Avtar Dhillon, MD | Executive Chairman at Emerald Health Therapeutics
Dr. Dhillon is a life sciences entrepreneur with more than 20 years’ experience building public companies through mergers and acquisitions, leading innovation in scientific, engineering and farming enterprises, securing government grants and NGO funding, and building dominant IP portfolios. As the founder/co-founder of seven life science companies, he raised over $500M in public and private and was awarded over $75M in government grants and contracts since 2001. During his tenure as President and CEO at Inovio Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ: INO), Dr. Dhillon successfully led the turnaround of the company through restructuring and the acquisition of technology from several European and North American companies. He led multiple successful financings, raising more than $300 million for the company, and concluded several licensing deals with global pharma leaders Merck, Wyeth (now Pfizer) and Roche. Before joining Inovio, he was Vice President of MDS Capital Corp. (now Lumira Capital Corp.), one of North American’s leading healthcare venture capital organizations. Currently, Dr. Dhillon serves as an active board member and chairman for a number of life science and investment companies, including Board Chair of the Cannabis Canada Council. Prior to his success as an entrepreneur and life-sciences CEO & Chairman, Dr. Dhillon practiced family medicine for over 12 years. He has a BSc (Honours) in Human Physiology, and an MD from the University of British Columbia.
Chris Wagner | Chief Executive Officer
Mr. Wagner has spent more than 25 years marketing pharmaceutical products and building biotechnology companies. Mr. Wagner worked with Eli Lilly for 10 years, rising to Global Team Leader, where he helped develop and commercialize 15 biologic and small molecule products. Mr. Wagner left Eli Lilly to join Aspreva Pharmaceuticals Inc. as Vice President, Business Development and Global Marketing. During his five years at Aspreva, the company’s valuation increased from $2 million to $1 billion; it was later acquired by Galenica. Mr. Wagner most recently served as Chairman, President and CEO of Contextual Genomics Inc, a molecular bioinformatics company that has worked with AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Sanofi to develop genomic cancer diagnostic products. He has a BSc in organic chemistry from the University of British Columbia and completed executive programs in finance and marketing research at Wharton Business School and Kellogg School of Management.
Bob Rai, BSc | Director
Mr. Rai is an entrepreneur with over 20 years of experience in operating “The Medicine Shoppe” Pharmacies in Canada and revolutionized the online pharmacy business in the US. He received “The Medicine Shoppe Canada Professional Achievement Award” for expanding the scope of pharmacists’ practice. He is also Chairman and CEO of Canadian Pacific Global Pharmaceuticals and Chairman of its subsidiary PharmaCanada Inc. Mr. Rai served as President of the Philippines Canada Trade Council in 2006-2007 and held the position of Vice-President from 2004-2006. He is also a member of the Alumni UBC Advisory Council representing Faculty of Pharmaceutical Science. Mr. Rai is a recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal and was awarded “The Paul Harris Fellow Award” for his contributions to the community. He received degrees in Biochemistry and Pharmaceutical Science from the University of British Columbia.
Punit Dhillon, BA | Director
Punit is the co-founder and CEO of a leading biopharmaceutical company based in the U.S. that develops advanced-stage immunotherapy to treat solid tumors. Punit was formerly Vice President of Finance and Operations at Inovio Pharmaceuticals, Inc., where he raised over $160 million through multiple financings and several licensing transactions, including early stage deals with Merck and Wyeth. Punit’s management experience spans corporate finance, M&A integration, successful in-licensing of key intellectual property, strategy implementation, corporate transactions and collaborations with leading universities and key global opinion leaders. He is also the founder of BeCancerPositive.org, an online community for cancer patients.
In 2013 he was recognized as one of the “Top 100” CEOs by PharmaVoice and “Most Admired CEO” by the San Diego Business Journal. In 2014, he was recognized as a finalist for Ernst & Young’s “Entrepreneur of the Year”. Punit holds a BA (Honours) in Political Science and a minor in Business Administration from Simon Fraser University.
Jim Heppell, BSc, LLP | Director
Jim was co-founder, President and Director of BC Advantage Funds (VCC) Ltd., a venture fund that invests in and builds successful technology, life science and clean technology companies. Jim’s first fund, the Advantage Life Sciences I Fund, won the Canadian Venture Capital Deal of the Year Award in 2006 for having the highest realized return (23.4x its investment in Aspreva Pharmaceuticals). Early in his career, Jim practiced corporate securities law with Fasken Martineau DuMoulin, one of Canada’s leading law firms. Jim then became President and CEO of Catalyst Corporate Finance Lawyers, a boutique corporate finance law firm for life science and tech companies. During his career, Jim has helped build a number of successful life science companies, including Aspreva Pharamaceuticals (acquired by Galenica Ltd. SW: GALN), Immgenics (acquired by Amgen NASDAQ: AMGN), Inovio Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: INO), and Sophiris Bio Inc. (NASDAW: SPHS).
He has a BSc in Microbiology and a law degree from the University of British Columbia.