Leadership

We are a committed, passionate team focused on bringing new solutions to CNS patients in Japan. Through our expertise and focus on the patient, we aim to change the way sleep disorders are diagnosed, managed and treated.

MANAGEMENT

Kaz Tsunaba, MBA

Co-founder & Chief Executive Officer

Kikuo Tsukahara

Chief Scientific Officer

Shigeto Tominaga

Chief Business Officer

Takashi Kawasaki, MS, MBA

Chief Financial Officer / Chief Operating Officer

Shinichiro Takeuchi, MS

Head of Regulatory Affairs and Clinical Strategy

Junichi Onuma

Head of Clinical Development

Jim Trah

Vice President, US Business Development

Takuya Kumagai

Head of Medical Strategy

Amane Imada, MBA

Head of Corporate

Madoka Iwamoto

Head of Digital

BOARD OF DIRECTORS

ACULYS benefits from a global board with unparalleled expertise in the creation and growth of global biopharma companies.

BT Slingsby, MD, PhD, MPH

Co-founder & Executive Chairman

Kaz Tsunaba, MBA

Co-founder & Chief Executive Officer

Takeshi Takahashi, MBA

Co-founder & Director

Nobuo Hanai, PhD

Director

Jay Shepard

Co-founder & Director

Ken Haas, JD

Director

Peter Park, MBA

Director

Erika Kawabe, CPA

Audit & Supervisory Board Member

INVESTORS

Kaz Tsunaba, MBA

Co-founder & Chief Executive Officer

Kaz brings nearly 20 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry and extensive corporate leadership and multiple product successes to his role as intrapreneur.  From 2017 to 2020, he served as President at Novartis Pharma Japan, aiming to become a leading company in terms of integrity and innovation, and was committed to launching innovative pharmaceutical products. In 2020, he led the launch of seven new products in Japan. He currently serves as Executive Advisor with the company.  Prior to Novartis, he served as General Manager for Australia , New Zealand and Hong Kong regions as well as Head of the Bio-Medicines Portfolio, Head of Bone, Muscle, and Joint, and BU Head of Diabetes/Growth Hormone Business Unit at Eli Lilly.  He graduated from the University of Tokyo with M.A. in economics, and holds an M.B.A. from The Fuqua School of Business at Duke University.

Kikuo Tsukahara

Chief Scientific Officer

Kikuo brings more than 40 years of experience in CNS drug development. From 2016 to 2019, he served as Head of Patient Safety, and from 2013 to 2016, served as Head of Clinical Development at Novartis. Throughout the tenure (2000-2019) at Novartis, Kikuo also served as Head of Clinical Operations as well as Group manager of CNS Clinical Research. Prior to Novartis, Kikuo served as Group Manager of CNS Clinical Research at Bayer. He graduated from Kyushu University with a degree in biology.

Shigeto Tominaga

Chief Business Officer

Tommy brings nearly 2 decades of extensive commercial experience in the pharma and medical device industries, including international assignments, launching global brands, and partnering with global counterparts.

He previously served as Chief of Staff at Novartis Japan and co-lead with the CEO to navigate the local Executive Committee (EC) to drive the business. Tommy was responsible for developing the communication strategy employed to enhance the CEO’s external/internal communications and employee engagement, and partnered with local EC members in making strategic and operational decisions.

Prior to his role as Chief of Staff, Tommy served as brand lead in various therapeutic areas including CNS, Immunology, Allergy, and Respiratory, at global pharma and medical device companies where he led the launches of new, diverse healthcare products, and accumulated extensive people management experience in the marketing and sales functions. Motivated by impacting patients’ and caregivers’ experience and happiness, he built and delivered various around-the-pill, beyond-the-pill solutions across various therapeutic areas.

He received bachelor’s degree in policy management from Keio University.

Takashi Kawasaki, MS, MBA

Chief Financial Officer / Chief Operating Officer

Takashi has extensive experience as a management member in Japanese startup ecosystem. He has been the CFO of an internet technology startup, Fringe81 Co. Ltd, a listed on Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE:6550) for 7 years and played a significant role in its IPO process and fundraising, among others.

Prior to the above startup, he worked for the investment banking division of Morgan Stanley and played a significant role in M&As and other deals. Takashi also was a vice president at Nomura’s M&A division.

Prior to Nomura, he was a turnaround manager at the Industrial Revitalization Corporation of Japan, a government-sponsored private equity, and played a key role in revitalizing businesses of the portfolio companies thereof.

Takashi graduated from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania with honors and holds an MBA degree. Takashi also holds a master’s degree in science (solid state physics) from Kyoto University and B.A. in nuclear engineering.

Shinichiro Takeuchi, MS

Head of Regulatory Affairs and Clinical Strategy

Shinichiro brings 18 years’ experience in drug development especially as Project Leader and Regulatory Affairs Manager.

He previously served as Asia Pacific Regional Regulatory Leader at Janssen Pharmaceutical, especially responsible for neuroscience diseases such as Major Depressive Disorder and Multiple Sclerosis (2019-2021).

