About Us

Gila Therapeutics, Inc.  is a privately held clinical-stage pharmaceutical company. Founded in 2014, Gila operates in Minnesota.

 

Our Mission is to develop and commercialize innovative, effective, and safe therapies for metabolic diseases, using novel routes of administration.

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Leadership:

Thomas Vasicek, PhD – Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer

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Dr. Vasicek is an experienced biotech industry executive with extensive startup experience, including Millennium, LabSeek, Lynx, HTG and PanGenX.  He has established new ventures within Corning, Medtronic and Roche.  Dr. Vasicek’s first scientific investigations in endocrinology began in the 1980s.  In the 1990s he began working with obesity genes at Millennium.  At Medtronic he led development of gut hormone therapies for obesity and clinical trials of pump-delivered interferon alpha for hepatitis-C.  He has been successful at raising financing, launching products, and buying and selling companies. Dr. Vasicek holds a BS in Chemistry from MIT and a PhD in Genetics from Harvard, and has authored 26 publications, two issued patents and two patent applications.

Andres Acosta, MD, PhD –  Inventor, Co-founder, and Chief Scientific Officer

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Dr. Acosta is an Assistant Professor of Gastroenterology at the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN.  He is Board Certified in obesity and directs the Mayo Endoscopic Obesity Clinic.  Dr. Acosta has spent much of his career studying obesity and gastrointestinal hormones, during which time he discovered the alternative satiation signaling pathway connecting the oral mucosa and hypothalamus.  At the Mayo Obesity Center he has been involved in clinical trials of most of the approved obesity treatments, and of many others in development.  Dr. Acosta holds an MD from Universidad San Francisco De Quito, Ecuador, a PhD from University of Florida, Gainesville and has authored more than 35 publications and two patent applications.

Jon Freeman, MBA, CFM – Chief Financial Officer

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Mr. Freeman has 25 years of finance, operations and management experience across a variety of industries including medical device, technology, industrial manufacturing, and professional services. He has worked in a wide range of environments, ranging from large public multi-national corporations down to small emerging private companies.  Jon has helped lead several companies that have realized substantial shareholder value.  Mr. Freeman holds a BA in Economics from St. Olaf College and an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin.

Christine Fischette, PhD – Business Development and Pharma Strategy

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Dr. Fischette is CEO of BioLinkUp, LLC, a Corporate Strategy/Business Development Consulting entity and spends much of her time with financial advisory firms in New York. Formerly, she was President of Enzo Therapeutics, Inc., a division of Enzo Biochem (ENZ: NYSE), and has spent 25+ years at Roche, Novartis and Pfizer with increasing areas of responsibility in strategic and operational roles covering multiple therapeutic areas.  She directed the entire drug development process and subsequent marketing effort for an anti-diabetes therapy, Glucotrol XL®, and became Head of Pfizer’s US commercial diabetes division where sales eventually reached ca. $300m. She functioned as Head of Negotiation, Global Business Development & Licensing for various therapeutic Business Franchise Boards at Novartis Pharmaceuticals where she sourced, negotiated and executed multiple deals involving various deal structures, including asset acquisitions, with US, European, Japanese and Indian companies. Dr. Fischette holds a Ph.D. in Physiology from the Rutgers Biomedical Health Sciences, formerly University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, and has authored over 50 publications in peer-reviewed publications, including Science.

Thomas Copmann, PhD – Regulatory Affairs and Drug Development

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Dr. Copmann is the Owner of Drug Development Associates, a consultant to the pharmaceutical industry. He has been active on editorial boards, advisory boards and as a member of boards of directors. Former Chair of the Commission on Drugs for Rare Diseases. Former Advisor to the National Vaccine Advisory Board. He has served as a scientific advisor to the CDC and the White House.  Dr. Copmann has been involved in over 47 NDA's in the areas of Endocrinology, Neurology, Cardiovascular, and Oncology area. He has established global departments at Eli Lilly, PMA, Vanda Pharmaceuticals, Nordisk and others. He has authored over 50 peer-reviewed articles. He holds an MS in Endocrinology and a PhD in Physiology from Kent State University with Post-Doctoral training in Neuroendocrinology.

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Scientific Advisors:

Donna Ryan, MD

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Dr. Ryan is past president of The Obesity Society and currently President-elect of the World Obesity Federation, and Associate Editor-in-Chief for Obesity.  At Pennington Biomedical in Baton Rouge, LA, where she is professor Emerita, she directed clinical research for 22 years.  She participated on the teams that developed and executed the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension), POUNDS Lost, DPP (Diabetes Prevention Program), and Look AHEAD Studies.  She has been a scientific advisor and consultant to many companies, including Novo Nordisk, Takeda, Vivus, Eisai, Real Appeal, and Scientific Intake.  Dr. Ryan’s current focus is on translation of effective weight management into primary care practices.

Dr. Ryan has authored more than 200 original publications and 45 books, chapters and reviews, primarily in the field of obesity.  She served as co-Chair of the Expert Panel that produced the AHA/ACC/TOS 2013 Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Obesity and was a panel member of the 2015 Endocrine Society Systematic Evidence Review and Guidelines for Medications that Affect Body Weight.

