Board of Directors
Robert L. Harris
Mr. Harris has served as a member of the Board of Directors of Amarantus since December 2010. Harris is a retired vice president of Environmental, Health, Safety, Technical and Land Services at Pacific Gas and Electric Company,where he worked from September 1972 to January 2007. In 1985, he became the first and only lawyer in PG&E’s history to argue and win a case for it in the United States Supreme Court. In so doing, he became the first lawyer in the nation to convince the Supreme Court that a corporation, like an individual, has negative First Amendment rights.
He graduated from San Francisco State University in 1965 and received his Juris Doctor degree from the University Of California School of Law at Berkeley (Boalt Hall) in 1972. He was admitted to the California State Bar in December 1972 and argued and won a case in the United States Supreme Court in 1985. Harris also completed the Harvard Graduate School of Business Advanced Management Program and the Management Development Program at Duke University’s School of Business.
Dr. Mark Benedyk
Dr. Benedyk is currently a Managing Partner at Rila Partners LLC, a business and corporate development consultancy. In this role he serves on the Strategic Advisory Board of KemPharm, Inc., is a Director at the Center for Drug Research and Development Ventures, Inc., and is a member of the Translational Medicine Advisory Board of the CNS Regenerative Medicine Foundation. Previously he was head of The Pfizer Incubator (TPI) where his duties included membership on the TPI Board of Directors, board positions with TPI portfolio companies, oversight of the TPI operations team, and reviewing investment opportunities in multiple technologies.
Dr. Benedyk has held executive business development roles at Ascenta Therapeutics, Optimer Pharmaceuticals, Aurora Biosciences (acquired by Vertex Pharmaceuticals), and Elan Pharmaceuticals, where he led partnering efforts for several key clinical-stage products for the treatment of Alzheimer’s Disease, migraine and other neurological indications. He received his Ph.D. in Developmental and Molecular Genetics from The Rockefeller University, and Bachelor of Science degree in Microbiology and Botany from the University of Michigan.
Gerald E. Commissiong
President & CEO
Mr. Commissiong is President & CEO BioScience and a member of the Board of Directors of Amarantus, the company he co-founded with John Commissiong, PhD in 2008. From the inception of the Company, Mr. Commissiong attracted seed capital, acquired the intellectual property rights to MANF and recruited scientific and executive talent to Amarantus to allow for the further development of the technologies. Prior to becoming CEO in October 2011, Mr. Commissiong was the Chief Operating Officer where his duties included strategic transactions, licensing, research collaborations, mergers and acquisitions, and fund raising. From August 2009 until March 2011, he served as Chief Business Officer where he was responsible for business and corporate development. Prior to co-founding Amarantus, Mr. Commissiong played professional football for the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League. Mr. Commissiong received a B.Sc. in Management Science and Engineering with a focus on Financial Decisions from Stanford University.
John W. Commissiong, PhD
Chief Scientific Officer
Dr. Commissiong has served as the Chief Scientific Officer and a Director of Amarantus since co-founding the company in 2008. Prior to Amarantus, Dr. Commissiong served as the CSO of Neurotrophics, Inc. and Prescient Neuropharma, Inc. Throughout his distinguished career, Dr. Commissiong has been focused on the discovery of novel neurotrophic factors for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases as well as understanding the fundamental underlying biology of protoplasmic type-1 astrocytes that secrete neurotrophic factors. He was Chief of the Neural Transplantation Unit, NINDS-NIH, from 1989-94 where his research focused on identifying therapeutic approaches to spinal cord injury. Dr. Commissiong was Head of the Neurotrophic Factors Group, NINDS-NIH, from 1994-97 where he focused on developing technologies to systematically identify novel neurotrophic factors with applications for specific Central Nervous System disorders. He co-founded Prescient Neuropharma in 1999, and discovered MANF in 2003. MANF is currently in preclinical development for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease. The work pioneered by Dr. Commissiong has led to significant advancements in the field of astrocyte-neuron biology. Dr. Commissiong believes that a fundamental understanding of astrocyte-neuron interactions in the Central Nervous System will lead to a new generation of therapies to treat brain-related disorders.
Dr. Commissiong did his Postdoctoral work in the Lab Preclin Pharmac, NIMH-NIH, concentrating on the application of quadrupole mass spectrometry in the analysis of neurotransmitters. He holds a Ph.D. in Neurophysiology from the University of Southampton, an M.Sc. in Biochemical Pharmacology from the University of Southampton, and a B.S. in Biology and Chemistry from the University of the West Indies.