Board of Directors
Edward J. Borkowski
Lead Independent Director
Mr. Borkowski served as the Chief Financial Officer of ConvaTec Healthcare, CareFusion Corporation and Mylan, Inc. and in a variety of finance positions at Pharmacia, American Home Products, Cyanamid and at Arthur Andersen. Mr. Borkowski holds a Bachelor of Science in Economics and Political Science from Allegheny College and a Master in Business Administration in Finance and Accounting from Rutgers University.
Mr. Casamento joined our board in March 2017. Since 2007 Mr. Casamento has been executive director and principal of The Sage Group, a health care advisory group. He was president and CEO of Osteologix, a start up company which he eventually took public, from October 2004 until April 2007. Mr. Casamento was the founder of Questcor Pharmaceuticals where he was president, CEO and chairman from 1999 through 2004. At Questcor he acquired Acthar, a product whose sales eventually exceeded $1.0 Billion. At RiboGene Inc. he was president, CEO and chairman until 1999 when he merged the company with another company to form Questcor. He was also co-founder, president and CEO of Indevus (formerly Interneuron Pharmaceuticals). He has held senior management positions at Genzyme Corporation, where he was Senior Vice President, American Hospital Supply, where he was Vice President of Business Development for the Critical Care division, Johnson & Johnson, Hoffmann-LaRoche and Sandoz. He holds a bachelor's degree in Pharmacy from Fordham University and an M.B.A. from Iona College. He currently sits on the Boards of Directors of International Stem Cell Corporation, Relmada Therapeutics and Eton Pharmaceuticals. He was previously a director and vice-chairman of the Catholic Medical Missions Board a large not for profit international organization. During his career he has served as a director on the Boards of twelve public companies.
Mr. Oakes joined our board of directors in April 2020. Since September 2020 he currently serves as Executive Vice President North America and member of the Vifor Pharma Executive Committee. Previously he was Corporate Vice President – Global integration Lead for Otezla at Amgen where he oversaw the integration of the $2B brand and positioned it for sustained growth. Prior to Amgen, Mr. Oakes was Corporate Vice President and US General Manager at Celgene. Mr. Oakes also served as the Global Commercial Integration Lead at Celgene where he helped steer the $74B acquisition by Bristol-Myers Squibb and the $13.4B divestiture of Otezla. Prior to Celgene, Mr. Oakes held several positions at Novartis, most recently as Head of Sandoz Biopharmaceuticals, North America. He began his career at Schering-Plough (Merck) where he held executive roles both in the US and Europe. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Marketing and Business Administration from Edinboro University and a M.B.A. from Clemson University. He currently sits on the Board of BioNJ and served on various Executive Committees at Celgene, Novartis, and Schering-Plough (Merck).
MD, PhD, Director
Dr. Riddell joined our board of directors in September 2015. He is also currently Chairman of a private UK biotech, Nemesis Biosciences Ltd, Chairman of a UK AIM listed medical imaging company Feedback plc and Chairman of the South West Academic Health Science Network, which fosters links between the NHS, industry and universities. He was also on the board of directors of another US private company, Skyline Vet Pharma until April 2017. Dr. Riddell has over 30 years experience in the pharmaceutical, life science and biotech industries, 18 years as main board director. After 10 years directing phases 1-4 clinical trials of antibiotics, oncology and intensive care products for companies including Lederle (now Pfizer) and Centocor (now J&J), he spent 5 years managing sales and marketing for oncology and imaging products for Amersham International (now GE Healthcare). This led to 12 years as CEO for 3 UK biotech companies, Pharmagene, Paradigm Therapeutics and Stem Cell Sciences; in these roles he was the principal involved in significant fund raising including an IPO on UK’s main list and trade sales to Takeda in Japan and Stem Cells Inc. in the USA. He has since had several roles in UK government initiatives related to promoting cooperation between pharmaceutical companies and the NHS and assessing projects for funding with Innovate UK. He began his career as a medical doctor in a variety of hospital specialties and in general practice. He was recently awarded a Doctorate of Science, Honoris Causa by Aston University.
Chairman, President and CEO
James Sapirstein has served over thirty seven years in the pharmaceutical industry. He is currently the Chairman and CEO of AzurRx BioPharma (AZRX:NASDAQ).
He began his career in 1984 with Eli Lilly, moving to Hoffmann-LaRoche in 1987, where he served for almost a decade as part of its commercial teams in the US and abroad, rising to become a Product Director. He joined Bristol Myers Squibb as the Director of International Marketing in the Infectious Diseases group in 1996. While at BMS, he worked on several important HIV/AIDS projects including Secure the Future.
Mr. Sapirstein started his career in smaller biotech companies when he later joined Gilead Sciences, Inc. (GILD) in order to lead the Global Marketing team in its launch of Viread (tenofovir). In 2002, he accepted the position of Executive Vice President, Metabolic and Endocrinology, for Serono Laboratories. Later, in 2006, he became the founding CEO of Tobira Therapeutics, then a private company. Tobira Therapeutics was acquired by Allergan in 2016. In 2012, Mr. Sapirstein became the CEO of Alliqua Biomedical at Alliqua, Inc. Thereafter, he served as CEO of Contravir Pharmaceuticals from March 2014 until October 2018. All of these are publicly listed companies. Mr. Sapirstein has raised over $300 Million dollars in venture capital and public capital markets financing in his various engagements as CEO. He was named as a Finalist for Ernst&Young Entrepreneur of the Year award in 2015 as well as in 2016.
Mr. Sapirstein holds board positions on Marizyme (MRZM:OTCBB) (Chairman), Enochian Biosciences (ENOB:NASDAQ), and Blue Water Acquisition SPAC (BLUWU:NASDAQ). He was Chairman of the Board for BioNJ, an association of biopharma industries in New Jersey from Feb 2017-Feb 2019. In addition, he is a Board Director for BIO, the leading Biopharma Industries Organization promoting public policy and networking in the healthcare space, where he sits on the Emerging Companies Section Governing Board.
Mr. Sapirstein received an MBA from Fairleigh Dickinson University in 1997, and a BS (Pharmacy) from Rutgers University in 1984.
Vern Lee Schramm
Dr. Schramm joined the AzurRx board in October 2017. Dr. Schramm has served as Professor of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine since 1987 and Chairman of the Department of Biochemistry from 1987 to 2015. He has been awarded the Ruth Merns Endowed Chair in Biochemistry. His fields of interest include enzymatic transition state analysis, transition state inhibitor design, biological targets for inhibitor design, and mechanisms of N-ribosyltransferases. Dr. Schramm was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2007, and served as the Associate Editor for the Journal of the American Chemical Society from 2003 to 2012. A frequent lecturer and presenter in topics related to chemical biology, Dr. Schramm has been a consultant and advisor to Pico Pharmaceuticals, Metabolon Inc., Sirtris Pharmaceuticals, and BioCryst Pharmaceuticals. Dr. Schramm obtained his BS in Bacteriology with an emphasis in chemistry from South Dakota State College, a Master’s Degree in Nutrition with an emphasis in biochemistry from Harvard University, a Ph.D. in Mechanism of Enzyme Action from the Australian National University and postdoctoral training at NASA Ames Research Center, Biological Sciences, with a NSF-NRC fellowship.