Rachel Batterham, MD

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Dr. Batterham is professor of obesity, diabetes and endocrinology at University College London Hospitals, where she holds a highly prestigious NIHR Research Professorship (2016-2021).  There, she leads the Bariatric Centre for Weight Management and Metabolic Surgery, and is internationally renowned for her expertise in the clinical management of people with obesity and obesity-related diseases as well as for her obesity research.

In addition to being an advisor for many companies, including Novo Nordisk, Lilly, and Orexigen, she is also is a trustee for the Association for Study of Obesity, a member of the British Obesity and Metabolic Surgery Society council, a member of the Royal College of Physician Advisory Group on Health and Weight and a clinical expert for the National Institute for Health Research.  Her awards include: the Andre Mayer award from the World Obesity Federation (2016), the Diabetes UK Rank Fund Nutrition Prize (2015), the Lilly Scientific Achievement Award from The Obesity Society (2014), the Linacre Medical from the Royal College of Physicians (2010), and the Sir Jules Thorn Award for Biomedical Research (2017-2022).

Caroline Apovian, MD

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Caroline M. Apovian, M.D., FACP, FTOS, DABOM, is Professor of Medicine and Pediatrics, in the Section of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Nutrition at Boston University School of Medicine, USA. She is also Director of the Center for Nutrition and Weight Management at Boston Medical Center, USA. Dr. Apovian is a nationally and internationally recognized authority on Nutrition and Obesity Medicine and has been in the field of Obesity and Nutrition for nearly three decades.

Dr Apovian has authored over ten books, more than 160 peer reviewed original research and review articles on obesity and nutrition, and has given over 150 invited lectures nationally and internationally.  She was a member of the expert panel for updating the 2013 AHA/ACC/TOS Clinical Guidelines for the Management of Overweight and Obesity in Adults, and was the Chair of the Endocrine Society guidelines for Medical Treatment of Obesity published in 2015. Dr. Apovian currently serves as President of The Obesity Society (TOS) for 2017-18.

Corby Martin, PhD

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Dr. Martin is Associate Professor at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center, where he directs the Ingestive Behavior Laboratory.  He has extensive experience conducting interventions to improve food intake, exercise, and body weight.

Dr. Martin is an expert at quantifying energy intake in controlled and free-living conditions.  Dr. Martin and his colleagues developed and validated the Remote Food Photography Method and developed and validated mathematical models that accurately predict body mass and weight change over time in response to dieting or overfeeding.

Steven Smith, MD

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Steven Smith, MD, has served as the chief scientific officer of Florida Hospital Research Services since 2013. Previously, Dr. Smith led the development of the Florida Hospital – Sanford-Burnham Translational Research Institute for Metabolism and Diabetes (TRI) as scientific director, and currently continues in this role. Dr. Smith’s work bridges the gap between cell-molecular biology and clinical care. He has published more than 160 peer-reviewed scientific manuscripts, reviews and chapters, and is active in physician education. Dr. Smith earned his medical degree from the University of Texas Health Science Center. Prior to his tenure at Florida Hospital, Dr. Smith was a faculty member at Pennington Biomedical Research Center for 15 years.

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Board of Directors:

Thomas Vasicek, PhD – Chairman

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Dr. Vasicek is an experienced biotech industry executive with extensive startup experience, including Millennium, LabSeek, Lynx, HTG and PanGenX.  He has established new ventures within Corning, Medtronic and Roche.  Dr. Vasicek’s first scientific investigations in endocrinology began in the 1980s.  In the 1990s he began working with obesity genes at Millennium.  At Medtronic he led development of gut hormone therapies for obesity and clinical trials of pump-delivered interferon alpha for hepatitis-C.  He has been successful at raising financing, launching products, and buying and selling companies. Dr. Vasicek holds a BS in Chemistry from MIT and a PhD in Genetics from Harvard, and has authored 26 publications, two issued patents and two patent applications.

Christopher De Souza, PhD, MBA

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Dr. de Souza has been a Director at Broadview Ventures since 2012. Broadview is a philanthropic, for-profit venture fund supported by the Leducq Family Trust with a mission to accelerate the development of promising technology in cardiovascular and neurovascular disease through targeted investments in and support of early stage ventures. Dr. de Souza is also on the Board of Directors at MassBio, a not-for-profit organization that represents and provides services and support for the Massachusetts life sciences industry. Dr. de Souza is also a Strategic Advisor and member of the Board of Directors for Metaome Science Informatics Pvt Ltd. Dr. de Souza earned his BSc and MSc in Zoology and Biochemistry from University of Mumbai, his M.S. and PhD in Endocrine Physiology from Louisiana State University, and his MBA from Rutgers University.

Richard Horan, MBA

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Mr. Horan has been the Senior Managing Director at Slater Technology Fund since 2002.  He commenced his career in the venture capital business in 1986, with Johnston Associates, Princeton, NJ, where he was employed through 1998. During 1999-2001, Mr. Horan was a principal at Sachem Ventures. During his tenure in the venture business, Mr. Horan has served as President & CEO of Immunicon Corp., SEQ LTD., and Medical Media Systems, Inc. During 1980-86, Mr. Horan was employed within the Capital Markets Group of Bank of America. He received his A.B. from Dartmouth College in 1976 and his M.B.A. from the Amos Tuck School at Dartmouth in 1980.

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