Kiora and Théa Open Innovation Enter Partnership to Develop and Commercialize KIO-301

What a beautiful world

Developing innovative pharmaceuticals to improve vision

Our Company
Kiora Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Kiora) is an ophthalmic specialty pharmaceutical company that develops therapies for the treatment of orphan retinal diseases. Publicly traded on the NASDAQ under KPRX, our mission is to help patients restore vision.

Revitalized with a new energy

Kiora’s pipeline is comprised of multiple New Chemical Entities for the restoration of vision in patients with orphan retinal diseases. Stay tuned as we advance these assets with key clinical milestones in the upcoming 12 to 18 months.

What’s in a name?

Kiora is a play on the Māori phrase that means “have life” or “be healthy.” Ora also means “eye” in Latin. In essence, we are striving as a company to give more people the gift of better vision and healthier eyes.

In the Pipeline
These therapeutics are still in development and are not yet approved for commercial use.

Brian M. Strem, PhD

President & Chief Executive Officer

Brian was a co-founder and Director of Bayon Therapeutics, Inc., and  Okogen, Inc. Prior to founding Okogen, Brian worked at Sound Pharmaceuticals, Allergan and Shire, where he was responsible for business development and corporate strategy in ophthalmology, otology and regenerative medicine.

Brian began his career at Cytori Therapeutics with elevating roles within the commercial and R&D departments. Brian received his BS in Bioengineering from Cornell University and his PhD in Biomedical Engineering from UCLA.

Eric Daniels

Eric Daniels, MD, MBA

Chief Development Officer

Eric has nearly 20 years of operating experience in biotechnology and medtech companies. Prior to joining Kiora, he served as the CEO of OccuRx Pty Ltd as well as Co-founder and Director of Bayon Therapeutics, Inc., both focused on the development of next generation ophthalmic therapeutics. Eric is also a Co-Founder and Director of Okogen, Inc., a specialty ophthalmic biotechnology company.

Eric previously served as part of the leadership teams at Puregraft LLC, Tensys Medical, and Cytori Therapeutics, Inc., serving in senior medical, R&D, and commercial roles. Eric holds an MBA from the Anderson School of Management at UCLA, where he also received his MD from the UCLA School of Medicine. Eric received his BS in Molecular Biology from the University of California, Berkeley.

Stefan Sperl, PhD

Stefan Sperl, PhD

Executive Vice President of CMC and Operations

Stefan acts as Executive Vice President CMC and Operations at Kiora. Previously, he was the co-founder and COO of Panoptes Pharma. Prior to this position he was global Project Manager at Nabriva Therapeutics AG, responsible for development of XENLETATM from early preclinical to clinical phase 2 programs. Before that he had various roles in R&D at Biovertis AG, Austria and Wilex AG, Germany.

He has profound knowledge of drug development and is an inventor on numerous patents. Dr. Stefan Sperl received his PhD in Medicinal Chemistry from the Max Planck Institute in Martinsried, Germany.

Melissa Tosca

Executive Vice President of Finance

Melissa Tosca is the Executive Vice President of Finance for Kiora Pharmaceuticals. She has 22 years of public accounting and finance experience, including 15 years at biotechnology and life science companies. Prior to joining Kiora, Melissa served as Executive Director of Finance and Corporate Treasurer for Neomorph, where she managed the company’s finance and accounting functions. Prior to Neomorph, Melissa served as Director of Finance and Accounting at Omniome, where she built the accounting and finance infrastructure and managed the company’s financial operations. Prior to Omniome, she spent 9 years at Caris Life Sciences, serving in various leadership roles including Director of Finance and Accounting, Director of Financial Planning and Analysis and Senior Director of Sales Operations. Melissa began her professional career in public accounting at Clifton Gunderson and later Ernst and Young as an Audit Manager. Melissa is a Certified Public Accountant and holds a B.S. in Accounting from the University of Arizona.

