Our Team 2019-01-21T19:40:32+00:00


Ian J. Massey D.Phil. – Chief Executive Officer

Dr. Massey is a highly experienced biotech and pharmaceutical executive, with over 30 years of industry experience in all phases of research and development, from target selection through to NDA approval. Dr. Massey has founded, built and successfully exited several biotech companies. His primary focus has been in small molecule and protein therapeutics in multiple therapeutic areas. His experience includes key leadership, organizational, business and management roles in cross-cultural and global environments. Dr. Massey has a D.Phil. from the University of Oxford (England) and performed post-doctoral work with Carl Djerassi at Stanford. He was formerly Head of Research and Early Development at Roche Pharmaceuticals (Palo Alto), founder and CEO of Synosia Therapeutics, President of Biotie Therapeutics and CEO of StemCell Inc.

Dennis E. Burns – Chief Business Officer

Dennis is a distinguished biotech and pharmaceutical executive, with over 30 years of international experience. Dennis was formerly Global Head of Business Development for Roche Pharmaceuticals. Prior to that he was Vice President, New Product Planning, Business Development and Strategic Planning for Roche’s US operations. During his 22-year tenure with Roche, Dennis held positions which include: sales, sales management, marketing research, product management, international product management, marketing, therapeutic area strategy, portfolio planning, new product planning, licensing and acquisitions. Dennis is currently President of PharmaSavv-e, LLC, a consulting organization serving an international client base in the fields of pharmaceuticals, biotechnology and investment. Dennis graduated from the University of New Mexico (UNM) with a degree in Pharmacy and completed an MBA with concentrations in finance and international business from the University of Hawaii. In 2007 Dennis was honored as the UNM College of Pharmacy’s Distinguished Alumnus of the Year. From 2008 through 2012 Dennis served on the University of New Mexico Foundation Board of Directors.

Richard G Farrell – Chief Financial Officer

Richard is a former Investment Banker with over 23 years of experience in takeovers, capital raises and corporate restructures in Australia, Canada and the United States. Prior to joining the company, Richard structured and managed an asset based investment fund, and advised numerous US and international companies on a broad range of transactions. Richard was formerly an Investment Banker with Beerworth & Partners in Sydney Australia, where he advised on several large M&A and capital raise transactions. Prior to that, Richard was with Ernst & Young Corporate Finance and prior to that was with Deloitte Touché Corporate Finance. Richard has advised on over 120 transactions in his Investment Banking career. Mr. Farrell has a BComm. (ANU), LLB (ANU) and a Graduate Diploma in Finance & Investment (Finsia).

David G. Putman Ph.D. – Chief Operating Officer

Dr. Putman has more than 25 years of scientific and management experience in large and small pharmaceutical companies, including Syntex, Roche, UCB and Kadmus. Dr. Putman co-founded Anvyl LLC, a biotech that is developing cutting-edge therapies to address disorders of the central nervous system (CNS). Anvyl was founded with the goal of providing safe and efficacious therapies currently desperately needed for treating CNS conditions, like cognitive-deficit disorders, anxiety and pain. Using its expertise in allosteric modulation, Anvyl is creating a broad pipeline of first-in-class drugs to fill unmet medical conditions including Alzheimer’s disease, schizophrenia, autism spectrum disorder, traumatic brain injury and other CNS disorders such as epilepsy, anxiety and pain. Dr. Putman has a BS in Chemical Engineering, a Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry and was a postdoctoral fellow at Cornell University.

Jason C. Bermak, M.D., Ph.D. – Chief Medical Officer

Jason is also owner and medical director of SF-CARE, Inc, a clinical trials company based in San Francisco, and serves on the Clinical Advisory Board to Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc. for the development of long-acting therapies in Schizophrenia. As a board-certified psychiatrist, Dr. Bermak actively practices in the outpatient setting and carries inpatient clinical staff privileges at Saint Francis Hospital in San Francisco, was previously in academia at the University of California, San Francisco and also at the University of California, Irvine. In addition to his medical and psychiatric training, Dr. Bermak completed a PhD in pharmacology with an emphasis in neuropharmacology and has over a dozen publications in high impact journals. He began working in the biopharmaceutical industry in 1992 at Affymax Research Institute, Inc., prior to acquisition by GSK, and has since continued as a frequent consultant for venture capitalists, commercial and early-stage biopharmaceutical companies, with a focus on clinical trial design and the transition of new chemical entities from preclinical to clinical stages of development.

