OUR TEAM

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Positioned to be a global leader in psychedelic-based products.

Xpira’s team is comprised of leaders in North America and Europe with proven track-records and deep understanding of the pharmaceutical development pathways in restricted regulatory environments of controlled substances.

Committed to provide solutions for those patients who have not responded to conventional treatments,  Xpira’s scientific team includes experts at the forefront of psychiatry who understand the  complexity of certain psychiatric disorders.

Management Team

Vanesa Fernandez, Ph.D

CEO & DirectorVanesa Fernandez, Ph.D

Vanesa Fernandez, Ph.D., provides over 20 years of experience and profound knowledge in product development, clinical programs, IP protection, and in the regulatory field.  Dr. Fernandez is the former CEO of Echo Pharmaceuticals BV (“Echo”), a pioneer-company in the regulated cannabis industry.

Under her leadership, Echo grew from a start-up to a mature company (valued on EUR 700M by EY in 2016) with an extensive clinical program in the CNS and pain space, with two distinctive market-ready products. During this period, Dr. Fernandez secured a Series B investment and raised over EUR 10M of non-dilutive funds. Dr. Fernandez has worked in Europe and USA and led many international projects and teams.

Dr. Fernandez also served as Chief Strategic Officer and Managing Director, Europe of Canadian Clinical Cannabinoids Inc./Truverra (“Truverra”). She was pivotal in the international expansion of Truverra into the European Market. Truverra was acquired by The Supreme Cannabis Company (“Supreme”) in a transaction having an approximate dollar value of $20,000,000 as of closing.

Dr. Fernandez holds a M.Sc. in Chemistry from the University of Santiago de Compostela, Spain, and a Ph.D. in Chemistry from the Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands.  Dr. Fernandez is the author of several scientific publications and is the named inventor of more than 10 patents for novel formulations in the cannabis space.  Dr. Fernandez will also spearhead Xpira’s R&D and business development activities in Europe, leveraging her extensive business, regulatory and scientific network in this area.

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Nick Wong

President & DirectorNick Wong

Nick Wong is an intellectual property (“IP”) lawyer with over 20 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry, in the areas of legal, regulatory and scientific R&D.  Mr. Wong’s legal practice combines extensive experience in strategic IP portfolio development and IP litigation

with an expertise in business development (drug development and life cycle-management) and negotiating product development agreements for clients in the areas of pharmaceuticals and other health sciences. Mr. Wong has regularly advised clients in building their IP portfolios from the ground up, along with providing IP enforcement and defence strategies to protect chemical, pharmaceutical and natural health products.

Mr. Wong has been selected by his peers for inclusion in the 2022 Edition of The Best Lawyers of the Year in Canada for his expertise in intellectual property law and biotechnology law.

He has a Hons.B.Sc. in Pharmacology from the University of Toronto and an LL.B. from the Queen’s University. He also served as Chief Research Officer of Truverra.

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 Allan Wakefield

CFO Allan Wakefield

Allan Wakefield is a veteran board member, President, strategist and financial officer of multiple international businesses. With a BA from Yale and an MBA from Harvard, Mr. Wakefield has worked in Silicon Valley, Canada and New Zealand and with projects in Russia and Brazil.

  As Board Member, Audit Chair and Privatization Committee member of Hollinger Inc. he guided the company through a crisis period.

As Co-Founder / CFO of a Silicon Valley telecom equipment start-up he raised $312 million. Mr. Wakefield has been VP Strategic Planning of three billion-dollar businesses. As President, Mr. Wakefield led successful turnarounds of two $100 million businesses. He introduced aluminum cans into the Canadian market, launching the Blue Box recycling system, which has since spread throughout North America.

He was awarded a medal by the United Nations for “services to the environment.”  Mr. Wakefield was also a co-founder of Truverra.

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Allan S. Kaplan, MD, MSc, FRCPC

VP of Clinical DevelopmentAllan S. Kaplan, MD, MSc, FRCPC

Dr. Allan Kaplan is currently a Senior Clinician/Scientist at the Center for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) in Toronto and Professor in the Department of Psychiatry, Temerty Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto.

