Founder, President & CEO
Robert DeBenedetto has over 25 years of global pharmaceutical / life sciences experience. Robert founded SFJ Pharmaceuticals® in January of 2009 on a premise that there was a better way to fund and conduct clinical trials globally. This premise is now a reality with SFJ Pharmaceuticals® as the premier global funding partner for many of the world’s largest pharma companies, with SFJ Pharmaceuticals® now having a proven track record of drug approvals with many more drugs with trials successfully completed and in regulatory submission. Prior to joining SFJ Pharmaceuticals®, Robert was Vice President of Global Business Development at Quintiles Transnational’s, pharmaceuticals investment unit. Preceding that Robert was Executive Committee Member, CFO, V.P. of Corporate Development, and V.P. of Corporate Marketing for Boston Scientific’s Japan subsidiary with 800 employees and sales exceeding $600 million. Robert spent the first 9 years of his professional career as a CPA with E&Y, advising some of the world’s largest companies. To date Robert has been involved in approximately 100 acquisitions, mergers, licensing and partnering arrangements valued at over $10 billion. Robert has a Master’s Degree from Bentley University and presently a Senior Adviser at Blackstone Life Sciences.
EVP, Chief Accounting Officer
Mr. Cobo joined SFJ Pharmaceuticals in March of 2021 as Executive Vice President and Chief Accounting Officer. Mr. Cobo, has more than 20 years of experience in corporate accounting, including mergers and acquisitions, compliance, public offering, and financial analysis activities. Prior to joining SFJ Pharmaceuticals, Mr. Cobo served as Senior Vice President, Finance and Chief Accounting Officer at Tricida, Inc. with responsibility for finance and accounting. Prior to joining Tricida, Mr. Cobo was Vice President of Finance at Sangamo Therapeutics, Inc., a biotechnology company, with responsibility for accounting, procurement, IT and facilities. Mr. Cobo was a Senior Manager, Accounting, at Responsys, Inc., a software company, when the company was acquired by Oracle Corporation. Prior to that position, Mr. Cobo held various roles of increasing responsibilities at Oracle, in mergers and acquisition, technical accounting and SEC reporting. He started his career in audit at Ernst and Young LLP in the firm’s biotechnology and technology practices. Mr. Cobo holds a B.S. in accounting from Santa Clara University, and is a licensed Certified Public Accountant.
VP, Clinical and Asset Lead
Lisa Corey serves as SFJ’s Vice President of Clinical and Asset Lead. In this role, Ms. Corey is responsible for the management and execution of clinical trials throughout the world. Ms. Corey has 19 years experience in the pharmaceutical industry. Before joining SFJ in 2022, she served as the Senior Director of Clinical Development Operations at Alkermes, Inc. where she successfully led global trial execution in oncology, CNS disorders including schizophrenia, depression, and multiple sclerosis contributing to multiple NDAs and sNDAs. Her industry experience includes Phase 1-3 and post-approval clinical development programs with oversight of clinical operations, data management, clinical programming, study start-up and patient recruitment and retention. Ms. Corey earned a bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science and Health Promotion from University of Maine-Orono and Master of Science from Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Florida.
EVP, Chief Financial Officer
Mr. DeBenedetto joined SFJ Pharmaceuticals® in August, 2014, overseeing FP&A activities including helping to close and operationalize over $400 million of structured financing transactions. Prior to joining SFJ Pharmaceuticals, Inc., he was with Cytori Therapeutics, a biotechnology company pioneering treatments with adipose-derived regenerative cells, where he developed process/policy improvements, which included a temporary assignment to Japan, and helped the close of a $500+ million licensing transaction. Mr. DeBenedetto earned a B.S. in Finance-Economics from Bentley University.
VP, Head of Biometrics
Nancy Dgetluck joined SFJ Pharmaceuticals® as Vice President and Head of Biometrics, in January 2022, with over 25 years of experience in the biopharmaceutical industry, in numerous therapeutic areas. She is responsible for oversight of the biometrics aspects of all SFJ programs, including biostatistics, statistical programming, and data management functions, as well as due diligence and strategic evaluations. Ms. Dgetluck has an extensive industry background in biostatistics, ranging from early phase trials, through successful NDA/MAA submissions, including face-to-face meetings with regulatory agencies, to Phase 4 post-marketing studies. Prior to joining SFJ, she began her career as a biostatistician at Fisons Corporation, and over the years assumed management and leadership positions within Biostatistics at CRO’s Parexel, AAI-Pharma, and i3-Statprobe, followed by Forum, Inotek, and Corbus Pharmaceuticals. Ms. Dgetluck received her Bachelor of Science degree in Public Health, with a concentration in Biostatistics, and her Master of Science degree in Biostatistics from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA.
SVP, Clinical Development, Asia Pacific
Dr. Faith Fung joined SFJ Pharmaceuticals® in 2013 as Vice President, Clinical Development, Asia Pacific. She is responsible for Project Management and Clinical Operations of global Phase III clinical trials, from Pre-IND regulatory consultations, to study start-up, study completion and drug registration, collaborating with co-development Pharmaceutical Company partner and direct management of CRO to ensure the delivery of clinical trials with quality, on time and within budget.
Dr. Faith Fung has more than 20 years of experience in clinical research and 8 years in pre-clinical research. Prior to joining SFJ Pharmaceuticals®, Faith was the Clinical Operations Director of Pfizer Phase I Unit in Singapore. Before that, she was Head of Clinical Operations, Asia Pacific in Sanofi-Aventis. Faith started her career in the pharmaceutical industry in Year 2000, as a Clinical Research Associate at GlaxoSmithKline. Dr. Faith Fung graduated with a Ph.D. in Science from the National University of Singapore in 1998 and went on to obtain an M.B.A. from Victoria University, Australia in 2013.
