About Us

Board of Directors

Robert S. Sullivan, Ph.D. (Chair)

Dean, Rady School of Management, UC San Diego

Dr. Robert S. Sullivan joined the Rady School of Management at UC San Diego as its founding dean in January 2003. He is an expert on entrepreneurship, knowledge management and operations management. He has successfully recruited top-tier faculty from the University of Chicago, MIT, New York University, Northwestern, Princeton, Stanford, the Wharton School and Yale. In 2011, he was elected vice chair/chair elect of the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB International), the premier accrediting body for business education. Before joining UC San Diego, Dr. Sullivan was dean of the Kenan-Flagler Business School of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He has also served in many roles at the University of Texas, including director of the IC2 Institute and the J. Marion West Chair for Constructive Capitalism in the university’s Graduate School of Business. In addition, he served as dean of the Graduate School of Industrial Administration at Carnegie Mellon University. Dr. Sullivan volunteered with the Peace Corps in Ethiopia, where he also lectured at the College of Business Administration at what is now Addis Ababa University. He earned his Ph.D. in operations management from Pennsylvania State University, his M.S. in production management and quantitative methods from Cornell University and his B.S. in mathematics from Boston College.

Stephen E. Epstein, M.D.

Director, Translational and Vascular Biology Research, MedStar Heart Institute, MedStar Washington Hospital Center
Clinical Professor of Medicine, Georgetown University

After graduating Summa Cum Laude from Columbia College, Dr. Epstein completed his medical training at Cornell University Medical College and interned at New York Hospital, New York, NY. Prior to joining MedStar Health, Dr. Epstein served for over 30 years as Chief of the Cardiology Branch of the NHLBI at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD.

Dr. Epstein oversees translational research conducted within the MedStar Heart Institute. With more than 500 publications in peer-reviewed medical journals, Dr. Epstein is a recognized international authority on angiogenesis and on the application of stem cell strategies for cardiovascular therapeutics, including the use of nanoparticle technology as a drug delivery platform for targeting the delivery of stem cell-derived factors and other molecules to relevant cardiovascular tissues. He has also studied possible genetic polymorphisms and circulating biomarkers as indicators that a given patient is at risk of plaque rupture. He and his team have explored how aging leads to collateral dysfunction.

These research accomplishments led to Dr. Epstein serving on two important National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) committees: Vice-Chairman of the Data Safety Management Board (DSMB) for Programs of Excellence in Gene and Cell Therapy for the Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, and Chairman of the DSMB for Specialized Centers for Clinically Oriented Research in Cardiac Dysfunction and Disease.

In addition to his research and leadership responsibilities, Dr. Epstein serves as Clinical Professor of Medicine at the Georgetown University School of Medicine. He is a Fellow of the American Heart Association, a member of the Association of American Physicians, and an Honorary Fellow of the American College of Chest Physicians. Dr. Epstein is the recipient of the Distinguished WELCOME Lecturer award, was selected for the prestigious Pfizer Visiting Professor Program, and is a frequent invited lecturer and keynote speaker at national and international medical conferences.

Dirk P. O’Hara

Principal, Valir Health

Dirk O’Hara is a principal in Valir Health and other healthcare companies specializing in post-acute care.  He concentrates in development, design, construction, consulting and managing all areas of post-acute healthcare from rehabilitation to long term care.  He recently expanded into behavioral health with Vizown, a residential addiction treatment community for women, the goals of which include offering behavioral health solutions for all of the current patients, residents, guests and clients across its healthcare network.

Mr. O’Hara enjoys the challenge of new businesses in hospitality, manufacturing, construction, transportation and funeral services.

As an attorney, Mr. O’Hara concentrates on business transactions and contracts in long term care, construction, and the oil and gas industry.

Mr. O’Hara’s philanthropic work includes the Harold Hamm Diabetes Center (Chair-Elect), Norman Public Schools Board of Education, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Oklahoma (Past Chair) Oklahoma Assisted Living Association (Past Chair) and various duties with his local church.

Mr. O’Hara received a BA in Letters and a Master in Business Administration Juris Doctor joint degree from The University of Oklahoma.  Along with his wife Stephanie, he works to keep up with his children Aidan and twins Stella and Smith.  His hobby is expanding the family farming operation.

Richard Jaffe

President, Jaffe Investment Group

Before Richard Jaffe founded his own investment group, he was chairman and CEO of Safe Life Corp., a San Diego-based medical-technology company focused on antimicrobial technologies that prevent the spread of infections and disease. In 2004, he co-founded Huya Bioscience International, a drug development company that identifies and licenses the most promising pre-clinical and clinical-stage compounds in China, leverages and extends the research efforts of its Chinese partners, and provides a bridge into the international-development process and global, bio-pharma market. He previously served as chairman, president and CEO of latex-glove manufacturer Safe Skin Corp., which he co-founded in 1988, took public in 1993 and led until February 2000, when a merger was completed with Kimberly-Clark Corp. Early in his career he founded Nutrifoods International Inc., a frozen-dessert manufacturer that he took public in 1984 and sold to the Coca-Cola Company. He earned his B.S. in industrial and labor relations from Cornell University. An active volunteer, he is a long-time member and officer with the Young Presidents Organization (YPO) and, together with his wife, helped build a new campus for the San Diego Jewish Academy. Jaffe was the Marketing Chairman for the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines and is a member of USGA Presidents Council. In addition, he authored his first book of poetry, “Inner Peace and Happiness: Reflections to Grow Your Soul,” in 2007.

