Our Team

Management Team

Johan M.(Thijs) Spoor, MBA, Chief Executive Officer

Mr. Spoor was previously President and CEO of AzurRx and was involved since the founding of the Company in June 2014. At AzurRx, he successfully led the company through its Phase 2 study in chronic pancreatitis and its Phase 2 OPTION study in cystic fibrosis. He previously was President, Chief Executive Officer and a member of the board of directors of Fluoropharma Medical, Inc., was the CFO for Sunstone BioSciences, a nanotechnology firm, and as a strategy consultant at Oliver Wyman working with biotechnology, pharmaceutical, medical device and health insurance companies. Mr. Spoor was an equity research analyst at J.P. Morgan and Credit Suisse covering the biotechnology and medical device industries. Prior to his career on Wall Street, Mr. Spoor worked in the pharmaceutical industry at Amersham /GE Healthcare where he worked in 7 countries in a variety of commercial and strategy roles.  Mr. Spoor holds a Pharmacy degree from the University of Toronto as well as an M.B.A. from Columbia University with concentrations in finance and accounting.

Fred Yang, PhD, Chief Development Officer

Fred leads the development of the medical strategies of the company. In this capacity, Fred provides leadership and insights of medical development of the company’s clinical-stage compounds.

Fred has almost 20 years of experience in clinical research and drug development, with expertise focusing on statistics and quantitative science. He assumed increasing responsibilities in both Big Pharma (Abbott, Pharmacia, GSK, etc.) and small biotech (Discovery Labs), overseeing biostatistics as well as trial conduct and strategic planning. He had successful end-to-end development and worldwide regulatory experiences. His therapeutic experiences range from diabetes, CV, arthritis, oncology, and neonatal care, with many publications.

Fred is currently an adjunct associate professor at Drexel University Medical School. He is also a consultant for the International Breast Cancer Research Foundation (IBCRF).

Fred received his undergraduate education at Peking University and his Ph.D. degree from the University of Wisconsin.

Michael Miernicki, Ph.D, Vice President of Project Management

Dr. Miernicki is a pharmaceutical / biotech / CRO executive who has led project management, clinical development, clinical operations and outsourcing teams in large pharma (Bristol Myers-Squibb, J&J, Otsuka), biotech (Amgen, GPC Biotech) and venture-funded (Drais) environments.  Experienced in all phases of global drug development (INDs, phases I through III, NDAs, launch, phase IV), Michael has been a key player in the successful development, launch and commercialization of drugs with aggressive timelines and demonstrated success leading teams and functions through R&D and optimizing clinical development processes.

Dr. Miernicki received his Ph.D. (neuroscience / statistics) from Vanderbilt University and has over 30 years experience in clinical drug development.

Vincent J. Benn, PhD, MBA, Vice President, Regulatory & Medical Affairs

Vince brings more than 30 years of clinical and regulatory drug and biologics development experience to KBP BioSciences. Previously, he was Vice President Clinical & Regulatory Affairs at Essential Pharmaceuticals, Vice President Worldwide Clinical Operations at Discovery Labs, and Global Clinical Program Director at Aventis Behring LLC.  Previous clinical research projects span wide range of therapeutic areas, such as immunology, allergy, asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, and cardiology in several pharmaceutical companies including Pharmacia, Ortho, Rhone-Poulenc Rorer, and Merck. He has developed and defended clinical development plans before FDA, EMEA, MCA, MPA, and the Paul Erlich Institute (PEI).

He received his A.B. in Biological Science and English, M.S. in Physiology and Zoology, and Ph.D in Immunology from Rutgers University. He received additional training in clinical immunology at Harvard Medical School and The University of Texas.  He completed his M.B.A at the Fox School of Management at Temple University.  In addition, he was Regulatory Affairs Certified (R.A.C.) by the Regulatory Affairs Professional Society.

Jay (Xu-Jie) Zhang, PhD, Vice President, Biology

Dr. Zhang graduated from Heinrich Heine University in Düsseldorf, Germany with a Ph.D. in Toxicology / Toxicokinetics, and a Master of Toxicology and a Bachelor of Public Health degree from Tongji Medical University. Dr. Zhang has many years of experience in pharmaceutical R&D. He has worked for several pharmaceutical R&D companies including Pfizer Pharmaceuticals.

An enthusiastic and goal oriented scientific leader in Drug Metabolism and Pharmacokinetics to support drug discovery and development; extensive training and hands-on experiences on drug metabolism and pharmacokinetics including in vitro enzymatic assays, in vitro and in vivo drug metabolism to assess metabolic clearance and metabolite profiling, species comparison and species selection for toxicology evaluations, drug-drug interaction assessment including drug metabolism enzyme inhibition/induction and IVIVE.

