Our Team

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ITZHAK KUREK, PhD

CEO & Co-Founder

Dr. Kurek is a senior biotech leader with experience in managing, consulting and research roles in the Ag-Biotech, Human and Nutritional Supplements, Renewable Energy and Biobased Products businesses. Dr. Kurek joined Cannformatics from Solix Algredients, a B2B supplier of algae-based natural ingredients where he served as R&D consultant at the Vice-President level. Previously, Dr. Kurek worked at Kiverdi inc., a company making high-value oils and chemicals from waste carbon sources, as the Senior Director of R&D. Dr. Kurek held research scientist positions at Pioneer Hi-Bred (DuPont), Verdia Inc. and Maxygen Inc.

 

Dr. Kurek has published 20 peer reviewed scientific papers and 13 granted US and international patents cited over 2,000 times. Dr. Kurek received his Ph.D. in Plant Sciences from Tel Aviv University and completed his postdoctoral research at the University of California, Davis. Dr. Kurek has also conducted research at the Technical University of Munich, John Innes Center Norwich, C.N.R.S Bordeaux and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories.

 

Read Dr. Kurek's recent articles on cannabis and the Cannformatics approach:

How cannabinoids work part 1: Paths into the body

How cannabinoids work part 2: Paths through the body

How cannabinoids work part 3: Metabolism and elimination

How cannabinoids work part 4: Physiological conditions

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ROBERT MCKEE, JD, MSTC, CIPP

CTO, CLO & Co-Founder

Mr. McKee is a patent lawyer with expertise in genetics, machine learning/artificial intelligence, data privacy law and technology commercialization. Mr. McKee founded Cannformatics while maintaining his law practice where he writes patents and ensures compliance with data privacy laws, and develops IP protection strategies for very early stage companies to ensure value creation. Previously, Mr. McKee worked at Kiverdi Inc., a company making high-value oils and chemicals from waste carbon sources, as IP and Business Development Associate. Mr. McKee held a microbiologist position at the Texas Department of State Health Services.

 

Mr. McKee received his Master of Science in Technology Commercialization from the Red McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas, Austin. He holds a JD from the University of Houston Law Center and a BS in Microbiology from The University of Texas, Austin. Mr. McKee has also completed the UDACITY Machine Learning Engineer Nanodegree.

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KEN EPSTEIN

CCO & Co-Founder

Mr. Epstein was a founding partner and brand strategist at WYD, a full service marketing agency specializing in all facets of the cannabis industry. Prior to joining WYD Ken was responsible for increasing revenue and brand equity for some of the world’s most powerful brands including; Clorox, Levi’s, Intel, Electronic Arts and Sunrun. At Sunrun Ken led the Brand and Corporate Communications team during Sunrun’s IPO raising over $251M in equity and led the brand launch of Brightbox Sunrun’s industry leading solar energy storage solution. He has extensive expertise in public relations, social media, and advertising.

Ken has a variety of marketing awards for TV, Billboard and Social Media campaigns including Emmy nominations, Webbys, One Show, and many more. He received his BA in Information and Communication Studies with a minor in Human Biology and Health Science from CSU, Chico. He is on the Board of Directors and serves as the Executive Secretary for Access Institute a San Francisco based non-profit provider of mental health services and Post-Doctoral Fellowship training.

Read Mr. Epstein’s article on exhibiting at a cannabis trade show: Getting Higher Results at Cannabis Trade Shows.

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MIKE SIANI-ROSE

VP Computational Biology

Mr. Siani-rose has 20+ years of experience in regenerative medicine, biotechnology and bioinformatics. At Cannformatics, he provides project leadership for strategic partnerships and leadership on computational biology and computational chemistry. He has been a project management consultant to Pharma/Biotech, directing projects that reach broadly across manufacturing organizations. Previously, as President and Founder of Theregen he raised $10M and led the company from preclinical through IND and two Phase I clinical trials for the implantable Anginera epicardial patch. He has extensive expertise in computational chemistry, drug discovery and bioinformatics from positions at Chiron Corporation (now Novartis), Kosan Biosciences and Affymetrix.

Mike has 45+ publications and ten issued patents in drug discovery, laboratory automation, bioinformatics, and regenerative medicine. He received his BS in Chemical Engineering from the University of Rochester, did graduate work in Computer Science at UCSD, and attended the BioExecutive Institute in the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley.

Our team has decades of experience, with over 120 published scientific papers and patent applications an extensive background in founding, R&D, protecting IP & Data Privacy in biotech and  Pharma and marketing & branding in the cannabis industry

ADVISORY BOARD

DONALD ABRAMS, MD

Scientific Advisor | Professor, UCSF

Donald I. Abrams, MD is an oncologist at Zuckerberg San Francisco General and a Professor of Clinical Medicine at the University of California San Francisco. He has an Integrative Oncology consultation practice at the UCSF Osher Center for Integrative Medicine. He received an AB in Molecular Biology from Brown University in 1972 and graduated from the Stanford University School of Medicine in 1977. After completing an Internal Medicine residency at the Kaiser Foundation Hospital in San Francisco, he became a fellow in Hematology/Oncology at the Cancer Research Institute of the University of California, San Francisco in 1980. He was one the original clinician/investigators to recognize and define many early AIDS-related conditions. He has long been interested in clinical trials of complementary and alternative medicine interventions for HIV/AIDS and cancer, including evaluations of medicinal marijuana.

