Hironori Ando

Co-founder, CEO & President

Mr. Ando has been active in international business in Japan and the United States for more than 20 years and has played senior roles in the biotech field during much of that period. He co-founded NapaJen in December 2004 with Dr. Kazuo Sakurai upon returning from a 12-year assignment in the U.S. At NapaJen he has spearheaded the vision of growth of the company and funding efforts from grant, private investment and special public-private major awards. He has also built outstanding technical, business and advisory teams and managed intellectual property and legal affairs.

Seiichi Okabe

Chief Financial Officer

Mr. Okabe joined NapaJen in Feb. of 2005 and was appointed to the role of Chief Financial Officer in 2009. At NapaJen he has managed the company’s legal corporate status, human resources, business operations and finance affairs. Prior to NapaJen his distinguished career in finance and corporate affairs spanned a key role in taking to public market listing, Open Loop, a pioneering Japanese company in the field of network securities, as well as other roles at the Japanese nationwide Hokkaido Bank for more than 20 years.

Kenji Arima, Ph.D.

Chief Development Officer

Dr. Arima is a 40-year veteran of pharmaceutical industry with a track record of leadership roles including translational research through clinical trials as well as licensing and intellectual asset management. Most recently, at AMED (Japan Agency for Medical Research and Development), he played a major role in establishing the Drug-discovery Innovation and Screening Consortium, producing unique chemical libraries of 200,000 compounds from more than 20 pharmaceutical companies. Prior to joining AMED, he was president of Asubio Pharmaceuticals, Inc. in the US from 1999 to 2010, where he successfully led multiple development programs in the US, EU and other countries. From 2007 to 2010, he served as director and president of New York Pharma Forum. He holds a Ph.D. degree from Kyoto University.

Kazuo Sakurai, Ph.D.

Chief Scientific Officer and Co-Founder

An eminent figure in the field of polymer science, Dr. Sakurai is the scientific Co-founder of NapaJen and the principle inventor of the technology. Dr. Sakurai is also a Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Kitakyushu where he continues his discovery contributions. His major research interests include polysaccharides, polysaccharide-polynucleotide complexes, nucleic acid delivery, and small-angle X-ray scatter analyses. When he joined the Japanese National Chemo-transfiguration Research Project, his broad contributions gave birth to a new national project entitled “Sugar Based Gene Manipulators.” Earlier in his career he spent 16 years at the central research center of Kanebo Ltd., performing research that spanned conductive polymers, optical resins, and drug delivering systems. Prior to that he was honored with a scholarship for his work in the Department of Polymer Science at the University of Massachusetts where he spent 3 years as a visiting scholar. He received his PhD degree from Osaka University.

Development Leadership

Aya Endoh, M.Sc.

General Manager, EVP for CMC and Operations

Ms. Endo joined NapaJen in 2014 in an external affairs management role prior to taking on her current role in 2016. Previously she served in a business development role at the Contract Manufacturing Division of Sigma-Aldrich Fine Chemicals, after holding marketing communications roles there initially. Earlier in her career Ms. Endoh held management responsibilities in the drug development research tools field including marketing and communications roles for RNAi oligonucleotide reagents. She holds an M.Sc. degree in Neuroscience from State University of New York (SUNY) at Buffalo and a B.S. from Stony Brook University.

Tadahiro Matsudaira, Ph.D.

VP for Development

Dr. Matsudaira joined NapaJen in 2014 and prior to that he led preclinical and clinical development projects in hematology and oncology at Takeda Pharmaceuticals for 6 years. Prior to Takeda, he oversaw preclinical development of hematology/oncology, inflammation and molecular targeting of drugs at Amgen in Japan for 14 years. Earlier, he was engaged in research focusing on the stem cell factor G-CSF and stem/progenitor cell mobilization in peripheral blood at the Institute of Medical Science, University of Tokyo and at Kureha Chemical Industry with focus on inflammation in rheumatoid and osteoarthritis in addition to the field of hematopoietic stem transplantation and graft versus host disease. He received his Ph.D. from the Tokyo University of Pharmacy and Life Sciences (formerly Tokyo College of Pharmacy).

Research Leadership

Sadaharu Higuchi, Ph.D.

VP for Research

Dr. Higuchi joined NapaJen in early 2010 in an R&D management role and assumed his current role in 2016. He has been involved with a wide range of biotechnology research areas spanning molecular biology, biochemistry, proteomics, genetic engineering and therapeutics development for cardiovascular diseases and cancer for more than 20 years. Prior to NapaJen, he worked at Temple University in Philadelphia in the United States. Earlier in his career he held research positions at RIKEN, a major Japanese Governmental research institute, in molecular and cellular physiology and at the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology as a leading member of the Center for Excellence.

Business Development Leadership

Akihiko Watanabe, Ph.D.

VP for Business Development

Dr. Watanabe joined NapaJen late 2017 for BD management. Before joining NapaJen, he has involved in a wide range of research by using pharmacology, biochemistry and molecular biotechnology for allergic and immunological disorder diseases for more than 20 years. He was the official member of R&D meeting, covering oncology and CNS projects, when he was Director in a domestic company. He has contributed to in-licensing seed evaluation and also out-licensing discussion as a representative of the responsible research. After the research, he experienced Marketing and BD for more than 7 years. He has worked in global pharma industries for 9 years. He has been an editorial board of the official journal of The Pharmaceutical Society of Japan.