A successful project leader representing DMPK on drug discovery and development, interacting with scientists at multi-disciplinary team environment to achieve discovery and development project goals; authored DMPK and TK study reports and regulatory documentations (IB, IND/CTD); proficient with Phoenix WinNonlin, Gastro Plus, and other software such as Metasite, Meteor for drug metabolism and PKPD modeling/simulation, human PK and human dose projections; coordinating and supervising DMPK studies at CRO; current with regulatory guidelines on GLP, Safety Assessments, DDI, and Metabolites in Safety Test; excellent communication and interpersonal skills, effective collaboration and negotiation skills.

Jerry Zhong, PhD, MBA, PMP, Vice President, Project management

With more than 20 years of drug discovery and development experience, Jerry Zhong brings program management leadership and expertise across the development spectrum of multiple therapeutic areas. Before joining KBP, Jerry held positions in Project Management, Strategic Planning, Finance, and Research at Roche and Bristol-Meyer Squibb.

Jerry holds an MBA from Cornell University and a Ph.D. in Pharmacology from the University of Pennsylvania. He is a PMP certified professional.

Dr James McCabe VP, Medical Director for Clinical Development and Medical Affairs

For the past 25 years, Dr James McCabe has been practicing clinical nephrology in Wilmington, North Carolina. The focus of his practice included hypertension, chronic kidney disease, pre and post- transplant care, critical care and dialysis. He has been involved in his hospital pharmacy and therapeutics committee for more than 20 years. He has been a Clinical Assistant Professor with the University of North Carolina. In 2009, he started working on clinical trials to help provide patients with advanced therapies for complex medical conditions. He was a principal investigator with the start of KBP 5074.
Dr McCabe has a B.S. degree in chemistry from Washington and Lee University. He received his M.D degree from Marshall University. He completed residency, chief residency in internal medicine with a fellowship in nephrology from Wake Forest University.

Pengfei Guo (Murphy), PhD, Associate Vice President of CMC

Dr. Pengfei Guo is responsible for Discovery Chemistry, Process Research and Development, Drug Substance and Drug Product manufacture and control at KBP Biosciences. Dr. Guo has rich experiences in Drug Substance development. Prior to joining KBP, he worked in Novartis Chemical & Analytical Development Center (China) as Drug Substance (API) Project Leader and led the delivery of more than 25 Drug Substances to support global pre-clinical and clinical studies of Novartis. He also has 9 publications in international peer-reviewed journals and 2 patents.

Dr. Guo received his PhD in organic chemistry from University of Delaware and completed his postdoctoral training at Columbia University. He obtained his BS degree in chemical engineering from Dalian University of Technology.

A. Sophia Hurtado, RN, Senior Director, Clinical Operations

Sophia brings with her over 22 years of progressive pharmaceutical industry experience with a proven track record of successful drug development and organizational leadership.  She has previously led Clinical Operations departments comprised of Clinical Operations, Procurement, Quality Assurance and Clinical Supply. Most recently, she comes to us from Akros Pharma Inc. where she held the position of Senior Director, Head of Clinical Operations.  In addition to Akros Pharma, she has lead Operations Departments and teams at Merck Research Labs and Schering-Plough Research Institute.  Having begun her career as a Data Monitor and CRA, she brings extensive, hands-on experience in all Phases of global clinical research including post-marketing studies. She had the privilege and opportunity to have worked on and been on teams responsible for bringing several drugs and/or supportive claims to market.

Aida received her BSN degree from Fairleigh Dickinson University in Teaneck, NJ and previously completed a Bachelor’s degree in Biology and Psychology at Rutgers University, NJ.  She is currently pursuing her MBA at Rutgers University, NJ. She is also a licensed RN in the state of NJ.

Board of Directors

Zhenhua Huang, PhD/MBA, Founder/Board Chairman

Dr. Huang Zhenhua has been engaged in researching and developing innovative drugs for more than 20 years. He is the founder of KBP Biosciences Co., Ltd. developing drugs that uniquely meet unmet clinical needs.

Dr. Huang is a serial entrepreneur. He started his first venture in 1998. In 2002, he formed XuanZhu Pharma Co., Ltd. and sold it in 2012. Dr. Huang founded KBP Biosciences in 2011, dedicating himself to new molecular entity R&D. Under his leadership, KBP has built a strong pipeline for the global market, with multiple compounds in clinical development.

Dr. Huang obtained his PhD from Shenyang Pharmaceutical University, and EMBA from Peking University.

