About Us

The pursuit of transformative, elegant, precise solutions to restore and preserve vision.

Our core values of leadership, achievement, teamwork, integrity, and communication ground us in our pursuit.

Our leadership team

  • George Lasezkay, Pharm.D., J.D.

    George Lasezkay Pharm.D., J.D.

    Chief Executive Officer

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    Dr. Lasezkay has served as a director of our company since August 2017. Dr. Lasezkay has an accomplished history of success in the life sciences industry. For the past 15 years, he has served as an independent director on the boards of a number of domestic and foreign emerging biopharmaceutical companies, both public and private. Dr. Lasezkay currently serves on the board of directors of TheraVida, Inc., a clinical stage drug development company. Previously, Dr. Lasezkay served as Executive Vice President, General Counsel at Acucela Inc., a development stage company that specializes in identifying and developing novel ophthalmic therapeutics. For the 12 years prior to joining Acucela, he was President of Horizon Pharma Group, a private life sciences consultancy practice. Prior to his private consultancy practice, Dr. Lasezkay was Corporate Vice President for Corporate Development at Allergan, Inc., the global pharmaceutical and medical aesthetics company. His 13 years of progressive experience at Allergan includes a number of executive leadership positions, including being a member of the company’s Executive Committee, Assistant General Counsel for Commercial Affairs, and General Counsel for the Asia-Pacific Region. In these positions, he played a critical role in developing corporate strategy and was responsible for a wide variety of licensing, R&D collaboration and acquisition transactions involving new technologies, products and companies. Earning B.S. Pharmacy and Doctor of Pharmacy degrees from the State University of New York at Buffalo, and a J.D. degree from the Southern California Gould School of Law, Dr. Lasezkay also has a multi-disciplinary background in private firm and in-house legal practice, hospital pharmacy practice, clinical pharmacokinetics consultation and clinical drug research. Our board of directors believes that Dr. Lasezkay’s unique combination of clinical, legal and executive expertise, and his diverse experience working with a number of emerging biopharmaceutical companies provides him with the qualifications and skills to serve as a director of our company.
    • Ciulla

      Thomas A. Ciulla, M.D., MBA

      Chief Medical Officer

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      Dr. Ciulla has served as our Chief Medical Officer since October 2018. Prior to joining Clearside, Dr. Ciulla served a VP role, as Medical Strategy Lead-Ophthalmology at Spark Therapeutics, where he defined and led medical strategy to support development and commercialization of Luxturna (voretigene neparvovec-rzyl), the first FDA-approved gene therapy for a genetic disease. He previously served a VP role, in Clinical Strategy at Ophthotech Corporation.

      Before launching his executive management career, Dr. Ciulla co-directed the retina service and ocular angiogenesis research lab at Indiana University School of Medicine, the largest U.S. med school. He remains a volunteer Clinical Professor at the university and serves on the Board of Directors of Midwest Eye Institute. He is an active member of the American Society of Gene and Cell Therapy, Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, Macula Society, Retina Society, American Society of Retina Specialists, and the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

      Dr. Ciulla has held numerous leadership roles in clinical research, including principal investigator, medical monitor, and member of scientific advisory, data safety monitoring or writing committees in over 100 national clinical trials, including CATT and registration trials for nearly all retinal therapeutics approved by the FDA. He has served on journal editorial boards, edited several textbooks, presented at over 200 conferences, and co-authored over 200 publications, including the first published U.S.-based randomized clinical trial on any intravitreal therapy in neovascular AMD. Dr. Ciulla graduated from Harvard College and UCSF Med School, followed by an internship and residency at Harvard Med School, and a fellowship at Tufts Med School. He also earned an MBA from Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business, specializing in the business of medicine.

      • Charles Deignan

        Charles A. Deignan

        Chief Financial Officer

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        Mr. Deignan has served as our Chief Financial Officer since January 2012. From 2009 to December 2011, Mr. Deignan was Vice President of Finance and Administration for Salutria Pharmaceuticals. From 1999 to 2009, Mr. Deignan served in a number of roles with AtheroGenics, Inc., a publicly held biopharmaceutical company, including as Vice President of Finance and Administration. His career has included management positions at AAIPharma, Inc., and Schering-Plough. Mr. Deignan received his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Boston University.

