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Hydrophilix, Inc. was spun-out of the University of California, Los Angeles based on the Hydrophilix coating technology, a direct result of federal, state, and local support. The proof-of-concept began with basic research funding from the National Science Foundation Sustainable Chemistry Program and fellowships for individual scholars. The technology was further developed for commercial application, propelled with seed funding from the NSF Clean Energy for Green Industry, UCLA’s Physical Sciences Entrepreneurship and Innovation Fund, and private investment.
Verne Sharma, MBACEO
Jack Kavanaugh, MD, MBABoard of Directors Chairman
Brian McVerry, PhDChief Technology Officer
Ethan RaoDirector of R&D
Na HeResearch Scientist
Richard Kaner, PhDChief Scientific Advisor
Robert SnukalBoard of Directors
Mahi De SilvaBoard of Directors
D. Verne Sharma is a former Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President of both public and private companies. Mr. Sharma was most recently Chairman, CEO and President of Rx Sight Inc. (formerly Calhoun Vision Inc.), Aliso Viejo, CA, serving in that capacity from 2008 until his retirement in early 2015. Rx Sight has been engaged in the development of a highly innovative technology – an intraocular lens that is inserted in the eye during cataract surgery, and that can be adjusted shortly thereafter to the precise prescription of each patient by application of light, eliminating the need for glasses. The company received FDA approval for its lens in November 2017, based on a 600-eye clinical study Mr. Sharma substantially completed prior to his retirement. Mr. Sharma has had 25 years of senior level medical device experience having served in top executive positions at public companies including General Electric Medical Systems, US Surgical Corp. and Summit Technology Inc. As President and Chief Operating Officer of Summit, he pioneered the development and worldwide commercialization of the now popular eye surgery procedure known as LASIK, leading to the sale of the company in 2000 for $963 million. In addition to Calhoun Vision, Mr. Sharma served on the Board of publicly held American Medical Systems, where he was Chair of the Technology Committee and the Compensation Committee. AMS was acquired in 2011 for $3 billion. He was also a director of the life science company ZetaRx, which was developing an immunotherapy cure for cancer when Juno Therapeutics acquired it in 2013. Juno was itself acquired by Celgene in 2018 for $10.1 billion. Mr. Sharma currently serves as a member of the Board of Directors of two early stage medical device companies in Los Angeles, Hydrophilix and Blacklight Surgical Inc, as well as on the Board of Pathlight International, a Pleasanton, CA-based NGO. Pathlight partners with schools, churches and residents of Belize in Central America so that young people receive a quality education, build their spiritual foundation and pursue pathways that lead to meaningful vocations. Mr. Sharma holds an MBA with distinction from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, and an undergraduate degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of the West Indies. Earlier in his career, he was a management consultant in New York with the leading global consulting firm of McKinsey & Company.
Dr. Kavanaugh has served as CEO and Chairman at a number of technology-driven startups, creating industry-leading products and investor profits. As founder, chairman and CEO of ZetaRx, Dr. Kavanaugh successfully combined exclusive technological licensing from top institutions to place ZetaRx at the leading edge of immunotherapy for the treatment of cancer; he assembled a well-seasoned team and guided the clinical strategy. In late 2013, ZetaRx was sold, becoming the core of Juno Therapeutics, which raised approximately $270 million and announced 88% clinical trial complete remission of terminal cancer patients.
Prior to ZetaRX, he served as Chairman of Calhoun, a biotech firm that developed the world’s only light adjustable intraocular lens for cataract surgery. It’s industry-leading product has been approved in Mexico and Europe (with a CE Mark) and is in FDA late Stage III clinical trials in the U.S. Dr. Kavanaugh played a pivotal role in assisting commercialization abroad, and he continues his involvement with the company as a consultant.
In 1996, Dr. Kavanaugh founded Amerident, a health care service provider, serving as Chairman and CEO. Under his tenure, the company organically grew its employee-ranks to over 600 by 1999, when it was sold to a public company. Amerident received over 30 community service awards and a state congressional medal of honor for its work with infants.
As founder, Chairman and CEO of Team Global, Dr. Kavanaugh was responsible for taking the company public, helping guide and create value as the public share price rose from an initial investor cost of 11 cents per share to approximately $27 per share.
Dr. Kavanaugh has also served as a member of the board of PreCash, where he is still an active consultant. In 2001, his efforts helped staved off an imminent insolvency proceeding, and lead to a major turn around. Two years later, PreCash was rated by Inc. Magazine as one of the fastest growing companies in profits in the United States. PreCash saw approximately $3 billion in transaction volume last year.
He is also a member of the board of Materia, a company that holds more than 300 patents and is instrumental in the production of over 100 pharmaceutical products.
