Executive Team

The mission of the Leadership Team is to bolster our proprietary pain management clinical pipeline and technology by employing years of expertise that comes with overseeing market access, commercialization, clinical development, and regulatory affairs programs. These seasoned professionals bring SCILEX a type of leadership that is unmatched in the pharmaceutical industry.

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Henry Ji, PhD

Executive Chairman

Henry Ji brings 25+ years of experience in the biotechnology and life sciences industry. Dr. Ji has been Chairman of Scilex since March 2019 and served as the CEO of Scilex Pharmaceuticals from November 2016 to March 2019. Dr. Ji co-founded Sorrento Therapeutics, Inc. and has served as a director since 2006, as its CEO and President since September 2012, and as Chairman of its board of directors since 2017. During his tenure at Sorrento, he has engineered and led a phenomenal growth of Sorrento through acquisition and mergers including Bioserv, Scilex Pharmaceuticals, Concortis Biotherapeutics, Levena Biopharma, LACEL, TNK Therapeutics, Virttu Biologics, Ark Animal Health and Sofusa Lymphatic Delivery Systems. Dr. Ji has served as Sorrento’s Chief Scientific Officer from November 2008 to September 2012 and as its Interim CEO from April 2011 to September 2012. Prior to Sorrento, he held senior executive positions at CombiMatrix, Stratagene, co-founded Stratagene Genomics, a subsidiary of Stratagene, and served as its President & CEO and a member of the board of directors. Henry Ji received a doctorate from the University of Minnesota and an undergraduate degree from Fudan University.

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Jaisim Shah

Chief Executive Officer & President

Jaisim Shah has over 30 years industry success in leading product development & commercializing innovative therapies and creating companies with documented success in development and commercialization of some of today’s most recognized pharmaceutical brands. He is a seasoned life science executive and board director with extensive accomplishments at Bristol-Myers Squibb, Roche, PDL Biopharma, Sorrento, Pfizer/Upjohn, Scilex, and start-ups Elevation and Semnur Pharmaceuticals. Mr. Shah has been CEO and President of Semnur Pharmaceuticals (acquired by Scilex Pharmaceuticals) since its inception in 2013. He has served as CEO and President of Scilex Holding and Scilex Pharmaceuticals since March 2019 and also serves on the board of directors of Sorrento Therapeutics Inc. and Scilex Holding. Most recently, Mr. Shah served as Chief Business Officer of Elevation Pharmaceuticals where he focused on financing, mergers and acquisitions, and business development. He led the sale of Elevation to Sunovion Pharmaceuticals in 2012. At Facet Biotech and PDL BioPharma, he served from 2000 to 2009 as Chief Business Officer and also held the position of senior vice president of marketing and medical affairs.  During this time, he completed numerous licensing/partnering and strategic transactions including with Roche, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Otsuka, and Biogen Idec. His leadership in marketing and leading the commercial enterprise helped the company make large improvements to meet its profitability potential. At Bristol-Myers Squibb, as vice president of global marketing from 1997 to 2000, Mr. Shah received the “Presidents Award” for completing one of the most significant collaborations in the company’s history. Prior to working with Bristol-Myers Squibb, Mr. Shah led international marketing for oncology and virology and was global business leader for corporate alliances at Roche from 1991 to 1997 with Genentech and IDEC, and prepared products for worldwide launch and pre-launch at F. Hoffman-La Roche AG in Switzerland. He has played a key role in the formulation of long-range plans and pre-launch and launch strategies for such brands as Abilify®, Pegasys®, and Rituxan/MabThera®, each of which have generated well over $1 billion in sales. Mr. Shah holds a M.A. in Economics from the University of Akron and a M.B.A. from University of Oklahoma.

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Suketu D. Desai, PhD

Chief Technical Officer & Senior Vice President

Suketu D. Desai, Ph.D. has 25+ years of experience in the Biologics and Pharmaceutical Industry. Suketu is Chief Technical Officer and Senior Vice President, Chemistry, Manufacturing and Controls, Regulatory CMC, and Quality Assurance at Scilex Pharmaceuticals (2015 – present). Prior to Scilex, Suketu was Vice President of Biologics Development and Manufacturing for biologics drug substance and drug product, technical due diligence and commercial technical operations at Allergan, Inc. (2014-2015), which was acquired by Actavis, plc. Before Allergan, Suketu was a CMC consultant in 2013. Suketu was Vice President, Biotechnology Technical Operations for biologics drug substance and drug product, analytical, manufacturing and technical due diligence at Cephalon, Inc. (2010-2012), which was acquired by Teva Pharmaceuticals. During 2007-2010, Suketu was Ception Therapeutics, Inc., Vice President, Chemistry, Manufacturing and Controls and Quality Assurance responsible for biologics drug substance and drug product development, analytical, manufacturing, quality, regulatory CMC, and technical due diligence for business development. Ception was acquired by Cephalon (2010). Suketu was Principal Scientist, Process Sciences/Technical Operations for late-stage and commercial biologics drug substance and drug product at Centocor, Inc., a Johnson & Johnson subsidiary (2003-2006); Assoc. Director, Pharmaceutical and Biologic Formulations at AAI Pharma Development Services (2001-2003); Director/Sr. Manager at Aronex Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (1996-2001); and Senior Scientist II/I at Novartis Pharmaceuticals, formerly Alcon Labs, Inc., (1992-1996). Suketu has contributed to several commercial biologic products (Botox, Cinquair, Simponi, Remicade, ReoPro, Retavase, and Eprex) and pharmaceutical products (Azopt and Volfenol) and late-stage development products including placulumab, abicipar pegol/DARPin, and Innotox. Dr. Desai received his PhD in Pharmaceutical Sciences from the University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ and Master’s in Pharmacology and Bachelor’s in Pharmacy from the University of Mumbai, Mumbai, India.