Board of Directors

Praveen Tyle, PhD


Praveen has served as a Director since June 2008. He is currently founder of Potens Pharmaceuticals. Until April 2023, Dr. Tyle was the President & CEO of Invectys, Inc, an immuno-oncology company spun out of the world-renowned Pasteur Institute, Paris. Prior to joining Invectys, Inc, he was Executive Vice President of Research & Development at Lexicon Pharmaceuticals. Until February 2016, Dr. Tyle was President, Chief Executive Officer and Member of the Board of Directors of Osmotica Pharmaceutical Corp. He led the merger of Osmotica with two other companies in 2016. He previously served as global Executive Vice President, Chief Scientific Officer and Managing Director of Osmotica Pharmaceutical Corp.’s Marietta, Georgia site. Prior to joining Osmotica, Dr. Tyle served as Executive Vice President and Chief Science Officer for the United States Pharmacopeia (USP). Prior to joining USP, Dr. Tyle served as Senior Vice President and Global Head of Business Development and Licensing at Novartis OTC, as well as Senior Vice President and Global Head of Research and Development. He also is an independent member of the board of Orient EuroPharma Co., Ltd. of Taiwan and a member of the Board of Directors of SKYE Biosciences, San Diego, CA and Maxwell Biosciences, Austin Texas. Dr. Tyle holds a doctorate in pharmaceutics and pharmaceutical chemistry from the Ohio State University and a Bachelor in Pharmacy (honors) from the Indian Institute of Technology, Banaras Hindu University in India.

Dr. Hollander

David Hollander, MD, MBA


Dr. Hollander currently serves as Chief Research & Development Officer of Aerie Pharmaceuticals where he is responsible for overseeing clinical, preclinical and development groups, as well as medical and professional affairs. Previously he served as the Chief Medical Officer, Senior Vice President at Ora, Inc, an ophthalmic-specific contract research organization.

Prior to this, he spent a decade at Allergan with increasing leadership roles, including Head of EyeCare for Global Medical Affairs, as well as VP and Therapeutic Area Head of Anterior Segment Clinical Development.

Erin Parsons

Erin Parsons


Erin was appointed as an independent Director for Kiora Pharmaceuticals in early 2022. She brings extensive knowledge and experience of the eyecare industry, and a broad clinical understanding of major ophthalmic diseases. During her career, she participated in the commercialization of XIIDRA®, OXERVATE®, LUCENTIS®, BEOVU®, DUREZOL®, and ZIRGAN®, among others.

In 2010, she founded Parsons Medical Communications where she currently serves as President. This leading agency provides scientific and strategic consulting to small and large companies in the ophthalmic space. Prior to PMC, she was a founding member of Sirion Therapeutics where she led the Medical Communications department. Erin is involved with various associations in the eyecare space including Ophthalmic World Leaders, Ophthalmic Innovation Summit and The Holland Foundation for Sight. Erin holds a BS in Biology from Wake Forest University.

Kenneth Gayron


Ken currently serves as Chief Financial Officer of Computer Services, Inc., a leading provider of end-to-end financial software and technology, where he oversees the company’s finance and accounting functions. Most recently, Mr. Gayron served as Chief Financial Officer & Executive Vice President at Avid Technology, where he was responsible for driving strategic growth initiatives, capital allocation, and repositioning the company with the investment community.

Previously, he served as Chief Financial Officer and interim Chief Executive Officer for Numerex, where he played a significant role in the company’s acquisition by Sierra Wireless and was Chief Financial Officer for Osmotica Pharmaceutical Inc. Ken has also had senior finance and investment banking roles with UBS Investment Bank and CIBC World Markets. He earned his MBA from Cornell University and his B.S. in finance from Boston College.

Aron Shapiro


Aron is currently Senior Vice President and Partner in the Asset Development & Partnering group at Ora, Inc. He is responsible for Ora’s strategic partnering activities, where he evaluates and performs diligence on new investment opportunities.

Previously, Aron was responsible for establishing and leading clinical regulatory strategy and clinical operations across a number of anterior and posterior segment indications for Ora’s service business in ophthalmology and was responsible for Ora’s business development and international growth strategy. He earned his B.S. in biological chemistry from Bates College.

Brian M. Strem, PhD

President & Chief Executive Officer

Brian was a co-founder and Director of Bayon Therapeutics, Inc., and  Okogen, Inc. Prior to founding Okogen, Brian worked at Sound Pharmaceuticals, Allergan and Shire, where he was responsible for business development and corporate strategy in ophthalmology, otology and regenerative medicine.