He is also Full Member, Graduate Faculty, Institute of Medical Science. He previously served as Vice Dean, Graduate and Academic Affairs in the Faculty of Medicine. He was the inaugural Loretta Anne Rogers Chair in Eating Disorders at Toronto General Hospital. He received his medical, psychiatric and graduate school training at the University of Toronto. He has worked in the field of eating disorders for 35 years, has lectured widely on various topics in the field, published 200 peer reviewed articles, two books, 60 book chapters and over 200 abstracts. He is the Past President of both the Academy for Eating Disorders, the largest organization of eating disorder professionals in the world, and the International Eating Disorder Research Society. He has been a funded peer reviewed investigator since 1992, and has received grant support from the National Institute of Mental Health in the USA and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research in Canada.

Dr. Kaplan’s research interests include all aspects of eating disorders, specifically the genetics of anorexia nervosa (NIMH funding); the psychobiology of anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder and obesity (CIHR funding); innovative treatments for anorexia nervosa, specifically with atypical antipsychotics (NIMH funding) and the treatment of anorexia nervosa with rTMS; and the medical and psychiatric comorbidity of eating disorders.

 

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Board of Directors

Jaiveer Singh

ChairmanJaiveer Singh

Jaiveer Singh is an entrepreneur and the CEO of Mint Pharmaceuticals. Under his leadership, Mint has emerged as one of the country’s most reputable and leading generic pharmaceutical companies over the past decade. In 2019 and 2020, Mint was recognized as one of Canada’s Best Managed Companies by Deloitte and CIBC.

In 2017, the Neighbourhood Pharmacy Association of Canada named Mr. Singh its Distinguished Associate of the Year for his contribution to the advancement of the community pharmacy industry.

Mr. Singh also served as the Chairman of Truverra until acquired by Supreme in 2019 and is a Co-founder of LA based hedge fund Medina Singh Partners.  Mr. Singh holds an MBA from Columbia University and a B.Sc. from Carnegie Mellon University. In 2020, he was recognized by BNN Bloomberg as one of Canada’s Top 40 Under 40.

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Steve Ottaway

DirectorSteve Ottaway

Steve Ottaway is CEO at Hyperion Capital Inc., an independent Canadian Investment Bank specializing in the Healthcare and Technology Sectors.

Previously Steve was Head of Healthcare, Cannabis and Technology at GMP Securities L.P. (“GMP”)

where he led the team to the #2 ranked global advisor to the Cannabis Sector from 2015-2019 by deal value, raising and advising on $10+ billion. As a top healthcare investment banker at GMP, Steve led the team to the #1 healthcare investment bank in Canada, advising Canada’s healthcare success stories, ranging from biotechnology, specialty pharma and medical device Companies. Steve is regularly featured in the media on BNN Bloomberg, CNBC Squawk Box, and the Wall Street Journal.

Steve holds an MBA from the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management and a degree in Biology from the University of Western Ontario.

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Par Nijhawan, MD, FRCPC, AGAF

DirectorPar Nijhawan, MD, FRCPC, AGAF

Dr. Nijhawan is the Chief Executive Officer and Secretary of Edesa Biotech, Inc., positions he has held since forming the company in 2015. Dr. Nijhawan is a seasoned pharmaceutical entrepreneur with 21 years of experience in cross-functional roles including finance, marketing and business development.

Prior to Edesa, Dr. Nijhawan was the founder and CEO of Medical Futures Inc which was sold to Tribute Pharmaceuticals. Dr. Nijhawan founded and led Digestive Health Clinic into becoming Canada’s largest provider of private endoscopy services. He is also the founder of Exzell Pharma. Exzell Pharma was named as the fastest growing company in Canada in 2019 across all sectors.

Dr. Nijhawan was Inducted into the CHLA BD Hall of fame in 2018 and Awarded Business Development Deal of the Year 2017. Dr. Nijhawan received his MD (University of Ottawa), Internship (Yale), Residency IM (Mayo), Fellowship GI (Mayo).

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Gregory D. Gubitz, B.A., LL.B

DirectorGregory D. Gubitz, B.A., LL.B

Gregory Gubitz is a seasoned life science CEO, with significant operating, transaction and investment experience.
Mr. Gubitz is a co-founder and was the founding Chief Executive Officer of HLS Therapeutics Inc. (TSX:HLS),

a specialty pharmaceutical company with operations across Canada and the United States. He led the company from start-up, to a publicly traded company with a market capitalization exceeding one half a billion dollars.

