Ming has over 10 years of experience in the field of biomaterials and drug delivery, including the development of novel polymer-based drug delivery systems for ophthalmic indications. He received a PhD in Biomedical Engineering from Johns Hopkins University, where he studied with Dr. Justin Hanes, and he gained ocular drug delivery expertise during his tenure at Genentech. Ming received an MS in Bioengineering from Pennsylvania State University and a BE in Materials Science and Engineering from Tsinghua University, China.
Jeffrey L. Cleland, PhD
Charles P. Semba, MD, FACC, FACR
Valerie Smith, MBA
Ming Yang, PhD
Christy Shaffer, PhD
With over 20 years of experience in the life science industry, Christy is a seasoned entrepreneur and biotech executive. Following her career as a clinical scientist, international project leader and Associate Director of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at Burroughs Wellcome Co., she joined Inspire Pharmaceuticals in 1995 as the first, full-time employee. She was responsible for raising over $300 million in capital for the company, including taking the company public in 2000. As President and CEO, Christy grew the company from 20 scientists to nearly 250 employees with revenues of over $100 million. Under her leadership, Inspire was named as “Best Place to Work for Scientists” by the Scientist magazine, and “Best Place to Work in North Carolina.” Christy retired from Inspire in March, 2010 and the company was acquired by Merck in 2011. In addition to being the Chair at Graybug Vision, Christy is currently the Managing Director of Hatteras Discovery and serves on three other Hatteras portfolio company boards: Clearside Biomedical, G1 Therapeutics and Kinodyn. Christy is a receptor pharmacologist by training, earning her PhD in Pharmacology from the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in 1985. She received her post-doctoral training at the Chicago Medical School and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Jeffrey L. Cleland, PhD
President and CEO
Jeff has 25 years of industry experience in research and development, including more than a decade at Genentech, Inc. His experience in startups includes major roles in obtaining more than $450 million in capital at stages from Series A through D and exit via IPO including over $300 million in capital raised as CEO. As the founding CEO of Versartis (VSAR), he led one of top biotech IPOs of all time. He held executive management positions at BaroFold, Novacea and Targesome, and has managed directly all aspects of pharmaceutical development and late-stage research. While at Genentech, Jeff served in product development and manufacturing roles. He held important leadership roles in the successful approval of two drugs, Herceptin® and Nutropin Depot®, as well as in early work on Lucentis®, Avastin®, and Omnitarg®. He holds a BS in Chemical Engineering from the University of California, Davis and a PhD in Chemical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Jeff has authored more than 100 articles and four books, and holds several issued patents.
Charles P. Semba, MD, FACC, FACR
Chief Medical Officer
Charles has 17 years of clinical drug development experience in retina, ocular surface disease, and glaucoma. He held senior leadership positions at Genentech, Shire, SARcode Bioscience, ForSight VISION5, and Stanford University. At Genentech, he led the clinical development of Lucentis® that resulted in approvals for wet age-related macular degeneration, diabetic macular edema, retinal vein occlusion and directed programs for Activase®, Cathflo Activase®, TNKase®, Lucentis®, Rituximab® [immunology], and Nutropin AQ® . He served as Chief Medical Officer at SARcode and Vice President, Clinical Medicine (Ophthalmology) at Shire and led the development of Xiidra® , the first drug to treat signs and symptoms of dry eye disease; SARcode was acquired by Shire in 2013. Most recently, he was Chief Medical Officer at ForSight VISION5, a clinical stage company focused on sustained-release drug delivery for glaucoma; ForSight was acquired by Allergan in 2016. Charles received his BA, cum laude, in chemistry at Carleton College; MD from the University of Minnesota; radiology residency at the University of California, San Diego; and fellowship in endovascular surgery/interventional radiology from the Miami Cardiac and Vascular Institute. He remains an Adjunct Professor of Interventional Radiology at Stanford and has over 100 scientific publications and 25 book chapters, and has received scientific awards in both ophthalmology and radiology.
