About Us

OKYO Pharma Limited (LSE:OKYO, OCTQB:EMMLF) is a biopharmaceutical company developing next-generation therapeutics to improve the lives of patients with inflammatory eye diseases and ocular pain. Our goal is to develop first in class drug candidates that prevent the disease instead of controlling it, and we achieve this through our collaboration with pioneer scientists in the field.

Directors

Gabriele Cerrone

Gabriele Cerrone
Non-Executive Chairman

Mr Cerrone has a successful track record and extensive experience in the financing and restructuring of micro-cap biotechnology companies. He has founded ten biotechnology companies in oncology, infectious diseases and molecular diagnostics, and has taken seven of these companies to the NASDAQ Market and two to the Main Market and AIM Market in London. Mr Cerrone is Executive Chairman of dual listed Tiziana Life Sciences plc. Mr Cerrone co-founded Cardiff Oncology, Inc. (NASDAQ: CRDF), an oncology company and served as its Co-Chairman; he was a co-founder and served as Chairman of both Synergy Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ: SGYP) and Callisto Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (OTCMKTS: CLSP), and was a Director of and led the restructuring of Siga Technologies, Inc. (NASDAQ: SIGA). Mr Cerrone also co-founded FermaVir Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and served as Chairman of the Board until its merger in September 2007 with Inhibitex, Inc. Mr Cerrone served as a director of Inhibitex, Inc. until its US$2.5bn sale to Bristol Myers Squibb Co in 2012.​

Mr Cerrone is the Chairman and Founder of Tiziana Life Sciences plc (NASDAQ:TLSA, AIM: TILS) an oncology focused therapeutics company; Chairman and Co-Founder of Rasna Therapeutics Limited (OTCMKTS: RASP), a company focused on the development of therapeutics for leukaemias; Co-Founder of Hepion Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Nasdaq: HEPA); Executive Chairman and Co-Founder of Gensignia Life Sciences, Inc., a molecular diagnostics company focused on oncology using microRNA technology; and Executive Chairman and founder of Accustem Sciences plc; and founder of BioVitas Capital Ltd.

Willy Simon

Willy Simon
Non-Executive Director

Willy Jules Simon is a banker and worked at Kredietbank N.V. and Citibank London before serving as an executive member of the Board of Generale Bank NL from 1997 to 1999 and as the chief executive of Fortis Investment Management from 1999 to 2002. He acted as chairman of Bank Oyens & van Eeghen from 2002 to 2004. Willy Simon has been the chairman of Bever Holdings, a company listed in Amsterdam, since 2006 and Chairman of Ducat Maritime since 2015. He is also a non-executive director of Tiziana Life Sciences plc.

John Brancaccio

John Brancaccio
Non-Executive Director

Mr. Brancaccio, retired CPA, is a financial executive with extensive international and domestic experience in pharmaceutical and biotechnology for privately and publicly held companies. From 2000 to 2002, Mr. Brancaccio was the Chief Financial Officer/Chief Operating Officer of Eline Group, an entertainment and media company. From May 2002 until March 2004, Mr. Brancaccio was the Chief Financial Officer of Memory Pharmaceuticals Corp., a biotechnology company. From April 2004 until May 2017, Mr. Brancaccio was the Chief Financial Officer of Accelerated Technologies, Inc., an incubator for medical device companies.

Mr. Brancaccio is currently a director of Cardiff Oncology, Inc., Hepion Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Rasna Therapeutics, Inc., and Tiziana Life Sciences plc.