Sergey Y. Leshkov

Owner, Premium Aesthetics, Moscow, Russian Federation

Sergey Leshkov is an entrepreneur, investor and co‐owner of several companies, which work in the areas of biotechnology, creating new medicines and medical technology.

In 2000, he co‐founded Ekomir, a manufacturer of modern nutraceuticals. According to the 2006‐2012 figures, the company was in the top ten leading manufacturers of dietary supplements on the Russian pharmaceutical market. In June of 2013, it was acquired by a Canadian company, Valeant Pharmaceuticals International, Inc.

In 2005, Mr. Leshkov co‐founded (since 2012 – Premium Aesthetics), one of the leading Russian distributors of medical technology in the field of aesthetic medicine. Premium Aesthetics is the exclusive distributor of such worldwide known manufacturers as Solta Medical, Zeltiq (USA) and Lumenis (Israel) in the Russian Federation and other parts of the former Soviet Union. The company has been repeatedly named “Best Distributor of the Year in the EMEA region” by its partners.

Mr. Leshkov is also a co‐founder of several companies, dedicated to creation of new drugs in the fields of diabetes, oncology and hepatitis C therapies. Two of them are resident companies of the Skolkovo Foundation.

He is also an investor in various biotech companies in the USA and Switzerland. He serves on the board of directors for CardioCell (USA) and Stemedica International (Switzerland).

Mr. Leshkov was born in Kiev, Ukraine. He is a graduate of the Moscow Academy for Humanities and Social Studies (formerly Moscow Humanitarian University) with a Degree in Psychology.

Craig Carlson, MBA

CEO, Stemedica Technologies

Over the past 25 years of his career, Craig has held senior financial and operational positions in the biotech, biopharmaceutical, and medical device industries. He has significant experience raising capital from private and public markets, directing M&A activities, and has also had significant international experience having been responsible for various subsidiaries in China, Korea and the United Kingdom. Craig holds an MBA from Stanford University.

Craig joined Stemedica in 2014 as Chief Financial Officer.  Previously, Craig was the Senior Vice President, Chief Financial Officer and Corporate Secretary at Talon Therapeutics, a specialty bio-pharmaceutical company that received accelerated approval for its lead product to treat ALL. He was responsible for all finance, accounting, SEC filings, investor relations, information technology, human resources, and intellectual property with financial oversight on clinical trials. During his time at Talon, he played an integral role in securing $100 million in financing; managed the Goldman Sachs M&A efforts; updated and streamlined Sarbanes Oxley controls and procedures; renegotiated licensing and royalty agreements, and actively participated in positioning the company for sale to Spectrum Pharmaceuticals in 2013.

He served as Senior Vice President, Chief Financial Officer, Chief Operating Officer and Managing Director UK for Cygnus Inc., a medical device company focused on manufacturing transdermal drug delivery systems and non-invasive glucose monitoring devices. At Cygnus, Craig led the fundraising efforts resulting in more than $250 million.  He led the licensing negotiations for U.S. sales and distribution agreements as well as the national launch of the world’s first non-invasive glucose monitoring device. He was instrumental in the company’s sale of their transdermal patch business division to Johnson & Johnson.

Craig was the Chief Financial Officer at Neurobiological Technologies, a biotech company focused on Phase III trials for Ischemic Stroke, where he was instrumental in raising over $70 million in the midst of a difficult funding environment. He also served as the Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operating Officer of a privately held new business incubator responsible for, among other things, managing subsidiaries in China and Korea.

Sergey Sikora, Ph.D., MBA

CardioCell’s Co-founder, President, and CEO
FirstMark’s Scientific Advisory Board Chair

CardioCell’s Co-Founder, President and CEO Dr. Sergey Sikora has eight years of management and 12 years of biomedical-research experience. He brought his expertise in cardiology diagnostics and therapeutics to Stemedica in 2013. Before that, Dr. Sikora served as SVP at GenWay, where he established and led the FirstMark Cardiology Diagnostics Division and successfully divested two of the largest divisions of GenWay to Sigma-Aldrich. His career also includes founder and VP of Business Development at MC-Fibers. Dr. Sikora earned his Ph.D. from UCLA, MBA from the Rady School of Management at UC San Diego and B. S. in biochemistry cum laude from UCLA. He currently chairs FirstMark’s Scientific Advisory Board, which comprises top U.S. opinion leaders in cardiology.

Leo S. Spiegel

Senior Vice President of Strategy
and Corporate Development, Pivotal

Pivotal’s Leo Spiegel is a veteran startup executive with biotech experience from his managing partner role in venture-capital firm Mission Ventures. As senior vice president of strategy and corporate development at Pivotal, he is responsible for corporate strategy, M&A, investments and helping with strategic partnerships, and key customer relationships. Previously, he served as president of Digital Island, a provider of global e-business network and content delivery services. He joined Digital Island as a result of a merger with Sandpiper Networks, Inc., the world’s first content delivery service provider for the Internet, where he served as chairman, president and CEO.

Nina Vikhrieva

Owner, EKOMIR Group