Management and Scientific Team

Michael O'Rourke - photo by Rob Harris Productions

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.

Patrick H Ruane

Patrick H Ruane Ph.D. – Chief Operating Officer

Patrick has developed drug delivery products in the Surgical, CV, ENT, GI and Transdermal spaces over the past 20 years. He most recently served as CTO at Allay Therapeutics, prior to that he was CTO at Chrono Therapeutics, VP of R&D at CV Ingenuity (acquired by Covidien) and has held various positions in R&D at Xtent, Cook Group and Navigant Biotechnologies.

He received his primary degrees in Chemistry from The Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology and Trinity College Dublin, his Ph.D. from University College Dublin and Post-Doctoral Fellowships at University of Toronto, The Johns Hopkins University and Ohio State University. He is published extensively in both the academic and patent literature.

Raj Thakur

Thakur Raghu Raj Singh, Ph.D. – Chief Technology Officer

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.

Tom Biancardi

Tom Biancardi – Chief Financial Advisor

Tom Biancardi is a biopharma industry veteran with over 20 years of financial and operational leadership experience. As an advisor he has assisted numerous pre-commercial companies raise Series A capital and establish early operations including Carisma Therapeutics and Interius Biotherapeutics. He was one of the first employees of Ophthotech Corporation where he helped the company grow from a pre-clinical venture backed startup to a publicly traded biotech company with multiple clinical assets. He also worked with Eyetech Pharmaceuticals where he played a crucial role in the successful launch of the first ever pharmacologic treatment for macular degeneration.

Mr. Biancardi holds an M.B.A. from New York University, and Bachelor of Science degrees in both Mechanical Engineering and Economics from Rutgers University.

Scientific Team

David Waite

David Waite, Ph.D. – Lead Scientist, OcuLief Technology

David has a Ph.D. in Ocular Drug Delivery and an MPharm degree in Pharmacy from Queen’s University Belfast, UK. David has significant experience in the development and characterisation of formulations for sustained release of small molecules and proteins to the eye. As part of a 3-year Ph.D. project he has developed and characterised multiple injectable formulations that form implants in situ, prior to being photocrosslinked, to provide long-term, sustained protein delivery to the posterior segment of the eye. He also has significant expertise in formulation development and characterisation, development and validation of drug quantification methods, protein analytical methods, bioactivity determination and biocompatibility assays. He has authored a review paper on periocular drug delivery, with research papers in the pipeline (subject to patents) and presented posters at several conferences.

Muhammad Faris Adrianto

Muhammad Faris Adrianto, Ph.D – Lead Scientist, EyeLief Technology

Faris completed his MPharm degree in Drug Delivery at Sandwich Airlangga University, Indonesia and Hoshi University, Japan and his Ph.D. in Ocular Drug Delivery from Queens University Belfast, UK. He has more than 8 years research experience in protein formulation, characterisation, analysis, purification, analytical method development and quality control evaluation of biologics. As part of his Ph.D he developed and characterised formulation of preformed photo-crosslinked intravitreal implants for sustained release biologics. He has extensive knowledge in various imaging techniques, cell-based assays, biochromatography, microbiology analysis, sterilisation studies, immunoassays, and electrophoresis. He has authored 5 peer reviewed research paper and presented at several international conferences.

Shirish Yakkundi

Shirish Yakkundi Ph.D. – Manager (Projects and Operations)

Shirish has a B.Sc. in Chemistry (University of Bombay, India), M.Sc. in Organic Chemistry (University of Bombay, India) and a Ph.D. in Natural Products & Analytical Chemistry (University of Mysore, India). He has experience as a research and commercial scientist with more than 20 years of research in the areas of paediatrics, biomarker discovery and has also been involved in project management and operations. Extensive experience in scientific program/project planning, execution and evaluation across diverse fields and sectors. Throughout his scientific career he has collaborated (nationally & internationally) with multidisciplinary professionals from academia, clinicians and industry. He has been working at Re-Vana for the past 3.5 years handling operations at Re-Vana facility in Belfast, where he also coordinates and manages several projects for the company.

Ravi Deevi

Ravi Deevi Ph.D. – Research Scientist

Ravi completed his Master’s degree in Microbiology from RD University, Jabalpur and M.Phil. degree in Microbiology from Acharya Nagarjuna University, Guntur, India. He completed his Ph.D. in Immunology from Queen’s University, Belfast, UK. He has more than 15 years of research experience in cell biology, biochemistry, In vitro and ex Vivo models of disease. He has strong technical experience including design and optimization of ELISA assays. He also has also experience in tumour 3D models of colorectal (CRC), handling breast cancer cells and isolation, culture of mouse colonic organoids. He has published his work in prestigious journals such as Journal of Biological Chemistry, Oncogene and immunology.

Gunjan Deshmukh

Gunjan Deshmukh Ph.D. – Research Scientist

Gunjan has a B.Sc. in Chemistry, M.Sc. in Organic Chemistry from North Maharashtra University, India and a Ph.D. degree in Chemistry and Catalysis from Institute of Chemical Technology, Mumbai, India. He has over 14 years of industrial and academic research. His research work is amalgamation of synthesis of organic molecule and metal oxide-based nanomaterials. He has expertise in liquid and vapor phase reactions, fabrication of reaction setups along with associated characterization techniques such as NMR, LC-MS, GC-MS, column chromatography, flash chromatography etc. His Ph.D. research and postdoctoral studies focused on development of sustainable processes involving design and development of catalysts and their applications in fine chemicals. He has also experience in the field of polymers and their use in different therapeutic areas, drug molecules and intermediates. He has published over 20 peer reviewed research articles, reviews, and book chapters.

Sangdi Wang

Sangdi Wang M.Sc., Ph.D. (in process of completion) – Research Scientist

Sangdi has a B.Sc. in Pharmaceutical Engineering (Chongqing University of Technology, China) and a M.S degree in Pharmaceutical Analysis (Queen’s University Belfast, United Kingdom). He is completing his Ph.D thesis in Ocular Drug Delivery. Sangdi has research experience in developing in situ forming implants formulations as ocular delivery systems for the sustained release of biologics to the posterior segment of the eye and extensive knowledge in protein analysis and characterisation techniques, including high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC), spectrophotometry, thermal analysis, imaging techniques and biological assays.

Wenrui Zhang

Wenrui Zhang MSc, Ph.D. – Research Scientist

Wenrui has a B.Sc in Pharmacy (Huazhong University of Science and Technology, China) and an MS degree in pharmaceutical analysis (Queen’s University Belfast, UK); he is completing his Ph.D thesis in Ocular Drug Delivery. Wenrui has research experience in developing pharmaceutical formulations as ocular inserts for the controlled/sustained release of small molecule drugs and extensive knowledge in various imaging techniques, cell-based assays, protein analytical methods, bioactivity determination, and biocompatibility assays.

He has developed and characterized the formulation of electrospun inserts which provide sustained delivery to the anterior segment of the eye with good mucoadhesive properties.