Benjamin Qiu, MBA, Board Director

Benjamin Qiu is Partner of Healthcare Investment with Advantech Capital/New Horizon Capital.

Ben has 14 years of experience in healthcare investment, consulting and hospital management.

Since joining New Horizon in 2013, Ben has led deals covering a wide spectrum across healthcare space including pharmaceutical/biological innovative drugs (Zai Lab, Harbour BioMed,Synermore, KBP), medical services (Arrail Dental), medical devices (HealForce), precision medicine (Genetron Health) and mobile health (Wiwide Youkang).

Before joining New Horizon, Ben led deals of Kangning Hospitals Group (HKSE:2120) and Arrail Dental, as a key member of a healthcare dedicated private equity fund – GL Capital.

As one of the founding members of Healthcare Advisory team at PwC China, Ben built up a client base including big pharma companies and investment firms, providing strategy, operation improvement consulting and deal due diligence services.

Ben started his healthcare career by working with Vancouver General Hospital as an analyst/project leader.

Ben graduated from University of British Columbia with an MBA in Finance, and Eastern China University of Technology with a Bachelor Degree in Power Engineering. Ben also holds Chartered Finance Analyst and Certified Management Accountant designations.

Jin Wan, MBA, Board Director

Ms. Wan from SDICVC has over 10 years of experience in the healthcare industry and she has a deep understanding in all the sectors including new drugs, medical device and diagnosis, and medical service. Ms. Wan has in-depth experience in strategic planning, partnering, and mergers and acquisitions. Ms. Wan had four years of experience at Qiming Venture Partners, where she participated venture investment in Zai Lab, Berry Genomics, Canbridge and AmoyDx. Prior to that,Ms. Wan was a BD manager at Hutchison Medi Pharma (Shanghai) Ltd., a leading biopharmaceutical company in China. She participated in multiple clinical development projects, and contributed to the strategic collaborations between the Company and multinational pharmaceutical companies such as Eli Lilly and AstraZeneca.

Ms. Wan received a Bachelor of Pharmacy degree and a Master of Immunology Pharmacology degree from Wuhan University and Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica Chinese Academy of Sciences respectively. She holds her MBA degree from both China Europe International Business School and Duke University.

Frederick Bernard Craves, PhD, Board Director

Fred Craves, PhD, is the Founder of Bay City Capital.  Since launching the firm in 1997, Fred has built Bay City Capital to become one of the world’s premier life science investment firms investing in nearly 100 companies and raising more than $1.6 billion.

As a leader in healthcare venture capital, Dr. Craves brings both scientific skills and deep operational expertise to the companies in which he invests. This allows him to source outstanding investment opportunities and to support exceptional management teams in creating value.  He has been associated with some of the most significant exits in the biopharmaceutical industry including Reliant Pharmaceuticals, a company he founded then sold to GlaxoSmithKline in 2007 in the single largest all-cash transaction for a venture backed biotech company at that time.  He has served as Executive Vice President of Schering Berlin, Chief Executive Officer and President of Berlex Biosciences, Founding Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Codon, and co-founder of Creative Biomolecules.

Dr. Craves has been named to the Forbes Midas List, which recognizes the most successful investors in the venture capital asset class across both the technology and healthcare industries.  He currently serves on the Boards of Dermira, Imidomics Inc., Madrigal Pharmaceuticals, Reset Therapeutics and Twist Bioscience. Previous investments and board participation, in addition to Reliant, include Medarex, Incyte Pharmaceuticals, and Ion Torrent. He earned a BS in Biology from Georgetown University and a PhD in Pharmacology and Toxicology from the University of California, San Francisco.

Johan M.(Thijs) Spoor, MBA, Board Director

Mr. Spoor was previously President and CEO of AzurRx and was involved since the founding of the Company in June 2014. At AzurRx, he successfully led the company through its Phase 2 study in chronic pancreatitis and its Phase 2 OPTION study in cystic fibrosis. He previously was President, Chief Executive Officer and a member of the board of directors of Fluoropharma Medical, Inc., was the CFO for Sunstone BioSciences, a nanotechnology firm, and as a strategy consultant at Oliver Wyman working with biotechnology, pharmaceutical, medical device and health insurance companies. Mr. Spoor was an equity research analyst at J.P. Morgan and Credit Suisse covering the biotechnology and medical device industries. Prior to his career on Wall Street, Mr. Spoor worked in the pharmaceutical industry at Amersham /GE Healthcare where he worked in 7 countries in a variety of commercial and strategy roles.  Mr. Spoor holds a Pharmacy degree from the University of Toronto as well as an M.B.A. from Columbia University with concentrations in finance and accounting.

