Eckard Weber, M.D. is a co-founder of Ocera and serves as the chairman of our board of directors. Eckard is a partner with Domain Associates, LLC, a private venture capital management firm focused on life sciences. He specializes in creating companies around promising new pharmaceutical products and has led Domain’s initiatives in Japanese in-licensing.
Eckard also currently serves as chairman of the board at Orexigen Therapeutics and Tragara Pharmaceuticals. Eckard is a board member of Adynxx, Atara Biotherapeutics, and Tobira Therapeutics and a board observer of Syndax Pharmaceuticals.
He has been founding CEO of multiple biopharmaceutical companies in the Domain portfolio including Acea Pharmaceuticals, Ascenta Therapeutics, Calixa Therapeutics, Cytovia, Domain Anti Bacterial Acquisition Corporation, NovaCardia, Novacea, Novalar Pharmaceuticals, Ocera Therapeutics, Orexigen Therapeutics, Sonexa Therapeutics, Syndax Pharmaceuticals, Tobira Therapeutics and Tragara Pharmaceuticals.
Eckard was chairman of a number of companies until their successful exit including Peninsula Pharmaceuticals (sold to Johnson & Johnson, 2005), Cerexa (sold to Forest Laboratories, 2007), NovaCardia (sold to Merck, 2007), Calixa (sold to Cubist Pharmaceuticals, 2009). He was also a board member of Conforma Therapeutics (sold to Biogen-IDEC, 2006) and Cabrellis Pharmaceuticals (sold to Pharmion, 2006).
Previously, Eckard was a tenured professor of pharmacology at the University of California at Irvine. He has more than 20 years of drug discovery and development experience and has been a consultant to biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies. He is the inventor or co-inventor of numerous patents and patent applications, and he has published more than 130 papers in scientific periodicals.
Eckard completed his Abitur from Kolping Kollege, Friedrichshafen, Germany and his M.D. from the University of Ulm Medical School, Germany. He received his postdoctoral training in neuroscience at Stanford University Medical School.
Dr. Grais has served as a member of the Board of Directors of Ocera Therapeutics, Inc. since January 2008 and as President and Chief Executive Officer of Ocera Therapeutics, Inc. since June 2012. Prior to her employment by Ocera, Dr. Grais served as a Managing Member at InterWest Partners, a venture capital firm from May 2005 until February 2011. From July 1998 to July 2003, Dr. Grais was a founder and executive vice president of SGX Pharmaceuticals Inc., a drug discovery company focusing on new treatments for cancer. Prior to that, she was a corporate attorney at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, where she practiced in such areas as venture financings, public offerings and strategic partnerships. Before practicing law, Dr. Grais worked as an assistant clinical professor of Internal Medicine and Critical Care at the University of California, San Francisco. Dr. Grais received a B.A. from Yale University, magna cum laude, and Phi Beta Kappa, an M.D. from Yale Medical School and a J.D. from Stanford Law School. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of Arca Biopharma, Inc.
Steven P. James has served on Ocera’s board of directors since September 2014. Prior to joining the Board, Mr. James served as the President and Founding Chief Executive Officer of Labrys Biologics, Inc., a private venture-backed start-up developing a monoclonal antibody for the prevention of chronic migraine, until the company was acquired by Teva Pharmaceuticals in July 2014. From October 2004 to December 2012, Mr. James served as President and Chief Executive Officer of KAI Pharmaceuticals, Inc., until its acquisition by Amgen in 2012. Prior to joining KAI, he held leadership positions at Exelixis, Inc., Sunesis Pharmaceuticals, Inc., and Isis Pharmaceuticals. Mr. James previously held business development, marketing and general management positions with Landec Corporation, California Biotechnology and Eli Lilly & Company. Mr. James holds a B.A. in Biology from Brown University and a Masters in Management from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University. Mr. James is currently a director of Chrono Therapeutics and is a member of the board of trustees of Middlebridge School in Rhode Island.