Brian McVerry, PhD
Dr. McVerry designed and developed the Hydrophilix coating during his Ph.D. studies at UCLA under the guidance of Professor Richard Kaner. He was awarded two fellowships from the National Science Foundation: the prestigious Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) award and the Clean Energy for Green Industry (CGI) award that helped him begin focusing on the technology for commercial application. The chemistry behind the Hydrophilix coating has led to multiple patents and publications in peer-reviewed journals, as well as earning Dr. McVerry a finalist position in the nationwide Collegiate Inventors Competition. In 2015, the coating was selected as the “Most Innovative Technology” at the Los Angeles Port Tech EXPO.
Mr. Rao joined the Kaner Group in 2014 as an undergraduate research assistant working under Dr. McVerry. Supported by the Grand Challenge Scholars Program and a UCLA Research Fellowship, he developed a method to functionalize commercial polyolefin separators used in Lithium-ion Batteries and other energy storage devices. Mr. Rao, Dr. McVerry, and Dr. Kaner were awarded a $100,000 grant from the UCLA Physical Sciences Entrepreneurship and Innovation Fund for further development of the project and investigation of electrolyte mixtures with advanced safety characteristics whose use was enabled by his technology. He has also played an integral role in the development of Hydrophilix coatings designed for biomedical applications. Mr. Rao’s research has contributed to several publications and patents that have been integral to Hydrophilix’s technology portfolio.
Na joined Hydrophilix in the summer of 2018 and is an expert in engineering and water treatment. She earned her Master’s degree at UCLA in Civil and Environmental Engineering and leads projects using the Hydrophilix coating for water treatment and energy storage.
Richard Kaner, PhD
In his research at UCLA, Professor Richard B. Kaner focuses on the design of novel materials and their synthesis by new chemical methods. Dr. Kaner has been continuously honored for his outstanding contributions to the fields of chemistry and biochemistry. He holds over 16 U.S. patents—with 20 more pending–and has published more than 275 papers in major peer-reviewed journals.
He was recently named as a fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry and is the recipient of numerous other awards, including Fulbright, Guggenheim, Alfred P. Sloan, and David and Lucile Packard fellowships, as well as premier awards from the American Chemical Society, a National Science Foundation Presidential Young Investigator Award, and UCLA’s Distinguished Teaching Award.
Dr. Kaner holds a joint appointment in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry as well as the Department of Materials Science & Engineering at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). A graduate of Brown University, he received his Ph.D. in inorganic chemistry from the University of Pennsylvania in 1984. After carrying out postdoctoral research at the University of California, Berkeley, he joined UCLA in 1987 as an Assistant Professor. He was promoted to Associate Professor with tenure in 1991, Full Professor in 1993, and Distinguished Professor in 2012.
Other awards include:
-Most Cited Author, Institute for Scientific Information (2014)
-UCLA Faculty Lecturer (2013)
-ACS Award in the Chemistry of Materials (2012)
-ACS Tolman Medal (2010)
-UCLA Gold Shield Faculty Prize (2002-2004)
-Eka-Granules Lecturer University of Tasmania
-Visiting Professor University of Wollongong
-American Chemical Society Buck Whitney Research Award
-National Science Foundation Presidential Young Investigator
-American Association for the Advancement of Science Fellow
-Australian-American Fulbright Fellow
-American Chemical Society Exxon Fellowship in Solid State Chemistry
Robert Snukal, the chief executive officer of National Quality Care, Inc., will use his expertise to develop prototypes and launch initial products in a number of industries. His work with Dr. Kavanaugh dates back to 2009 when he joined ZetaRx Biosciences, Inc. as Board member. There, he was integrally involved in its sale to create Juno Therapeutics.
In 1985, Mr. Snukal founded Fountain View, Inc., (now Skilled Healthcare) where he served as CEO. Under his management, Fountain View grew to operate 50 skilled nursing facilities, three institutional pharmacies and two therapy companies. In 2001, Mr. Snukal left active management, although he remained a member of the board and major stockholder until 2005, when the company was sold.
Mr. Snukal founded ITASCA Pictures in 1993 where he served as chairman.
Mahi De Silva
Mahi de Silva is a Silicon Valley veteran with a strong track record for creating, financing, building and scaling businesses that have had a $1B+ exits. He serves as Chairman of the Board of Directors at Pre-Cash, and is a strategic advisor to Opera Software, ASA, where he helped engineer a $1.4B acquisition by a consortium of Chinese investors. From 2010 until 2016, he was the Chief Executive Officer of Opera Mediaworks Inc., the largest subsidiary of Opera Software.