to Heal From Within
to Heal From Within
Following decades of large-scale trials probing the utility of cell-based regenerative therapies, RION’s co-founders Dr. Andre Terzic and Dr. Atta Behfar discovered that the driving force behind tissue repair was exosome signaling.
This pivotal discovery launched RION’s vision to redefine regenerative medicine. By leveraging their exosome research, Drs. Behfar and Terzic envisioned a new paradigm in healing by harnessing these extracellular vesicles, they knew the clinical landscape could be transformed if the key exosome, capable to drive tissue regeneration in the body, could be identified and isolated. Their aspirations materialized with the first iteration of the Purified Exosome Product™ (PEP™ ) in Dr. Behfar’s Mayo Clinic laboratory, whose regenerative performance eclipsed any other technology the team had ever studied.
Following decades of large-scale trials probing the utility of cell-based regenerative therapies, RION’s co-founders Dr. Andre Terzic and Dr. Atta Behfar were among the earliest scientists of their generation to observe that the driving force behind tissue repair was exosome signaling.
This pivotal discovery launched RION’s vision to redefine regenerative medicine. By leveraging their exosome research, Drs. Behfar and Terzic envisioned a new paradigm in healing by harnessing these extracellular vesicles, they knew the clinical landscape could be transformed by the utility of a low-maintenance regenerative therapeutic, one fulfilling a long-delayed promise of cell-based therapies. Their commitment to this vision was materialized in the creation of the first iteration of the Purified Exosome Product™ (PEP™) in Dr. Behfar’s Mayo Clinic laboratory, targeting long standing medical challenges with this novel biological tool.
Mission and Vision
Create exosomes that activate the body’s innate ability to heal.
At RION we seek to change the approach to regenerative medicine by utilizing exosome technology to improve the lives of more patients, in more places, across more diseases, from every walk of life.
Atta Behfar, Co-Founder and Andre Terzic, Co-Founder
External Leadership Team
In parallel with our in-house programs, RION is interested in partnerships to bring new applications forward into pre-clinical and clinical development.
Atta Behfar, M.D., Ph.D.
Co-Founder & Executive Board Member
Dr. Behfar is an innovator in the regenerative medicine field. His work has led to the development of several regenerative technologies, including cardiopoietic stem cells, which completed phase 2/3 trials in Europe and was approved by the FDA for phase 3 pivotal testing. Recently, Dr. Behfar has focused on the design of novel exosome biopotentiated matrices to augment retention and delivery of regenerative biologics in order to faciliate cell-free endogenous repair. These new technologies serve as the basis for Rion with an eye towards developing technological platforms that fundamentally change the approach to regenerative medicine by delivering low cost and off-the-shelf therapies for broad array of medical applications. In adition to being cofounder of Rion, he is Director of Cardiac Regeneration at Mayo Clinic, where he specializes in heart transplant and invasive cardiac procedures. Previously, Dr. Behfar was Director of Research at Cardio3 BioScience, which was acquired by Celyad Oncology, after which he served as Special Scientific Advisor. Dr. Behfar holds an M.D. from the Mayo Clinic School of Medicine and a Ph.D. in stem cell biology and molecular pharmacology and therapeutics from the Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. He earned his undergraduate degree in biochemistry and mathematics from Marquette University.
Chief Financial Officer
Mr. Farrahar is Chief Financial Officer (CFO) at Rion and a Certified Public Accountant with more than 30 years of managerial finance, administration, human resources, investor relations, and risk management experience in the public, private, and non-profit sectors. In addition to his work at RION, Mr. Farrahar serves as CFO for several small biotech startups in various stages of development. Prior to Rion, he was CFO of Medovex Corp (now H-CYTE), a public medical biosciences company focused in the field of regenerative medicine. Before Medovex, Mr. Farrahar served as CFO and Director of Human Resources at a private governmental assistance startup, where he assisted with the sale of that company to a private equity group after it had grown into a multi-state operation with more than 400 employees.
Maureen Merrifield, Ph.D.
