biochemical, and clinical data for deeper analysis. Tempus and Evecxia share a mission to improve the lives of patients suffering from mental illness. Given discreet pharmacology and the availability of serotonin-related biomarkers across multiple clinical dimensions, Evecxia’s 5-HTP-based drug candidates are ideally suited for precision medicine approaches. The collaboration will apply a data-driven approach to Evecxia’s upcoming clinical trials, with the goal of matching the right patient to the right treatment.

New Partnerships

With Evecxia Therapeutics’ unsurpassed knowledge and experience with 5-HTP, serving as a hub for additional scientific exploration and development into multiple complimentary areas of unmet need, we seek value-added partnerships and collaborations with academic and corporate partners across therapeutic areas. We want you to work with us to help people with mental illness lead fuller and more meaningful lives.