He developed most of his career in Novartis Pharma Japan. From 2016 to 2019, he served as Group Manager in the Regulatory Affairs Function Department and was responsible for maintaining/obtaining Marketing Authorization Holder, regulatory policy and process improvement. He also served as Regulatory Affairs Compound Responsible from 2013 to 2016 and Project Leader from 2008 to 2013. He worked for more than 30 compounds for these 8 years. Shinichiro also served as Project Manager (2007-2008), Portfolio Manager (2006) as well as Clinical Research Associate (2003-2006) in Novartis Pharma Japan.

He graduated from Graduate School of Bioscience and Biotechnology, Tokyo Institute of Technology with a master degree in bioengineering.

Junichi Onuma

Head of Clinical Development

Junichi brings 26 years’ experience in drug development from planning to operation in various therapeutic areas, such as oncology, cardiology, gynecology, ophthalmology, hematology.

Currently he is leading the clinical operations for Accerise, Chinese Bio-tech company.  He is leading the establishment of the clinical operation team by setting up ICCC (In country Clinical Care-taker), forming the Operations Division of Accerise.

Prior to shifting his career to Bio-tech,  he worked in clinical development department for Bayer for 25 years.   He led the Clinical Trial Team and successfully managed Medical Experts, Data Managers, Statisticians CRAs and CROs and successfully negotiated with regulatory agents through, IND submission, PMDA consultations, NDA submission and registration.

He graduated from Toho University with a degree in molecule biology.

Jim Trah

Vice President, US Business Development

Jim is an experienced pharmaceutical/biotech executive with nearly 40 years of industry experience.

Jim has held numerous commercially focused leadership positions, including Vice President Marketing, Sr Vice President Strategic Marketing, Executive Director Commercial Strategy and Executive Director Patient Support Services & Specialty Pharmacy Affairs.

Jim has participated in or led more than a dozen product launches, that have included market preparation and full life-cycle management. Jim has applied his skills and experience with a range of companies, including: Syntex, Roche/Genentech, Grey Healthcare, Neurex, Cellegy, Connetics and Jazz Pharmaceuticals. He has deep experience across a broad range of therapeutic categories including 12 years of experience working with Sleep Medicine related products which include: Xyrem and Sunosi.

Takuya Kumagai

Head of Medical Strategy

Takuya brings 17 years’ commercial experience as Medical representative and Brand manager in various therapeutic area, such as Immunology, Allergy and Respiratory, in Novartis Pharma Japan.

Prior to joining Aculys, he served as a Marketing Group manager, leading the launch of new products and the new indications, as well as team management. Also, in order to meet the unmet medical needs of patients and caregivers, he collaborated with external partners to provide services and solutions which go “beyond the pill”, such as patient support and disease awareness program utilizing digital technology.

He graduated from Graduate School of Agricultural Science, Tokyo University of Agriculture with a master degree in Bioscience.

Amane Imada, MBA

Head of Corporate

Amane has abundant accounting and auditing experience and auditing qualification: U.S.C.P.A(State of Washington), Certified Internal Auditor. Amane has been about 10 years at Ernst and Young Shinnihon, knowledge about J-SOX, US-SOX, J-GAAP, US-GAAP, IFRS and multicultural experiences abroad. Also, he plays a key role in eCommerce business in Seiyu GK as an accountant and take a significant role in accounting department at Fringe81 Co. Ltd, a listed internet startup on Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE:6550) before joining Aculys.

Amane graduated from the with NUCB Business School and holds an Executive MBA degree. Also, he graduated Hitotsubashi University, Master of Public Policy (Public Economics).

Madoka Iwamoto

Head of Digital

Madoka joined Sanofi (Aventis at the time) in 2004 and experienced various functions including Oncology Medical Affairs to manage post-marketing clinical studies/publication, Oncology Marketing, Business Intelligence, and Sales Force Effectiveness. Then she launched a new advanced analytics team focusing on commercial-related analytics, later expanding her scope to omni-channel marketing.

After moving to Novartis in 2019, she was responsible for the overall digital team, covering both omnichannel marketing and digital health solutions where she partnered with non-pharma companies to co-develop solutions for patients as well as caregivers. Believing in the potential of intersection of Digital and Healthcare, she joined Aculys in 2022 aspiring to deliver values to patients and the society leveraging data & digital.

She received bachelor’s degree in Environment and Information studies from Keio University.

BT Slingsby, MD, PhD, MPH

Co-founder & Executive Chairman

Dr. Slingsby is Founder & Managing Partner at Catalys Pacific. He served as founding CEO during the creation and incubation of Aculys Pharma. Previous to Catalys Pacific, he founded the GHIT Fund – the world’s first public-private fund focused on the development of new medicines for low- and middle-income countries. Dr. Slingsby graduated from Brown University with honors, earned his MPH and PhD from Kyoto University and the University of Tokyo, and received his MD with honors from the George Washington University; he has authored over 50 peer-reviewed articles and currently serves as Invited Professor at the Graduate School of Medicine of Kyoto University and University of Osaka.

