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.
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
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.
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 developed and commercialized Nexletol® (bempedoic acid) and Nexlizet® (bempedoic acid / ezetimibe).
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 iReprogram, 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.
Spencer Heaton, MD/MBA
Chief Executive Officer
Dr. Heaton is a physician-executive with broad experience across various healthcare industries, including healthcare delivery, technology services, molecular diagnostics, and drug development.
As Chief Medical & Commercial Officer for LynxDx, he has overseen the commercial launch of two novel molecular diagnostic tests designed to quantify the personalized risk of clinically significant prostate cancer.
He previously served as Chief Medical & Commercial Officer for ArborMetrix, a healthcare data integration and analytics provider, where he was 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, he 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.
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 revolves 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 220 papers, many in leading scientific journals including Nature Medicine, Cell Metabolism and Nature Reviews Drug Discovery. These studies have laid the foundation for several new classes of therapeutics, and he is listed as one of the world’s most highly cited researchers (top 0.1% Clarivate™ 2020,2021,2022).
These 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 and early career scientific achievement awards.
Daniela Carmen Oniciu, PhD
Scientific Advisor, Drug Design and Integrated Drug Development
Dr. Oniciu has over twenty years of industry experience and executive leadership in (bio)pharmaceutical companies. Her expertise includes the entire spectrum of pharmaceutical development, spanning early discovery and IND-enabling operations through translational medicine, with proven success: inventor of bempedoic acid (Nexletol® FDA, Nilemdo® EMA) approved for the treatment of dyslipidemia and cardiovascular risk. She has served as lead of, or critical contributor to, integrated drug development planning (nonclinical/clinical/CMC/regulatory and cross-functional operations), from early clinical stages through NDA. Her multinational experience includes heading multiple nonclinical small molecule programs in the United States, European Union, and Japan. Her therapeutic areas of expertise include cardiovascular, lipid and liver disorders, NAFLD/NASH, inflammation, cancer, ophthalmic, neuroprotective, and endocrine diseases.
She is a co-founder of four research/biotech organizations and has been instrumental in launching multiple emerging companies by creating intellectual property and strategizing product pipelines and lifecycle management. She holds a position as Courtesy Faculty of the Chemistry Department at the University of Florida (Gainesville, Florida).
James Lally, PhD
Dr. Lally is a Research Associate in the Department of Medicine and 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 40 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 NAFLD and liver cancer.
April Seiler, MS
Project Management and Regulatory Affairs
April has broad experience in leading global research and development teams with a strong background in project management, regulatory affairs and early-stage company growth in her 20+ years of drug research and development positions. She started her career at Parke-Davis in global regulatory submissions and worked on the electronic submissions team for Lyrica. Beginning in 2003, April worked in project management at Esperion Therapeutics and continued through the acquisition by Pfizer. In 2008, April joined the second iteration of Esperion as the Director of Project Management to launch the program that led to the successful development and approval of bempedoic acid in the US and EU.
Over 10+ years at Esperion she filled many leadership roles, working with and at times part of the Esperion Leadership team. She managed the program for data and material acquisition from Pfizer, initial Quality and Regulatory oversight, Document Management and Archive (including Part 11) systems, and FDA communications. During her time at Esperion, she also served as NDA Team Lead, and filled critical roles on many multifunctional teams, including: bempedoic acid IND, EOP2, Phase 3 and CVOT teams as well as business development and out-license due diligence teams.
April holds a Bachelor’s Degree in General Biology and a Master’s Degree in Quality Assurance and Regulatory Affairs.