Chief Regulatory Officer
Dr. Merrifield serves as Chief Regulatory Officer at RION. She brings more than 15 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry to RION. She has led the regulatory strategy and submissions for products from discovery to commercialization, with significant expertise in cell and gene therapy products, monoclonal antibodies, vaccines, and protein therapies. She has regulatory expertise in Chemistry, Manufacturing, and and Controls (CMC), including non-clinical and clinical aspects of pharmaceutical development. She has been the lead of global pharmaceutical teams consisting of clinical, preclinical, CMC, statistician, and pharmacovigilance staff to advance therapeutic products through the development stages. Prior to RION, she has held the following positions: Vice President, Clinical and Regulatory Affairs at Pharmatech Associates; Director of Regulatory and Strategic Development at Clinipace Worldwide; Director of Regulatory Affairs at Bellicum Pharaceuticals; Regulatory and Affairs Project Manager at Sabin Vaccine Institute; and senior scientific roles at Sanofi and GSK. She earned both a Ph.D. and B.S. in chemistry from Western University.
Scott Rosenow, JD
Chief Administrative Officer
Mr. Rosenow currently serves as the Chief Administrative Officer for RION. Mr. Rosenow, a lawyer by training, brought together RION’s investor group with physician scientists and strategic founders of RION and facilitated the establishment of RION LLC. He brings to his role at RION more than 18 years of business development, technology transfer, strategic partnering, and management of organizations in the biotechnology, medical device, and diagnostic industries. Before RION, Mr. Rosenow cofounded Exell Bio, HealthCare Innovators, and International Medical Foundation, the latter of which he also served as Vice President. Previously, he was General Counsel and Vice President of Business Development at BIOVIRx, Inc. Before his involvement in the biosciences industry, Mr. Rosenow practiced law in Washington D.C., first at the Division of the Treasury Department and then at the Washington office of a Los Angeles-based law firm which represented major Fortune 500 companies. Mr. Rosenow received his B.A. and J.D. from the University of Minnesota.
Chief Technical Operations
Mr. Jowharchi brings more than 28 years of experience in the life science industry to RION. He has overseen clinical and commercial product development in engineering, operations management, and quality systems. Mr. Jowharchi has specific expertise in small molecules, biologics, and antibody drug conjugates with particular focus on oncology, regenerative medicine, and immunology. He has extensive experience in product life cycle management from development to clinical and commercial manufacturing as well as in support of post marketing surveillance and pharmacy vigilance. Before joining RION, he supervised the contract research, development, and manufacturing organization for start-ups such as Raptor Pharmaceuticals, and Hebron Therapeutics, and he served in leadership positions at biopharmaceutical companies such as Genentech and Novo Nordisk. He also managed a number of consulting firms and divisions to support big pharma and start-ups in the areas of facilities design and operational readiness. Mr. Jowharchi holds a B.S. in mechanical engineering from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and an executive MBA from Saint Mary’s College in California.
Scott McCrea, MBA
SR VP Business Development
Scott brings over 23 years of business development and commercial experience across pharmaceutical, medical device, and cosmeceutical sectors. He has extensive experience in evaluating and commercializing medical dermatology, medical aesthetics, and consumer skincare products. Scott has a deep understanding of asset valuation and negotiation strategy that led to multiple acquisitions and licensing opportunities during his career.
Most recently, Scott was responsible for developing commercial aesthetics partnering opportunities as Director of Commericla Development for Aesthetics North America at Galderma, the wold’s largest independent global dermatology company (private equity owned).
Scott holds a Master of Business Administration from the University of Houston – C.T. Bauer College of Business and a bachelor’s degree in industrial distribution from Texas A&M University.
Vice President, Global Clinical Development & Operations
Shariq Khan joined RION with over 30 years of industry experience including big-pharma, CRO, medical devices, diagnostics and biosimilars with a variety of prominent organizations such as Pfizer, Abbott, Omron, Parexel and AstraZeneca. Mr. Khan serves as the Vice President of Global Clinical Development and Operations and bring a wealth of expertise to the RION team and has been very instrumental in the significant advancements ade to the Wound program clinical studies. He will continue to drive the advancement of RION’s clinical pipeline with sights set on advancing the lifecycle of individual programs within each indication, while also building out RION’s clinicla capabilites as we expand our efforts into other therapeutics areas within the US and across the globe.
Prior to joining RION, Mr. Khan held a position of the Global Program Director for Clinical Operations at AstraZeneca where he was responsible for the overall program level oversight of global clinical operations for late-stage R&D products in the biopharmaceuticals and oncology spaces and provided strategic operational leadership to a suite of global clinical studies within the program covering all clinical operations deliverables to scope quality, budget, time, resource, and risk, ensuring new innovative design and delivery models are used appropriately.
Throughout his career, Mr. Khan has successfully advanced numerous products through Phase 1, 2, and 3 studies as well as Phase 4 Observational and Post-marketing Surveillance studies. We are excited about the expansion of our clinical programs under Mr. Khan’s leadership!