Takeshi Takahashi, MBA

Co-founder & Director

Mr. Takahashi is Managing Partner at Catalys Pacific. Prior to Catalys Pacific, he was an investment banker with Morgan Stanley for 12 years and played a significant role in over 30 distinguished transactions with an enterprise value of over US$15.0 billion. Prior to working for Morgan Stanley, Takeshi worked at Merrill Lynch’s asset management division.Takeshi graduated from Waseda University with a degree in Political Science and Economics, and holds an M.B.A. from Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. Proficiently bilingual and bicultural.

Nobuo Hanai, PhD

Director

Nobuo currently serves as Industry Advisor to Catalys Pacific. Prior to joining Catalys, he was Representative Director, President and CEO at Kyowa Kirin Co., Ltd. from 2012 to 2018. Thereafter, he served as Representative Director, Chairman and CEO in 2018 and as Director and Chairman in 2019.

As CEO of Kyowa Kirin, he led the development and launch of numerous innovative drugs including mogamulizumab (Potelligent™) and benralizumab (Fasenra™). Nobuo also successfully realized multiple partnerships with Japanese and global pharmaceutical companies along with several M&A transactions of biotech companies outside Japan.

After joining Kyowa Hakko Kogyo in 1976, he led R&D activities of its antibodies. In 2003, he founded BioWa, Inc. in the US in order to license technology related to antibodies, where he served as President and Chief Executive Officer and managed the company. After the inauguration of Kyowa Hakko Kirin, he led the development of various innovative compounds as a global head of R&D.

He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Tokyo and a doctorate degree from Yamaguchi University.

Jay Shepard

Co-founder & Director

Jay brings 35 years’ experience in the pharmaceutical/biotech and drug delivery industries with his extensive corporate leadership and multiple product successes to his role as Operating Partner. In addition to working for Catalys Pacific, he currently serves as Chairman of The Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation and is on the board of directors of Esperion Therapeutics, Inovio Pharmaceuticals, and Craig Hospital.

Prior to his current positions, he joined Versartis as President and CEO in May 2015. In 2018 when Versartis merged with Aravive, he became CEO of the newly formed company until January of 2020 when he retired. He was an Executive Partner at Sofinnova Ventures until May 2015. Previously, he served as President and CEO of NextWave Pharmaceuticals (acquired by Pfizer), Ilypsa (acquired by Amgen), and interim CEO of Relypsa (Ilypsa’s spin-out company, which was acquired by Galencia). He has participated in or led over 16 product launches by preparing markets and establishing sales and marketing operations, having served as Vice President of Commercial Operations at Telik and Alza Pharmaceuticals (acquired by Johnson & Johnson).

He holds a B.S. in business administration from the University of Arizona.

Ken Haas, JD

Director

Ken Haas has spent 30 years in the management of both early-stage and public high technology and biotechnology companies. He has been with Abingworth since 2004 and currently serves as Partner.

He was part of the founding management team at IntelliGenetics, one of the world’s first bioinformatics companies and, from 1992 to 2001, was CEO of IntelliCorp, a publicly-traded enterprise software company.

At the beginning of his career he practised as an attorney in the business and technology group of Heller, Ehrman, White & McAuliffe, and has been Co-Chair of the Advisory Council to the Neuroscience Institute at Stanford.

He received his BA from Harvard College, an MA from the University of Sussex, a JD from Harvard Law School and attended the Advanced Management Program at Harvard Business School.

 

Peter Park, MBA

Director

Peter is Investment Director at SoftBank based in Tokyo. Prior to SoftBank, Peter built and managed a wide range of technology businesses: LINE’s blockchain and mobile payment units across Japan and Taiwan, Google’s finance operations in APAC markets and CapitalX, start-up he founded in Singapore to provide invoice financing for SMEs in South East Asia. Peter is passionate about improving healthcare system & microcredit ecosystem in the developing world and previously held positions at World Bank and Grameen Foundation. He began his career in investment banking at Citigroup in Hong Kong. Peter holds BA in Economics from Northwestern University and MBA from The Wharton School.

Erika Kawabe, CPA

Audit & Supervisory Board Member

Erika brings an extensive experience for ten years as a professional of accounting and corporate governance. She was a member of Pricewaterhouse Coopers Japan (PwC Arata) before joining Aculys Pharma, Inc.

She was in charge of statutory audits of Financial Statement and Internal Control for many financial institutions including banks, securities, investment funds and cryptcurrency exchanges. She also led advisory projects to success, where her team engaged in the reinforcement of internal control, the optimization of segregation of duties, the reconstruction of business process in response to the changes in tax laws and financial regulations and the replacement of financial instrument management system along with defining the system requirements.

She graduated from Waseda University with a degree in commerce and is certified as a public accountant (CPA) of Japan.