Olivier Dasse Ph.D. – Vice President of Chemistry

Dr. Dasse has 18 years of drug discovery and development experience that resulted in multiple preclinical and clinical candidates. Dr. Dasse co-founded Anvyl LLC, a company focused on the development of nicotinic and gabaergic positive allosteric modulators for the treatment of central nervous system disorders. Dr. Dasse served as program leader at Kadmus pharmaceuticals where he spearheaded medicinal chemistry efforts on inhibitors of fatty acid amide hydrolase, the main enzyme involved in endo-cannabinoid pharmacology. The program was sold to Organon for $270M. Prior to Kadmus, Dr. Dasse served as a senior scientist at UCB pharma where he conducted research on anti-inflammatory chemokine antagonists. Dr. Dasse has co-authored over 30 published scientific publications and patents. Dr. Dasse also served as an instructor/researcher in the French Military Forensics Institute. There, he worked on the development of methods for gun powder residue dating by UV spectroscopy as well as blood print enhancement  by luminescence. Dr. Dasse earned his Ph.D. in organic chemistry at Florida State University where he worked on the total synthesis of anti-histaminic natural product steroids. He also earned his diplôme d’ingénieur from Ecole Supérieure de Chimie Organique et Minérale, Paris, France.

Richard Kanner, Ph.D. – Vice President of Drug Development

Dr. Kanner is owner of Newport Scientific, Inc, a contract research laboratory primarily focused on early phase pharmaceutical drug development. Dr. Kanner has been working in the pharmaceutical industry for 20 years, ten of them in the operation of Newport Scientific. Early accomplishments include the Vitrasert NDA with Chiron Vision (Bausch & Lomb). Dr. Kanner has worked with many clients over the past ten years on early phase development programs, including AMO, CoCensys, Bausch and Lomb, CoMentis, Covidien, Fovea Pharmaceuticals, Generamedix Pharmaceuticals, Inotek Pharmaceuticals, Ista Pharmaceuticals, Kadmus Pharmaceuticals, Novartis, Ocularis, OcuCure Therapeutics, Oculex Pharmaceuticals, Parion Sciences, Spectrum Pharmaceuticals, Mimetogen Pharmaceuticals, Valley Forge, Vifor Pharma and Xoma. Dr. Kanner has a PhD in Organic Chemistry from UCLA, and post-doctoral experience in ultra-fast laser spectroscopy and plasma physics.

Curt Scribner, MD – Regulatory

Dr. Scribner has more than 25 years of drug development and regulatory affairs experience, specializing in biotechnology. He was previously Senior Vice President of Medical and Regulatory Affairs at RRD International, LLC, and Vice President of Regulatory and Quality Affairs and Chief Regulatory Officer at Intarcia Therapeutics. Previously, Dr. Scribner was Chief Regulatory Consultant for Quintiles Consulting, where he developed and wrote numerous regulatory applications for the FDA and European regulatory agency, EMA. Prior to Quintiles Consulting, Dr. Scribner spent 10 years at FDA, where he held a variety of positions and was involved in reviewing products regulated by the Center for Biologics. Dr. Scribner holds an MD from the University of Colorado College of Medicine, and completed a rheumatology fellowship at National Institute of Health. He holds an MBA from the University of Maryland College of Business and Management, and a BA in biology from Grinnell College.

Scientific Advisory Board

Alan F. Schatzberg, M.D.
Kenneth T. Norris, Jr., Professor
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Stanford University School of Medicine


Alan F. Schatzberg received his M.D. from New York University in 1968. He did his psychiatric residency at the Massachusetts Mental Health Center from 1969-1972 and was Chief Resident, Southard Clinic in 1971-1972. He was also a Clinical Fellow in Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.
After serving in the United States Air Force, he joined the staff at McLean Hospital and the Faculty of Harvard Medical School in 1974. At McLean Hospital, he held a number of important positions including Service Chief, Interim Psychiatrist in Chief, Co-Director of the Affective Disorders Program (with Dr. J. Cole) and Director of the Depression Research Facility. In 1988, he became Clinical Director of the Massachusetts Mental Health Center and Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School but continued at McLean Hospital with his research program on the biology and treatment of depression. In 1991, Dr. Schatzberg moved to Stanford University to become the Kenneth T. Norris, Jr., Professor and Chairman of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. He was the Chair from 1991-2010.

