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.

R&D Leadership

Aya Endoh, M.Sc.

Division Head for R&D Planning

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.

Kohji Shimasaki, M.Sc.

Division Head for Development

Mr. Shimasaki joined NapaJen in April 2018 to launch the company's clinical programs. Before NapaJen, he held international clinical development roles in Japan, USA, UK, Indonesia and Taiwan for 26 years. Earlier in his career, he served as a Senior Scientific Liaison for Project Management, QA Manager and Board Secretary of Taisho Pharmaceutical R&D Inc. in the USA from 2008 to 2015, and as Clinical Coordinator for Project Lead of Taisho London Branch in the UK from 1998 to 2002, where he oversaw various components of clinical development including strategic planning and management of project goals for studies focusing on treatments for rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, pain, sleep, atopic dermatitis, diabetes, schizophrenia, depression, stroke and cardiac arrhythmia.

Tomoyuki Okamoto, Ph.D

Division Head for CMC

Dr. Okamoto joined NapaJen in July 2018 to lead CMC and product development affairs. Previously, he worked at Takeda Co., Ltd., Kyowa Hakko Kirin Co., Ltd. and Novartis Pharma KK. His career includes serving about 10 years in research roles spanning genetic- and protein-engineering, 10 years in CMC development roles (tech transfer, manufacturing facility design, QA, QC) and 10 years in Regulatory affairs roles (NDA, change control, commercial license) for biopharmaceutical products. During his period, he was involved with 6 new compounds being approved in Japan. He holds a Ph.D. degree in Molecular Microbiology from Osaka Prefecture University.

Business Development - Research Innovations -

Akihiko Watanabe, Ph.D.

VP for Business Development

Dr. Watanabe joined NapaJen in late 2017 to lead partnership and alliance management efforts. Before NapaJen, he held a wide range of roles for more than 20 years in research leadership, marketing and business development in Japanese organizations as well as in global pharmaceutical companies like Kyowa Hakko Kirin, Teva, Bayer and Toyobo. Earlier in his career he was responsible for pharmacology, biochemistry and molecular biotechnology research mainly in immunology, in addition to oncology and CNS areas. Most recently he contributed to in-licensing, seed finance evaluation and out-licensing in scientific diligence and business development roles. He has also served on the editorial board of the official journal of The Pharmaceutical Society of Japan.