        • Rafael Andino

          Rafael V. Andino

          Vice President, Engineering & Manufacturing

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          Mr. Andino has served as our Vice President, Engineering & Manufacturing since February 2013. Since June 2013, Mr. Andino has also served as an adjunct professor of biomedical engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology. From January 2009 to February 2013, he served as Director of Research and Development for Bard Medical, a division of C.R. Bard, Inc., a publicly traded company. In 1999, Mr. Andino founded, and until 2008 served as President and Chief Executive Officer of Biofisica, Inc., a biotechnology company that developed technology to expedite wound healing and regeneration of connective tissue in humans. Prior to founding Biofisica, from 1995 to 2005 Mr. Andino was a mechanical engineer, research and development director and senior project manager for CIBA Vision, a Novartis company. He has also worked for the global technology companies E.I. Dupont de Nemours, General Electric and IBM. Mr. Andino received his Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology, a Master of Science in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and an M.B.A. from Mercer University.

          • Rick McElheny

            Rick McElheny

            Vice President, Business Development

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            Mr. McElheny has served as our Vice President, Business Development since November 2016. From 2011 to 2015, Mr. McElheny Founded and served as Vice President Corporate Development and Supply Chain for Vidara Therapeutics, a specialty pharmaceutical company focused on developing and marketing orphan drugs. From 2005 to 2011, he worked in various roles at Meda Pharmaceuticals including business development, market research, and supply chain management. Prior to Meda Pharmaceuticals he worked in various supply chain roles at Johnson and Johnson and Schering Plough. Mr. McElheny holds an M.B.A. degree from New York University and B.S. degrees in Environmental Resource Management and Business Management from Penn State University.

            • Leslie Zacks

              Leslie Zacks

              General Counsel & Chief Compliance Officer

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              Mr. Zacks has served as our General Counsel and Chief Compliance Officer since September 2018. In a distinguished career, Mr. Zacks most recently served as Vice President, General Counsel and Chief Compliance Officer at Arbor Pharmaceuticals, Inc., where he provided strategic counsel on legal, intellectual property and compliance issues. Prior to joining Arbor, Mr. Zacks was Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Chief Compliance Officer at Shionogi Pharma, Inc. from 2004 to 2010. From 2002 to 2004, he worked at Hunton & Williams, LLP, where he was a partner in the Intellectual Property Litigation department. Mr. Zacks is a registered patent attorney who has held associate positions at Powell, Goldstein, Frazer & Murphy, LLP and at Webb, Carlock, Copeland, Semler and Stair, LLP. Mr. Zacks holds a J.D. and a B.A. in English from the University of Florida. Mr. Zacks serves on the Advisory Board for CURE Childhood Cancer and is on the Board of Directors for the Atlanta Track Club.

              Our vice presidents

              Barbara H. Bauschka

              Vice President, Regulatory

              Thomas Crawford

              Vice President, Supply Chain

              Colette Hall, MD

              Vice President, Safety

              Viral Kansara, Ph.D.

              Vice President, Discovery

              Lester Rodriguez

              Vice President, Quality

              Our board of directors

              • W. Humphries

                William D. Humphries

                Chairperson, Executive Vice President of Ortho Dermatologic

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                Mr. Humphries has served as a director of our company since January 2012. Since January 2017, he has served as Executive Vice President, Ortho Dermatologic. From March 2012 to December 2016, he served as President and Chief Executive Officer of the North American business of Merz, Inc., an affiliate of Merz Pharma Group, a specialty healthcare company. From 2006 to March 2012, he served in a number of leadership positions with Stiefel Laboratories, Inc., a dermatology pharmaceutical company, including as its Chief Commercial Officer and then as its President beginning in 2008. Stiefel was acquired by GlaxoSmithKline in 2009. After the acquisition, Mr. Humphries served as the President of Dermatology for Stiefel from 2009 until March 2012. Before Stiefel, Mr. Humphries served in executive roles in sales and marketing, business development, and international marketing for Allergan, Inc., concluding as vice president of its U.S. skincare business. Mr. Humphries currently serves on the board of Aclaris Therapeutics, Inc., a publicly traded company. Mr. Humphries has served on the board of ZARS Pharma, the GlaxoSmithKline Portfolio Investment Board and the GlaxoSmithKline Ophthalmology Board. Mr. Humphries received his M.B.A. degree from Pepperdine University and a B.A. degree from Bucknell University. Our board of directors believes that Mr. Humphries’ experience as pharmaceutical company executive provides him with the qualifications and skills to serve as a director of our company.