Brian began his career at Cytori Therapeutics with elevating roles within the commercial and R&D departments. Brian received his BS in Bioengineering from Cornell University and his PhD in Biomedical Engineering from UCLA.

Carmine Stengone


Carmine Stengone has more than 20 years of experience as an executive in the life science industry where he has in founded, operated, financed, transacted and negotiated strategic alliances for the companies he has served. Carmine is currently President, Chief Executive Officer and a member of the board of directors for Contineum Therapeutics. In his role as CEO of Contineum Therapeutics, he has completed three private rounds of financing totaling >$180 million and executed a >$1 billion collaboration with Janssen Pharmaceutica NV, one of the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson.  Previously, he served as Senior Vice President, Business Development for COI Pharmaceuticals (now Avalon BioVentures Accelerator),  and a member of its investment committee, where he helped co-found six new biopharmaceutical companies. While with Avalon Ventures, Carmine served as President and Chief Executive Officer of Avelas Biosciences, Inc.  He also served as Vice President of Corporate Development for Afraxis Holdings, Inc. and co-founder and CEO of Afraxis, Inc., a spin-out company from Afraxis Holdings.  Earlier in his career, he held positions of increasing responsibility with Phenomix Corporation , Anadys Pharmaceuticals, Inc., and Johnson & Johnson. Carmine received his MBA from the Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University and his M.S. and B.S degrees in chemistry from Duke University and Wake Forest University, respectively.

Scientific Advisory Board

Daniel Durrie, MD


Daniel Durrie, MD, is a board certified ophthalmologist. He is a Clinical Professor and Director of Refractive Surgery Services at the University of Kansas Medical Center, and the Director of the Ophthalmic Refractive Surgery Fellowship program. Daniel founded the Nebraska Lions Eyebank in 1979 and served as its Medical Director.

Daniel is the Founder and President of Durrie Vision and has served on the Board of Directors of the Eyebank Association of America. Currently, he serves on the board of directors of the International Society of Refractive Surgery. He has participated in over 150 FDA clinical studies and has authored over 150 peer-reviewed scientific journal articles. He received his MD and completed his ophthalmology residency at the University of Nebraska, graduating with distinction.

He completed a Corneal Fellowship with Filkins Eye Institute in Omaha, Nebraska. Dr. Durrie was named one of the 50 “Most Influential Ophthalmologists in the World” by Cataract and Refractive Surgery Magazine.

Mark Pennesi, MD, PhD


Dr. Pennesi is the Kenneth C. Swan Endowed Professor of Ophthalmology and Chief of the Paul H. Casey Ophthalmic Genetics Division of Molecular and Medical Genetics at the Oregon Health & Science University, School of Medicine. He received his BS from UPenn, MD & PhD from Baylor College of Medicine and trained at Scripps Mercy Hospital in San Diego.

Dr Pennesi is a passionate clinician scientist focused on bringing cures to patients with inherited retinal diseases. He has led multiple clinical trials across various platforms for various inherited retinal diseases over his career.

Both Research to Prevent Blindness and the Foundation Fighting Blindness have recognized Dr. Pennesi with career development awards to support his ambition to conduct transitional research that will bring treatments for diseases such as retinitis pigmentosa from the laboratory to the clinic. Additionally, he is the recipient of the 2011 ARVO/Alcon Early Clinician Scientist, the Alcon Young investigator Award in 2014, and the Casey Eye Institute Resident teach award.

Allen Ho, MD, PhD


Dr. Allen C. Ho is an internationally recognized retina specialist specializing in state of art patient care and is a leader in the development of new medical and surgical treatments for retinal diseases such as age related macular degeneration, macular diseases, diabetic retinopathy and surgical retinal diseases. He is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Cornell University College of Arts and Sciences, receiving highest distinction in all subjects. He graduated from Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and was elected Co-Chief Resident during his ophthalmology residency at Wills Eye Hospital. He completed a Fellowship in Vitreoretinal Diseases at Manhattan Eye, Ear and Throat Hospital where he was awarded a Heed Ophthalmic Fellowship. Currently, he is Attending Surgeon at Wills Eye Hospital and Director of Retina Research at Wills Eye Hospital. He is former Co-Director of the Wills Retina Fellowship, widely recognized as the premier retina training program in the country.