Chris Paradise, Ph.D.
Vice President, Research & Development
Dr. Chris Paradise serves as Vice President of RION’s Research and Development team. He holds a PhD in Molecular Pharmacology and Regenerative Medicine from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. Before joining Rion, Chris’s research efforts focused on engineering adult stem cells and evaluating their utility as a therapeutic strategy for tissue regeneration. His work in the Regenerative Medicine space and has been recognized by prominent international societies and has resulted in over forty peer-reviewed publications.
Chris contributes in-depth technical knowledge of stem cell biology and tissue regeneration to RION’s Research and Development team and continues to leverage this expertise to advance RION’s development of extracellular vesicle-based platforms. He is driven by a desire to translate laboratory innovation into clinical-grade therapies that improve the lives of patients.
Vice President, Quality Operations
Chuck Bornhoeft brings over 20 years of biotech and pharma experience to RION as Vice President of Quality Operations. Mr. Bornhoeft is a proven quality leader with a passion for building and maintaining a strong quality culture. Prior to joining RION in July 2021, he has supported biologics, small molecule NDA and ANDA products, dietary supplements, and cosmetic products throughout his career at Upsher-Smith Laboratories and Johnson and Johnson.
He has extensive experience with internal and external manufacturing and packaging production, quality systems, product development, process improvement, laboratory oversight, and on-market product support. In addition to his work experience, Mr. Bornhoeft is a current Regulatory and Quality Advisory Board member with the Parenteral Drug Association. He holds a M.S. and B.S. in chemstry from Villanova University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
President, Rion Aesthetics
Alisa has a proven track record of leading complex organizations in aesthetic, clinical, and cosmetic sectors through leadership roles at Galderma, Allergan, Zimmer-Biomet, and Eli Lilly. Most recently, Alisa led Aesthetics at Galderma as Vice President and General Manager in the US. During her tenure, she oversaw 10 FDA approvals and several sales force expansions.
Andre Terzic, M.D., Ph.D.
Dr. Terzic is: Marriott Family Professor; Director, Marriott Heart Disease Research Program; and Director, National Institutes of Health Cardiovascology Program at Mayo Clinic, where he was the inaugural Michael & Mary Sue Shannon Director at the Center for Regenerative Medicine and Associate Dean for Research. He chairs the FDA Pharmaceutical Science & Clinical Pharmacology Advisory Committee and is Deputy Chair at the Berlin Institute of Health Scientific Board. Prior, Dr. Terzic was conferred: the American Heart Association Basic Research Prize “for pioneering applications of emerging technologies to advance the diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular disorders;” the Madrid Award for Excellence in Cardiovascular Regenerative Research “for leadership and success in translating stem cell theory into practice;” and the Hellenic Heart Failure Research Society Honorary Fellowship for “contributions to Heart Failure and Cardiovascular Medicine.” He is the recipient of numerous national and international awards. Dr. Terzic trained at the University of Paris, Belgrade, and Illinois, followed by fellowships at the French National Institutes of Health, Thomas Jefferson University, and Mayo Clinic.
John Ballantyne, Ph.D.
Member, Scientific Advisory Board
John Ballantyne, Ph.D., was the Co-Founder and Chief Scientific Office (CSO) of the biologic contract development and manufacturing company (FDMO), Aldevron, from 1998 until his retirement in 2021, where he created the GMP-Source product line. Dr. Ballantyne led collaborative research projects with military scientists in the development of vaccines and passive-based countermeasures to lethal and potentially weaponized viral threats. In his role as CSO, he also led Aldevron R&D team in developing new methods and products through interal development programs, collaborations, and licensing of new thecnology. Later in his career, Dr. Ballantyne focused on creating new approaches to “n of 1” manufacturing challenges to expedite traditional processes, lower costs, and allow a new level of autonomy in personalized medicines production.
In his new, co-founded venture, Agathos, a company dedicated to developing biological systems to faciliate better delivery of therapeutic molecules directly to cells, Dr. Ballantyne is focused on enabling ethical pharmeceutical development that will benefit patients, employees, and society as a whole. Dr. Ballantyne holds undergraduate degrees in Pharmacy from the Central Institute of Technology and the University of Otago in New Zealand. He completed his Ph.D. in Pharmaceutical Sciences at North Dakota State University.
Andrew D. Badley, M.D.
