Team

Orexia Therapeutics has a dynamic leadership team and senior management with substantial experience in drug discovery and development of orexin agonists. We have a collective passion for bringing meaningful new medicines to patients, building on the growing understanding of the link between orexin physiology and disease.

Leadership

Mario Alberto Accardi Mario Alberto Accardi, PhD, MEng
Co-Founder & Chief Executive Officer
Mario Alberto Accardi

Mario Alberto Accardi, PhD, MEng

Co-Founder & Chief Executive Officer

Mario Alberto Accardi, PhD, MEng, is Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Orexia Therapeutics (previously Orexia and Inexia). He co-founded and launched the company alongside venture capital fund Medicxi and biopharmaceutical company Sosei Heptares in 2019. Under Mario’s leadership, Orexia Therapeutics progressed from an idea, to a company with multiple orexin agonist programs and enabling technology collaborations.

Previously, Mario was a venture capitalist, most recently as a Venture Partner with Fort Rock Capital where he served on the Boards of vasopharm GmbH and GNS Healthcare. Prior to that, he was part of the life sciences investment team at Entrepreneurs Fund whose notable investments include Optinose (NASDAQ: OPTN) and Prosonix (acquired by Circassia). Mario started his career in strategy consulting with Deallus Consulting.

Mario is a graduate of Imperial College London. He holds a Postgraduate in Genomic Medicine, a PhD in Biomedical Engineering and a First-Class Honours MEng Degree in Mechanical Engineering where he focused on Biomedical.

Mario is the Executive Chairman and Co-Founder of Orthonika, Ltd. He serves on the Board of Embody Orthopaedic and on the Strategic Advisory Board of G3 Therapeutics.

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Deborah Hartman Deborah Hartman, PhD
Chief Scientific Officer
Deborah Hartman

Deborah Hartman, PhD

Chief Scientific Officer

Deborah Hartman, PhD, is Chief Scientific Officer at Orexia Therapeutics. Deborah has over twenty years of experience in drug discovery and development and has held multiple leadership roles in the pharmaceutical industry. Most recently, Deborah was the Global Program Leader at Takeda Pharmaceutical Company, Ltd., where she led the development of a multi-asset Orexin Receptor 2 (OX2R) agonist clinical stage franchise. This program provided the first clinical evidence that demonstrated proof of concept for OX2R agonists in enhancing wakefulness across multiple indications including Narcolepsy Type 1 and Type 2, as well as in healthy adults.

Deborah held earlier roles at AstraZeneca, PLC, as Vice President of Respiratory and Inflammation Research in Charnwood, UK; Vice President of Projects in the Innovative Medicines Unit (iMed) for Infectious Diseases in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA; and Vice President of Global Lead Generation Enabling Sciences in Alderley Park, UK, with additional responsibility for sites in Boston, Massachusetts, USA and in Sweden. Deborah started her career in drug discovery at F. Hoffmann-La Roche, AG, in Basel, Switzerland, where she was a Project Leader in the Neuroscience area and later in the Metabolic Diseases group based in New Jersey, USA.

In addition to her experience in major pharmaceutical companies, Deborah also held the position of Vice President of Research at Avaxia Biologics, Inc., a clinical stage biotechnology company in the Boston area which developed a novel platform for orally administered antibody therapeutics.

Deborah received her Bachelor’s Degree in Molecular Biology at Princeton University and holds a PhD in Molecular and Cellular Biology from Yale University.

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Emiliangelo Ratti Emiliangelo Ratti, PhD
R&D Strategic Advisor
Emiliangelo Ratti

Emiliangelo Ratti, PhD

R&D Strategic Advisor

Emiliangelo Ratti , PhD, serves as Research & Development Strategic Advisor at Orexia Therapeutics and was previously a Member of the Board. Emiliangelo was previously a Board member of GSK Spa in Italy, a member of the Research Committee of Farmindustria, the Italian national association of pharma industries, and a member of the Board of Tecnofarmaci, a consortium of Italian pharmaceutical industries for the development of pharmaceutical research.

