Management Team

Shal Jacobovitz

Chief Executive Officer

Shal Jacobovitz is the Chief Executive Officer of CiVi Biopharma. Mr. Jacobovitz also serves as Chairman of the Board of Clene Nanomedicine, Inc. and is a board member of Eicos Sciences, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of CiVi Biopharma.

Prior to joining CiVi Biopharma, Mr. Jacobovitz was the Chief Executive Officer of the American College of Cardiology. In this role, he led the 52,000+ member organization in its mission to transform cardiovascular care and improve heart health. From 2004 to 2013, he served as President of Actelion Pharmaceuticals U.S., a biopharmaceutical company specializing in cardio-pulmonary therapies. At Actelion, he developed a strong patient- and customer-centered corporate strategy. Prior to that, Mr. Jacobovitz held positions at F. Hoffmann La Roche, where he served as general manager for Central America and the Caribbean, led the Pharmaceutical, OTC and Diagnostic divisions, and served as the global lifecycle leader for cardiovascular products in Basel, Switzerland. He also held positions with Abbott Canada, Nordic Labs and Marion Merrill Dow—now known as Aventis—in Canada.

Mr. Jacobovitz holds a BS in biology at Western University in Canada.

Henrik Ørum, Ph.D., M.Sc.

Founder, Chief Scientific Officer

Dr. Ørum brings more than 25 years of experience in every aspect of creating, building, leading and exiting successful biotechnology companies.

Dr. Ørum started his biotech career at PNA Diagnostics A/S in 1993, serving as chief scientific officer from 1993 to 1999. During his tenure, the company was sold to Boehringer Mannheim in 1994 and later to Hoffman-La Roche in 1997. In 1996, Dr. Ørum co-founded Exiqon A/S, a nucleic acid diagnostics company that was listed on the Copenhagen Stock Exchange in 2007 (CSE:EXQ). In 2000, he co-founded Santaris Pharma A/S, where he served as chief scientific officer and vice president of business development until the company’s acquisition by Roche in 2014. Following the acquisition, Dr. Ørum worked for Roche Pharma as global head of RNA therapeutics until March 2016, when he left to pursue new opportunities that eventually led him to found CiVi Biopharma Inc.

Dr. Ørum holds an M.Sc. in genetic engineering from the University of Natural Sciences in Copenhagen and a Ph.D. in molecular biology from the Medical University of Copenhagen. Following his Ph.D., he conducted a Post. Doc at the Pharmaceutical University. He is the author of more than 70 peer-reviewed publications and numerous patent applications.

Chuck Shear, DrPH, FACC, FAHA

Chief Development Officer

Chuck joined CiVi Biopharma in August 2017 as chief development officer and leads the clinical development programs at CiVi Biopharma. Chuck has more than 32 years of clinical drug development experience at Merck Research Laboratories, Consolidated Serum Laboratories (CSL), Ltd and Pfizer Global R&D, where he held positions of increasing responsibility in clinical, regulatory and therapeutic area strategy and operations. Chuck’s primary therapeutic focus has been in cardiovascular disease and dyslipidemia. He has held both senior management and team leadership positions and has advanced numerous drug candidates in all stages of development including Lipitor™, Zocor™, Mevacor™, torcetrapib, CSL112 and bococizumab. He is highly regarded as an accomplished drug developer and strategist. He has authored/co-authored over 170 original publications, abstracts and book chapters in the scientific literature.
Dr. Shear holds his Doctorate degree in Public Health and Tropical Medicine from Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine.

Wade Benton, PharmD

Vice President of Clinical Development

Wade Benton joined CiVi Biopharma in May 2018 as vice president of clinical development. Wade has more than 20 years of experience in clinical research in the pharmaceutical industry, most recently as the chief executive officer and chairman of Eicos Sciences, a wholly-owned subsidiary of CiVi Biopharma.

Wade has successfully led medical and clinical teams in pulmonary arterial hypertension, chronic kidney disease and heart failure at Actelion and Relypsa. Prior to Actelion and Relypsa, he was a clinical and research pharmacist at Seattle Children’s Hospital, where he consulted for pharmaceutical companies conducting clinical trials in pediatrics and cystic fibrosis.He has over 15 years of experience working with orphan diseases and has developed, executed and published multiple clinical trials.

Wade earned his Bachelor of Science and Doctor of Pharmacy degrees from Washington State University.

Kevin Christal

Vice President, Operations and Planning

Kevin joined CiVi Biopharma in May 2018 as vice president, operations and planning. He has more than 15 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry, most recently as the president and chief operating officer of Eicos Sciences, a wholly-owned subsidiary of CiVi Biopharma.

Previously, Kevin spent 12 years at Actelion Pharmaceuticals, where he held various commercial leadership positions and led a number of highly successful product launches. Prior to Actelion, he was a healthcare consultant at ZS Associates and Putnam Associates.

Kevin earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Biology from Princeton University and his Master of Business Administration from the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley.

Dinesh Khanna, MD, M.Sc

Medical Lead for Scleroderma Development

Dr. Khanna serves as Medical Lead for Scleroderma Development where he focuses on leading the CIVI 030 Phase 3 clinical program.

Prior to joining CiVi Biopharma, Dr. Khanna directed a multidisciplinary group of caregivers, scientists and clinical researchers dedicated to advancing knowledge about scleroderma and related conditions. His research interests include clinical trial design in evaluating new treatments for scleroderma. Dr. Khanna is also funded by the NIH to develop new patient reported outcome measures in patients with scleroderma and different arthritides. In addition, he is leading international efforts to develop guidelines for the management of scleroderma and gout.

Dr. Khanna received his medical degree from University College of Medical Sciences & Guru Teg Bahadur in Delhi, India. He completed his residency in Internal Medicine at Wright State University School of Medicine in Ohio and a Fellowship in Internal Medicine Rheumatology at UCLA Medical Center. Dr. Khanna is Board Certified in Rheumatology.

Matthew Pietras CPA, M.Sc, MBA

Vice President, Finance

Matt joined CiVi Biopharma in April 2019 as Vice President of Finance. He has two decades of experience leading Finance teams and operations across a variety of industries and specializes in Biotechnology.

Prior to joining CiVi Biopharma, he led the financial aspects of spinning out and establishing Viela Bio from AstraZeneca’s Autoimmune Franchise. Matt designed the accounting and finance operations of Viela Bio and prepared the company for its eventual IPO.

Previously, he was the Director of Finance for Global Oncology at AstraZeneca. Matt initially joined AstraZeneca as Associate Director responsible for global statutory and managerial reporting of MedImmune, including Financial Planning and Analysis. Before joining MedImmune he was Vice President of Financial Oversight at Wells Fargo and held roles of increasing responsibility in Corporate Finance, including Controllership and Governance roles at Wachovia. Matt started his career in KPMG’s Audit and Advisory Services Practice.

Matt is a Certified Public Accountant and has earned his MS in Biotechnology and an MBA, both from Johns Hopkins University and holds Bachelor’s degrees in both International Business and Accounting from Pennsylvania State University.