Prior to founding HLS, Mr. Gubitz was Senior Vice President, Corporate Development and General Counsel of Biovail Corporation; formerly Canada’s largest publicly traded pharmaceutical company. In that capacity he was responsible for all mergers & acquisitions, culminating with the $7 billion merger of Biovail and Valeant Pharmaceutical International Inc.

Prior to joining Biovail, for 10 years he was a senior executive with MDS Capital, a leading North American healthcare venture capital company. As Chief Operating Officer of MDS Capital, Mr. Gubitz was responsible for all operational and fundraising activities of the company, ultimately achieving $1 billion under management.

Mr. Gubitz started his career practicing law. He became a partner at one of Canada’s leading international law firms, where he represented numerous public and private companies in a wide range of business transactions.

Mr. Gubitz retired from HLS in October 2020 and remains on its Board of Directors.

In addition to his business interests, Mr. Gubitz is active in the field of conservation. He is Chairman of Big Life Foundation (www.biglife.org) , a charity that seeks to protect and sustain East Africa’s wildlife and wild lands, including one of the greatest populations of elephants left in East Africa.

Mr. Gubitz attended McGill University where he received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in 1979 and a Bachelor of Laws Degree in 1982. He was called to the Bar in the Province of Ontario in 1984.

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Advisors

Allegra I. Broft, MD

Scientific AdvisorAllegra I. Broft, MD

Allegra Broft, MD is Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychiatry at Columbia University Irving Medical Center, research psychiatrist at the Eating Disorders Research Unit of the New York State Psychiatric Institute, and a psychiatrist in private practice in New York City.

Dr. Broft received her bachelor’s degree in biology at Yale University and her medical degree from Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.

Her clinical work includes a prominent focus on the treatment of patients with various eating disorders, including anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder. Her academic interests include (1) the neurobiology of eating disorders, (2) the etiologic overlap between eating disorders and substance use disorders, (3) the use of neuroimaging to study eating disorders, and (4) the development of novel therapeutics for both eating disorders and depression.

Her research has been supported by grant awards from the National Institute of Health and the National Alliance for Research in Schizophrenia and Depression. She has authored and co-authored several articles in leading psychiatric journals such as the International Journal for Eating Disorders, Biological Psychiatry and Neuropsychopharmacology.

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Jason Grenfell-Gardner

Scientific AdvisorJason Grenfell-Gardner

Mr. Grenfell-Gardner is the founder of The J. Molner Company, a specialty generic pharmaceutical development and services company focused on solving supply chain issues in legacy pharmaceutical markets in the United States and Canada. He was also most recently

Chairman of the Board of Directors of Pfenex, Inc., a biotechnology and biosimilar pharmaceutical company which was acquired by Ligand in October, 2021, and he served as the President and Chief Executive Officer and a member of the Board of Directors of Teligent, Inc., a specialty generic pharmaceutical company, from 2012 to February, 2020. From 2008 to 2012, Mr. Grenfell-Gardner served in various management roles, including as Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing of Hikma Pharmaceuticals, PLC and its subsidiaries, notably West-Ward Pharmaceuticals, a US-based generic pharmaceutical company. From 1998 to 2003, Mr. Grenfell-Gardner worked throughout Central and Eastern Europe as a partner at Trigon Capital, a boutique investment bank focused on mergers and acquisitions. During his time in that region, Mr. Grenfell-Gardner served as chairman of the board of directors of AB Sanitas, a Lithuanian pharmaceutical company, as well as other board positions.

Mr. Grenfell-Gardner holds an M.A. (Hons) in Economics from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland and an MBA from INSEAD.

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Kyle Gould

Capital Markets AdvisorKyle Gould

Kyle Gould is President at Hyperion Capital Inc., an independent Canadian Investment Bank specializing in the Healthcare and Technology Sectors.
Prior to Hyperion, Kyle served as a Director within GMP cannabis practice where he aided in raising

  and advising over $10 billion worth of corporate mandates across 100+ transactions. During his time at GMP, the firm was ranked #2 globally for cannabis activity.

Kyle held roles for GMP in both New York City and Toronto. He started his career at BMO Capital Markets Corp. in New York where he focused on leveraged finance for North American based companies.

Kyle is a CFA Charterholder and graduated from Dalhousie University with a major in Finance.

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