Founders

JR Rahn

Founder, Director
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JR is a former Silicon Valley tech executive who realized that transformational solutions to mental illness and addiction might lie in psychedelic medicines. He spent 2 years researching and began personally investing in psychedelic research through his investment company. JR partnered with drug development veteran Stephen Hurst to start Mindmed in 2019, assembling a leading clinical drug discovery and development team with vast experience conducting clinical trials and research on drug candidates derived from psychedelics. Before starting Mindmed, JR worked in market expansion and operations at Uber. After leaving Uber, he was backed by the Silicon Valley tech accelerator Y Combinator for his company Upgraded. Upgraded is partnered with Apple to provide device financing for Apple customers in Europe.

jr@mindmed.co

Stephen L. Hurst, JD

Founder, Director & CEO
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Steve has more than thirty-five years’ experience in the biopharmaceutical industry including work for The Immune Tolerance Institute, The Regents of the University of California, The World Bank and BIO Ventures for Global Health. In addition, Steve has previously advised on psychedelic therapies research and clinical trial designs.

He has held senior executive positions with Sequential, Inc. and Inhale Therapeutic Systems, Inc., (now Nektar Therapeutics, Inc.), where he helped the company grow to over 700 employees and raised more than $700 million in investment capital. Steve and Drs. Freeman and Glick co-founded Savant HWP, Inc., in 2009 to advance 18-MC to clinical trials. He is a graduate of Golden Gate University, School of Law and the University of California, Berkeley.

Management team

Rob Tessarolo

CEO, Director
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Scott Freeman, MD

Chief Medical Officer
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Scott has extensive experience in clinical trial work and FDA regulatory strategy. As the CMO of Savant he was the primary investigator behind the National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant in bringing 18-MC to IND and its first-in-human clinical trial. He served as Vice President of Clinical Development at Onyx Pharmaceutical and was head of both the clinical development and operations groups, which lead to FDA approval of Nexavar for kidney and liver cancer. Dr. Freeman was an Associate Professor at Tulane University and a guest researcher at the NIH in both basic and clinical research. Scott earned his BA from the University of Colorado and received his MD from the University of Nevada.

Donald Gehlert, PhD

Chief Scientific Officer
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Don has extensive experience in drug discovery and expertise in key functional areas of exploratory development and disease biology.  During his career at Lilly, Don led or participated in teams that introduced 19 molecules into the Lilly pipeline including both small and large molecule therapies. He also participated on Phase I and Phase II clinical development teams that designed and delivered translational proof of concept studies in the areas of ADHD, obesity, AUD, depression, pain and migraine.  He is a co-author on 182 publications and a co-inventor on 15 issued and pending patents.

Stanley D. Glick, PhD, MD

Co-founder, Director and Chair Scientific Advisory Board
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Stan was a professor of pharmacology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine and chaired the pharmacology and neuroscience program at Albany Medical College. Dr. Glick’s major research interest focused on the neurobiology of drug addiction.  His research was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) for forty years and he is a co-inventor of a novel group of agents (iboga alkaloid congeners) for treating drug addiction, including 18-methoxycoronaridine (18-MC).  Dr. Glick has authored or co-authored over 450 experimental papers, reviews and abstracts, and has served on journal editorial boards and NIH advisory committees.

Carol Nast

EVP, Global Manufacturing
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Carol has spent her career in executive level positions with large multinational companies and early stage companies in the medical industry. She is a recognized expert in product development and commercialization and has extensive experience in the management of complex, multinational partner programs and has lead successfully the development and commercialization of over 100 products. Carol was COO at NuGen, a genomics company, and served in executive level positions at Inhale Therapeutics (Nektar), Syva (a division of Syntex Pharmaceuticals,) BioRad and Pfizer. Her passion is the successful launch and adoption of breakthrough products in emerging markets that have significant impact by solving a vexing challenge.

Ferdinand Belga

Senior Vice-president, Pre-commercialization
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Ferdinand has over twenty-nine years of experience in biotech and pharmaceutical industries, working with both Fortune 50 and start-up companies. His background includes research with the College of Medicine at University of Illinois Chicago, development work with Abbott Laboratories (now Abbvie), which included the launch of the product HUMIRA as well as the Emerging Markets Division in Singapore to elevate the Sales & Marketing in Russia, India, and China. He ran a Women’s and Men’s Health Business in Russia and other global business development roles. Mr. Belga holds a B.S. degree in Biology- PreMedicine from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and an MBA from Kellogg Northwestern University.

Jeanne Bonelle

EVP, Global Quality
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Jeanne has over thirty years of experience developing quality organizations within startup firms as well as transitioning to commercial operations. Her last four positions were to establish quality systems within the developmental phase for a wide range of products, including Senior Director of Quality Assurance at Inhale Therapeutic Systems, Inc., (now Nektar Therapeutics, Inc.); Director of Quality Assurance at Cholestech Inc. (now Alere Inc.); Manager of Quality Assurance at BioTrack, (now a subsidiary of Roche Diagnostics GmbH); Manager of Quality Assurance at BioResponse Inc. (now Baxter Health Care). Ms. Bonelle obtained her degree in Chemistry from California State College, Dominguez Hills, CA.