Dr. Schatzberg has been an active investigator in the biology and psychopharmacology of depressive disorders. His research has also given us major insights into the biological mechanisms that underlie the development of delusions in major depression and has opened exciting and innovative therapeutic strategies using glucocorticoid antagonists. Dr. Schatzberg has also been an active investigator in the clinical psychopharmacology of nondelusional depression and the pharmacogenetics of treatment of depression. He has authored over 700 publications and abstracts, including the Manual of Clinical Psychopharmacology, whose eighth edition was published in 2015 and which is co-authored by Dr. Charles DeBattista. He also co-edited with Dr. Charles B. Nemeroff the Textbook of Psychopharmacology whose fifth edition appeared in late 2017. He is Co-Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Psychiatric Research and sits on many other editorial boards as well. He is a Past President of the American Psychiatric Association (APA), American College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ACNP) and the Society of Biological Psychiatry, and was Secretary-General of the International Society of Psychoneuroendocrinology. He was received numerous awards, including: Gerald L. Klerman, MD Lifetime Research Award from the NDMDA; Gerald L. Klerman, MD Award from Cornell University Medical College; Edward A. Strecker, MD Award from the University of Pennsylvania; Mood Disorders Research Award from the American College of Psychiatrists (ACP); Distinguished Service in Psychiatry Award from the ACP and the APA; APA Award for Research; APA Judd Marmor Award for Biopsychosocial Research, ACNP Julius Axelrod Award for Mentoring, Falcone Award from NARSAD, Anna Monika Foundation Award, Kraepelin Gold Medal from the Max Planck Psychiatric Institute, etc. He is a member of the National Academy of Medicine.

Michael E. Thase, MD
Professor of Psychiatry
Chief, Division of Mood and Anxiety Disorders Treatment & Research
Perelman School of Medicine
University of Pennsylvania


Michael E. Thase, M.D., joined the faculty of the Perelman School of Medicine of the University of Pennsylvania in January, 2007 as Professor of Psychiatry after more than 27 years at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and the Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic. Dr. Thase’s research focuses on the assessment and treatment of mood disorders, including studies of the differential therapeutics of both depression and bipolar affective disorder. A 1979 graduate of the Ohio State University College of Medicine, Dr. Thase has been elected to the membership of the American College of Psychiatrists and he is a Founding Fellow of the Academy of Cognitive Therapy, a Fellow of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology, a Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association and he is President of the American Society of Clinical Psychopharmacology. Dr. Thase has authored or co-authored nearly 800 scientific articles and book chapters, as well as 17 books.

Roberta Diaz Brinton, Ph.D.
Director for the Center for Innovation in Brain Science
Professor of Pharmacology, Psychology and Neurology
Member of the McKnight Brain Institute
University of Arizona


Dr. Brinton is a world leading neuroscientist in the field of Alzheimer’s disease, and particularly the therapeutic effect of neurosteroids. Her research has focused on the mechanisms by which the aging brain develops late onset Alzheimer’s disease and her insights have formed the basis for programs that are critical to personalized therapeutic care for the disease. Her scientific endeavors have been continuously funded by the National Institutes for Health and have led to two NIH National Institute on Aging funded clinical trials.

Dr. Brinton currently serves on the Board of Governors of the Alzheimer’s Drug Development Foundation (New York). She has served on the NIH Director’s Center for Scientific Review Advisory Council, National Institute of Mental Health Scientific Intramural Review Program Board of Scientific Counselors and the National Institute of Mental Health Blue Ribbon Panel. Currently, she serves on the scientific review boards for the National Institute on Aging Review Panels, the Alzheimer’s Drug Development Foundation and the Alzheimer’s Association. Her professional memberships include the Society for Neuroscience and the International Brain Research Organization/World Federation of Neuroscientists.

Dr. Brinton has received numerous awards and recognition for her research and STEM education initiatives and has appeared in over 100 media outlets, including national and international broadcasts. She was awarded the USC Associates Award for Excellence in Teaching, “Scientist of the Year” by Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation, “Woman of the Year” by the California State Senate, Remarkable Woman by USC, “Science Educator of the Year” by the Society for Neuroscience, Los Angeles Magazine “Woman of the Year”, and U.S. News & World Report’s “Ten Best Minds”. For her outstanding work in promoting STEM careers among students of color, President Barak Obama presented her with one of the nation’s highest civilian honors, the Presidential Citizens Medal.

She has over 200 scientific publications including reports in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, Journal of Neuroscience and Nature Reviews, and holds multiple patents. Dr. Brinton earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology and biology (Summa Cum Laude Honors, Phi Beta Kappa), her master’s degree in neuropsychology, and her doctorate in neuropharmacology and psychobiology as a National Institutes of Health Predoctoral fellow, from the University of Arizona. She continued her research as a National Institutes of Health Postdoctoral Fellow at Rockefeller University’s Laboratory of Neuroendocrinology in New York from 1984 to 1986. In 1987, she was an invited scientist at the Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel; the Rudolf Magnus Institute of Neuroscience, Utrecht, the Netherlands; and the Netherlands Institute for Brain Research, Amsterdam. She was on faculty at the University of Southern California from 1988-2016 and returned to the University of Arizona to lead the Center for Innovation in Brain Science http://cibs.uahs.arizona.edu/.