Dr. Ho is Professor of Ophthalmology at Sidney Kimmel Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University, Board Certified in Ophthalmology and a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons. He is an active member and leader in several societies including the American Academy of Ophthalmology, Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, The American Society of Retina Specialists, The Macula Society, The Retina Society, The Society of Heed Fellows, The Vail Vitrectomy Society, The Pennsylvania Academy of Ophthalmology and The Greater Philadelphia Ophthalmic Society (past President). He serves on the Executive Committee and is President of the Retina Society.

Dr. Ho has authored over 200 scientific publications and is Editor-in-Chief of Current Opinion in Ophthalmology and Chief Medical Editor of Retina Today, a global publication that features new treatments for retinal disease. He is an invited lecturer at national and international ophthalmic meetings and is author of The Wills Eye Hospital Color Atlas and Synopsis of Retinal Disease and Age Related Macular Degeneration Diagnosis and Treatment. He has received the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s Secretariat Award, AAO Senior Honor Award, American Society of Retina Specialists Senior Honor Award and Crystal Apple Award, NEOS Taylor Smith Award, Aspen Retina Society Founder’s Award, American Diabetes Association’s 75th Anniversary Distinguished Physician Award and has been named a Charter Member to The Retina Hall of Fame and The Ophthalmologist’s Top 100 Most Influential People in Ophthalmology.

He serves on multiple Scientific Advisory Boards, including the Ophthalmic Devices Committee of the United States Food and Drug Administration. He also serves as Principal Investigator and Study Scientific Steering Committee member of multiple collaborative clinical research programs locally and internationally. Dr. Ho has been named to Castle Connolly’s “Best Doctors in America”, “America’s Top Ophthalmologists”, “Top Doctors of New Jersey” and “Top Doctors of Philadelphia” as elected by peer physicians. He is a volunteer for Eye Care America, serving underinsured Americans with medical need and a member of the Board of the American Diabetes Association of Greater Philadelphia whose mission is to improve the care and quality of life of individuals afflicted by diabetes mellitus.

Paul Karpecki, OD, FAAO


Dr. Paul Karpecki has been a prominent voice in optometry, with over 20 years of experience. Currently he serves as Director of Cornea Services for Kentucky Eye Institute in Lexington KY and the Ocular Surface Disease Center at the Gaddie Eye Centers in Louisville KY, as well as an Associate Professor at the Kentucky College of Optometry.

In 2016, Paul was appointed co-chair of the Tear Film and Ocular Surface Society Symposium in Montpellier, France and served as a member of the Diagnosis Sub-committee for TFOS DEWS II. He is also chief clinical editor and director of clinical content for Review of Optometry, as well as chairman of the New Technology and Treatment Conferences. He serves on the board for the charitable organization Optometry Giving Sight and has delivered over 1,000 lectures and authored over 1,000 papers. 

Previously, he served as co-chair for the Dry Eye Summit, Director for the CJO Optometric Dry Eye Guidelines for Eye Care. Paul earned his doctor of optometry degree from Indiana University. He completed a fellowship in medical cornea and refractive surgery from the Pennsylvania College of Optometry. He was one of two optometrists appointed to the Delphi International Society at Wilmer-Johns Hopkins, which included the top 25 dry eye experts in the world.

Christine Kay, MD , PhD


Dr. Christine Kay, MD, is a clinical scientist focused on inherited retinal diseases and is a vitreoretinal surgeon. She is the Director of Electrophysiology, Retinal Genetics, and Clinical Trials at Vitreoretinal Associates in Gainesville, Florida, and an Affiliate Assistant Professor at the University of South Florida. Prior to this, she was an Assistant Professor and Director of the retinal genetics service at the University of Florida.

