As the global psychedelics industry booms, with companies going public, major financings being announced, and celebrities and big investors getting on board, Benzinga has decided to put together a list of some of the top executives in the space to keep an eye on.
15 Global Psychedelics Executives To Keep An Eye On
- Najla Guthrie, KGK Sciences & Wellbeing Digital Science (Canada)
- Kevin Mckenzie, Carvin Medicines (Switzerland)
- Amy Emerson, MAPS (United States)
- Marco Algorta, Bienstar Wellness & Beneva Clinics (Brazil)
- Amanda Feilding, Beckley Foundation (England)
- Tim Schlidt, Palo Santo (United States)
- Sylvia Benito, Justice Partners (United States)
- Maria Velkova, Tabula Rasa (Puerto Rico)
- Kabir Nath, Compass Pathways (United States)
- Connor Haslam, Microdose Psychedelic Insights (Canada)
- Jeff Zuber, Zuber Law (United States)
- Doug Drysdale, Cybin (United States)
- Ronan Levy, Field Trip (United States)
- Natalie Dolphin, Women in Psychedelics (Canada)
- Sara Brittany Somerset, Psychedelia Magazine (United States)
Najla Guthrie, KGK Sciences & Wellbeing Digital Science (Canada)
Najla Guthrie is revolutionizing the way we treat and talk about wellness. As the CEO of KGK Science and Wellbeing Digital Science, Najla is a global leader in the nutraceutical and emerging psychedelic industry with a focus on fundamentally changing the way we treat and prevent mental illness.
Her original research at the Centre for Human Nutrition at the University of Western Ontario led to the development of a cholesterol-lowering product that is still on the market today and was the catalyst for the founding of KGK Science.
Najla has since published over 50 papers in peer-reviewed journals, holds over 20 US and International patents, and serves on the NPC Board of Directors, and is a shareholder in numerous cannabis and nutrition businesses.
She founded and grew KGK Science, a full-service premium contract research organization. Creating a business that focuses on high-quality clinical research and regulatory expertise to bring safe and effective products to global markets.
When KGK partnered with Wellbeing Digital Science, an evidence-based healthcare company focused on innovative clinical solutions, her expertise and passion made her a great fit to take on the role of CEO.
Today, Najla continues to present and speak at a global level, lobby for the advancement of policy changes in the supplement and cannabis industries, and lead the team at Wellbeing Digital Science and KGK Science.
Her latest initiative, the Women in Psychedelic Network, is an opportunity for women in the psychedelic space to collaborate and leverage their collective voice in a male-dominated industry.
Amy Emerson, MAPS (United States)
Amy Emerson is the Chief Executive Officer at the MAPS Public Benefit Corporation (MAPS PBC), a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), a 501(c)(3) non-profit. As the Chief Executive Officer, Amy has led the growth and development of this new subsidiary and is responsible for overall global regulatory strategy and implementation of research programs with a focus on the MDMA-assisted psychotherapy program within MAPS PBC.
Amy started as a pro bono consultant at MAPS in 2003, and since then has built MAPS’ clinical department while managing the MDMA Clinical Development Program with a focus on the PTSD indication. In 2014, MAPS Public Benefit Corporation was incorporated to focus on psychedelic drug development, therapist training programs, and future sales of prescription psychedelics prioritizing public benefit above profit.
Amy brings decades of pharmaceutical development and research experience in Phase 1 through Phase 3 Randomized Controlled Trials including supporting three successful regulatory approvals for new biologics. Her professional experience at Novartis, Chiron and other pharmaceutical companies (1993-2009) spans various fields including immunology, oncology and vaccines.
Marco Algorta, Bienstar Wellness & Beneva Clinics (Brazil)
Marco, CEO of Bienstar Wellness, is considered a pioneer in the development of the medical cannabis industry in Uruguay. Together with the Universidad de la República and the Institut Pasteur de Montevideo, he promoted scientific research in preclinical models. He also collaborated with clinical research at the Maciel Hospital.
In 2017, Marco was the co-founder of the association for research and development of medical cannabis in Brazil, Cannab. That same year, he was the mentor of the first hemp project accelerator in the region, SmartHemp, from the Sinergia Tech Hardware Accelerator.
Marco also founded the Cannapur company, which was successfully sold to Khiron Life Sciences KHRNF, a publicly traded company on the Toronto Stock Exchange.
Marco was one of the founders of the Uruguayan Chamber of Medicinal Cannabis Companies and was elected as its first president.