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Dmitri Lissin, MD

Chief Medical Officer & Senior Vice President

Dmitri Lissin currently serves as Chief Medical Officer and Senior Vice President, Clinical Development and Medical Affairs of Scilex/Semnur Pharmaceuticals (2015 – present). Prior to Semnur, from 2011-2015, Dmitri was Vice President of Clinical Development at Xenoport, responsible for conduct of multiple clinical research programs in neurology and dermatology. From 2006-2011 Dmitri directed a clinical research team and served as member of the Executive Committee at DURECT Corporation, designing and executing clinical trials in chronic nociceptive, neuropathic, and acute post-operative pain, which led to successful licensing deals and NDA filings. From 1998-2006 Dmitri managed various clinical R&D programs at Titan Pharmaceuticals, Aerogen, and Synarc. Dr. Lissin has a broad expertise with proprietary drug-delivery technologies applied to therapeutic products spanning numerous clinical areas including pain and neurological disorders. Most of his experience involves clinical development of novel oral, transdermal, implantable, and injectable formulations containing existing active pharmaceutical ingredients, using 505(b)(2) drug approval pathway. He has participated in many Pre-IND, End of Phase 1, End of Phase 2, and Pre-NDA meetings, negotiating clinical development programs with the FDA Division of Anesthesia, Analgesia, and Addiction Products (DAAAP), Division of Neurology Products, and Division of Dermatology and Dental Products. He received his post-doctoral training at the University of California San Francisco, and his medical degree through an exchange program between Russian National Medical University and Harvard Medical School.

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Elizabeth Czerepak

Executive Vice President,
Chief Financial Officer, Chief Business Officer

Ms. Czerepak has more than 35 years of finance and operational expertise across pharmaceuticals, biotechnology and venture capital. She most recently served as EVP and Chief Financial Officer of BeyondSpring Inc., a global, clinical stage oncology company. Prior to that, she served as Chief Financial Officer and Chief Business Officer for Genevant Sciences, a lipid nanoparticle delivery company, and as chief financial officer for several other biotechs. Ms. Czerepak has 10 years of venture capital investment experience as a former Managing Director at Bear Stearns and JPMorgan, and was Founding General Partner of Bear Stearns Health Innoventures L.P. Ms. Czerepak began her career with 18 years in big pharma in senior leadership positions in finance, strategic planning, business development and commercial launch teams. She led the global partner search for D2E7 (Humira®), which culminated in BASF Pharma’s sale to Abbott for $6.9 billion. She played a key role in Roche’s acquisition of Syntex for $5.4 billion. Over the years, she has also been instrumental in raising hundreds of millions of dollars for biotech companies by leading investments, as well as through her contributions as a CFO and Board member. Ms. Czerepak holds a B.A. magna cum laude in Spanish and Mathematics Education from Marshall University, an MBA from Rutgers University, and a Corporate Director Certificate from Harvard Business School.

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Suresh Khemani

Chief Commercial Officer & Senior Vice President

Mr. Khemani brings more than 25 years of global pharmaceutical experience to Scilex, a privately held clinical development and commercial company based in Palo Alto, California. Mr. Khemani has been SVP Chief Commercial Officer of Scilex since March 2019. He manages Scilex sales, sales operations, marketing, market research, and managed care operations, including its U.S. promotional role and interactions with overseas partners, commercial development, and international operations. In addition to his 25 years of senior management experience in the industry, he successfully launched specialty and large market products including Zelmac / Zelnorm for IBS-D, readiness for Dexpramipexole (dex) in ALS and Parkinson’s Disease, Cubicin, an injectable antibiotic in EU and developed launch plans for Pulminique, an inhaled cyclosporine, for US and EU, and Abilify a $7 billion product. His therapeutic areas include pain, neurology, oncology, immunology, and CV. He worked prior to Scilex at executive-level positions at Bristol Myers Squibb, Chiron, PDL Biopharmaceuticals, Facet Biotech, and Knopp Biosciences. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Pharmacy from Bombay University.

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Steve Lincoln

Interim General Counsel & Chief Compliance Officer

Steve Lincoln serves as Interim General Counsel, Chief Compliance Officer for Scilex Holding Company and Scilex Pharmaceuticals. Steve has been involved in the biopharma industry for more than 18 years. Most recently, he has been Counsel to the law firm of Brown Gee & Wenger, where his corporate practice has included several publicly traded and private biopharma companies. Before that, Steve served in in-house counsel roles at SciClone Pharmaceuticals (acquired by GL Capital), Kosan Biosciences (acquired by Bristol Myers Squibb), SuperGen (now Astex Pharmaceuticals, a subsidiary of Otsuka), and Protein Design Labs (later Facet Biotech, acquired by AbbVie). Steve is a graduate of Brown University and the Boston University School of Law.