Valerie Smith, MBA
VP, Global Clinical Development Operations
Valerie brings more than 20 years of drug development experience in Clinical Operations and Project Management and has held leadership roles at Amgen, Genentech, Onyx, Shire, SARcode Bioscience, BioMarin, Solvay, and VaxGen. In her prior roles at Genentech, SARcode, and Shire, she was integral to the successful clinical operations of the major proof-of-concept and pivotal studies that led to the submission and approval of two major breakthrough ophthalmic drugs: Lucentis® for wet age-related macular degeneration and Xiidra® for treatment of signs and symptoms of dry eye disease. Valerie began her career at Solvay Pharmaceuticals and subsequently at Quintiles, Inc., and has been involved in research and development on investigational products in endocrinology, gastroenterology, psychiatry, neurology, pain, vaccines, orphan diseases, hematology, oncology, and cardiology. She received a BS degree in Psychology from Georgia Southern University and an MBA degree from Kennesaw State University.
Ming Yang, PhD
Director of Research
Gerald D. Cagle, PhD
Jerry is an experienced pharmaceutical executive with managerial, technical and business experience spanning more than three decades. He served in key leadership roles at Alcon, the world’s largest eye care company. Starting as a senior scientist in microbiology, he held several positions of increasing responsibility at Alcon, including Vice President of Product Development and Vice President of Regulatory Affairs. During his last 13 years at Alcon, he was Senior Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer. While at Alcon, Jerry was a regular contributor to new drug applications (NDAs) and premarket approvals (PMAs), holds approximately 20 issued patents and has authored a number of publications in the field.
Emmett Cunningham, Jr., MD, PhD, MPH
Emmett, currently a Partner, joined Clarus in 2006 with more than 20 years of experience in the biomedical and biopharmaceutical sectors. Prior to joining Clarus, he was the Senior Vice President, Medical Strategy at Eyetech Pharmaceuticals, where he helped build and lead the team that developed and commercialized Macugen®, a first-in-class product for the treatment of age-related macular degeneration. Prior to Eyetech, Emmett was at Pfizer, where he was responsible for the clinical development of early phase central nervous system compounds and the in-licensing of early and late-stage therapeutic candidates in ophthalmology. Emmett founded and is the Chairman of the Ophthalmology Innovation Summit (OIS), a well-attended symposium held in conjunction with the annual meetings of the American Academy of Ophthalmology and the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery. He is a member of the Board of Directors of Annexon Biosciences, Restoration Robotics, and SFJ Pharmaceuticals Group; is a Board observer on Avillion and Lumos Pharma; and is on the Scientific Advisory Board of Aerie Pharmaceuticals.
Justin Hanes, PhD
Justin is the Lewis J. Ort Professor of Ophthalmology at the Wilmer Eye Institute of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, where he holds joint appointments as Professor of Biomedical Engineering, Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering, Environmental Health Sciences, Neurosurgery, and Oncology. His degrees are in Chemical Engineering from UCLA (BS) and MIT (PhD), and he completed a postdoctoral fellowship in Oncology and Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins prior to beginning his faculty position in 1998. Justin directs the Center for Nanomedicine at the Wilmer Eye Institute, where he oversees a large group focused on developing methods to improve the effectiveness of drug therapies for a variety of diseases, including those that affect vision. He currently serves as the Principle Investigator on numerous grants from the NIH and other agencies. He is an inventor named on numerous patents, and a few companies have been launched based on these inventions. He also serves at the Chairperson of the Gene and Drug Delivery study section of the NIH, on the Scientific Advisory Board of the Controlled Release Society, and on the editorial board for several scientific journals focused in the areas of biomaterials and drug delivery.
Chau Q. Khuong, MPH
Chau is a Private Equity Partner at OrbiMed. He joined OrbiMed in 2003. He has experience in start-up operations and business development at Veritas Medicine, Inc. and in basic science research at the Yale School of Medicine and at Massachusetts General Hospital. He was a summer Associate in the New Ventures technology transfer group at Columbia University. Chau holds a BS in molecular, cellular and developmental biology with a concentration in biotechnology and an MPH with a concentration in infectious disease, both from Yale University.