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.

Roger J. Howe, Ph.D.

Executive Chairman, Stemedica Cell Technologies

Dr. Roger Howe is the executive chairman of Stemedica Cell Technologies. Over the past 25 years, he founded five successful start-up ventures in the medical-technology and information-systems business sectors. In his past roles as founder and CEO, he worked with venture capital and investment-banking firms to spur their participation while moving these companies into commercialization. As former chairman and CFO of Reliant Technologies (now Solta Medical, NASDAQ:SLTM), he co-led the efforts to secure funding and successfully re-launch the company. He is also the former CEO and Board Member of Cardiovascular Systems (NASDAQ:CSII), where he was instrumental in commercializing the technology and obtaining FDA approval. His startup, customer- and market-research firm National Information Systems Inc., conducted extensive marketing and branding campaigns, marketing assessments and trend research for leading Fortune 500 corporations. Another of his startups, Metrix Communications, became one of the most successful IBM Premium Partners. Both of these companies were sold to Fortune 500 companies. He has authored and co-authored three books and several articles, including “Quality on Trial” and “Customer Relationship Management,” which were bestselling business books and have been translated and published in several languages. His most recent book, “Miracle of Stem Cells: How Adult Stem Cells are Transforming Medicine,” is a popular title among the medical and scientific-investment communities. Currently, Dr. Howe invests in the emerging field of combining nutraceuticals with proprietary, pharmaceutical-delivery systems and medical devices. He is also actively involved in the Boundary Waters Experience, a nonprofit dedicated to providing young people with adventurous experiences in the wilderness.

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.

Thomas H. Silberg

CEO, StemProtein LLC

StemProtein CEO Thomas H. Silberg is a seasoned professional in the pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical industries. He has substantial executive level experience with major, branded pharmaceuticals, medium-sized and startup biotechs and generic IV drug manufacturing. He has led multiple strategic transactions — from a company divestiture and a public company spin-out to asset acquisitions and partnerships. He has consistently grown both revenue and earnings, most recently characterized by APP Pharmaceuticals’ revenue growth of 23.1 percent CAGR between 2005 and 2009. His leadership skills have guided companies through many organizational challenges ranging from building a startup biotech company to integrating a North America-based company with a European-based global healthcare organization prior to a commercial launch. He has successfully managed numerous company reorganizations targeted at fixing problems, creating new capabilities, downsizing and building needed infrastructure. Before joining StemProtein in 2015, he most recently served as president and CEO of both Genway Biotech Inc. and APP North America, a wholly owned subsidiary of Fresenius Kabi, a global healthcare company based in Germany. He has also held COO positions for Tercica, Inc. and Ligand Pharmaceuticals Inc. His career began in 1972 with Hoffmann La Roche Inc., where he started in sales and advanced to VP of business operations. His past board appointments include the University of Southern California Center of Excellence in HealthCare Management, Medi Promotions, the Cobalis Corporation and the Generic Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association. Currently, in addition to his position on CardioCell’s board, he is a board director for Pivotal Biosciences and StemCutis LLC and serves as chairman of the board for Genway Biotech Inc. and the Palomar Health System Foundation. He earned his B.S. in advertising and marketing from the University of Minnesota.

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.

Nikolai Tankovich, M.D., Ph.D., FASLMS

President & Chief Medical Officer, Stemedica Cell Technologies
Co-Chair, CardioCell

CardioCell’s Co-Founder, Chief Medical Officer and Corporate Oversight. Dr. Nikolai Tankovich is a recognized innovator, licensor, researcher and educator of laser applications in medicine, cancer vaccines, stem-cell therapies and other medical-related disciplines. A founder and director of several corporations, Dr. Tankovich is respected worldwide for his innovative work; he has published more than 60 articles and holds more than 50 U.S. and foreign patents issued and pending. His inventions include devices for laser hair removal and laser skin peeling, non-ablative wrinkle removal and laser lancet (all three licensed and FDA approved). He was the first in the world to propose, invent, develop, patent, build and use a 1.54 micron Er:Glass laser for Fraxel and medical applications. Among his numerous awards and honors is the Gold Kurchatov Medal for the Atomic Science Application in Medicine and Biology awarded by the Atomic Energy Agency in 1998. On Nov. 8, 2011, the Trustees of the Centre for Science and Society appointed Dr. Tankovich as a Legate of the Centre. Dr. Tankovich also has worked on laser diagnosis and surgery of malignant and background uterine cervix diseases and the intraoperation laser diagnosis of early forms of breast cancer. He earned his Ph.D. in BioPhysics from Lomonosov Moscow University, his M.D. from Semashco Medical University in Moscow and his M.S. in Plasma Physics from Moscow University. He also practiced as an oncologist, focusing on new ways to deliver cancer drugs into organs.