Executive Team

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President and Chief Executive Officer

Rami Levin (born 1969) is a seasoned biotech leader with over 24 years of experience in rare diseases and central nervous system disorders. Prior to joining Saniona in January 2020, he most recently served as President of Sobi Inc., the North American affiliate of international rare disease company Sobi. At Sobi, he built and led the North American organization from infancy to a team of approximately 300 employees generating over half a billion USD in annual revenue. Levin’s experience in mergers and acquisitions resulted in the successful acquisitions of Gamifant, the first FDA approved treatment for primary hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (pHLH), and Synagis, the only FDA approved prophylaxis for respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). Under his leadership, the Sobi team launched Gamifant and integrated the entire Synagis sales and medical organizations, retaining 100% of the team. 

Prior to joining Sobi, Levin held commercial leadership roles of increasing strategic importance for 16 years at Merck Serono in a number of countries, including the U.S., Sweden, Switzerland and Israel. Levin earned his MBA from the Recanati Business School at Tel Aviv University in Israel, majoring in International Marketing, and has a BSc in Biology from Tel Aviv University.

In addition to his current position as President and CEO of Saniona, Levin serves as a member of the Board of Advisors for Life Science Cares.

Levin holds 20,000 shares and 710,313 options in the options program 2020/2024 and 1,262,000 options in the options program 2020/2031.

Chief Financial Officer

Jason A. Amello (born 1968) has over 25 years of corporate finance experience, contributing to strategic business growth and financial and operational performance. Prior to joining Saniona, he served as Senior Vice President, Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer of Akebia Therapeutics Inc. (Nasdaq:AKBA), where, over a seven-year period, he helped lead Akebia’s financing efforts, including its initial public offering, and served as a key advisor for Akebia’s merger with Keryx Biopharmaceuticals. During his tenure at Akebia, Amello built out the entire finance organization and was responsible for treasury management, financial planning and budgeting, accounting and reporting, taxation, procurement, facilities, and information technology. Prior to joining Akebia, Amello served as Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer of Ziopharm Oncology, Inc. (Nasdaq:ZIOP). Prior to that, he held multiple finance leadership positions at Genzyme Corporation, now Sanofi Genzyme, including Senior Vice President, Chief Accounting Officer, and he led the Strategic Financial Services group through which he served as a key advisor on all of Genzyme’s mergers and acquisitions and other strategic transactions. Earlier in his career, Amello spent 10 years in the business advisory and assurance practice of Deloitte. Amello holds a BS in Accounting from Boston College and is a Certified Public Accountant in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

In addition to his current position as Chief Financial Officer of Saniona, Amello currently serves on the Board of Directors of Acer Therapeutics, Inc. (Nasdaq:ACER) and the New England Baptist Hospital.

Amello holds 4,200 shares and 829,512 options in the option program 2020/2031.

Chief Human Resources Officer

Linea Aspesi (born 1970) has 25 years of human resources leadership experience, with a focus on aligning talent strategies to the business vision, mission and strategy. Prior to joining Saniona, she served as Vice President, Head of Human Resources & Office Management for Sobi in North America, where she supported the company through 5x headcount growth and established and drove cultural transformation strategies in the areas of talent acquisition, integration, retention, development, engagement, total rewards, organizational design, learning and diversity and inclusion. Previously, Aspesi served as Head of Human Resources for the Industrial Affairs organization in the U.S. for Sanofi, where she designed and implemented talent strategies that transformed the organization of approximately 3,000 employees, in the areas of manufacturing plant optimization, inclusive of plant closures and divestitures, business development and expansion.  During her tenure at Sanofi, she held HR leadership positions, shaping talent strategies for the Boston Hub R&D organization, the Sanofi Genzyme Specialty Care business unit, of Rare Disease, Oncology, MS, Immunology and the Industrial IS organization.  Prior to Sanofi, Aspesi held HR positions at multiple organizations including UMass Memorial Medical Center, Partners Healthcare System Inc., and HealthSouth. In addition, she previously served on the Board of Directors for Partnerships for a Skilled Workforce and for Seaglass Village.

Aspesi holds 4,200 shares and 829,512 options in the options program 2020/2031.

Chief Medical Officer and Head of Clinical Development

Rudolf Baumgartner (born 1959) is a physician-scientist with a proven track record of leading cross-functional teams through multiple development programs from Investigational New Drug (IND) applications through New Drug Application (NDA) submissions and product approvals. Trained in basic immunology, he has significant expertise across a broad array of therapeutic areas, including inflammation and autoimmune diseases.

Prior to joining Saniona, Baumgartner served as Chief Medical Officer for the Flatley Discovery lab, a non-profit foundation working in the rare disease space of Cystic Fibrosis. Prior to that, he was the Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer for Inotek Pharmaceuticals, where he was instrumental in writing the S1 and co-leading the company’s IPO. At Inotek, he oversaw clinical development and operations, medical affairs, regulatory affairs, biostatistics, preclinical development, and intellectual property. Before Inotek, Baumgartner held senior-level development positions at Sepracor and Merck & Co. He began his medical career as a clinician-scientist at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), in the Laboratory of Molecular Immunology at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). He completed his MD at Pennsylvania State University, his residency in Internal Medicine at the University of Michigan, and his fellowship in Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at Johns Hopkins University.

