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 Professor Emeritus 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 and Corporate Governance 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 Danforth Advisors which 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.  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. 

 

Robin L. Smith M.D., M.B.A. - Director

Robin L. Smith, age 54, joined the Company when it was known as MYnd Analytics, Inc. as Chairman of the Board of Directors on August 20, 2015 and has continued to serve as a Director since the merger transaction with EMI Holding, Inc. (formerly, Emmaus Life Sciences, Inc.) on July 17, 2019. Dr. Smith is a business leader, entrepreneur, medical doctor and philanthropist uniquely positioned assist public companies and health care systems advance and be successful in the rapidly evolving health care industry. She received her B.A. degree from Yale University and her M.D. degree from the Yale School of Medicine and holds an M.B.A. degree from the Wharton School of Business and completed the Stanford University Directors Program. Dr. Smith has extensive experience serving on the boards of directors and board committees, including, audit, nominating and governance, compensation and science and technology committees, of multiple public companies. She currently serves as a director of Rockwell Medical (NASDAQ: RMTI) and Seelos Therapeutics (NASDAQ: SEEL). She previously served from July 2014 to February 2016 as a director of Signal Genetics (NASDAQ: SGNL) and from 2006 until 2015 as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Neostem (NASDAQ: NBS), where she pioneered the company’s innovative business model combining proprietary cell therapy development with a successful contract development and manufacturing organization. Dr. Smith co-authored Cells Are the New Cure (2017) and The Healing Cell: How the Greatest Revolution in Medical History Is Changing Your Life (2013), and has been widely recognized for her leadership in health care and as a female entrepreneur. She received the Regenerative Medicine Foundation (RMF) 2019 Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine Action Award for International Diplomacy in 2019, the 2018 HEALinc Future Health Humanitarian Award, the Business Intelligence Group’s Woman of the Year Award in 2018 and the 2018 Gold Stevie® Award for Woman of the Year – Government of Non-Profit. In April 2016, Pope Francis awarded Dr. Smith Dame Commander with Star Pontifical Equestrian Order of Saint Sylvester Pope and Martyr and in May 2017, she was awarded the Lifetime Achievement in Healthcare and Science Award by The National Museum of Catholic Art and Library. Dr. Smith also is active is many nonprofit organizations, including as the founder, President and Chairman of the board of the Cura Foundation, a charitable organization, and as a member of the board of trustees of the Alliance for Regenerative Medicine (ARM) Foundation and the board of overseers of the New York University Langone Medical Center in New York. She previously served on the board of trustees of the New York University Langone Medical Center and is the past Chairman of the Board of Directors of the New York University Hospital for Joint Diseases.