Vassilios Papadopoulos, DPharm, PhD, DSc (hc)
Dean of the School of Pharmacy
John Stauffer Dean’s Chair in Pharmaceutical Sciences
Professor of Pharmacology and Pharmaceutical Sciences
University of Southern California


Dr. Papadopoulos is the world’s leading authority on the structure, function and pharmacology of TSPO, and his research has elucidated the role of TSPO as a main control element for the synthesis of endogenous neurosteroids.

Dr. Papadopoulos is a graduate of the School of Pharmacy of the University of Athens. He completed his PhD in Health and Life Science at Université Pierre et Marie Curie, Paris, and post-doctoral studies in France and Australia. In 1988, he joined the faculty of Georgetown University School of Medicine, where he rose through the ranks to become Professor and Chair of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Associate Vice President for Research and then Director of the Biomedical Graduate Research Organization at Georgetown University Medical Centre. In 2007, he moved to Montreal as the Executive Director and Chief Scientific Officer of the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre, and Professor of Medicine at McGill University where he held the Canada Research Chair in Biochemical Pharmacology and the Phil Gold Chair in Medicine.

Dr. Papadopoulos’ research focuses on the pharmacology of steroid hormone biosynthesis in relation to endocrine pathologies, male reproductive disorders, neuropathologies and cancer as well as the identification of new molecules targeting key elements in diseases where steroids play a determining role. This work has been supported by grants and contracts from the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, US Department of Defense, Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Canadian Foundation of Innovation, private foundations, as well as the pharmaceutical industry.

He has published over 350 papers, holds numerous patents and served on advisory committees of various U.S., Canadian, European and other government agencies, foundations and corporations. Dr. Papadopoulos is an elected member of the French National Academies of Pharmacy and Medicine, a fellow of the U.S. American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a fellow of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences.

Kelvin Gee, Ph.D.
Professor of Pharmacology
Dept. of Pharmacology, School of Medicine,
Member Center for Autism Research and Translation,
Member Interdisciplinary Neuroscience Program,
Member Pharmaceutical Sciences Program,
Member Medicinal Chemistry and Pharmacology Program
University of California Irvine


Kelvin Gee is known for his innovations in the pharmacology of novel allosteric modulators of ligand-gated ion channels and for his seminal work in developing the first synthetic analogs of the neuroactive steroid allopregnanolone, for non-anesthetic use. Along the way he discovered and patented novel uses for ligands of the TSPO for therapy following CNS disease or injury along with 12 other patents for novel therapeutic agents directed at serious CNS disorders. Just two years beyond his post-doctoral training and while a junior faculty member at the University of Southern California (USC) School of Pharmacy, Dr. Gee became the scientific founder and Chief Scientific Officer (CSO) of the biopharmaceutical company, CoCensys Inc. (1989). The company’s technology was based on his pioneering work with neuroactive steroids, including ganaxolone. While at USC he was supported by the prestigious Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association Foundation Faculty Development Award in Pharmacology which allows academic scientists to pursue drug discovery projects. Concurrently, as CoCensys’ CSO, he helped raise over $135 MM from start-up to subsequent financings and partnerships with pharma that led to a successful IPO, and ultimate sale of the company to Purdue Pharma. He is a serial entrepreneur and has remained active in the start-up and initial operations of multiple biopharmaceutical companies including GeminX, Ista Pharmaceuticals, Remergent, Kadmus Pharmaceuticals, Xytis and Anvyl where he acted as interim-CSO, scientific advisor or board member and has served on the scientific advisory board of one of the oldest biomedical venture capital firms in the U.S., Sanderling Ventures.

Over the past 2 decades, Dr. Gee has been responsible for leading both venture capital and NIH-funded drug discovery/development teams that have taken several NCE’s from discovery into clinical development. The innovation of his drug discovery work has been highlighted in commentaries published in prestigious journals such as Nature Reviews Drug Discovery, Nature Reviews Neuroscience and has publications that have been cited as “must read” by the Faculty of 1000 for his high impact research. Most recently, his research led to AVL-3288, the first type I positive allosteric modulator of α7-nicotinic receptors for the treatment of the cognitive impairment associated with schizophrenia, currently in clinical evaluation at Columbia University supported by a grant from the National Institute of Mental Health. He continues his cutting edge research in drug discovery with multimillion dollar support from the NIH. A program focused on developing non-addictive analgesics for the treatment of neuropathic pain is supported by a grant from the National Institute of Drug Abuse. Another grant from the CounterACT Program of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke focuses on identifying new drugs for the treatment of status epilepticus associated with poisoning by neurotoxins such as soman. Dr. Gee received his BS with honors in biological sciences from the University of California Irvine, a Ph.D. in pharmacology & toxicology from the University of California, Davis under the auspices of a Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association Foundation Advanced Predoctoral Fellowship award in Pharmacology and was a recipient of a highly coveted individual NIH National Research Service award for support of his postdoctoral training in receptor pharmacology at the University of Arizona Health Sciences Center.