Board of Directors
Dr. Kieran Rooney – Board Chairman
Dr Kieran Rooney has over 30 years’ experience in the biopharma industry, with significant expertise in building biopharma businesses, corporate strategy and business development. He is currently VP, Strategic Alliances & Licensing at Amryt Pharma plc. He previously founded Halo BioConsulting, a global healthcare advisory services firm focused on business development and corporate strategy consulting. He consulted to over 30 biopharma and professional services companies including many of the top 10 global pharma companies, multiple biotech companies and was a Strategy and Transactions Advisor to PwC. Prior to this, he held business development roles across a range of life science, pharma and biotech companies and worked as a consultant for the UK government.
Kieran holds a BSc in Pharmacy from University of Sunderland, a Ph.D. in Neuropharmacology from the University of Wales, Cardiff and conducted post-doctoral research at the Universities of Nottingham and Bristol, UK.
Mr. Michael O’Rourke – CEO – Director
Michael O’Rourke, has been involved in “drug delivery” for over 30 years across Ophthalmology, Periodontal and Pulmonary markets including strategy development and global commercialization; previous companies include 3M Pharma, Pfizer, Alza, Chiron Vision, Bausch + Lomb and GrayBug. In 2009 Michael founded Scotia Vision Consultants advising ophthalmic companies on all aspects of commercialization and product development with a focus on anterior and posterior ocular drug delivery
Prior to establishing Scotia Vision Consultant in 2009, Michael was General Manager for the $200m Bausch + Lomb U.S. Pharmaceuticals division in Tampa FL with full P&L and operating responsibility, transforming the business to record levels of growth and managing 150 employees. Previously he pioneered new Bausch + Lomb global strategy divisions including Pharmaceutical, Drug Delivery and Surgical products in California and Rochester NY. Michael was CEO for the start up company GrayBug based in Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, Maryland) where his accomplishments included the closure of an A2 round, securing 4 SBIR grants totalling $750K, developing an infra structure for business development deals and advancing pre clinical research programs in retina and glaucoma.
His ocular drug delivery experience includes launching the world’s first intra ocular drug delivery technology in Europe, Vitrasert®, and the world’s second, Retisert®, in the USA. Michael was the first European Marketing Director for Chiron Vision Europe. Additional experience includes Alza International (drug delivery) establishing their European division and launching the world’s first sustained release technology Actisite® treating periodontitis. At 3M Michael worked in both sales and marketing for new sustained release therapeutics and enhanced aerosol delivery technologies treating pulmonary disease.
Michael has managed 28 brands, led 13 product launches, structured/negotiated 12 strategic business deals and has been a team member in 18 device/drug approvals. Michael has both presented and published within ophthalmology at congresses and within respected journals. He is past Chairman of The Foundation Board for The Lions Eye Institute, guest speaker on strategic planning at the University of Tampa and was part time marketing lecturer at Trent University in Nottingham, UK.
He is a native of Scotland and has lived and worked in Europe, USA and Asia. In 2010 he became a member of the GlobalScot Business network; assisting Scottish based Life Science companies plan for USA market entry, and was appointed to the Hall of Fame in 2018. He is based in Tampa, FL.
Mr. Garrett Hamontree – Visionary Ventures – Non Executive Director
Garrett joined the Visionary Venture Fund in 2017 as an Associate and now serves as a Principal for the Fund where he performs valuation, diligence, and market potential analysis, as well as assisting in negotiating and executing transactions. Additionally, Mr. Hamontree assists with ongoing operations and corporate strategy for Visionary portfolio companies, including as a Board Observer for Equinox, TearClear, Tear Film Innovations, and Orasis Pharmaceuticals. Prior to joining Visionary, Mr. Hamontree was CEO, President, and Board Member of Bridgemark, a privately held company, where he invested private equity and debt in a variety of private market transactions to grow operations and assets across the United States. At Bridgemark, Mr. Hamontree built a team of seasoned subject matter experts from various backgrounds to help source deals and to perform due diligence on potential transactions. Prior to Bridgemark, Mr. Hamontree was a project manager for Chevron leading major capital projects. Mr. Hamontree graduated from Vanderbilt University with a Bachelor of Engineering and from the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business with an MBA in Finance and Data Science.