Baumgartner holds 17,300 shares and 829,512 options in the options program 2020/2031.

Founder and Chief Scientific Officer

Jørgen Drejer (born 1955) is a neurobiologist with more than 30 years of experience in discovering and developing novel approaches to modulate pathways within the brain. His research has led him to found multiple companies and publish more than 75 scientific articles.

Drejer founded Saniona in 2011 and served as founding Chief Executive Officer until January 2020, when he assumed the role of Chief Scientific Officer. Prior to founding Saniona, he co-founded NeuroSearch A/S in 1989, holding various leadership roles including deputy CEO and head of research over a 20-year period in which NeuroSearch became one of the largest European biotechnology companies. Drejer holds a PhD in neurobiology from the University of Copenhagen.

Drejer currently serves as a member of the Board of Directors for Saniona and 2CureX. He is also a Member of the Danish Academy of Engineering Science. He previously served as a member of the Board of Directors for NeuroSearch A/S, Origio A/S, NsGene A/S, Atonomics A/S, Azign Bioscience A/S, Ellegaard Göttingen Minipigs ApS, Force Technology and Monta Biosciences A/S.

Drejer holds 2,364,711 shares in Saniona and 77,000 options in the options program 2020/2024.

Chief Business Officer
Wendy Dwyer (born 1973) has more than 20 years of experience in business development, licensing, collaboration agreements, mergers & acquisitions, strategic planning and corporate leadership. Prior to joining Saniona, she served as Chief Business Officer for Surface Oncology Inc., where she secured an $815 million deal with $85 million upfront for a preclinical immuno-oncology asset. While at Surface, she also negotiated multiple highly strategic collaborative partnerships and served as a member of the executive leadership team. Previously, Dwyer served as Chief Business Officer at Portal Instruments Inc., where she secured a key device partnership with a large pharmaceutical company. Prior to that, she served as Vice President, Corporate Business Development with Ipsen BioScience Inc., where she managed the acquisition of multiple marketed and late-stage products to build the company’s U.S. and Canadian footprint. Dwyer also previously held senior business development positions at AstraZeneca plc, Antigenics Inc., Endo Pharmaceuticals Inc., and Indevus Pharmaceuticals Inc. Dwyer earned her master’s degree in business administration from Lesley University and her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Endicott College.
Dwyer holds 0 shares and 0 options in the options program 2020/2031.
Chief Technical Operations Officer
Kyle Haraldsen (born 1978) has nearly 20 years of technical operations and manufacturing experience in the biopharmaceutical industry, including in support of U.S. and E.U. product approvals. Prior to joining Saniona in January 2021, he served as the Vice President of Technical Operations and Project Management at AMAG Pharmaceuticals, where over a 7 year period, he led the process and analytical development, manufacturing, supply chain and project management functions. During his time at AMAG, Haraldsen oversaw multiple product launches, line extensions and the integration of two development stage assets.

Previously, Haraldsen served as Senior Director of Manufacturing at Radius Health where he was responsible for the developmental, operational, and budgetary oversight of CMC programs and clinical trial material in support of global Phase 3 and multinational Phase 2 clinical trials. Haraldsen also worked for Avecia Biotechnology and Johnson Matthey Pharma Services.

He holds a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Northeastern University.

Haraldsen holds 9,200 shares and 228,000 options in the options program 2020/2031.
Chief Communications Officer

Trista Morrison (born 1977) has nearly 20 years of experience in healthcare public affairs, including strategic communications and patient advocacy. Prior to joining Saniona, she founded the consulting firm PR with Purpose, LLC, to help life science companies and nonprofits communicate with authenticity and transparency. Previously, she served as Vice President of Communications and Patient Advocacy for rare disease company Sobi in North America, where she built both departments and supported milestones including FDA approvals, product launches, acquisitions, significant data disclosures, and growth from 50 to 300 employees. Prior to joining Sobi, Morrison managed corporate, product and employee communications for Ironwood Pharmaceuticals Inc. She previously worked as a reporter for BioWorld Today and held various positions at multiple biotech public relations agencies.

Morrison currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Network of Tyrosinemia Advocates (NOTA) and the Advisory Board of The Termeer Foundation.

Morrison holds 12,200 shares and 829,512 options in the options program 2020/2031.

Chief Legal Officer
Denelle Waynick (born 1967) has nearly 30 years of experience advising domestic and international companies in the healthcare and life sciences industries. Prior to joining Saniona in January 2021, Waynick served as Chief Legal Officer and Corporate Secretary at MyoKardia, where she provided strategic and practical counsel to C-suite executives in legal matters, as well as issues impacted by the regulatory and policy environment.

Waynick has also worked as in-house corporate counsel at UCB, Actavis and Schering-Plough, and in corporate law as an Associate and Partner at national and regional law firms. In addition to expertise in corporate, policy, governance and litigation matters, she has served as counsel on a range of global business transactions, including mergers, acquisitions and divestments.

Waynick holds a B.S. in Accounting from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey-Newark, and a JD from Howard University School of Law. Waynick currently serves as a member of the Board of Directors of Zogenix, Inc.

Waynick holds 14,200 shares and 283,000 options in the options program 2020/2031.