Scientific Advisory Board

Professor Napoleone Ferrara, MD

Professor Napoleone Ferrara, MD
Member of the Scientific Advisory Board

Dr. Ferrara is a Professor at the University of California San Diego Medical Center and a member of The National Academy of Sciences and has received numerous prestigious awards, including the Lasker Award and the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences. His research on understanding the role of angiogenesis and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) in cancer development, led to the discovery that VEGF is a key mediator of angiogenesis associated with intraocular neovascular syndromes. This pioneering research led to the clinical development of a humanized anti-VEGF Fab (Ranibizumab, Lucentis®), which has also been approved as a therapy for neovascular age-related macular degeneration (AMD), retinal vein occlusion and diabetic macular edema. Ranibizumab and other anti-VEGF agents have had a dramatic impact on the development of therapies for these blinding disorders. When Lucentis® (Ranibizumab) received FDA approval in late June 2006, the new macular degeneration drug was celebrated as a major medical breakthrough. Dr. Ferrara’s research also led to the development and approval of humanized anti-VEGF mAbs (Bevacizumab; Avastin®) for cancer treatment, with Avastin® being one of the bestselling cancer drugs over the last two decades. Lucentis® and Avastin® collectively achieved over $9 billion in sales last year.

Leadership Team

Gary Jacob

Gary Jacob
Chief Executive Officer/Director

Dr. Jacob has over 35 years of extensive experience in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries across multiple disciplines, including research and development, operations, business development, capital financing activities and senior management expertise. He has developed broad and influential contacts throughout the biopharmaceutical, financial, banking and investor communities. Dr. Jacob is the Co-Founder and former CEO and Chairman of Synergy Pharmaceuticals. During his time at Synergy, he served as Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and Executive Chairman, and is the co-inventor of Synergy’s FDA-approved drug Trulance® which is currently marketed in the U.S. by Bausch Health, Inc. to treat functional GI disorders. Dr. Jacob is also the former CEO and Managing Director of Immuron Inc., an Australian biotechnology company dual-listed on the Australian ASX exchange and on NASDAQ. Dr. Jacob currently is Chairman of the Board of Hepion Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a public NASDAQ listed company with a drug in clinical development to treat nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), and is also on the Board of Directors of Cardiff Oncology, Inc., a NASDAQ listed public oncology company. He served as Chief Executive Officer and Director of Callisto Pharmaceuticals, Inc. from May 2003 until January 2013.

Prior to his involvement with Callisto and Synergy, Dr. Jacob was at Monsanto/G.D. Searle, where he was Director of Glycobiology and a Monsanto Science Fellow, specializing in the field of Glycobiology and drug discovery. Dr. Jacob holds over 30 patents and is the co-inventor of two pharmaceutical drugs which are FDA approved. Dr. Jacob earned a B.S. cum laude in Chemistry from the University of Missouri – St. Louis and holds a Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Raj Patil, PhD

Raj Patil, PhD
Chief Scientific Officer

Dr. Patil brings 30 years of ophthalmic experience and a powerful combination of academic scholarship and pharmaceutical R&D excellence.

Raj previously worked with Ora Inc, as Vice President of Research & Development, where he was responsible for driving all anterior and posterior segment research of Ora’s R&D Institute. Earlier in his career, he worked at iVeena Delivery Systems as Vice President of Advanced Ocular Delivery Systems. His tenure at iVeena included a two-year sabbatical in Singapore, where he served as an Associate Professor of Ophthalmology at DUKE/NUS Medical School and Principal Investigator at Singapore Eye Research Institute.

Raj also held a number of leadership roles at Alcon/Novartis Institute of Biomedical Research, including Associate Director of Research and Head of Molecular Pharmacology glaucoma and retina research. Prior to joining the business world, Dr. Patil served as an Associate Professor of Ophthalmology, Cell Biology & Genetics at University of Nebraska Medical Centre in Omaha and as an Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology, Molecular Biology & Pharmacology at Washington University in St. Louis.

Raj received his PhD in Biochemistry from National Chemical Laboratory/University of Pune, India and completed his postdoctoral training in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI. He is the recipient of Olga Keith Wiess Special Scholar Award from Research to Prevent Blindness Foundation and NIH Director’s New Innovator Award. Dr. Patil has authored over 50 peer-reviewed research articles and serves as reviewer and editorial board member for numerous journals and is frequently invited to lecture at academic and industry events.