Nico Forte

Chief of Staff
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Nico has more than twenty-five years of marketing and business development experience primarily in the biopharma and medical device industries. His background includes B2B agency marketing and communication work for Bristol-Myers and Mead Johnson Oncology divisions as well as business development roles for Inhale Therapeutic Systems, Inc., (now Nektar Therapeutics, Inc.). He directed US operations for the Australian medical device company Signostics, LTD (now EchoNous, Inc.) before joining Konica Minolta Medical Imaging to expand their imaging expertise into handheld ultrasound. Mr. Forte holds a BA degree in Economics from The College of William and Mary in Virginia.

Paul Van Damme

Chief Financial Officer
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Mr. Van Damme has served in senior financial roles for several public companies in both the United States and Canada. He joined Laidlaw Inc. and helped implement their expansion into Europe. After three years as Chief Financial Officer of TeleZone, a start-up wireless telecommunications company, he became CFO of a private biotech firm and helped raise venture financing to expand its product portfolio. Mr. Van Damme later joined Allelix Pharmaceuticals and participated in the merger of the company with NPS Pharmaceuticals of Salt Lake City. He was most recently the CFO of Structural Genomics Consortium, a British pubic private partnership.

He also serves as a Director and Chair of the Audit Committee of two Alberta companies, XORTX Therapeutics and OncoQuest, a subsidiary of Quest PharmaTech. He holds an MBA from the Rotman School of Management.

Scientific Advisory Board

John Rotrosen, MD

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John is currently a Professor of Psychiatry with New York University’s Langone’s Department of Psychiatry. His research includes a focus in addictive disorders, pharmacological and behavioral intervention, and the translation of research to community settings. John has served on NIDA’s National Advisory Council on Drug Abuse and the NIMH National Advisory Mental Health Council.

Kenneth Alper, MD

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Kenneth Alper is a Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Neurology at the New York University School of Medicine, where he completed his psychiatry residency and fellowship. Dr. Alper has investigated ibogaine and its structural derivatives from the methodological perspectives of medical ethnography, forensic and cardiovascular toxicology, and experimental pharmacology. Dr. Alper’s principal mentor un the field is Dr. Stanley Glick, with whom he coauthored and edited the only English language text on ibogaine, and they are presently the two most frequently cited authors in the field.

Eric Edwards, MD, PhD

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Eric is the co-founder and Member, Board of Directors at Kaleo, Inc. Dr. Edwards is named on over 150 issued and pending patent applications. While at Kaleo, he was responsible for overseeing Kaleo’s innovation and pipeline initiatives, managing post-market clinical strategy, was a member of the commercial launch team for Auvi-Q and directed drug safety and medical affairs for the company.

Jed Rose, PhD

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Jed is currently a Professor in Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Duke University, and President & CEO of Rose Research Center.  His three primary areas of research include: development of innovative treatments for smoking cessation and tobacco harm reduction; brain imaging of the effects of nicotine and cigarette smoking; analysis of airway sensory components of smoking reinforcement.

John Blacker, PhD

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John is currently a Professor of Process Chemistry and Technical Director at the Institute of Process Research and Development (iPRD), University of Leeds, an organization he helped to co-found.  Hisarea of expertise is in route design and chemical process research and development applied to the pharmaceutical, agrochemical, fine and specialty chemical industries.

Natalie Wheeler, PhD

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Natalie is currently a Medical Science Liaison with Dova Pharmaceuticals. She is a research professional supporting investigator initiated clinical studies in addition to presenting product and clinical trial information to the medical and scientific communities. Her PhD is in Neuroscience from Virginia Commonwealth University where she studied neurodegenerative diseases. Natalie’s first Medical Science Liaison role was in the field of addiction where she developed a greater understanding of the disease and discovered her passion in helping those in their recovery.

Sarah McCallum, PhD

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Sarah is an Associate Professor of Neuroscience and Experimental Therapeutics (DNET) at Albany Medical College. She also serves as Director of the Combined BS/MD programs and is Co-Director of the Clinical Investigation academic program. Her research focus includes the identification and functional role of neuronal nicotinic receptors in substance abuse, neurodegenerative disease and other psychiatric conditions as well as the long-term regulation of nicotinic receptors by smoking.

Board of directors

Bruce Linton

Director
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JR Rahn

Founder, Director
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Rob Tessarolo

CEO, Director
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Stephen L. Hurst, JD

Founder & Exec Chairman
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Perry Dellelce

Director
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Stanley D. Glick, PhD, MD

Director
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