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Board of Directors

Yutaka Niihara, MD, MPH - Chief Executive Officer, Chairman of the Board

Dr. Niihara has been involved in patient care and research for sickle cell disease for most of his career, and is the principal inventor of the patented L-glutamine therapy for treatment of sickle cell disease. He is a cofounder of Emmaus, principal investigator for LABioMed at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center and Clinical Professor of Medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

His experience includes serving as President, Chief Executive Officer and Medical Director of Hope International Hospice. Board-certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine and the American Board of Internal Medicine/Hematology, Dr. Niihara is licensed to practice medicine in both the U.S. and Japan. His honors include the Life Time Achievement Award, from the Sickle Cell Disease Foundation of California and the Abigail Kawananako Award. Dr. Niihara received his B.A. in Religion from Loma Linda University, obtained his M.D. degree from the Loma Linda University School of Medicine in 1986, and received his MPH from Harvard School of Public Health in 2006.


Willis C. Lee, MS Chief Operating Officer, Vice-Chairman of the Board

Mr. Lee has more than 30 years of management and consulting experience with influential companies in the semiconductor and healthcare industries. Prior to joining Emmaus, Mr. Lee led worldwide sales and business development of Yield Dynamics’ product group at MKS Instruments. He joined the Company in 2009 and has served as Chief Operating Officer since May 2011.

He has held various managerial and senior positions at companies including HPL, Syntricity and Reden & Anders, a subsidiary of United Healthcare that provides actuarial services including capitation and risk assessment analyses for healthcare insurance carriers. Mr. Lee received his B.S. and M.S. in Physics from University of Hawaii and University of South Carolina, respectively. He was a member of the American Physical Society, completed TQM/SPC programs, and has published papers in Nuclear Instruments and Methods.


Ian Zwicker, MBA Director, Chair of the Compensation, Nomination Committee

Mr. Zwicker is the founder of Zwicker Advisory Group and has been its Chief Executive Officer since 2014. Mr. Zwicker served as Managing Director and held a variety of management positions at the investment banking firms of SG Cowen and Hambrecht & Quist. He also served as Managing Director and head of worldwide technology investment banking for Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette Securities Corporation, and as the President of WR Hambrecht + Co (WRH). Mr. Zwicker was a Director of Stirling Energy Systems, a Partner at WRH, and was also Head of Capital Markets.


Masaharu Osato, MD - Director

Dr. Osato has been practicing gastroenterology and internal medicine (“GI”) at his private practice, the Osato Medical Clinic, Inc. in Torrance, CA since 2001. He completed a GI Fellowship at the Harbor UCLA Medical Center and served as General Internist and Director of Health Screening Center at the Tokyo Adventist Hospital in Tokyo, Japan, as well as at the Kobe Adventist Hospital in Kobe, Japan. He attended the Loma Linda University School of Medicine in California and completed an internal medicine residency at the Kettering Memorial Medical Center in Dayton Ohio. Dr. Osato also completed one year of pediatric residency at the Loma Linda University Medical Center.


Wei Peu (Derek) Zen, MBA - Director

Mr. Zen is Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Wai Kee Holdings Limited., a Hong Kong-based construction and infrastructure company whose shares are listed on the Main Board of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange Limited. He is also the Chairman of Build King Holdings Limited and Co-Chairman of Road King Infrastructure Limited, both of which are subsidiaries of Wai Kee Holdings Limited. Mr. Zen has over 30 years of experience in civil engineering, and is responsible for the overall management of the Wai Kee Holdings Limited group of companies and oversees the operations of the group’s construction, quarry and concrete divisions. Mr. Zen holds a B.Sc. degree in Engineering from The University of Hong Kong and a M.B.A. degree from The Chinese University of Hong Kong and is a member of both the Institution of Civil Engineers and fellow member of the Hong Kong Institution of Engineers and the Institute of Quarrying, UK respectively. He is a past Honorary Treasurer of Hong Kong Construction Association and a member of HKTDC Infrastructure Development Advisory Committee. He is also the President of Hong Kong Contract Bridge Association.


Robert Dickey IV, MBA - Director, Chair of the Audit Committee

Robert Dickey IV has experience as a CFO as well as in other C-level and Board positions in life sciences and medical device companies, both private and publicly-traded, across all stages of development.  Before that, he was an investment banker, mostly at Lehman Brothers.  He is currently a Managing Director at Foresite Advisors since March 2020 and was previously a Managing Director at Danforth Advisors from August 2018 to March 2020. Foresite Advisors provides finance support and strategy for life science companies, including strategic CFO advisory, financial analysis, capital raising, and transactional support/execution for public offerings and M&A. Mr. Dickey serves as a member of the board of directors at AngioGenex and served as a board member at Sanuthera, Inc., a privately held medical device company. Previously, he was CFO at Motif Bio PLC, a dual-listed, advanced stage antibiotics company.  Prior operating experience includes CFO at Tyme Technologies; CFO at NeoStem (now Caladrius Biosciences); SVP at Hemispherx; CFO and Business Unit Manager at StemCyte; and CEO and COO at Protarga.  Mr. Dickey holds an MBA from The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, and an AB from Princeton University. 


Jane Pine Wood, JD - Director, Chair of the Corporate Governance Committee

Ms. Wood has served since October 3, 2016 as Chief Legal Counsel of BioReference Laboratories, Inc., Elmwood Park, New Jersey, a wholly owned subsidiary of OPKO Health, Inc. (NASDAQ: OPK), a diversified healthcare company. BioReference Laboratories, Inc. is the nation’s third-largest clinical laboratory with a core genetic testing business and 400-person sales and marketing team. She has over 30 years of experience representing clinical and anatomic laboratories, physicians, imaging centers, home health agencies, mental health providers, hospitals, other healthcare providers, and professional societies in corporate, regulatory, reimbursement, contractual, and other matters. She holds a B.A. degree, summa cum laude, from Texas A&M University and a J.D. degree from Vanderbilt University School of Law. She is a member of the State Bars of New Jersey, Massachusetts, Ohio, and Tennessee.