              • Richard Croarkin

                Richard Croarkin

                Board Member

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                Mr. Croarkin has served as a director of our company since February 2016. From 2007 to 2010, Mr. Croarkin was the Senior Vice President, Chief Financial Officer, and Corporate Strategy Officer of Alcon, Inc., a public ophthalmic pharmaceutical and medical device company. From 2011 through early 2013, Mr. Croarkin served as the Chief Financial Officer of Nestlé Health Science, S.A., a division of Nestlé focused on medicalized nutrition solutions for chronic medical conditions. Mr. Croarkin retired in early 2013. Mr. Croarkin currently serves on the board of directors and audit committee of Aerie Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a public commercial stage pharmaceutical company. Mr. Croarkin also occasionally serves as a panelist on the NASDAQ Listing Qualifications Panel, a panel that adjudicates appeals by companies that have received notification of delisting by the NASDAQ. In 2008 and 2009, Mr. Croarkin served as a director on the supervisory board of the German publicly traded company, Wave Light, A.G., which manufactures and globally markets laser and diagnostic systems for refractive eye surgery. Mr. Croarkin received his B.A. in economics from Georgetown University and his M.B.A. degree in finance from the University of Connecticut.

                Financial Expert
              • Jeffrey L. Edwards

                Jeffrey L. Edwards

                Board Member

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                Mr. Edwards has served as a director of our company since September 2018. Mr. Edwards retired from Allergan, Inc. in February 2015 after nearly 22 years at the Company. Mr. Edwards served as Executive Vice President, Finance and Business Development, Chief Financial Officer of Allergan, Inc. from September 2005 to August 2014. From 2003 to 2005, Mr. Edwards served as Allergan’s Corporate Vice President, Corporate Development and previously served as Senior Vice President, Treasury, Tax and Investor Relations. Prior to joining Allergan, Mr. Edwards was with Banque Paribas and Security Pacific National Bank, where he held various senior-level positions in the credit and business development functions. Mr. Edwards currently serves on the board of directors and Compensation Committee chairman of Bio-Rad Laboratories, Inc., a publicly traded medical device company, as well as on the board of directors and as Audit Committee chairman of both FibroGen, Inc, a publicly traded biopharmaceutical company. Mr. Edwards received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology from Muhlenberg College and completed the Advanced Management Program at the Harvard Business School.

              • Lasezkay

                George Lasezkay, Pharm.D., J.D.

                Chief Executive Officer

                Close

                Dr. Lasezkay has served as a director of our company since August 2017. Dr. Lasezkay has an accomplished history of success in the life sciences industry. For the past 15 years, he has served as an independent director on the boards of a number of domestic and foreign emerging biopharmaceutical companies, both public and private. Dr. Lasezkay currently serves on the board of directors of TheraVida, Inc., a clinical stage drug development company. Previously, Dr. Lasezkay served as Executive Vice President, General Counsel at Acucela Inc., a development stage company that specializes in identifying and developing novel ophthalmic therapeutics. For the 12 years prior to joining Acucela, he was President of Horizon Pharma Group, a private life sciences consultancy practice. Prior to his private consultancy practice, Dr. Lasezkay was Corporate Vice President for Corporate Development at Allergan, Inc., the global pharmaceutical and medical aesthetics company. His 13 years of progressive experience at Allergan includes a number of executive leadership positions, including being a member of the company’s Executive Committee, Assistant General Counsel for Commercial Affairs, and General Counsel for the Asia-Pacific Region. In these positions, he played a critical role in developing corporate strategy and was responsible for a wide variety of licensing, R&D collaboration and acquisition transactions involving new technologies, products and companies. Earning B.S. Pharmacy and Doctor of Pharmacy degrees from the State University of New York at Buffalo, and a J.D. degree from the Southern California Gould School of Law, Dr. Lasezkay also has a multi-disciplinary background in private firm and in-house legal practice, hospital pharmacy practice, clinical pharmacokinetics consultation and clinical drug research. Our board of directors believes that Dr. Lasezkay’s unique combination of clinical, legal and executive expertise, and his diverse experience working with a number of emerging biopharmaceutical companies provides him with the qualifications and skills to serve as a director of our company.