Bienstar currently offers psychedelics-assisted addiction recovery treatment under the Clinicas Beneva brand.
Amanda Feilding, Beckley Foundation (England)
Amanda Feilding has been called the "hidden hand" behind the renaissance of psychedelic science, and her contribution to global drug policy reform has also been pivotal and widely acknowledged. Amanda was first introduced to LSD in the mid-1960s, at the height of the first wave of scientific research into psychedelics. Impressed by its capacity to initiate mystical states of consciousness and heighten creativity, she quickly recognized its transformative and therapeutic power. Inspired by her experiences, she began studying the mechanisms underlying the effects of psychedelic substances and dedicated herself to exploring ways of harnessing their potential to cure sickness and enhance well-being.
In 1996, Amanda set up The Foundation to Further Consciousness, changing its name to the Beckley Foundation in 1998. She realized that the potential harms and benefits of cannabis and psychedelics could only be adequately assessed by developing a sound scientific understanding of their mechanisms of action. Through the Foundation, she set about using cutting-edge brain imaging technologies to examine the neurophysiological changes underlying altered states of consciousness.
Through her leadership of the Beckley Foundation’s Science Programme, Amanda has initiated much ground-breaking research and has co-authored over 50 scientific articles published in peer-reviewed journals. She collaborates with leading scientists and institutions around the world to design and direct a wide range of scientific research projects (including clinical trials) investigating the effects of psychoactive substances on brain function, subjective experience, and clinical symptoms, with a focus on cannabis, the psychedelics (LSD, psilocybin, ayahuasca, DMT, 5-MEO-DMT) and MDMA. This pioneering research has not only shed light on the mechanisms of action and therapeutic potential of these substances, but also on consciousness itself.
Furthermore, in her role as co-director of the Beckley/Imperial Research Programme, she helped generate the world’s first images of the brain on LSD, one of her long-standing ambitions. While her first love is science, Amanda continues to bridge the divide between science and drug policy: her pioneering psychedelic research is providing the scientific evidence to fuel a fair debate on drug policy reform. Such reform will, in turn, allow for research on currently prohibited psychedelic substances to flourish, uninhibited by regulatory obstructions. Ultimately, the goal of Amanda’s work is to make psychedelics and cannabis into approved medicines, so that they can be legally prescribed at clinics for those in need.
Tim Schlidt, Palo Santo (United States)
Tim Schildt, co-founder and partner at Palo Santo, brings extensive knowledge of investing across life sciences and healthcare services.
Tim has held a lifelong passion for understanding and improving treatments for CNS disorders. Having witnessed the immense therapeutic potential of psychedelic medicines, Tim has been one of the most active participants and investors in the emerging industry.
Tim believes psychedelics are poised to shift the paradigm in mental health treatment and his primary mission in co-founding Palo Santo is to invest in companies and solutions that allow for broad, safe access to those most in need of mental healthcare.
Prior to co-founding Palo Santo, he covered the life sciences and healthcare services sectors as a private equity investor at Madison Dearborn Partners and an investment banker at J.P. Morgan JPM and Greenhill GHL.
Kevin Mckenzie, Carvin Medicines (Switzerland)
Kevin McKenzie is president and chairman of Alpex Pharma, a 37-year-old pharma company based in Switzerland.
He is also the co-founder and president of Carvin Medicines, a novel medicines clinical research company based in Switzerland and Israel, and co-founder, president and chairman of Surreal Biosciences, a Swiss longevity biopharma company.
Kevin graduated with an MBA from Wharton Business School. He has over 20 years of global private equity experience in top-notch firms including Cerberus Capital Management, Morgan Stanley Private Equity, and multinational pharma and biotech company top leadership roles.
Sylvia Benito, Justice Partners (United States)
Sylvia Benito is a rare blend of spirit-dweller and financier. An indigenously trained shaman, and Chief Investment Officer for a billion-dollar portfolio, Sylvia is known as "a master in the energetic realm." Sylvia assesses investments beyond the pitch and numbers on paper. She uses her uncanny ability to cut straight to the bone, beyond the "noise" as she calls it, to discern where power and integrity live in a person or a company.
As one of only 0.2% of professional investors to hold a CFA charter, Sylvia’s investment insights on early-stage companies fuel those who are capable of affecting social shifts at a massive scale. An active advisor and investor in some of the world’s most compelling psychedelic startups, Sylvia also holds a shamanic ceremony with a select few CEOs each year to provide higher guidance and next-level insights on their ventures.
