Who We Are

eXIthera is the leader in Factor XIa inhibition, the ideal target for anticoagulation, preventing thrombosis without an increased risk in bleeding.

eXIthera’s drug candidates are small molecules that are highly potent and selective Factor XIa inhibitors. Factor XIa is a key player in the thrombosis pathway but is not required for normal hemostasis.

Executive Team

Neil J. Hayward, Ph.D.

CEO, President, Co-Founder

Dr. Hayward is the co-founder, President and Chief Executive Officer at eXIthera Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Dr. Hayward previously served as the Vice President of Pharmacology & Toxicology at Hydra Biosciences, a role in which he identified and selected potential therapeutic targets, executed preclinical studies, and subsequently nominated small molecules as development candidates for internal projects and external collaborations (Cubist Pharmaceuticals, Pfizer and Zalicus). Dr. Hayward has also held positions of increasing responsibility in both pharmaceutical (GSK and Pfizer) and biotechnology companies (Alkermes, Praecis and Daiamed). He has over 30 years of experience in discovery and preclinical research and development. Dr. Hayward has successfully filed seven INDs. He holds his B.Sc. from the University of London and his M.Phil. and Ph.D. in Pharmacology from the University of Cambridge, UK.

Michael Kurz, Ph.D.

VP of Translational Medicine and Medical Affairs

Dr. Kurz is the Head of Medical Affairs at eXIthera Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Previously, Dr. Kurz was the Executive Director and Head of Translational Medicine and Medical Affairs at Edge Therapeutics, leading efforts to identify and develop new product candidates through IND. Co-Founder and CSO of COOL~BIO, Dr. Kurz led pre-clinical development efforts and designed strategic scientific planning and operations. He previously was the VP of Global Medical Affairs for Canyon Pharmaceuticals. Prior to that, he had roles of increasing responsibility at Gensia and at Johnson & Johnson, including Director of Cardiovascular Medical Affairs at Centocor and Executive Director of World-Wide Medical Affairs at Cordis Corporation. Dr. Kurz earned his Ph.D. in Physiology and Biophysics from the University of Louisville School of Medicine.

Charles Victor Pollack, Jr., M.D.

Medical Director

Dr. Charles Pollack is the Medical Director at eXIthera Pharmaceuticals, Inc. He has over 25 years’ experience in emergency medicine, with research interests that include thrombotic disease and antithrombotic therapy. Dr. Pollack has written more than 500 original research articles, chapters, and abstracts, and lectures widely on varied topics in emergency medicine. Most recently, he was Professor of Emergency Medicine and Associate Provost at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, and founder of the first comprehensive academic resource for medicinal cannabis housed in a U.S. health sciences university. Dr. Pollack is also a founding Board Member of the Hospital Quality Foundation, a not-for-profit organization of healthcare professionals dedicated to improving the management of patients in the hospital and across transitions of care through education and research. Dr. Pollack holds his B.A. and M.A. from Emory University, and earned his medical degree from Tulane University School of Medicine.

Paula M. Bokesch, MD, FAA

Head of Clinical Development

Dr. Bokesch is the Head of Clinical Development at eXIthera Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Previously, she served as Chief Medical Officer at Tenax Therapeutics, Senior Medical Director at Cubist Pharmaceuticals and Global Medical Director at Hospira. Dr. Bokesch brings more than 12 years of drug development experience in acute critical care indications. Dr. Bokesch holds her M.D. from Wake Forest University School of Medicine and has seven years of postgraduate training at the University of North Carolina and Harvard Medical School. She has extensive experience as a pediatric cardiac anesthesiologist at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Boston and is an Affiliate Assistant Professor at Tufts School of Medicine. Additional academic appointments include: Assistant Professor at Boston’s Children’s Hospital, Tufts New England Medical Center and Associate Professor at the Cleveland Clinic and Emory School of Medicine.

Bert L. Chenard, Ph.D.