Member, Scientific Advisory Board
Andrew D. Badley, M.D., an infectious disease specialist, is an experienced physician-scientist and entrepreneur whose active research focuses on novel therapeutic development, especially in the small-molecule, biologic, cellular, and gene therapy space. Dr. Badley has spent almost 30 years at Mayo Clinic as a physician in the Division of Infectious diseases and as a scientist running a lab devoted to virus-hosted interactions and understanding how the immune system fails to completely clear certain infections, such as HIV, and understanding how this knowlege informs new immunology approaches. He currently serves as Director of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus Laboratory and is the Chair of the Department of Molecular Medicine and the SARS-CoV-2-COVID-19 Task Force.
For more than 20 years, Dr. Badley has recieved funding from the National Institute of Health (NIH) to support his research on HIV. In addition to being a frequent public speaker and an advisor to government agencies, he engages in active, hands-on partnering with other scientists and entrepreneurs to help them grow and scale their products. His long-terms research goals are to develop novel strategies to cure HIV infection by eradicating HIV reservoirs and to create novel immune-based therapies with applications in both virology and oncology. Dr. Badley received his B.S. and M.D. from Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada. Dr. Badley holds the HH Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Professorship of Infectious Diseases honoring Walter R. Wilson, M.D.
Steven L. Moran, M.D.
Member, Medical Advisory Board
Dr. Moran is a Professor of Plastic Surgery and Orthopedic Surgery at Mayo Clinic in Rochester Minnesota, and staff surgeon at the Shrine Clinic for Sick Children in Minneapolis. Dr. Moran is the former Chairman of the Division of Plastic Surgery at Mayo Clinic and is now the Surgical Director of the Mayo Clinics vascularized composite tissue allotransplant program and Mayo’s Microsurgical Training Center. His primary interests are wrist surgery, wrist arthroscopy, congenital hand surgery, wrist arthritis and microsurgical reconstruction of the upper extremity. Dr. Moran has published over 375 peer reviewed papers, over 100 book chapters and has edited four textbooks. He was the associated editor for the Journal of Hand Surgery, Hand and the Year Book of Hand Surgery. He is presently the associate editor for The Journal of Wrist Surgery. Dr. Moran is a member of 14 professional societies and is founding member of the American Society for Reconstructive Transplantation and is presently a Director for the American Board of Plastic Surgery. He is a previous board member of the American Society for Surgery of the Hand, the American Association for Hand Surgery and American Society for Reconstructive Transplantation. He has been a co-investigator on five NIH grants which were devoted to the study of tissue engineering, tendon healing, carpal tunnel syndrome and ligament injury. Dr. Moran’s present research focus is on tissue engineering for which he has institutional directed funds. Dr. Moran was named the 2008-2009 Sterling Bunnell traveling fellow by the American Society of Surgery of the Hand and the 2012 Marco Godina traveling fellow by the American Society for Reconstructive Microsurgery. In 2019, Dr. Moran was awarded the inaugural Harold Kleinert Visiting Professorship by the International Federation of Societies for Surgery of the Hand. Dr Moran lives in Rochester Minnesota with his wife and three children.
James B. Peake, M.D., LTG (Ret)
Member, Medical Advisory Board
Dr. James B. Peake’s career spans military service, medical excellence, and public administration. A graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, Dr. Peake served with the 101st Airborne Division during the Vietnam War. For his bravery and service, he was decorated with the Silver Star, a Bronze Star with “V” device, and the Purple Heart.
Following his service in Vietnam, Dr. Peake attended Cornell University Medical School. He was awarded a medical doctorate in 1972.
Dr. Peake began his Army medical career as a general surgery resident at Brooke Army Medical Center, Fort Sam Houston, Texas. He also served as commander of several Army medical units, including as Commanding General of the U.S. Army Medical Department Center and School and Ft Sam Houston, one of the largest medical training facilities in the world with 30,000 students annually. Dr. Peake ultimately served as the U.S. Army Surgeon General, where he commanded 50,000 medical personnel and 187 army medical facilities worldwide. He retired from the Army in 2004, as a Lieutenant General.
His public service continued as the Secretary of Veterans Affairs under President George W. Bush, where he oversaw the nation’s second largest cabinet department, which provides health care and benefits to America’s veterans.
Post-retirement, Dr. Peake’s expertise found new avenues in the private sector. As a Senior Vice President at CGI, he plays a pivotal role in guiding the company’s strategy in health industries across the U.S. and Europe.