Emiliangelo is a passionate and inspirational leader and a highly experienced pharmaceutical Research & Development executive with a proven track record of global executive leadership in drug discovery and clinical development in the neuroscience therapy area within major pharmaceutical companies (Glaxo, GlaxoWellcome, GlaxoSmithKline, PLC, and Takeda Pharmaceuticals Company, Ltd.) where he has held senior leadership roles in their Research & Development operations based in continental Europe, UK, USA, Japan and China.

Prior to Orexia, Emiliangelo was Senior Vice President and Global Head of the Neuroscience Therapeutic Area Unit at Takeda and member of the Research & Development Management Committee. He led expansion of the Neuroscience Therapeutic Area strategy and built a highly competitive and innovative neuroscience portfolio for the treatment of diseases in both psychiatry (treatment resistant depression and schizophrenia) and neurology (Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s) as well as a cluster of rare neurological diseases (Narcolepsy, ALS, Epileptic Encephalopathies, and Kabuki syndrome) with therapies based on small molecules, antisense oligonucleotides and gene therapy.

Earlier, Emiliangelo was Founder and Chief Executive Officer of NeRRe Therapeutics, Ltd., a biotech spin-out company from GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), which focused on clinical development of a portfolio of neurokinin antagonists, a field in which he is a recognized expert. Prior to this position, Emiliangelo was Senior Vice President, Global Head of the Neurosciences Centre of Excellence for Drug Discovery at GSK and member of the company’s Research & Development Scientific Advisory Board and was appointed Managing Director of GSK Medicine Research Centre in Verona, Italy and Senior Site Leader of the New Frontiers Science Park in Harlow, UK.

At GSK, Emiliangelo built an innovative late-stage drug discovery pipeline in depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, addiction-compulsion, sleep disorders, pain, Alzheimer’s and multiple sclerosis involving a number of novel mechanisms that were progressed into the late-stage clinical development. Before this, Emiliangelo was Drug Discovery Director for one of the three GlaxoWellcome Drug Discovery Groups based in Italy and Spain and Research Director of Glaxo Medicine Research Centre in Verona, Italy.

Emiliangelo is passionate about building vibrant and highly productive organizations that are science driven. He embraces multicultural diversity, engaging and empowering people, and fostering external partnerships.

Sally Black Sally Black, PhD
Head of in vivo Biology
Sally Black

Sally Black, PhD

Head of in vivo Biology

Sarah (Sally) Wurts Black, PhD, serves as the Head of in vivo Biology. She brings over ten years of experience in preclinical narcolepsy research through consulting at Jazz Pharmaceuticals, PLC, leading the in vivo biology department at Reset Therapeutics, Inc., and as a principal investigator at SRI International for projects sponsored by pharmaceutical companies and the National Institutes of Health.

Sally earned her PhD in Neuroscience from the University of California, Los Angeles, USA, prior to her postdoctoral training in the laboratories of Emmanuel Mignot, MD, PhD, at Stanford University and Thomas Kilduff, PhD, at SRI International.

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Karl Gibson Karl Gibson, PhD
Head of Discovery Operations
Karl Gibson

Karl Gibson, PhD

Head of Discovery Operations

Karl Gibson, PhD, serves as Head of Discovery Operations at Orexia Therapeutics. Prior to joining Orexia, Karl spent five years as a Medicinal Chemist at Merck & Co., Inc. Neuroscience Research Center followed by nine years at Pfizer, leading Medicinal Chemistry teams across the Pain, Urology and Infectious Disease therapeutic areas.

In 2011, Karl co-founded Sandexis Medicinal Chemistry. Since then, he has provided Medicinal Chemistry leadership and design to a number of biotech companies and programs.

Karl obtained his PhD in Chemistry from the University of Cambridge.

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Gregory Ott Gregory Ott, PhD
VP, Medicinal Chemistry
Gregory Ott

Gregory Ott, PhD

VP, Medicinal Chemistry

Gregory R. Ott, Ph.D., serves as VP of Medicinal Chemistry at Orexia Therapeutics. Prior to joining Orexia, Greg was Head of Medicinal Chemistry at Teva Pharmaceuticals. Greg has 20+ years of industrial drug discovery experience at Teva, Cephalon, Inc., Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., and DuPont Pharmaceuticals. Greg has worked across immunology/inflammation, molecular-targeted oncology, neuroscience, and respiratory therapeutic areas. Greg obtained his Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from the University of Pennsylvania and an undergraduate degree in Chemistry from The Johns Hopkins University.

