Hepion leadership brings deep experience in the development and commercialization of targeted antiviral therapies for indications of important unmet need, including more than 100 years of collective cyclophilin expertise.
Robert Foster, B.Sc. (Pharm), Pharm.D., Ph.D.
Chief Executive Officer
Dr. Foster first began working on cyclophilin drug development in 1988, and brings more than 30 years of pharmaceutical and biotech experience to Hepion. Prior to Hepion, he was CEO and Founder of Ciclofilin Pharmaceuticals Inc., which merged with Hepion in 2016. Before that, he founded Isotechnika Pharma Inc. (TSX:ISA) in 1993, and was its Chairman and CEO for approximately 21 years. During his tenure at Isotechnika, Dr. Foster discovered voclosporin, an immunosuppressive drug to treat autoimmune diseases.
In 2002, Dr. Foster structured a USD $215 million licensing deal, Canada’s largest at the time, for voclosporin for kidney transplant immunosuppression with Hoffman-La Roche (Basel, Switzerland). Later, he was founding CEO, and subsequently CSO, of Aurinia Pharma (NASDAQ:AUPH) after it was acquired by Isotechnika in 2013. Voclosporin (LupkynisTM) was approved by the FDA for the treatment of lupus nephritis in January 2021. Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. (Japan) has licensed voclosporin for the treatment of lupus nephritis in the EU, Japan, UK, Russia, Switzerland, Norway, Belarus, Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Ukraine. Learn More >>
Chief Financial Officer
John Cavan brings more than 20 years of financial management experience in both public and private companies. Prior to joining Hepion as CFO, Mr. Cavan was a consultant with The Pine Hill Group where he was instrumental in completing several financial transactions, including initial public offerings, business combinations and strategic transactions. Prior to his role with the Pine Hill Group, he served as Chief Accounting Officer at Stemline Therapeutics, Inc. Preceding his role at Stemline, Mr. Cavan was Vice President and Chief Accounting Officer at Aegerion Pharmaceuticals. Learn More >>
Daren Ure, Ph.D.
Chief Scientific Officer
Dr. Ure began working on cyclosporins and cyclophilins in 2003, and has been focused on furthering the understanding of cyclophilins in physiology and disease. He has also focused on the therapeutic application of cyclosporins, the most potent and documented chemical class of cyclophilin inhibitors. Dr. Ure was a Research Scientist with Isotechnika Pharmaceuticals, and then the Director of Research and Development at Ciclofilin Pharmaceuticals, which was acquired by Hepion in 2016.
While Dr. Ure focused on characterization of the enhanced calcineurin inhibitor, voclosporin, earlier in his career, he more recently played a central role in the development and characterization of a library of synthetic, non-immunosuppressive analogs of cyclosporine A, which led to the selection of the optimized compound, Rencofilstat. His dedicated efforts on cyclophilins/cyclosporins and considerable cross-disciplinary experience has been invaluable in helping to advance Rencofilstat.
Dr. Ure earned his Ph.D. in neurobiology at the University of Alberta (Canada) and conducted postdoctoral work at Mayo Clinic (Rochester, Minnesota) in viral immunology.
Launa J. Aspeslet, Ph.D.
Chief Operating Officer
Dr. Aspeslet is a versatile C-level executive with more than 25 years of progressive life sciences industry leadership and management experience. Dr. Aspeslet has expertise in strategic planning and growth, clinical research, regulatory affairs, quality assurance and control, and research and development. She was most recently the CEO of Translational Research in Oncology (TRIO), a clinical research organization that manages oncology trials around the globe. Dr. Aspeslet was previously a biotechnology consultant where she planned, implemented, and executed drug, device, or combination product development strategies for early-stage companies. For 17 years, she held positions of increasing responsibility and leadership at Isotechnika Pharma Inc., serving as its Chief Operating Officer until its acquisition of Aurinia Pharmaceuticals Inc. in 2013.
Dr. Aspeslet received a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry from the University of Lethbridge and a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Pharmaceutical Sciences from the University of Alberta. She has Regulatory Affairs Certification (RAC) and completed the Ivey Business School at Western University’s executive program.
Daniel J. Trepanier, Ph.D.
Senior Vice President, Drug Development
Dr. Trepanier first began working on cyclophilin in 1996, and has 22 years’ field experience in the pharmaceutical industry with strong emphasis on cyclosporine and novel cyclophilin inhibitors. He has direct hands-on expertise in drug discovery, analytical and bioanalytical method development and analysis, preclinical pharmacokinetic, toxicological and toxicokinetic studies, formulation development, drug manufacturing, preparation of preclinical regulatory submissions, and interfacing with contract research organizations and patent attorneys. Dr. Trepanier is the developer of Aurinia Pharmaceuticals’ voclosporin formulation which has been tested in more than 2,600 patients and is nearing commercialization. He was Director of Drug Development at Ciclofilin Pharmaceuticals and retained this position following a merger with Hepion Pharmaceuticals in 2016.
Dr. Trepanier holds a BSc degree in chemistry and an MSc degree in biochemistry (Concordia University, Quebec), and a PhD in clinical chemistry (University of Windsor, Ontario). He completed a postdoctoral fellowship (University of Alberta) specializing in analytical chemistry. Dr. Trepanier is the author or co-author of numerous scientific papers, abstracts and patents.
Patrick R. Mayo, Ph.D.
Senior Vice President, Clinical Pharmacology
Dr. Mayo began working on cyclophilin in 1983 and has 20 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry. His work across all phases of drug development, from pre-clinical to Phase 4 post-marketing surveillance, has been instrumental in regulatory submissions including INDs and NDAs. He has direct hands-on expertise in pre-clinical and clinical pharmacology, drug discovery, population pharmacokinetics/pharmacodynamics (PK/PD), and physiologically-based modelling.
Dr. Mayo’s work has focused on calcineurin inhibitors cyclosporine, tacrolimus and voclosporin, an analogue of cyclosporine. He began his career in the pharmaceutical industry as a clinical research organization kineticist, where he worked extensively on cyclosporine, including the reformulation of cyclosporine, Neoral™. Most recently, Dr. Mayo published on the population PK/PD of tacrolimus and mycophenolic acid in renal allograft patients and provided population PK modelling and simulation support for Aurinia Pharmaceuticals Phase 2 voclosporin study in lupus nephritis. He also provided PK analyses of early cyclophilin inhibitors developed by Ciclofilin Pharmaceuticals. In addition, Dr. Mayo was the Director of Clinical Pharmacology for Isotechnika during the Phase 1 through Phase 3 work on voclosporin in renal transplantion and plaque psoriasis.
Dr. Mayo obtained his PhD in pharmacokinetics from the University of Alberta, specializing in the effect of disease states on PK/PD relationships. He holds a BSc degree in pharmacy from the University of Alberta, where he worked as a clinical pharmacist in critical care, palliative care, and renal transplant. Dr. Mayo continues to provide pharmacometric analyses via Cogitare Analytics, and is the author, or co-author, of numerous scientific papers, abstracts and book chapters.