Leadership

Daniel Chung, DO, MA

Dr. Chung is the Chief Medical Officer of SparingVision where he spearheads the clinical development of new therapies and leads medical affairs, educational, and patient advocacy efforts. He has extensive experience in medical strategy and gene therapy, previously serving as the Ophthalmology Lead at Spark Therapeutics, where he played a pivotal role in the approval of Luxturna™ for RPE65-associated inherited retinal generation, the first gene therapy to be approved in the US for a genetic disease.

Prior to Spark, Dr. Chung worked for 11 years at the Scheie Eye Institute within the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, specializing in pre-clinical and translational research of gene-based therapies for inherited retinal diseases.

Dr. Chung received his medical degree from the New York College of Osteopathic Medicine in 1994 and completed postgraduate training at the National Eye Institute, Summa Health Systems and Cole Eye Institute at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation.

Élise Héon, MD, FRCSC

Dr. Élise Héon is the Henry Brent Chair in Innovative Pediatric Ophthalmology Research at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Canada, where she also serves as the Director of the Ocular Genetics Program and Professor of Ophthalmology at the University of Toronto. She also serves on the Scientific, Medical and Ethical Advisory Board (SMEAB) of the European Networks for Rare Diseases (ERNs).

She is a renowned clinician in the field of pediatric inherited retinal degenerations with a particular interest in genetic characterization of disease as well as in patient reported outcome measures.

Dr. Héon received her medical degree at the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Sherbrooke (Québec), where she subsequently completed her Ophthalmology residency and served as chief resident. Dr. Héon continued her training as a Clinical & Research Fellow in Pediatric Ophthalmology and Ocular Genetics at The Hospital for Sick Children, a Fellowship in Molecular Ophthalmology at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, and a specialized Fellowship at Hôpital ophtalmique Jules-Gonin, Switzerland.

Dr. Héon was the Ophthalmologist-in-Chief at SickKids from December 2002 to July 2014. She has been on staff at Sickkids since 1996, focusing on Inherited retinal diseases.

Bart Leroy, MD, PhD

Dr. Leroy is professor of Ophthalmology, Ophthalmic Genetics and Visual Electrophysiology at Ghent University and the Head of the Ophthalmology department at Ghent University Hospital, Ghent, Belgium.

Dr. Leroy completed his medical degree (MD), PhD in medical sciences, residencies in clinical genetics and Ophthalmology and a fellowship in medical retina and visual electrophysiology at Ghent University in Belgium. He also completed a fellowship in medical retina, inherited retinal diseases, visual electrophysiology, and molecular genetics at Moorfields Eye Hospital & Institute of Ophthalmology in London, UK.

Dr. Leroy’s focus is diagnosis and detailed clinical phenotyping of inherited retinal degenerations as well as in the development of innovative treatments, including serving as a clinical investigator on therapies for RPE65-IRD and CEP290-IRD. He served as past president for the European Organization for Vision & Eye Research and is a board member of the International Society for Genetic Eye Disease & Retinoblastoma, the Société de la Génétique Ophtalmologique Francophone, and the Belgian Society of Ophthalmology. He is also co-opted board member for ophthalmic genetics of the European Society of Retina Specialists (EURETINA).

José-Alain Sahel, MD

Dr. José-Alain Sahel is the chair and Distinguished Professor of the Department of Ophthalmology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, director of the UPMC Eye Center, and the Eye and Ear Foundation Endowed Chair of Ophthalmology.  He is also a Professor of the Sorbonne Medical School.

Dr. Sahel studied medicine at University Denis Diderot and completed a residency in Ophthalmology at the Louis Pasteur University Hospital in Strasbourg. He also was a research fellow at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary and a visiting scholar in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology at Harvard University.

Dr. Sahel is world renowned for his work in vision restoration techniques including stem cell implantation, gene therapy, retinal prostheses, and optogenetics. He has also developed novel high resolution imaging technologies for retinal and optic nerve conditions. Dr. Sahel is a co-inventor on more than 40 patents and a member of 11 editorial boards.

He previously served as chairman of the Departments of Ophthalmology at the Quinze-Vingts National Eye Hospital, the Rothschild Ophthalmology Foundation, the Vision Institute, and the French National Reference Center for Retinal Dystrophies. He has supervised dozens of clinical trials and directed a network of more than 90 European clinical trial centers focused on retinal diseases.

Ben Yerxa, PhD

Dr. Yerxa is President and CEO of Opus Genetics. Dr. Yerxa has more than 25 years’ experience in biotechnology, drug development and in translating promising research discoveries into clinical milestones and treatments in the pulmonary, oral health, cardiovascular, HIV and ophthalmology fields. Dr. Yerxa served as CEO of the Foundation Fighting Blindness where he established the RD Fund, a venture philanthropy investment fund. Prior to joining the Foundation, Dr. Yerxa served as president and co-founder of Envisia Therapeutics, a company focused on developing novel ocular sustained delivery therapies for the front and back of the eye. He also has previously held founding and executive positions in several ophthalmology-based R&D organizations, including Liquidia Technologies, Clearside Biomedical, Parion Sciences and Inspire Pharmaceuticals. Dr. Yerxa serves on the board of directors at Clearside Biomedical and Nacuity Pharmaceuticals. Dr. Yerxa holds 60 U.S. patents. An inventor of DIQUAS™, an innovative treatment for dry eye approved in Japan, he has been involved in the discovery and development of investigational new drugs, Phase 3 clinical programs, new drug applications, and drug approvals. Dr. Yerxa earned his PhD in organic chemistry from University of California, Irvine, and BA in chemistry from the University of California, San Diego.

