DENVER (February 13, 2018) – Colorado-based biotech company Next Frontier Biosciences today announced the assembly of its research and development team, enhancing the company’s lineup of biotechnology executives and research scientists. After launching its first generation Verra Wellness line of products in the Colorado adult-use and medical marijuana markets in November, the company is seeking to expand into emerging cannabis markets, both domestically and internationally, and plans to introduce at least two new products in 2018, according to a press release.
“Our research and development team plays an integral role in creating new products and supporting our expansion strategy, including developing robust manufacturing processes, product specifications, and standard operating procedures,” said Marc Graboyes, co-founder and CEO of Next Frontier Biosciences. “In turn, their work allows us to pursue valuable intellectual property rights and implement a broad-based licensing program wherein our proprietary formulations and brands are made available to third parties who possess the licenses and facilities required to manufacture, sell and distribute our best-in-class cannabis products in their respective markets.”
Leading the team is Paul Johnson, Ph.D., co-founder and chief scientific officer of Next Frontier Biosciences. “This group of bright, accomplished scientists and researchers is a major asset to Next Frontier and its Verra Wellness brand, fueling the continued growth of our product pipeline and propelling us into new emerging markets,” Dr. Johnson said.
Dr. Johnson has over four decades of experience in the pharmaceutical industry. He is an expert in intranasal drug development and delivery systems, and has authored or invented over 100 patents and scientific publications. Dr. Johnson has substantial experience in drug delivery and development, molecular diagnostics, cell biology, molecular biology and biochemistry/biophysics. In addition, he has led research and development activities for FDA approved drugs including Betaseron, the first-ever FDA approved drug to treat multiple sclerosis. He received a B.S. in Molecular Biology from the State University of New York, a Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the Roswell Park Cancer Institute, and conducted his postdoctoral training in biophysics and biology under an American Cancer Society fellowship at the California Institute of Technology.
Dorothy “Dot” Colagiovanni, Ph.D. serves as vice president of product development at Next Frontier Biosciences, where she is responsible for the day-to-day management of Next Frontier’s research and development activities as well as supporting the commercialization of the company’s products. She has over two decades of pharmaceutical development experience with an emphasis on project management, pharmacology and toxicology. Prior to joining the company, Dr. Colagiovanni held scientific leadership roles with Nivalis Therapeutics and Replidyne. She also held research positions with OSI Pharma, Gilead Sciences and Amgen. Dr. Colagiovanni has a broad range of development experience, starting from early drug discovery and clinical trials through regulatory approval and commercial launch. She completed her Ph.D. at University of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Molecular Toxicology and a postdoctoral fellowship at Amgen Boulder.
“Our ultimate objective is to make the benefits of cannabis more widely available through discreet, smoke-free delivery technologies. The desire to bring healthier and safer alternatives to the market is the common thread uniting our team and motivating our efforts in the lab every day,” Dr. Colagiovanni said. “Each member brings a unique area of expertise to the table, which lends itself to continued innovation--supporting our overarching goal at Next Frontier Biosciences.”
Stephen Cape, Ph.D., is Next Frontier’s director of formulation sciences. Dr. Cape has more than 15 years of experience developing formulations of pharmaceuticals, biologicals and vaccines for alternative routes of delivery, including sublingual, nasal, transdermal and inhalation. Prior to joining Next Frontier, he held technical and project leadership roles at the University of Colorado and Aktiv-Dry LLC (Boulder, CO). Dr. Cape led the formulation and spray-drying process development of the first inhaled dry powder measles vaccine to successfully complete a Phase I clinical trial. He has broad experience in early-stage basic R&D, formulation and process development, and technology transfer for GMP manufacturing.
“It’s an exciting time to work in the emerging cannabis space, and our team is advancing Next Frontier Biosciences to the forefront of the cutting-edge research and development that will elevate the industry to a higher standard of scientific excellence,” Dr. Cape said. “The work we contribute in the lab will yield a positive, tangible impact as consumers find more consistent and reliable options with the comfort and flexibility to select their preferred method of administration.”
Kris Chupka, Next Frontier’s director of analytical chemistry, brings to the team over 18 years of research and development analytical experience from the electronics and pharmaceutical industries. His specialties are chromatographic separations, mass spectrometry and thermal mechanical analysis. Prior to joining Next Frontier Biosciences, Mr. Chupka held analytical chemistry leadership roles for Atotech, Novartis, Mylan and Western Digital. He has a proven track record in supportive analytical development from conceptual research and development to commercial product support.
“Our analytical capabilities--including a high resolution mass spectrometer--provide us with the ability to fully characterize all aspects of Next Frontier Biosciences products, from flower to filled device,” Mr. Chupka said. “Consumers can rest assured knowing that the Next Frontier Biosciences name represents a profound commitment to sophisticated, well-characterized products that are unmatched in quality.”
Susan Schwarz serves as senior analytical chemist at Next Frontier Biosciences. Ms. Schwarz is a biotechnology professional with extensive experience in all stages of biopharmaceutical development from drug discovery to cGMP manufacturing. She has utilized numerous types of analytical instrumentation throughout her career. Ms. Schwarz has held positions from Quality Control Chemist (Somatogen) working with recombinant hemoglobin to Analytical Chemist (Takeda Vaccines) for process scale up (from 1L to 50L) and tech transfer of a norovirus vaccine using single-use technology to a contract manufacturing organization.
"The scalable process that results from our research and development team will serve to support our technology transfer and licensing program, ensuring that the Verra Wellness suite of purified cannabinoid-infused products can reach new demographics in new regions,” Ms. Schwarz said.
The newest member of the research team, Andres Gandara, joins as formulation scientist. A graduate of the University of Colorado with a bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering, Mr. Gandara comes to Next Frontier Biosciences with a strong engineering and business background, having previously worked at Bayer CropScience in Guatemala, Transform Energy in Golden and most recently at Custom Solar in Boulder.
“Next Frontier Biosciences is a proven leader in product innovation. Participating in the rigorous formulation process from beginning to end--all while playing an active role in bringing novel and effective cannabinoid-infused products to new markets--is extremely rewarding,” Mr. Gandara said.
Founded in 2014, Next Frontier Biosciences has assembled a team of experienced biotech executives and research scientists with over 120 years of pharmaceutical drug development experience. The company employs a traditional scientific approach to product development that includes advanced purification, analytical and chemical formulation methods. Next Frontier Biosciences’ proprietary formulations were carefully developed and optimized for improved delivery via nasal, sublingual and topical administration with a focus on providing unparalleled quality, consistency and reproducibility.
Images courtesy of Next Frontier Biosciences