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Giving hope to cancer patients for a better life.


Espervita Therapeutics is focused on the discovery of metabolic reprogramming therapies for the treatment of cancers in areas with significant unmet medical need, with promising preclinical evidence for the treatment of liver cancer.

Our Name

The name Espervita was created from the Latin words for Hope and Life and embodies our vision to give patients with cancer hope for a better life.

Meet Our Team

Roger Newton, PhD

President & CEO

Dr. Newton has more than 40 years of drug development experience. As Chairman/Member of the Atherosclerosis Drug Discovery and Development Teams at Warner Lambert/Parke-Davis, he co-discovered and was the product champion of Lipitor® (atorvastatin), one of the best-selling drugs of all time with nearly $150B in sales.

He co-founded Esperion Therapeutics in 1998, which developed ETC-216, a recombinant synthetic HDL to promote reverse cholesterol transport and decrease atherosclerotic plaques. In 2004 Pfizer acquired Esperion Therapeutics for $1.3B.

He subsequently founded a distinct company also named Esperion Therapeutics in 2008, which currently has two ATP-citate lyase inhibitor drug assets, Nexlitol® (bempedoic acid) and Nexlizet® (bempedoic acid / ezetimibe), approaching commercialization for LDL cholesterol lowering.

Dr. Newton translates basic science to benefit humanity and is a prolific contributor to the development and commercialization of novel therapies and diagnostics and is a board member of Celsee Diagnostics, Inc., iReprogram, Inc., Tespo, Inc., and Esperovax, Inc.

Dr. Newton holds a PhD in nutrition with an emphasis in lipid biochemistry and metabolic diseases from University of California Davis. He completed a Postdoctoral Fellowship in the laboratory of Daniel Steinberg at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine. He has published nearly 100 peer-reviewed scientific papers and chapters.

He is currently an Adjunct Professor at the University of Michigan School of Medicine in the Department of Computational Medicine and Bioinformatics. He also serves on the Boards of the University of Michigan Life Science Institute and the Center for Positive Organizations at the Ross School of Business.


Gregory Steinberg, PhD

Chief Scientific Officer

Dr. Steinberg is a Professor of Medicine at McMaster University where he holds a Canada Research Chair and a J. Bruce Duncan Endowed Chair in Metabolic Diseases, and is Co-Director of the Centre for Metabolism, Obesity and Diabetes Research.

His research interests revolve around the study of cellular energy-sensing mechanisms and how endocrine factors, lipid metabolism and insulin sensitivity are linked and contribute to the development of obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, NASH and hepatocellular carcinoma. He has published over 180 papers in leading scientific journals (e.g., Nature Medicine, Cell Metabolism, Nature Reviews in Drug Discovery).

His scientific contributions have been recognized by the Endocrine Society, the American Diabetes Association, Diabetes Canada and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research who have each presented him with outstanding scientific achievement awards.

Dr. Sternberg holds a PhD from the University of Guelph in fatty acid metabolism. He completed Postdoctoral Research in the laboratory of Bruce Kemp at St. Vincent’s Institute of Medical Research in Melbourne, Australia. He previously served as Head of the Metabolism Unit at St. Vincent’s Institute of Medical Research and as a Senior Fellow of the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia.


Spencer Heaton, MD/MBA

Chief Operating Officer

Dr. Heaton is a physician-executive with experience in healthcare delivery, healthcare technology services, medical device surveillance, pharmacovigilance, regulatory compliance, and population-health research with a focus on outcome improvement through novel therapies.

In his role as Chief Medical Officer for ArborMetrix, a venture-backed healthcare research and data analytics company, he is instrumental in the delivery of research initiatives focused on the analysis of real-world outcomes of medical devices and pharmaceuticals, as well as registry-based quality improvement and value-based care solutions for medical specialty societies, hospitals and health systems.

In previous clinical work, Dr. Heaton founded a comprehensive sports medicine, spine and pain management center and is a contributing author for two medical textbooks.

Dr. Heaton holds an MD from the University of Michigan Medical School and an MBA from the University of Michigan Ross School of Business. He completed residency in anesthesiology at the University of Michigan and a fellowship in pain medicine at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.


James Lally, PhD

Senior Scientist

Dr. Lally is a Research Associate in the Department of Medicine and the Preclinical Trials Coordinator for the Centre of Metabolism, Obesity, and Diabetes Research at McMaster University. He has developed a number of preclinical models to examine the therapeutic potential of anti-diabetic and lipid-lowering medication for the treatment of liver cancer, and has contributed to over 35 peer-reviewed manuscripts, including recently as first author in the top journal Cell Metabolism.

Dr. Lally earned his PhD at the University of Guelph studying exercise and insulin resistance in skeletal muscle tissue. He followed with a Postdoctoral Fellowship at McMaster University in Dr. Steinberg’s laboratory with research focused on the complex relationship between obesity-related disorders, including NAFLD, and the development of liver cancer.


Daniela Carmen Oniciu, PhD

Scientific Advisor, Drug Design and Integrated Drug Development

Dr. Oniciu has extensive expertise in pharmaceutical development, from drug design and early discovery to integrated drug development strategies for late-stage clinical development and NDA/market authorization.

She is a co-inventor of composition of matter for several drugs in development, including Nexlitol® (bempedoic acid) for which she also led the process development.

Dr. Oniciu was a co-founder of several biotech organizations and instrumental in launching emerging pharmaceutical and biotech companies by creating product pipelines and intellectual property assets. Previous roles include VP of Preclinical Research and Development and Manufacturing at Gemphire Pharmaceuticals; Senior Director of Chemistry at Cerenis Therapeutics; Senior Director of Chemical Research and Development at Esperion Therapeutics; and Associate Director of Chemistry at Pfizer.

Dr. Oniciu holds a PhD in chemical engineering and an M.S. in Organic Chemistry Technologies, both from the Polytechnic University of Bucharest, and she is a Courtesy Professor in the Chemistry Department of the University of Florida at Gainesville.