SVP, Chief Regulatory Officer
Michele LaRussa has over 30 years of global pharmaceutical and life science experience. Ms. LaRussa joined SFJ Pharmaceuticals in July 2022 as Senior Vice President and Chief Regulatory Officer. Prior to joining SFJ, Ms. LaRussa served as the Chief Regulatory Officer for Atox Bio and led the NDA submission and subsequent meetings and discussions with the FDA and EMA. Prior to Atox Bio, Ms. LaRussa was an Officer and Global Head of Regulatory Affairs and Quality Assurance for Kala Pharmaceuticals. She led the submission and successful approval for the companies first NDA/marketed product. Prior, Ms. LaRussa held various roles of increasing responsibilities at GSK, Allergan, and Novartis. Ms. LaRussa worked and lived in Switzerland for 7 years at Novartis HQ. She holds a B.S. in Chemistry from the University of South Florida.
EVP, Head of Medical and Safety
Rolf Linke, MD, joined SFJ Pharmaceuticals in April 2013. He oversees the company’s medical and pharmacovigilance responsibilities in clinical development. With more than 20 years in the pharmaceutical industry, he gained broad global experience in clinical development (phase I-IV clinical studies, early access studies), medical affairs, regulatory compliance, and pharmacovigilance. Before he joined SFJ, Rolf worked in leading medical roles in larger organizations such as Bristol-Myers Squibb, Hofmann-La Roche, and Genentech, as well as in smaller entities like Fresenius Biotech, where he was involved in successful drug approvals and launches with active involvement in interactions with the FDA, EMA, PMDA and China NMPA. Rolf received his medical degree from the University of Freiburg in Germany and did his postdoctoral studies in transplant immunology.
EVP, Chief Business Officer
Mr. Owen joined SFJ Pharmaceuticals® in January of 2016 as Vice President, Business Development. With over 25 years of pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry experience, Geoff specializes in identifying, structuring and negotiating creative, risk-based product development and commercialization partnerships. During a 16-year career with Quintiles, he engineered financial and service partnerships with a wide spectrum of pharmaceutical and biotech companies, facilitating placement of >$700 million in risk capital and over $1 billion in sales. He also led global sales for Quintiles’ Integrated Health Services Division.Prior to joining Quintiles in 1998, Geoff worked at The Wilkerson Group, a New York-based consultancy that provided strategy, marketing, and business development advisory services to the healthcare industry.
He began his healthcare career at Deloitte and Touche Consulting Group in Atlanta, focusing mainly on operations and reengineering projects for hospitals and integrated healthcare systems.He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of North Carolina, and Masters in Business Administration from the Georgia Institute of Technology. Upon graduation from UNC, he served eight years on active duty as a United States Naval Officer.
Head Clinical Development Advisor, Japan
Mr. Tsuji joined SFJ Pharmaceuticals® in July of 2010 with over 25 years of clinical development experience across multiple therapeutic indications in the pharmaceutical industry. Mr. Tsuji was Head of Clinical Development at Schering-Plough KK, where he oversaw the Clinical Trials of hypercholesterolemia compound (Ezetimib) from Phase I studies through PMDA approval and malignant glioma compound (Temozolomide) from Phase II study through PMDA approval. Mr. Tsuji specializes in building development strategies for the approval of drugs. Mr. Tsuji has a Master’s Degree from Kanazawa University in Pharmaceutical Sciences.
EVP, Chief Medical Officer
Barbara White, MD, joined SFJ Pharmaceuticals® as Chief Medical Officer in September 2021, with 18 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry, following a productive career as a physician scientist in academia. Barbara’s industry experience includes pre-clinical drug development, Phase 1-3 and post-approval clinical development, translational medicine, and medical affairs. Prior to joining SFJ, Barbara was Chief Medical Office and Head of Research at Corbus Pharmaceuticals, Inc., SVP and Head of R&D at Stiefel, a GSK company, and held leadership roles at UCB, MedImmune, and Amgen. Before starting her pharmaceutical career, Barbara was Professor of Medicine and Vice Chair for Research, Department of Medicine, at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Barbara received her medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and is board certified in internal medicine, rheumatology and allergy/clinical immunology. She did postdoctoral studies in basic cellular immunology at the National Cancer Institute, NIH. Barbara was recently elected Master, American College of Rheumatology.
EVP, Chief Quality & Compliance Officer
Diane Wong joined SFJ Pharmaceuticals® in January 2022 as the Global Head of Quality and Compliance, Chief Compliance Officer. Ms. Wong brings to SFJ over 20 years of quality experience in the biotech and pharmaceutical industry. In her role, Ms. Wong is responsible for providing strategic oversight of the quality and compliance for SFJ, its partners, and clinical trials; providing FDA and international regulatory compliance guidance; and directing activities focused on assuring successful approval of medicines. Prior to joining SFJ Pharmaceuticals®, Ms. Wong held regulatory compliance and quality roles with increasing leadership responsibility at COR Therapeutics, CV Therapeutics, Gilead, Janssen Alzheimer Immunotherapy, Prothena Biosciences, and MyoKardia, Inc. (acquired by Bristol Myers Squibb, November 2020). Ms. Wong holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Molecular Cell Biology from the University of California, Berkeley.