Sylvia is a sought-after international speaker with an extraordinarily rare range of mastery. Beyond fluency in the languages of money and energy, Sylvia is fluent in English, Spanish and French.
Maria Velkova, Tabula Rasa (Puerto Rico)
Prior to joining Tabula Rasa Ventures, Maria founded Biogenesis Ventures in 2020, an advisory practice focusing on strategy and management consulting for start-ups, early growth stage, and investment companies in the biotechnology and healthcare space. She has helped healthcare funds and family offices raise capital, identify acquisition targets, and evaluate potential investment opportunities across several healthcare sectors including pharma, diagnostics, and social care. Additionally, Maria has supported a start-up focused on adaptive music for psychedelic therapy and helped them raise $1 mm through private investors and with introductions to strategic partners.
Maria spent 6 years in biopharma strategy consulting at ZS Associates where she diversified her experience across the whole pharma value chain including R&D, pipeline strategy, launch strategy, M&A, sales force design, market research, organizational effectiveness and regulatory tactics. She has worked with clients like Roche RHHBY, AstraZeneca AZN, Gilead GILD and UCB across neurology, oncology, and immunology therapy areas.
Some of her most prominent work includes designing clinical trials for a new Parkinson’s Disease therapy, building financial models to inform investment strategies, developing a global commercial operating model for an $8 billion merger for an oncology drug, as well as go-to-market strategies for numerous blockbuster therapeutics. Her vast experience across the drug development pipeline and several leading pharma companies augments her expertise in understanding the end-to-end process necessary to commercialize early-stage therapies, diagnostics, and medical devices. During this time she was also the Board leader of the Women Leadership Initiative (WLI) in London, which runs both internal and external initiatives to help support women in corporate careers.
In 2016, she was a visiting lecturer at the University of Cambridge, Masters in Bioscience Enterprise (MBE).
Maria also worked at the Novartis Institute of BioMedical Research in 2011 where she designed and executed preclinical R&D studies on TMEM16a for cystic fibrosis, for which she has a publication in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.
Kabir Nath, Compass Pathways (United States)
Kabir Nath has approximately thirty years of experience in the biopharmaceutical and medical device industry.
Prior to joining COMPASS Pathways CMPS, Kabir was Senior Managing Director of global pharmaceuticals at Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. and, before that, President and CEO of Otsuka’s North America Pharmaceutical Business, where he led the development of pharmaceutical products and digital solutions addressing complex mental health needs.
Kabir has also held various leadership positions at Bristol Myers Squibb, a global biopharmaceutical company focused on innovative medicines for patients with serious diseases.
Kabir holds an MA from the University of Cambridge and an MBA from INSEAD.
Connor Haslam, Microdose Psychedelic Insights (Canada)
With almost a decade of experience in video production and creative media pursuits, Connor Haslam brings rich experience and diverse insight into his role as Chief Executive Officer at Microdose. His lifelong advocacy for the therapeutic use of psychedelic medicine is expressed through artful, creative and ethical brand development.
Despite never having had a single cup of coffee Connor has somehow found the energy to be a CMO and Lead Designer at 24, build dozens of brand identities, and help establish numerous businesses as leaders in the cannabis industry. His unrestrained passion for psychedelic medicine and the immense hope it has to offer the world continues to fuel his progress in this rapidly emerging space.
Jeff Zuber, Zuber Law (United States)
Jeff Zuber is a founder of Zuber Lawler. He focuses on high-stakes intellectual property, regulatory and commercial litigation. He does this work for Fortune companies and funds, as well as leading cannabis companies. He is increasingly focused on representations relating to the emerging psychedelics industry.
He’s had extreme success representing clients in hotly contested corporate and partnership disputes in the “plant” medicines industry going back 16 years. He recently won a $65 million award in an arbitration over a cannabis distribution contract relating to The Weekend Box, including punitive damages and attorney’s fees.
He is also a founder of the magazine Psychedelia. He is a graduate of Indiana University School of Law – Bloomington.
Doug Drysdale, Cybin (United States)
Doug has more than 30 years of experience in the healthcare sector. As a skillful corporate director, in early 2014, Doug led the recapitalization of a NASDAQ-listed pharmaceutical company, raising $65 million. Within the first year of taking the helm as Chairman and CEO of Cybin CYBN, Doug rebuilt the management team and board of directors, and built a 220-person sales team, complete with supporting functions (marketing, sales training, sales operations, and analytics). His efforts grew the company’s enterprise value exponentially from $80 million to around $800 million. Under Doug’s leadership, the pharmaceutical company raised $465 million of capital.