Mr. Brian McCaul – Qubis Ltd – Non Executive Director
Brian is CEO Qubis Ltd, a Queen’s University Belfast technology transfer company.
Brian has been CEO of Qubis and Director of Innovation at Queen’s University Belfast since 2014. Qubis Ltd. was established in 1984 by Queen’s University to commercialise the University’s research and development activities through the formation of spin-out businesses.
Brian has worked in the technology transfer and innovation space for the last 27 years, both within the private and higher education sectors. Before joining Queen’s he was a co-founder of an innovation software company based in the UK and the Netherlands, during which he established the Innovation Commons, a community of university TTOs using a shared approach and platform, to increase external entrepreneurial involvement in early-stage projects. Before that he was co-owner of an aerospace manufacturing business based in the UK and Poland.
Mr. James Murray – ExSight Ventures – Non Executive Director
James is a co-founder and partner at ExSight Ventures where he has helped lead the firm’s investments in nine transformative ophthalmic companies. In addition to serving on the ExSight investment committee he helms the firm’s operations. His duties include sourcing and evaluating early-stage companies, assisting current and prospective portfolio companies, and is responsible for the firm’s operational functions. He serves on the board of Re-Vana Therapeutics, Ltd, a Northern Ireland ocular pharmaceuticals and drug delivery company, Usher III Initiative, a nonprofit dedicated to finding treatments for individuals with Usher III, and Nectar Services, an unaffiliated New York UCaaS company. James is a board observer at 2C Tech, a California company pioneering nanoparticle technology to treat blinding ophthalmic disease. Prior to co-founding ExSight Ventures, James held various positions at a New York City asset management company, eventually serving as General Counsel and Head of Strategic Initiatives. James is admitted to practice law in the State of New York. He is a member of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York where he serves as Chair of the Emerging Companies Committee. James received his B.A. from Canisius College and his J.D. from Brooklyn Law School.
Mr. Jim Sharkey – Non Executive Director
Jim Sharkey is an experienced ophthalmologist specialising in the treatment of Vitreo Retinal diseases at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast. Jim studied medicine at the Queens University in Belfast and is a Fellow of The Royal College of Surgeons of Glasgow (Ophthalmology), The Royal College of Ophthalmologists. He also completed a Fellowship in Vitreo-Retinal Diseases and Surgery and Uveitis, Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, Miami, Florida, USA, 1993-94. He has pioneered the advancement of retina surgery and treatments in Northern Ireland since 1994 and is a member of the British Medical Association, the British and Eire Association of Vitreo-Retinal Surgeons and American Academy of Ophthalmology.
Dr. Thakur Raghu Raj Singh – Director
Dr. Raj Thakur, is a Reader in Pharmaceutics, School of Pharmacy, Queen’s University Belfast. He holds a PhD in Drug Delivery, MSc in Pharmaceutical Sciences and Bachelors in Pharmacy. Dr. Thakur’s research interests are in the design and physicochemical characterisation of advanced polymeric drug delivery systems for ocular applications. His research group has developed novel long-acting technologies including injectable implants, particulate-based systems and pre-formed implantable devices for delivery of a wide range of therapeutics to address ophthalmic conditions. He has authored over 150 scientific publications, including 43 full papers and four books. He has been an invited speaker at a number of national and international meetings. He is currently acting as the Chair for the Ocular Delivery Focus Group, Controlled Release Society and Scientific Advisor to the editors of the J Pharmaceutical Sciences and editorial board member of a number of international journals.