Head of Chemistry

Dr. Chenard is the Head of Chemistry at eXIthera Pharmaceuticals. He serves as the Executive Director of Medicinal Chemistry at Sunovion, bringing over 30 years of industry experience specializing in ion-channel and G-protein coupled receptor (GPCR) research. Previously, Dr. Chenard served as Senior Vice President of Chemistry, Pharmacology and Preclinical Development at Hydra Biosciences. Prior to Hydra, he was the Senior Vice President of Chemistry and Process Research at Neurogen Corp. Dr. Chenard was a Research Advisor at Pfizer Inc. for over 15 years. Dr. Chenard began his career at DuPont's Experimental Station in exploratory organic chemistry. As a result of his work, Dr. Chenard delivered more than a dozen small-molecule developmental candidates and several specialized reagents. Dr. Chenard received his B.A. at Central Connecticut State University and his Ph.D. from Ohio State University.

Priya Jambhekar

Head of Regulatory Affairs

Ms. Jambhekar is the Head of Regulatory Affairs at eXIthera Pharmaceuticals. She brings over 20 years of experience in the areas of product development, product safety, quality assurance and compliance, clinical operations, supply chain management and both U.S. and international regulatory affairs. Currently, Ms. Jambhekar serves as the President of PBS Regulatory Consulting Group. Prior to joining eXIthera, Ms. Jambhekar held various roles of increasing responsibility at Paramount BioSciences, Ethicon, a J&J company, Baxter AAC and Bristol-Myers Squibb. In the last 10 years, Ms. Jambhekar consulted for several pharmaceutical and biotechnology clients on regulatory, quality and clinical operations projects. Ms. Jambhekar holds her M.Sc. in Organic & Biochemistry and her M.S. in Pharmacy.

Andy Hu, M.D.

Head of Corporate and Business Development

Dr. Hu brings diverse experience in corporate finance, strategy, and business development across the life sciences industry. Most recently, Dr. Hu was acting Chief Business Officer of Yarra Therapeutics, a clinical-stage rare disease company. Previously, Dr. Hu was Senior Vice President, Business Development at Dimension Therapeutics, where he was a leader of teams that successfully brought the company through an IPO, several strategic partnering transactions, and ultimately an acquisition by Ultragenyx. Previously, he was Senior Director, Business Development at Cubist Pharmaceuticals. Dr. Hu also previously worked as part of the investment banking team at Leerink Partners, where he was part of teams which successfully executed over $600 million in equity financings for public and private life sciences companies, and as a senior consultant at Strategic Decisions Group, where he led strategic consulting engagements for several of the world’s largest biopharma companies. Dr. Hu received his AB in Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard University, an M.D. from Baylor College of Medicine, and a MBA from the Jones Graduate School of Management at Rice University.

Board of Directors

Neil J. Hayward, Ph.D.

Dr. Hayward has held numerous positions within both pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies. Prior to eXIthera, Dr. Hayward was the Senior Vice President of Pharmacology and Toxicology at Hydra Biosciences. Previous positions include Director of Pharmacology at Daiamed and Praecis Pharmaceuticals. Before that, Dr. Hayward worked as a Senior Research Assistant at GSK, followed by a position as Scientist at Pfizer and then Alkermes. Dr. Hayward brings over 30 years of experience in discovery, preclinical research and development, with seven INDs filed. His responsibilities included the identification and selection of potential therapeutic targets, the execution of preclinical studies and the subsequent nomination of small molecules as development candidates. Dr. Hayward received his B.Sc. (Hons) degree from the University of London and his M.Phil. and Ph.D. degrees in Pharmacology from the University of Cambridge, UK.

William H. Koster, Ph.D.


Dr. Koster is currently serving as the Chairman of the Board for SciFluor Life Sciences, LLC. Additionally, he has served on the board of directors for Cadus Pharmaceutical Corporation, Mnemosyne Pharmaceuticals, Vedantra Pharmaceuticals and Neurogen Corporation. Dr. Koster was the President and CEO of Neurogen Corporation for over six years, a position he held until his retirement in 2008. Prior to Neurogen, Dr. Koster served as the Senior Vice President for worldwide drug discovery research and early clinical development at Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) for over 29 years. In 2001, he led the R&D acquisition and integration effort for the purchase of the DuPont Pharmaceutical Company by BMS. Dr. Koster has also participated in various scientific advisory forums including Connecticut Academy of Sciences and Engineering (CASE), the Keystone Symposia Scientific Advisory Board and The National Council for Harvard Medicine. Dr. Koster holds his Ph.D. in organic chemistry from Tufts University.