Scientific Advisory Board

George Bakris, MD, FASN, FAHA, FASH

Professor of Medicine, University of Chicago

Dr. Bakris conducts research related to hypertension, diabetes, and renal disease, and participates in clinical trials investigating the progression of diabetic renal disease and the effects of antihypertensive medications on renal disease progression. He was a principal investigator for several influential clinical trials, including AASK, GEMINI, GUARD, among many others. Dr. Bakris has served on the executive committees of multiple national reports and guidelines, including JNC VI, 1997, JNC 7, 2003, ISHIB (2003), NKF K/DOQI, and the American Diabetes Association Practice Guideline Committee (2002-2004).

Dr. Bakris is a member of numerous national committees and professional societies, and serves on many of their advisory boards, including those of the American Diabetes Association, American Society of Nephrology, the ISHIB, and the NKF. He is Past President of the American College of Clinical Pharmacology. Dr. Bakris currently serves on 14 editorial boards, including those of the American Journal of Hypertension, American Journal of Nephrology, Hypertension, and the Journal of Clinical Pharmacology and Ethnicity & Disease. His research has been published in more than 200 articles.

Dr. Bakris obtained his medical training at the Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science and completed is residency training at the Mayo Clinic.

Frédéric Jaisser, MD, Ph.D

Head of Integrative Physiology and Pathophysiology Department, Cordeliers Research Centre, France

Dr. Jaisser joined the National Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM) in 1996 as Director of Research.  In 2003, he joined the Collège de France in Paris as an independent INSERM team and is currently the director of a team of the INSERM Unit U1138, at the Cordeliers Research Centre, Paris. Between 2010-2015, he was Scientific Delegate of the Pathophysiology Committee of the French National Research Agency. He has been recently appointed as French coordinator for Live Sciences in the ECOS French-South America exchange program.

The aim of his current studies is to improve the understanding of the pathophysiological roles and signaling pathways whereby the hormone aldosterone promotes pathologies in various organs including the kidney and the cardiovascular system. His work combines cellular and molecular approaches, animal physiology, pharmacological studies and has implications in human diseases. His interest includes translational research aimed to identify and validate biomarkers of mineralocorticoid receptor activation in cardiovascular and kidney diseases and novel therapeutic use of MR antagonists. He published 100 papers (H index 33, 2800 citations). Dr. Jaisser received his medical training and degrees from the Reims Medical School and was qualified as Nephrologist in 1990.

Clare Kahn, PhD

Independent Adviser

Dr. Kahn has over 30 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry with a proven leadership record in drug development, registration and life-cycle. She has held senior roles growing high functioning teams in research and development, regulatory strategy and business development at the portfolio level encompassing small molecules, biologicals and vaccines.

Dr. Kahn joined Pfizer in 2010 where she served as Vice President and Head of Global Regulatory Affairs for the $16bn Specialty Care Portfolio before expanding her responsibilities to lead the Global Innovative Pharma Portfolio in 2014. In these roles she drove Pfizer’s global regulatory development for vaccines, anti-infectives, inflammation, rare disease, neuroscience, pain, ophthalmology, cardiovascular, metabolic, renal and gender health.

Dr. Kahn joined Pfizer from GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) where she served in preclinical and clinical disposition and metabolism moving into international regulatory affairs and business development. She served in a series of Vice Presidential roles and supported a wide range of therapeutic areas at GSK including pulmonary, anti-infectives, oncology, cardiovascular, metabolic, urology with eleven years in vaccine development.

Dr. Kahn has a PhD in Biochemical Pharmacology from the Department of Clinical Pharmacology at The Royal Postgraduate Medical School, London and moved to Philadelphia to serve as Assistant Professor in the Departments of Pharmacology and Laboratory Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Kahn served on the Executive Committee of the Graduate Group in Pharmacological Sciences and retained an adjunct faculty position for several years after joining industry.

John McMurray, MD

Professor of Medical Cardiology, University of Glasgow

Professor McMurray served as the inaugural Eugene Braunwald Scholar in Cardiovascular (CV) Disease at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, USA, and visiting Professor of Medicine, Harvard University, Boston, in 2010/2011. He is also Past-President of the Heart Failure Association of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC).

Professor McMurray’s primary research interest is in heart failure (HF) and his main research activity is clinical trials. He is, or was, the principal investigator, and member of the executive committee or steering committee in a number of large trials in HF, other CV diseases, renal disease and diabetes.