Dr Robert Avery – Visionary Ventures – Observer
Dr. Avery is the founder of California Retina Consultants and Research Foundation. A retinal surgeon and researcher, he has been involved in the discovery of angiogenic factors in retinal disease and the development of pharmacologic agents to inhibit them. He holds several patents on retinal drug delivery, and has been a principal investigator in scores of clinical trials. He is on the advisory board of Visionary Ventures and InFocus Capital Partners, as well as consulting for dozens of pharmaceutical companies.
Mr. James Curran – Clarendon Associates – Observer
Clarendon Fund Managers Partner and Investment Director, James Curran has been with CFM since 2003. A FCA Approved Person under the UK financial services regime, James has experience of managing five seed and early stage venture capital funds.
Since 2011, James has been a Named Executive in the £31m Co-Fund NI that secures funding for ‘investor ready’ early stage companies by matching against mainly business angels. He works closely in partnership with business angel groups, providing guidance and support so as to enhance their investment capability.
During a thirty year business career James has gained significant board level experience of building early stage companies and helping them grow by raising further funding. He is currently a non-executive director for a number of early stage businesses across a range of technology sectors. James has experience of achieving positive successful exits with medtech and IT ventures.
In October 2018 James became Regional Manager for the HBAN Ulster Business Angel initiative.
James graduated from Queen’s University Belfast in 1987 with a Masters in Engineering and Ulster University with an MBA in 1999. He is a Chartered Fellow of the Chartered Institute for Securities and Investment (CISI) and holds the CISI postgraduate Corporate Finance Diploma. He is also a member of the Corporate Finance Faculty of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales.
Prof. David Jones – Queens University – Observer
Prof. David Jones, is Professor of Biomaterial Science at Queen’s University Belfast and Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Education and Students. His research concerns the characterisation, formulation and engineering of pharmaceutical materials/dosage forms and biomedical devices. He is the author of two textbooks, 6 patents and over 400 research papers/communications and has been awarded the Lilly prize for pharmaceutical research and the British Pharmaceutical Conference Science Award. Professor Jones is both a Chartered Engineer and a Chartered Chemist and is an elected Fellow of the Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland, a Fellow of the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining, a Fellow of the Royal Statistical Society, a Member of the Royal Society of Chemistry and a Member of the Institute of Engineers in Ireland. He is the Editor of the Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology and is a previous holder of the prestigious position of a Royal Society Industrial Fellow. He has been the founder and Director of two University-based Companies, Xiomateria and Carapacics, both concerned with the design and development of novel medical devices.
Dr. Ron Weiss – InFocus Capital – Observer
Dr. Weiss is a board-certified ophthalmologist and the Founder of Chicago Eye Consultants and has approximately 20 years of venture capital deal sourcing, structuring and investing experience. He is an Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology at Rush University Medical Center, as well as the Chairman of Ophthalmology at MacNeal Hospital.
He obtained his undergraduate degree from Emory University in Atlanta, his medical degree from Northwestern University in Chicago, and completed his ophthalmology residency at The University of Chicago. Dr. Weiss was a co-founder of the boutique private equity firm Prescient Capital Partners. At Prescient, he has had experience investing in companies across a broad range of industries, including Eyetech Pharmaceuticals, Effen Vodka, Treasury Curve, Pinstripes and Trupanion.
In 2016, he co-founded InFocus Capital Partners, LLC with Robert Rothman, MD. Dr. Weiss is, or has been, on the Board of Directors for Pinstripes, Infuse Spirits, Cellview Imaging and ONL Therapeutics.
Mr. Hal Wilson – TechStart Ventures – Observer
Hal is a Partner in Techstart Ventures LLP, a seed capital fund management business. Hal has been successfully investing in early stage technology companies since 1996. Investments that Hal has held include APT Licensing (sold to CSR plc), Lagan Technologies (sold to Kana Software Inc), Avalon Instruments (sold to Perkin Elmer Inc) and JAR Technologies (sold to Calnex Solutions).