Management Team

Management Team

Yuichi Iwaki, M.D., Ph.D.

President and Chief Executive Officer, and Founder

Dr. Iwaki holds three professorships at the University of Southern California School of Medicine in the Departments of Urology, Surgery and Pathology and has been Director of the Transplantation Immunology and Immunogenetic Laboratory since 1992. He is also a visiting professor at the Nihon University School of Medicine, Kyushu University and Toho University, School of Medicine in Japan. Prior to joining the faculty at the University of Southern California School of Medicine, Dr. Iwaki held professorships at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine in the Departments of Surgery and Pathology from 1989 through 1991. He received both his M.D. and Ph.D. degrees from Sapporo Medical School in Sapporo, Japan. Dr. Iwaki is the author of 200 peer-reviewed publications and more than 40 books. He has been advising pharmaceutical companies and venture capital funds regarding research and investment strategies for over 30 years and is a board member of several biotechnology companies.

Kazuko Matsuda, M.D., Ph.D, MPH

Chief Medical Officer

Dr. Matsuda has served as Chief Medical Officer and previously as Vice President of Clinical Development for MediciNova since 2010 and is responsible for all clinical development.  Previously, Dr. Matsuda was a clinical advisor to MediciNova for its MN-221 and MN-166 development programs.  Prior to joining MediciNova, Dr. Matsuda was assistant professor, University of Southern California, Keck School of Medicine after an appointment at the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.  Dr. Matsuda commenced her residency in internal medicine/pediatrics at Michigan State University and completed a pediatric residency at Loma Linda University.  She is a board certified pediatrician in both the United States and Japan. Dr. Matsuda received her M.D. and Ph.D. from Sapporo Medical School and MPH from Harvard University, School of Public Health.

Federico Gaeta, Ph.D.

Chief Scientific Officer

Dr. Gaeta has served as Chief Scientific Officer since April 2021. Dr. Gaeta previously served as Senior Scientific Advisor and also as Consultant for MediciNova since 2010, and is responsible for drug discovery, formulation development, manufacturing, and related activities. Previously, Dr. Gaeta was a consultant for Avigen, Inc. before its merger with MediciNova. Prior to joining forces with MediciNova, Dr. Gaeta was a senior management executive with Geron and Cytel corporations. In addition, Dr. Gaeta garnered additional drug discovery and development experience at multinational pharma companies including Bristol Myers Squibb and Merck. Dr. Gaeta obtained his Ph.D. in chemistry from Rice University and completed postdoctoral research at UCLA under Dr. Donald J. Cram, Nobel laureate in chemistry.  He is a named inventor in over 100 patents and patent publications.

David H. Crean, Ph.D.

Chief Business Officer

Dr. Crean has served as Chief Business Officer since May 2021. Dr. Crean is President and CEO of Coast BioVentures LLC, an emerging life sciences venture fund with a focus on the biopharmaceutical industry. In parallel, he is a managing partner with Cardiff Advisory LLC, a strategic and financial advisory firm focused on mergers, acquisitions and partnering transactions with life science and healthcare companies. Previously, Dr. Crean served as Managing Director for Objective Capital Partners, LLC driving its practice in the same practice domains, and currently serves in a senior advisory capacity with his former firm.  Dr. Crean currently serves in leading roles on the Boards of Directors for Histogen, Inc. as Board Chairman and the former Chairman of the Audit Committee, and the California Life Sciences Association (“CLSA”) as a member of the Executive Committee. He is a limited partner with a leading life sciences venture fund, Mesa Verde Venture Partners, and a member of Corporate Directors Forum and BIOCOM. Dr. Crean is also a contributing author for and through his work with Forbes Los Angeles Business Council.  Dr. Crean holds FINRA Series 79 and Series 63 licenses and is a Registered Investment Banking Representative of BA Securities LLC, Member FINRA SIPC. He has an M.B.A. with a finance concentration from Pepperdine University, a Ph.D. in Biophysics and a M.S. in Oncology from the State University of New York at Buffalo, and a B.S. in Biology/ Pre-Med from Canisius College.

Geoffrey O’Brien, JD/MBA

Vice President and Executive Officer

Mr. O’Brien joined MediciNova in June 2009 and has served as Vice President since October 2013. Prior to joining MediciNova, Mr. O’Brien worked on Wall Street for 10 years as an equity research analyst and investment banker covering pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies at UBS, DLJ/Credit Suisse First Boston, Nomura, and Punk Ziegel, and was a Vice President from 2004-2008. During his career as a senior equity research analyst on the sell side and buy side, he focused on clinical, scientific, financial, strategic and competitive analysis of development programs and marketed products. He used this analysis to predict the future prospects of both development-stage and established pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies. At UBS, Mr. O’Brien worked on the specialty pharmaceuticals team, which was ranked #2 in Institutional Investor magazine’s All-America Research Team survey. He executed acquisitions and equity offerings as a health care investment banker at DLJ/Credit Suisse First Boston. Prior to graduate school, Mr. O’Brien worked on the successful development of a biotechnology product at The Liposome Company. Mr. O’Brien received a B.S. in chemistry, cum laude, from the University of Delaware and completed his J.D. and M.B.A. simultaneously at Vanderbilt Law School and Owen Graduate School of Management at Vanderbilt University.

Edward Stepanow

Chief Financial Officer

Mr. Stepanow of Signature Analytics San Diego LLC was appointed our Chief Financial Officer effective June 19, 2020.  Mr. Stepanow joined the accounting services firm of Signature Analytics in February 2020. From March 2018 until February 2020, Mr. Stepanow served as Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer at Guido Companies, a commercial construction and building materials company. From January 2014 until February 2018, Mr. Stepanow served as Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer at Millennium Packaging and Distribution, a supplier of food packaging products and grocery supply items. From 2008 to 2013, Mr. Stepanow served as Corporate Treasurer and Senior Vice President of Finance at Zovio Inc., where he was responsible for managing financial planning and analysis, client accounts and financial reporting. Prior to this, Mr. Stepanow served as Senior Vice President and Corporate Treasurer at Coast Business Credit, a subsidiary of Coast Federal Bank and a division of Imperial Credit Industries. Earlier in his career, Mr. Stepanow served as Division Vice President and Area Treasurer for the Western Division Management Team at ITT Inc. Mr. Stepanow received a Bachelor of Science in Economics and a minor in Finance from San Diego State University.