Tod Steinfeld Tod Steinfeld
Director Molecular Pharmacology
Tod Steinfeld

Tod Steinfeld

Director Molecular Pharmacology

Tod Steinfeld serves as Director, Molecular Pharmacology at Orexia Therapeutics. He has over two decades of industry experience as a molecular pharmacologist having spent 4 years at Roche Bioscience, 13 years at Theravance BioPharma, 4 years at Reset Therapeutics, 2 years at BlackThorn Therapeutics, and 1 at Vir Biotechnology. At Reset Therapeutics, Tod led the Orexin receptor modulator program. Tod’s experience spans several therapeutic areas, including CNS, respiratory, metabolic, oncology, urology, and infectious disease.

Scientific

Steve Emby Steve Emby
Project Management
Steve Emby

Steve Emby

Project Management

Steve Emby serves as Project Manager consultant to Orexia Therapeutics. Prior to joining Orexia, Steve spent 11 years providing Project and Program Management consultancy to the Pharmaceutical, Medical Device, Oil & Gas and UK Public Sector. Before joining the consulting world, Steve worked at Pfizer for over 22 years supporting Veterinary Medicine, Vaccine Research and Regenerative Medicine.

Recent Project Management commissions include supporting Tier I Pharmaceutical Companies to: contribute to the IMI COVID RED project for the early diagnosis of Covid-19 in high-risk populations; manage a global Pharmacovigilance Remediation program; roll out a global Health Care Provider Compassionate Use request system; prepare for an inspection by the MHRA; and complete a data quality and data standards Clinical Operations initiative.

Bruce Lefker Bruce Lefker, PhD
Medicinal Chemistry
Bruce Lefker

Bruce Lefker, PhD

Medicinal Chemistry

Bruce serves as Medicinal Chemistry consultant to Orexia Therapeutics. He is a medicinal chemist and innovative and experienced drug discovery scientist, with over 30 years of experience in large pharma, academic-industrial partnerships, and biotech.

He has applied insightful approaches to progress projects from a wide range of target classes, integrates disparate data to glean knowledge, effectively communicates to teams, and suggest novel approaches to solve drug discovery challenges. He was instrumental in building a new Medicinal Chemistry Organization while working at the Weizmann Institute in Israel. He has experience in lead generation, candidate identification, project leadership, technology assessment and implementation.

During his 30 years at Pfizer, Bruce was a leader of project teams that identified and progressed multiple clinical candidates into human clinical trials. As a medicinal chemist, he excelled in leadership roles, in a complex matrix environment. He was a member of teams that were able to quickly make go/no go decisions for projects, potential candidates, and lead series. He received awards and recognition for applying novel technological solutions to problems and implementing novel business practices that enhanced productivity. He was a founding member and team leader of the Lead Generation Group which implemented novel approaches and technologies to decrease cycle times and increase the effectiveness of using parallel chemistry to rapidly advance projects. Bruce also led a cheminformatics team that delivered industry leading data analytics across Pfizer’s largest discovery site.

More recently, Bruce has been a drug discovery consultant to multiple pharma, biotech, technology and platform organizations. He has been providing valuable expertise at all levels, from business strategy, project strategy, to design of specific molecules to advance projects. He has been working with large non-centralized project teams and has led the medicinal chemistry efforts at early stage biotechs. His broad experience has allowed him to leverage the advantages of both virtual as well as integrated organizations. This experience, and his relationships with a broad range of world leading CRO’s has been essential to helping his client’s meet their objectives.

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Frank Lovering Frank Lovering, PhD
Computational Chemistry
Frank Lovering

Frank Lovering, PhD

Computational Chemistry

Frank Lovering, Ph.D., serves as a Computational Chemistry consultant at Orexia Therapeutics. Frank is a Co-inventor of several clinical compounds, including a first-in-class IRAK4 inhibitor currently in Phase 2 for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis; cPLA2a inhibitors  Ecopladib, Efipladib and Giripladib for the treatment of asthma, arthritis and pain. Frank has recently retired from Pfizer where he was director of Computational Chemistry for Inflammation and Immunology. Frank has a strong background in computational (11 years) and medicinal (12 years) chemistry addressing targets including kinases, metalloproteinases, cysteine proteases, Bromodomains, GPCRs and phospholipases. He has expertise with numerous computational techniques including structure-based drug design, MD, FEP, ligand-based design, homology modeling, data analysis, cheminformatics.