Earlier in his career, Doug served as Head of M&A at Actavis Group, leading 15 corporate acquisitions across three continents, between 2004 and 2008, including a high-profile public hostile takeover attempt in Central Eastern Europe. Over this period, Doug raised approximately $3 billion of capital and managed lending syndicates, including over 25 banks, to fund its growth. Actavis was sold to Watson Pharmaceuticals in 2012 for €4.25 billion.
In 2008, Doug teamed up with investors to lead the turnaround of Norwich Pharmaceuticals and became the Founding CEO of its parent company, Alvogen Group. During his five-and-a-half-year tenure as CEO, he transformed Norwich’s manufacturing from a two-product facility to over 25 products. Doug built extensive R&D capabilities, improving staffing efficiency by 25%. Simultaneously, Alvogen grew from inception to $450 million in revenue across 35 countries, building an R&D facility in New Jersey, a Contract Research Organization in India, and creating a product development pipeline of over 50 products for the U.S. market.
Doug holds a bachelor’s degree in Microbial and Molecular Biology from the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom. Ernst and Young recognized him as Entrepreneur of the Year in 2012.
Ronan Levy, Field Trip (United States)
An entrepreneur and a visionary, Ronan is one the founders of Field Trip Health & Wellness Ltd FTHWF. Concurrent with his work at Field Trip, he is a partner at Grassfed Ventures, a venture capital and advisory firm focused on the cannabis and biotech industries and is Chief Strategy Officer and Member of the Board of Directors for Trait Biosciences Inc., a leading biotech company in the hemp and cannabis industries.
Prior to his current roles, Ronan co-founded Canadian Cannabis Clinics and CanvasRx Inc., the latter of which was acquired by Aurora Cannabis Inc. ACB in 2016, after which he served as Senior Vice President, Business and Corporate Affairs for Aurora.
A lawyer by training, Ronan started his career as a corporate lawyer at Blake, Cassels Graydon LLP and Legal Counsel at CTVglobemedia Inc. (now Bell Media Inc.) He holds a Juris Doctor and a Bachelor of Commerce degree, both from the University of Toronto.
Natalie Dolphin, Women in Psychedelics (Canada)
Natalie Dolphin is the president and executive director as well as a board member of the Women in Psychedelics network, a network of professionals from all corners of the psychedelic industry strengthening women’s voices and creating innovative mental health solutions in the industry.
Natalie Dolphin is the VP of Marketing and Investment Relations at Wellbeing Digital Sciences and KGK Science Inc. Ms. Dolphin brings over 15 years of experience in marketing, business development and capital markets. Natalie held a managerial role at the Canadian Securities Exchange (CSE), enabling companies to go public, in addition to helping with series A and B funding opportunities. Prior to joining Wellbeing, she served as the Director of Marking at MagicMed Industries subsequently, acquired by Nasdaq-listed Enveric Biosciences Inc ENVB, where she held the same title. As part of the executive leadership team, Natalie will be responsible for overseeing the planning and execution of Wellbeing’s North American marketing and investor relations strategy.
Sara Brittany Somerset, Psychedelia Magazine (United States)
Sara Brittany “SB” Somerset started the first specialized drug-policy-related news desk at the United Nations over a decade ago. She served as UN Bureau Chief for a cannabis publication for several years. She is currently an UN-based Cannabis Correspondent™ and senior global drug policy analyst. She is often called upon to consult and convey the novel uses of cannabis and psychedelic drugs to UN-based diplomats and other reporters.
As a foreign correspondent, Sara Brittany accompanied the UN Security Council on a handful of missions to Africa, including the AMISOM base in Somalia. She covered the unregulated cannabis trade during the Blood Diamond Wars in Sierra Leone. Her industry coverage has a penchant for social justice issues and equality.
In 2018, she received an AxisWire award for Best Freelance Cannabis Writer. In 2020, SB was listed on Green Market Report’s 100 Most Important Women In Weed, and in 2021, as one of journalist tracker Muckrack’s Top 10 Cannabis Writers.
SB is the managing editor of Psychedelia magazine and contributes to additional trade publications including Cannabis & Tech Today, Cannabis Now, and Global Cannabis Times.
© 2023 Benzinga.com. Benzinga does not provide investment advice. All rights reserved.
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