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Management Team

Darwin L. Cheney, Ph.D. - President & CEODarwin Cheney-3

Dr. Cheney has special expertise in research and development process optimization, performance management, and strategic and operational improvements. He joined Utah Science, Technology and Research (USTAR) initiative in April, 2008, as Director for the Utah Initiative for nanotechnology and applications. He previously served as President and CEO of the FIDIA Research Foundation and as professor of Pharmacology at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. Prior to coming to Utah Dr. Cheney spent three years in Macclesfield, England as Chief Scientific Officer of Cyprotex Discovery.

Dr. Cheney has a broad background in pharmaceutical research, and development having served as Director of Neuroscience and Cardiovascular Discovery in the Research Department and later as Executive Director of Clinical Operations and Statistics in the Development Department of CIBA-GEIGY Pharmaceutical company (now Novartis). He has spent the past fifteen years in contract research working with small companies to achieve and expand profitability.

Dr. Cheney obtained his BS in Zoology and his MS in Physiology at Brigham Young University. He received his Ph.D. in Pharmacology from Stanford University.

Hamid Ghandehari, Ph.D. - Chief Scientific Officerghandehari

Dr. Ghandehari is an expert in drug delivery innovation. He joined the University of Utah in November, 2007, as a USTAR faculty member of the Departments of Pharmaceutics and Pharmaceutical Chemistry and Bioengineering. He comes to Utah from the University of Maryland, Baltimore, where he was a professor of pharmaceutical sciences, founding director of the Center for Nanomedicine and Cellular Delivery, member of Greenebaum Cancer Center, and faculty in the Maryland Bioengineering Program. Dr. Ghandehari is the founder and Co-Director of the Nano Institute of Utah and Director of the Utah Center for Nanomedicine.

His research, funded by the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, and other agencies, focuses on the design of new polymers for gene therapy of head and neck cancer, targeted delivery of antiangiogenic inhibitors, oral delivery of chemotherapeutics by polymeric carriers, assessing the biocompatibility and cellular trafficking of organic and inorganic nanoconstructs, and design and development of stimuli-sensitive hybrid nanoparticles for controlled chemical delivery.

He received his BS in Pharmacy (1989) and PhD in Pharmaceutics and Pharmaceutical Chemistry (1996) from the University of Utah.

Jeffrey A. Harps, MBA - Chief Financial Officer & VP of Business DevelopmentJeff Cropped

Jeff Harps is a business development professional who has experience working with government, large corporations and start-up companies. He has held a business development position with a large medical device company where he assisted in identifying and investigating new products, technologies, companies and investment opportunities for acquisition, license or development.

In 2012, Jeff successfully exited a start-up company he founded two years earlier.

Prior to this, Jeff was a Project Executive for the U.S. Department of State, where he built strong relations with the international community and worked with foreign leaders, diplomats and professionals while managing multi-million dollar projects in various locations throughout the world.

Mr. Harps received his bachelor’s degree in engineering from Utah State University and his MBA from the University of Utah.