President and Chief Executive Officer
Neil Warma has more than 15 years of executive-level experience in the life sciences industry in the U.S., Europe and Canada. Prior to joining Opexa in June 2008, Mr. Warma served as president and chief executive officer of Viron Therapeutics Inc. (2004-2007), a privately-held clinical stage biopharmaceutical company developing a novel class of protein therapeutics. While at Viron, Mr. Warma positioned the company as a leader in the treatment of serious inflammatory disorders.
From 2000 to 2003, Mr. Warma was co-founder and president of MedExact USA, Inc., an Internet company providing clinical information and services to physicians and pharmaceutical companies, which was ultimately sold to a large public European firm. Prior to MedExact, Mr. Warma held senior positions of increasing responsibility at Novartis Pharmaceuticals (previously Ciba-Geigy Ltd.) at its corporate headquarters in Basel, Switzerland. While at Novartis he was appointed head of international pharmaceutical policy and advocacy, a role in which he worked closely with all Novartis affiliates on numerous issues related to drug development. In addition, Mr. Warma took on a senior management role within global marketing at Novartis where he worked on the international launch of a potential blockbuster gastrointestinal product.
Mr. Warma obtained an honors degree specializing in neuroscience from the University of Toronto and an International M.B.A. from the Schulich School of Management at York University in Toronto.
Chief Financial Officer
Lynne Hohlfeld brings to Opexa more than twenty years of financial management experience. Prior to joining Opexa as vice president of finance in 2006, Ms. Hohlfeld served as vice president and chief financial officer of Denota Ventures.
From 2000 until 2004, Ms. Hohlfeld served as senior vice president, chief operating officer and chief financial officer of Bacterial Barcodes, Inc., a Houston-based molecular diagnostics company spun out of the Baylor College of Medicine. Ms. Hohlfeld served as senior vice president and chief financial officer of Spectral Genomics of Houston upon its merger with Bacterial Barcodes in March 2004. Ms. Hohlfeld was also employed by LifeCell Corporation from 1997 to 1999, serving as controller. Ms. Hohlfeld's career includes positions at Dixie Chemical Company, Price Waterhouse Coopers, McKenna & Company and Arthur Andersen.
Ms. Hohlfeld received a B.B.A. in accounting from the University of Wisconsin, Madison and is a certified public accountant.
Jim C. Williams, Ph.D.
Chief Operating Officer
Jim Williams, Ph.D. has more than 30 years of scientific research and biopharmaceutical development experience, including 16 years dedicated to the regulatory process for biological products in the U.S. and internationally. Prior to joining Opexa as vice president of clinical and regulatory affairs in 2004, Dr. Williams held regulatory positions at various companies in the life sciences industry, including senior vice president, regulatory affairs and operations for OSIRIS Therapeutics, Inc.; vice president, U.S. regulatory affairs for Powderject Vaccines; assistant vice president, worldwide regulatory affairs for Wyeth BioPharma; and executive director, regulatory affairs for Aventis Pasteur.
In 1994, Dr. Williams retired as Captain from the U.S. Public Health Service with more than 20 years of service in human-use product development, which included assignments with the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research as a Director Scientist in the Division of Vaccine and Related Product Applications; the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases and the National Institutes of Health, National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases as Chief, Intracellular Pathogens branch; and the U.S. Naval Medical Research Institute as a research microbiologist.
Dr. Williams’ extensive research and development background includes more than 130 publications and four books in the areas of infectious diseases, vaccinology and oncology. He received his B.S. in animal science, M.S. in genetics and Ph.D. in biochemistry from Texas A&M; University.
Donna R. Rill
Vice President of Operations
Donna Rill has nearly 30 years of extensive clinical and research laboratory experience in cell and gene therapy research and clinical application, immunological techniques and assessment, microbiology, diagnostic virology, experimental design and method development and implementation. She brings her expertise in the areas of laboratory development and operations, FDA cGMP (current Good Manufacturing Practices) and regulatory compliance, quality control/assurance system development and clinical Standards of Practice. She has worked to design, and qualify cGMP Cell & Gene Therapy Laboratories, cGMP Vector Production facilities, and Translational Research Labs at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Texas Children¹s Hospital and Baylor College of Medicine.
Ms. Rill has held the positions of laboratory director of cell and gene therapy, Translational Research Center for Cell and Gene Therapy, Baylor College of Medicine; associate scientist/lab manager of the Bone Marrow Transplant Research Laboratory, and the GMP Cell & Gene Therapy Laboratories, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital; education coordinator and clinical instructor, department of clinical laboratory, LeBonheur Children's Medical Center and University of Tennessee Center for the Health Sciences. Most recently, she was the director of quality systems and process development at Opexa Pharmaceuticals.
Ms. Rill received her B.S. in medical technology from the University of Tennessee, Memphis.