Fred Meyer, Ph.D., CFA

Dr. Meyer specializes in strategy, finance, and business development within life science industries. Over the past 21 years, he co-founded Artisan Pharma, Exponential Pharma Partners and LipimetiX Development. At Apeiron Partners, he provided strategic advice to early- and mid-stage ventures by designing and implementing financings, key technology licenses and partnership deals for clients. He previously performed biotechnology equity research at Needham & Company and business development for the portfolio companies of Schooner Capital. Dr. Meyer received his Ph.D. in Molecular Genetics from Ohio State University and has earned the Chartered Financial Analyst designation.

Frans L. Stassen, Ph.D.

Dr. Stassen is one of the co-founders of eXIthera Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a role in which he guided all areas of the discovery and development of Factor XIa inhibitors. Previously, Dr. Stassen served as the President and Chief Executive Officer of Daiamed and prior to that as the founding President and Chief Executive Officer of MyoGenics, Inc. Before joining the biotechnology industry, Dr. Stassen was Vice President of Research in Inflammation/Osteoarthritis, Molecular Biology and Enzymology at Ciba-Geigy. He joined Ciba-Geigy from SmithKline in Philadelphia where he was Director of a cardiovascular drug discovery program. Dr. Stassen received his Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Cell Biology from the University of Nijmegen, The Netherlands.

Scott Yaphe, MBA

Mr. Yaphe is a Managing Director at Schooner Capital, focused on investment opportunities in venture- and growth-stage companies, as well as alternative asset funds. Prior to Schooner, Scott served as General Partner of ABS Ventures, a multi-stage private investment firm, for 12 years. Prior to joining ABS Ventures, he was the Director of Corporate Development at a telecommunications company as well as a management consultant with A.T. Kearney, where he focused on corporate strategy in emerging market regions. Scott received his MBA from Harvard Business School and Bachelor of Commerce from McGill University.

Paul Wotton, Ph.D.

Dr. Wotton previously served as the Founding Chief Executive Officer of Sigilon Therapeutics. Prior to Sigilon, Dr. Wotton served as President and Chief Executive Officer of Ocata Therapeutics until its acquisition by Astellas Pharma where he was also Co-Chairman of the Office of Integration. He has also served as President and Chief Executive Officer of Antares Pharma as well as Chief Executive Officer of Topigen Pharmaceuticals. Dr. Wotton has held senior leadership roles at SkyePharma, Eurand International, Penwest Pharmaceuticals, Abbott Laboratories as well as Merck and Sharp & Dohme (Merck & Co.). Dr. Wotton obtained his B.Pharm (Hons) from the University of London, holds his MBA from Kingston Business School and received his Ph.D. from the University of Nottingham.

Robert Ruffolo, Ph.D.

Robert Ruffolo, Ph.D., D.Sc.(h), D.Eng(h), F.C.P.P., is the retired President of Research & Development for Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, and retired Corporate Senior Vice President of Wyeth (now Pfizer). In that role, Dr. Ruffolo managed an R&D organization of 9,000 scientists with an annual budget in excess of $3 billion. Dr. Ruffolo joined Wyeth in 2000 as Executive Vice President, responsible for Pharmaceutical Research and Development. Prior to joining Wyeth, Dr. Ruffolo spent 17 years at SmithKline Beecham Pharmaceuticals (now GlaxoSmithKline) where he was Senior Vice President and Director of Biological Sciences, Worldwide. Before joining SmithKline Beecham, he spent six years at Lilly Research Laboratories where he was Chairman of the Cardiovascular Research Committee. During his career in the Pharmaceutical Industry, Dr. Ruffolo played a significant role in the discovery and/or development of a number of marketed products, including carvedilol (Coreg/Kredex/Dilatrend) for the treatment of congestive heart failure and acute myocardial infarction for which he was awarded the PhRMA Discoverers Award, ropinerole (Requip) for Parkinson's Disease, dobutamine (Dobutrex) for congestive heart failure and eprosartan (Teveten) for hypertension. Dr. Ruffolo holds a B.S. in Pharmacy summa cum laude and with Distinction, 1973, and a Ph.D. in Pharmacology, 1976, both from The Ohio State University. Thereafter, he spent two years as a postdoctoral fellow at the National Institutes of Health.