Frank obtained his Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of California, Irvine.

Simon Pegg Simon Pegg
Chemistry, Manufacturing and Controls
Simon Pegg

Simon Pegg

Chemistry, Manufacturing and Controls

Simon serves as Chemistry, Manufacturing and Controls (CMC) consultant to Orexia Therapeutics. With a diverse background in large pharma and biotech companies, Simon leads the successful technical and strategic development of novel molecules, oral and non-oral delivery routes, and devices.

He has over 25 years of experience in the development of small molecules, biologics, and cell/gene therapy products.

Simon has enjoyed a range of CMC positions including with Upjohn, Pfizer, Vertex & Adaptimmune. And now is a Director of Project-Ion Ltd as a CMC Consultant, for which he supports multiple biotech companies with the development of their projects, including the whole Orexia portfolio.

Simon has experience spanning pre-clinical to commercial for multiple projects, from technical strategy development and delivery to regulatory submissions. He has expertise and experience in the analytical, process development, formulation, material sciences, outsourcing, supply chain, and project management functions of CMC.

He has proven success in the development of innovative strategies, technical solutions, and the delivery of projects to key milestones. A proven leader of global, multidisciplinary teams in CMC, and matrix management of wider cross discipline R&D teams.

Jonathan Mason Jonathan S Mason, PhD
Computational Chemistry
Jonathan Mason

Jonathan S Mason, PhD

Computational Chemistry

Dr Jonathan S Mason serves as Computational Chemistry lead consultant to Orexia Therapeutics. He is a Senior Research Fellow at Sosei Heptares for GPCR structure-based drug design and a Scientific Advisor to several biotech companies (US, UK, Japan). Jonathan has four decades of global pharmaceutical drug discovery experience and is an experienced leader and scientific expert for drug design technologies (computational medicinal chemistry / CADD, structural biology, in silico ADME/tox etc). He previously led teams involving computational chemistry and structural biology/chemistry at Lundbeck (Denmark, Divisional Director), Pfizer (UK, Executive Director MISD), Bristol-Myers Squibb (US, Director Structural Biology & Modeling) and Rhône-Poulenc Rorer (now Sanofi) in the UK, France and USA, including an initial 5 years as a medicinal chemist. He completed his PhD at Queen Mary, U. London and become an early pioneer of the use of computational chemistry /CADD approaches in drug discovery research.

He has expertise in both Structure-Based Drug Design (SBDD) and ligand-based methods and ligand 3D structures, with experience spanning the major target classes. He has always emphasised the key role of lipophilic hotspots as well as polar interactions, clearly now seen in many GPCR structures, and more recently enhanced CADD impact by using full binding site water networks and their energetics for potency, selectivity and kinetics and FEP (Free Energy Perturbation) on GPCRs for the prediction of binding affinity . He is a strong believer in the power of interactive 3D stereo visualisation for group as well as individual design sessions.

Tino Rossi Tino Rossi
CMC and Pre-Clinical Developabillity
Tino Rossi

Tino Rossi

CMC and Pre-Clinical Developabillity

Tino Rossi provides support to Orexia Therapeutics for all the aspects related to the developability of Orexia leads and candidates, in addition Tino provides for support API process development and large scale manufacturing of Orexia Candidates.

Tino has over 35 years of experience in drug discovery and development having occupied roles of growing seniority and leadership in the Pharmaceutica R&D area in organizations such as Glaxo, GlaxoWellcome, GSK, Aptuit and Bial.

Most recently Tino was Head of Chemistry at Bial Lda where he ensured support to all the projects spanning from ealy lead identification to the manufacturing of commercial products.

Tino has contributed to over 50 candidate selections, over 35 Phase I approvals and 1 successful NDA, he is inventor or co-inventor on 11 patents and author or co-author of over 50 scientific articles.