 

In 1997, he received funding from the National Institute on Drug Abuse to conduct clinical trials of the short-term safety of cannabinoids in HIV infection. Subsequently he was granted funds by the University of California Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research to continue studies of the effectiveness of cannabis in a number of clinical conditions. He completed a placebo-controlled study of smoked cannabis in patients with painful HIV-related peripheral neuropathy as well as a study evaluating vaporization as a smokeless delivery system for medicinal. He conducted an NIDA-funded trial investigated the safety of adding vaporized cannabis to opioid analgesics in patients with chronic pain. His most recent study was an NIH-funded trial investigating vaporized cannabis in patients with Sickle Cell disease. He co-authored the chapter on “Cannabinoids and Cancer” in the Oxford University Press Integrative Oncology text that he co-edited with Andrew Weil. He co-edits the NCI PDQ CAM Cannabinoids and Cancer website. He was a member of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine’s committee that published The Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids: Current State of Evidence and Recommendations for Research in January 2017.

MYIESHA TAYLOR, MD

Medical Advisor | FACEP, Sunnyvale, TX

Dr. Myiesha Taylor is a board-certified emergency medicine physician specialist and a fellow of the American College of Emergency Physicians. Myiesha was born and raised in Long Beach and Los Angeles, CA. She graduated from Xavier University of Louisiana summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry, and subsequently attended the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine obtaining her medical degree (MD). Thereafter, she continued her training as an intern and resident at Los Angeles County King Drew Medical Center in South Central Los Angeles, a premier training program in Emergency Medicine. She chose emergency medicine as a specialty after the untimely death of her father who was shot and killed during the civil unrest sparked by the Rodney King trial verdict in 1992. At King/Drew Medical Center, she served as Chief Resident her senior year receiving multiple community-based and academic awards.

 

In an effort to mentor and support women physicians of color globally, she founded Artemis Medical Society. For her work with Artemis, Dr. Taylor was honored by Disney Junior with the naming of the mother character, Myiesha McStuffins, in the highly acclaimed children’s TV show Doc McStuffins. Dr. Taylor has been featured in NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt’s Inspiring America segment, selected as a 2014 Dallas Women’s Foundation Young Leader Award honoree, featured in three Disney Junior Get Inspired Black History Month interstitials and serves as a Women’s Media Center She Source expert. In 2014, Dr. Taylor was selected to receive the Dallas Women’s Foundation Maura Women Helping Women Young Leader Award. The award is given to young leaders who are remarkable trailblazers for the next generation and who are finding ways to drive positive change for women and girls. Furthermore, Dr. Taylor has also been honored as a Dallas Business Journal’s 40 Under 40, D Magazine Moms Who Inspire, HBCU Digest’s Most Powerful People, and she is a past Fort Worth Business Press Great Women of Texas Honoree. In 2016, Dr. Taylor launched Brilliant In Color to help engage parents and students in pursuing academic excellence. Recently, Dr. Taylor was appointed as one of seven content experts for the Texas State Board of Education in the first review of Texas health education curriculum standards in 20 years. Dr. Taylor is active in community service with Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. and philanthropy via Jack and Jill of America, Inc. Dr. Taylor has spent time in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where she and her husband adopted a baby girl, and provided medical care to HIV/AIDS orphans in the city. Myiesha is married to William Schlitz and is the mother of three wonderfully talented children.

STEPHANY COX, PhD

Autism Advisor | Pediatric Neuropsychologist, UCSF

Dr. Stephany Cox is a pediatric neuropsychologist with extensive experience with neurodevelopmental disorders, especially autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Dr. Cox is an Assistant Clinical Professor at Benioff Children's Hospital at UCSF where she provides evaluations for children with medical conditions that affect brain development. She also serves as co-director of a neurodevelopmental follow-up program for children with congenital heart disease. 

 

Prior to attending her doctoral program, Dr. Cox performed neurocognitive and diagnostic evaluations within the context of research projects at the UCLA Center for Autism Research & Treatment and the Autism Genetic Resource Exchange. Her doctoral research focused on intervention programs for ASD, and while obtaining her doctorate, she helped establish a multidisciplinary autism center. Dr. Cox has also conducted research investigating neurodevelopmental outcomes for children with complex medical conditions, as well as neurocognitive profiles of ASD and other neurodevelopmental disorders. Dr. Cox received her Ph.D. in Clinical and School Psychology from the University of Virginia and BS in Biopsychology from the University of Michigan. She completed her predoctoral internship at Children's Hospital of Orange County and postdoctoral fellowship at Children's National Medical Center.

TAMAR MARITZ, MBA

CA Cannabis Market Advisor | 
VP Business Development, BDS Analytics

Tamar Maritz is Director of Business Development at BDS Analytics, the leading market research and insights firm in the cannabis industry. With a strong background in market research and analytics consulting for some of the biggest fortune 500 tech companies, Tamar brings years of analytical and insight-driven experience to the cannabis industry, already having helped countless existing and up-and-coming operators thrive in the cannabis supply chain over the past 2.5 years.

 

Coupled with an undergraduate degree in Biochemistry (followed by a research stint at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel) and an MBA with a focus on quantitative marketing strategy, she is able to provide a unique perspective and understanding of the industry from both the commercial and pharmaceutical sides.

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