She graduated from Harvard University with a magna cum laude in neuroscience, attended medical school at the University of Florida and completed her vitreoretinal surgical fellowship at the University of Iowa. After her vitreoretinal surgical fellowship, she was awarded a five-year Career Development Award from the Foundation Fighting Blindness, which launched her career as a clinical-scientist and inherited retinal disease specialist, and funded research focusing on optimizing adeno-associated virus (AAV) genetic therapy for the treatment of achromatopsia. Dr. Kay is a member of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the Macula Society and the Retina Society.

She has published over 38 research papers in peer-reviewed ophthalmic journals, authored textbook chapters and serves as an editor for multiple ophthalmology and retinal journals. Dr Kay has developed a large inherited retinal disease patient population in her clinic, with over 1,000 patients in her clinical database.

Francis Mah, MD


Francis Mah, MD, is an ophthalmologist specializing in advanced corneal, cataract and refractive surgery. He believes in using the latest techniques to treat each patient with compassion and respect, just as though they were members of his own family. Dr. Mah has special clinical interests in corneal diseases and infections, corneal transplant surgery (DSAEK, PKP, DALK), advanced small incision laser cataract surgery, premium intraocular lenses, and refractive surgery, such as LASIK and PRK.

Dr. Mah treats corneal dystrophies, such as Fuchs’ endothelial dystrophy and anterior stromal dystrophies, as well as keratoconus and other corneal thinning disorders. In addition, he has done research and is considered an international expert on corneal infections (bacterial, viral, fungal, and parasitic).

He holds leadership positions in ophthalmology academies and societies and has taught LASIK and cataract surgery at academy and society meetings worldwide. A popular speaker who has delivered addresses on ophthalmic surgeries in more than 50 countries on 6 continents, Dr. Mah is an esteemed educator who has disseminated his expertise through more than 200 presentations and clinical publications.

Dr. Mah was selected as a “Top Doctor” for 2013. This is the 10th consecutive year the San Diego County Medical Society and San Diego Magazine have compiled this esteemed list of board-certified physicians who are held in the highest regard by their peers.

Victor Perez, MD


Dr. Victor Perez is a board-certified ophthalmologist, professor of Ophthalmology at Duke University and a recognized clinician-scientist investigator.  With over 25 years of professional experience, he has specialized in ocular immunology, uveitis, corneal and external diseases, corneal transplant surgery, ocular surface diseases, keratoprostheses, complex cataracts and intraocular lens implantation. He is also a director of Duke Eye Center’s newly launched Ocular Immunology Center.

Previously he served as a Professor of Ophthalmology at the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine and held the Walter G. Ross Chair in Ophthalmic Research. Victor has been affiliated with companies such as Alcon Laboratories, Bausch & Lomb, Shire Pharmaceuticals, Allergan, Eyedesis Biosciences and OBT Inc. Dr. Perez received his medical degree from the University of Puerto Rico. He completed his fellowship in immunology, ocular immunology as well as cornea and uveitis at Harvard Medical School. He is a member of The American Academy of Ophthalmology.

Russell Van Gelder, MD, PhD


Dr. Van Gelder was born and raised in and around New York City. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Stanford University. He remained at Stanford for the MD/PhD program, earning his PhD in Neurosciences studying the molecular biology of circadian rhythms.

Following internal medicine internship at Stanford, he completed his residency in ophthalmology at Barnes-Jewish Hospital/Washington University in St. Louis, and his medical retina and uveitis fellowship at the Barnes Retina Institute.

Charlie Wykoff, MD, PhD


Dr. Wykoff is Director of Research at Retina Consultants of Texas and Chairman of Research & Clinical Trials, Retina Consultants of America. He received his baccalaureate from MIT, PhD from Oxford, MD from Harvard, and completed retina training at Bascom Palmer Eye Institute.

He is passionate about translational research and clinical trial design and has published over 200 peer-reviewed manuscripts. He serves on multiple scientific and medical advisory boards, safety monitoring committees, and global steering committees for endeavors spanning the innovative process from early to late stage developments.

He is President of the Vit-Buckle Society, serves on the ASRS Board of Directors, and is also a founding member of the Ophthalmology Retina Editorial Board. He has been awarded multiple Achievement and Honor Awards along with the ASRS Young Investigator and the AAO Secretariat Awards.