Professor McMurray sits on the editorial board of the New England Journal of Medicine. He has published approximately 600 original papers, reviews, and book chapters and was the lead author of the World Health Organization and first Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network Guidelines on the Management of HF. In addition he was Co-Chair of the Kidney Disease Improving Global Outcomes Anemia Guidelines Committee; and member of the 2013 American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association HF Guidelines Committee. He is a member of the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) Acute HF Guidelines Committee and was recently appointed to NICE (Appraisal Committee A). Professor McMurray was included in the 2014 listing of Highly Cited Researchers by Thomson-Reuters.

Bertram (Bert) Pitt, MD

Professor Emeritus, University of Michigan Medical School

Dr. Pitt’s research is in cardiovascular disease, with special emphasis on the ischemic heart disease and heart failure. He spent 15 years as the Director, Division of Cardiology at University of Michigan School of Medicine. Dr. Pitt has chaired or co-chaired a number of clinical trials in cardiology including SOLVD; ELITE I and II; PREVENT; RALES; EPHESUS; and TOPCAT and has published over 500 articles in peer reviewed journals.  Dr. Pitt has been a member of a numerous medical journal editorial boards and medical organizations, as well as served as an advisor to the clinical trials branch of the NHLBI and a member of the FDA cardio-renal advisory board.  He has been awarded the James B. Herrick Award by the Council of Clinical Cardiology of the American Heart Association. He is Diplomate of the American Board of Internal Medicine and of the American Board of Cardiology.

Dr. Pitt is a member of numerous professional societies and has held office in several of them. Among others, he was Chairman, Council on Circulation of the American Heart Association, Chairman, Young Investigator’s Award Committee of the American College of Cardiology, and is currently Chairman of the Reveal Committee of the ACC.

Dr. Pitt received his MD degree from the University of Basel, Switzerland.  He completed fellowship in cardiology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Richard G. Wunderink, MD

Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

Richard Wunderink is a Professor of Medicine in the Pulmonary and Critical Care Division of Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and Medical Director of the MICU, Northwestern Memorial Hospital. Dr Wunderink has been active in research and education regarding on pulmonary infections, especially community-acquired pneumonia and ventilator-associated pneumonia, and sepsis. His research interests include prevention, diagnosis, risk stratification, and treatment, both antibiotic and adjunctive therapies, for these serious infectious diseases. He co-chaired the most recent IDSA/ATS Consensus Guidelines Committee on the management of community-acquired pneumonia. He was a member of the last American Thoracic Society (ATS) and the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) committee which developed guideline statements on hospital-acquired and healthcare-associated pneumonia and currently serves on the ERS/ ESCIM/ ESCMID/ ALAT Guidelines for the management of Hospital acquired pneumonia.

Faiez Zannad, MD, PhD

Center of Clinical Investigation, CIC, Inserm and University of Lorraine, CHU de Nancy, Nancy, France

 Faiez Zannad is Professor of Therapeutics at the University of Lorraine in Nancy, France. He earned his MD degree and cardiology specialty at the University of Lorraine in 1979 and his PhD degree in clinical pharmacology at the University of Lyon in Lyon, France, in 1984; during his PhD study, he also completed a fellowship at the MRC Clinical Pharmacology unit, Oxford, UK. Professor Zannad is currently Head of the Division of Heart Failure and Hypertension and Director of the Inserm Clinical Investigation Center at “Institut Lorrain du Coeur et des Vaisseaux” in the Centre Hospitalier et Universitaire of Nancy.

Professor Zannad coordinates two EU FP7 grants in heart failure: HOMAGE (omics biomarkers for mechanistic phenotyping and prediction of drug response [www.homage‐hf.eu]) and FIBROTARGETS (fibrosis as a biotargets [www.fibrotargets.eu]). As the primary investigator or member of the oversight committees in major clinical trials, Professor Zannad has made significant contributions to evidence‐based heart failure life‐saving therapy, mainly with beta‐blockers (CIBIS) and mineralocorticoid receptor antagonists (RALES, EPHESUS, EMPHASIS‐HF). He pioneered cardiovascular outcome trials in chronic kidney disease (FOSIDIAL, AURORA, ALCHEMIST) and the one of the first cardiovascular safety trials on glucose‐lowering drugs in diabetes (EXAMINE). Professor Zannad has served as Chairman of the French Society of Hypertension, Chairman of the ESC Working Group on pharmacology and drug therapy, and board member of the ESC Heart Failure Association. He was Founder and

is currently Chairman of the Global CardioVascular Clinical Trialists (CVCT) Forum and Workshop, an annual international meeting dedicated to the science of clinical trials, and of the International Workshop on Biomarkers in heart failure. As of July 2016, Professor Zannad has authored more than 530 scientific publications.