Ash Jayagopal, PhD

Dr. Jayagopal has more than 13 years of experience in drug development, drug delivery technology and biomarker development for retinal diseases. Prior to joining Opus as Chief Scientific Officer, Dr. Jayagopal served as the Executive Director of Discovery Medicine at Kodiak Sciences, where he led the drug discovery team and shaped the strategy for leveraging Kodiak’s biopolymer technology for delivery of large and small molecules in retinal diseases. Previously, Dr. Jayagopal was Head of Molecular Pharmacology and Biomarkers in the ophthalmic drug discovery division at Roche, where he built and led a team of more than 25 scientists focused on the discovery and validation of biologics, small molecules, and gene therapies for retinal diseases, including inherited retinal diseases. Dr. Jayagopal previously served as a National Institutes of Health-funded Principal Investigator and Assistant Professor in the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences at the Vanderbilt Eye Institute, and the Department of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics of Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Dr. Jayagopal holds a PhD in Biomedical Engineering from Vanderbilt University and an M.B.A. from Kelley School of Business, Indiana University. He has been awarded a Roche Key Contributor Award, Dolly Green Special Scholar Award from Research to Prevent Blindness, and a Junior Faculty Award from the American Diabetes Association. He is a Fellow of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (FARVO) and is the Vice President and President-elect of the Association for Ocular Pharmacology and Therapeutics (AOPT).

Jean Bennett, MD, PhD

Dr. Bennett is the F.M. Kirby Emeritus Professor of Ophthalmology at the Perelman School of Medicine and previously served as director of the Center for Advanced Retinal and Ocular Therapeutics (CAROT) at the University of Pennsylvania. In addition to Dr. Bennett’s positions at the University of Pennsylvania, she has been an Investigator at the Center for Cellular and Molecular Therapeutics at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) for more than a decade. She also co-founded life science companies Spark Therapeutics (acquired by Roche), GenSight Biologics and Limelight Bio. Dr. Bennett received her PhD in Zoology and Cell Biology from the University of California, Berkley, and obtained an MD from Harvard University. She also completed postdoctoral fellowships in Radiobiology and Environmental Health at the University of California, San Francisco, Human Genetics at Yale School of Medicine and Development Genetics at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. She received her BS in Biology from Yale University.

Joe Schachle

Mr. Schachle brings more than 30 years of experience in life sciences to his role as Chief Operating Officer of Opus, with specific expertise in strategic and operational planning, business development, marketing and sales, and business intelligence. Before joining Opus, Mr. Schachle served as vice president of Customer Experience Enablement and vice president of global commercial services and controlling at Grifols, where he led multiple commercial departments across business units, managed key cross-divisional initiatives and directed strategic brand planning process. Previously, Mr. Schachle was the COO for Parion Sciences, and part of the team that secured partners for the company’s lead programs, which exceeded $1 billion in deal value. Mr. Schachle has also served as chief commercial officer for Inspire Pharmaceuticals, where he oversaw multiple partnering deals and promoted three eye care brands, including AzaSite®, Elestate®, and Restasis®. In addition, he’s held multiple sales and marketing leadership positions at GlaxoSmithKline, where he managed several billion-dollar brands including Advair®, Imitrex®, Wellbutrin SR®, Epivir® / Retrovir® and Combivir®.  He also served on the Board of Directors for the Council for Entrepreneurial Development (CED) and North Carolina State University College of Management Industry Advisory Board.  Mr. Schachle earned his undergraduate degree from James Madison University and his MBA from Old Dominion University.

 

Matt Farber, CPA, MBA

Matt Farber, CPA, MBA, is a financial executive with more than 25 years of experience working for public and private companies in the life-sciences and agriculture-tech industries. Most recently, Matt was head of finance for Istari Oncology, a privately funded, clinical-stage biotech where he led the company’s Series A and Series B raises totaling more than $110M. Previously, Matt managed multi-billion dollar projects at Deere & Company, a leading global agriculture-technology company, where he served in positions of increasing responsibility in finance and strategic management roles. Matt received his MBA with a concentration in finance from Indiana University.

Jennifer Hunt

Ms. Hunt brings over 25 years of drug development experience to Opus, with specific expertise in global clinical operations, product development and program management in biologics, small molecules, gene editing and gene therapy. Prior to joining Opus, she held key clinical and regulatory positions at several biopharmaceutical companies, including Genzyme, Voyager Therapeutics and Editas Medicine. While at Editas, she oversaw the development of CRISPR medicines across ophthalmology, hemoglobinopathies and oncology, including Editas’ gene therapy to restore vision loss in patients with LCA type 10, the first in-vivo CRISPR IND ever accepted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Ms. Hunt earned a B.S. in Biology from State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry at Syracuse and a M.S. in Management from Lesley University.