Nina Kjellson has served on Ocera’s board of directors since June 2011. Ms. Kjellson has been investing in health care at InterWest since 2002 and has been a Managing Director at the firm since 2008. Current investments include Alvine Pharmaceuticals, Cidara, Eiger Biopharmaceuticals, Lycera, Ocera (OCRX), and Welltok. Nina also led InterWest’s investment in Alt12 and co-sponsored InterWest's investment in TESARO (TSRO). Previous investments include Labrys Biologics (acquired by Teva), Trius Therapeutics (TSRX; acquired by Cubist), CNS Therapeutics (acquired by Covidien), NovaCardia (acquired by Merck), and Aspreva (ASPV; acquired by Galenica). Nina leads InterWest's cross-sector initiative in health care IT and is co-chair of the Consumer Medicine Summit, a forum for entrepreneurs at the intersection of health care and consumer innovation. She serves as a mentor to Nike+ and Blueprint Health accelerators. Prior to joining InterWest, Nina was at Bay City Capital, Oracle Partners and the Kaiser Family Foundation. She is a graduate of Stanford University with a degree in Human Biology.
Dr. Michael Powell, Ph.D., has served on Ocera's Board of Directors since June 2006. Dr. Powell has been a General Partner of Sofinnova Ventures, a venture capital firm, since 1997. Previously, Dr. Powell has held positions at Genentech, a biotechnology company, Cytel, a research and development company, and Syntex Research, a pharmaceutical company. Dr. Powell was an early investor and board member of Actelion (ATLN), Intermune (ITMN), Orexigen (OREX), Seattle Genetics (SGEN), Threshold (THLD), Trius (TSRX), and other public and private companies such as Intellikine (sold to Millenium-Takeda), Mirna, and Labrys Biologics (acquired by Teva Pharmaceutical). Dr. Powell is an Adjunct Professor at the University of Kansas. He is also the Board President of the AIDS Vaccine Advocacy Coalition and serves on the advisory board of the Institute for the Advancement of Medical Innovation at the University of Kansas. Dr. Powell received a Ph.D. in physical chemistry from the University of Toronto, and completed his postdoctoral work in bioorganic chemistry at the University of California.
Anne M. VanLent has served as a director of Ocera (formerly Tranzyme) since March 2011. Ms. VanLent is currently the President of AMV Advisors, an advisory firm which she founded in 2008 to provide corporate strategy and financial consulting services to emerging growth life sciences companies. From May 2002 through April 2008, Ms. VanLent was the Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Barrier Therapeutics, Inc., a company that developed and marketed prescription dermatology products that was publicly-traded before being acquired by Stiefel Laboratories in August 2008. From July 1997 to October 2001, she was the Executive Vice President - Portfolio Management for Sarnoff Corporation, a multidisciplinary research and development firm. From 1985 to 1993, she served as the Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of The Liposome Company, Inc., a publicly-traded biopharmaceutical company. In April and May 2013, respectively, Ms. VanLent was appointed to serve as a director of and chair of the audit committee of Aegerion Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and Biota Pharmaceuticals, Inc., both NASDAQ listed companies. She served as a director of Integra Life Sciences Holding Corporation (NasdaqGS: IART) from 1997 to May 2013 and chaired its audit committee from 2006 until 2012. She also served as a director and chair of the audit committee of Penwest Pharmaceuticals, a NASDAQ-listed company from 1998 through its sale to Endo Pharmaceuticals, Inc. in the fall of 2010. Ms. VanLent received a B.A. degree in Physics from Mount Holyoke College.
Dr. Wierenga has served on the boards of directors of five biotech companies including Onyx Pharmaceuticals, and currently, Cytokinetics, XenoPort, Apricus Biosciences, Concert Pharmaceuticals, and Anacor Pharmaceuticals, and has been a member of the scientific advisory board of seven biotech and pharmaceutical companies. Most recently, Dr. Wierenga was executive vice president, research and development at Santarus, Inc. Previously Dr. Wierenga held leadership positions at Ambit Biosciences Corporation, Neurocrine Biosciences, Inc., and Syrrx, Inc. as well as with Parke-Davis/Warner-Lambert (now Pfizer) where he held positions including senior vice president, worldwide pharmaceutical sciences, technologies and development. Dr. Wierenga has led or participated in the research and development of more than 70 INDs, over 15 NDAs and 16 marketed products, including Lipitor, Neurontin, Lyrica, and Uceris. Dr. Wierenga earned his Ph.D. in chemistry from Stanford University.