Scientific Advisory Board

Frank Sellke, M.D.

Dr. Frank Sellke is the Karl & Gloria Karlson Professor, Chief of Cardiothoracic Surgery and the Director of the Cardiovascular Institute at the Alpert Medical School of Brown University and Lifespan Hospitals. He previously served as the Johnson & Johnson Professor of Surgery at Harvard Medical School and Chief of Cardiothoracic Surgery at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. His research focuses on microcirculation of the heart, inflammation reduction, bleeding and transfusion after cardiac surgery. He is the Associate Editor of the Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery and the Circulation Journal. He holds his M.D. from Indiana University.

Jerrold Levy, M.D.

Dr. Jerrold Levy is Professor of Anesthesiology and Surgery, and Co-Director of the Cardiothoracic Surgical Intensive Care Unit at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, NC. He previously was Professor, Deputy Chair for Research, and Chief of Cardiothoracic Anesthesiology at Emory University. His research interests include therapeutic strategies to prevent and treat bleeding, anticoagulation and its reversal, clinical applications of recombinant and purified protein concentrates, pharmacologic strategies to treat shock/ventricular dysfunction, and anaphylaxis. He treats patients undergoing cardiothoracic surgery. He obtained his M.D. from the University of Miami, FL, and undertook his residency in the Department of Anesthesiology of the Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston.

Cornelius McKown Dyke, M.D.

Dr. Cornelius McKown Dyke is an Associate Professor of Surgery and Associate Dean at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences. He is an Attending Surgeon at the Sanford Medical Center, Fargo, ND and a Diplomate of the American Boards of Surgery and Thoracic Surgery. Dr. Dyke has extensive research experience with an emphasis on adult cardiac surgery outcomes, coagulation, hemostasis and acute coronary syndromes. Previously, he was an Assistant Professor of Surgery at the University of Pittsburgh. Dr. Dyke received his MD from Duke University, Durham, North Carolina. He completed a residency and fellowships from the Department of Surgery at the Medical College of Virginia.

Afshin Ehsan, M.D.

Dr. Afshin Ehsan is an Adult Cardiac Surgeon at Rhode Island Hospital, an Associate Professor of Surgery at the Brown Alpert Medical School and the Director of Minimally Invasive Cardiac Surgery. He is focused in valvular surgery especially mitral valve repair and percutaneous aortic valve therapies. He is well versed in the current state of atrial fibrillation surgery as it applies to stand-alone and concomitant procedures. Dr. Ehsan participates in clinical outcomes research related to the effect of blood transfusions on patients undergoing cardiac surgical procedures and in examining discrepancies in access to care for patients receiving cardiac surgical therapies. He holds his M.D. from the University of California, at Los Angeles.

Jean M. Connors, M.D.

Jean M. Connors, M.D., is a hematology attending at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Dana Farber Cancer Institute, the Medical Director of the inpatient Hemostatic Antithrombotic Stewardship program and the outpatient Anticoagulation Management Services, and an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. She attended Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, did medical residency at Beth Israel Hospital Boston, and completed fellowship training in hematology-oncology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and in transfusion medicine at the Harvard Joint Program in Transfusion Medicine. She works closely with the Hemostatic Antithrombotic Stewardship staff responsible for oversight and management of anticoagulants and hemostatic agents across all inpatient services at BWH. Dr. Connors has participated in numerous clinical trials for patients with venous thrombosis and for the use of reversal agents for the direct oral anticoagulants, and is leading trials in the area of mechanical circulatory support and cancer-associated thrombosis.