                • Christy Shaffer, Ph.D.

                  Christy Shaffer, Ph.D.

                  Board Member, Venture Partner and Managing Director of Hatteras Discovery

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                  Dr. Shaffer has served as a director of our company and as the Chairman of our Board of Directors since January 2012. Since August 2015, Dr. Shaffer has served as a General Partner with Hatteras Venture Partners, an investment firm and from 2011 to August 2015 as a Venture Partner. Since 2011, Dr. Shaffer has also served as Managing Director of Hatteras Discovery, which invests in early-stage companies in the life sciences industry sector. From 1995 to March 2010, Dr. Shaffer served in increasing leadership positions at Inspire Pharmaceuticals, a publicly held biopharmaceutical company, beginning as the company’s first full-time employee and Director of Clinical Operations and eventually being appointed as Chief Executive Officer and a director of the company in 1999, as its President in 2005 and a member of its Development Committee in 2009. Prior to Inspire, she was a clinical research scientist, international project leader and Associate Director of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at Burroughs Wellcome Co. Dr. Shaffer currently serves in leadership roles on several non-profit boards, including as chair of the Morehead Planetarium and Science Center’s advisory board, on the Board of Trustees for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, and as chair of the board of CFF Therapeutic, Inc. Dr. Shaffer is a receptor pharmacologist by training, earning her Ph.D. in Pharmacology from the University of Tennessee’s Health Science Center in Memphis, Tennessee. She completed post-doctoral training at The Chicago Medical School as well as the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In September 2008, the Securities and Exchange Commission approved a non-monetary settlement of its investigation relating to Inspire Pharmaceuticals’ disclosures in its periodic reports relating to a clinical trial. The Commission also approved a settlement with Dr. Shaffer, as Inspire’s President and Chief Executive Officer and a member of its board of directors, under which she consented to a cease and desist order against future violations of Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act and Rules 12b-20 and 13a-13 thereunder. The cease and desist order followed a finding by the Commission that three Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q filed by Inspire included misleading disclosure about a clinical trial, specifically that the trial was described as “confirmatory” and “replicating” the efficacy found in an earlier trial. Dr. Shaffer did not admit or deny any findings in the order, and the order did not include any finding of any violation of any statute or regulation that involved any intentional wrong doing or fraud, any monetary payments or other sanctions or otherwise affect Dr. Shaffer’s future employment status, nor did it prohibit Dr. Shaffer from serving in any capacity on public company boards of directors. Our board of directors believes that Dr. Shaffer’s clinical background as a scientist and her leadership experience as chief executive of a public company in the biopharmaceutical industry provides her with the qualifications and skills to serve as a director of our company.

                • Clay Thorp

                  Clay B. Thorp

                  Board Member, General Partner with Hatteras Venture Partners

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                  Mr. Thorp has served as a director of our company since January 2012. In 2001, Mr. Thorp co-founded and has since served as General Partner of Hatteras Venture Partners, an investment firm, where he leads investments in a range of life science companies in the biopharmaceutical, medical device, diagnostics and research informatics sectors. Previously, he was instrumental in the founding of several life sciences companies, including serving as co-founder, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of Synthematix, Inc., a chemistry informatics company that was acquired by Symyx Technologies in 2005, co-founder and former Chairman of PhaseBio Pharmaceuticals, Inc., co-founder and head of corporate development for Novalon Pharmaceutical Corporation, which was sold to Karo Bio in 2000, and co-founder and president of Xanthon, Inc., a bioinformatics company with electro-chemical detection technology for direct analysis of DNA, RNA and proteins. Mr. Thorp holds a Masters of Public Policy degree from Harvard University and a B.A. degree in Mathematics and History from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Our board of directors believes that Mr. Thorp’s experience as an entrepreneur and an investor in life sciences companies provides him with the qualifications and skills to serve as a director of our company.

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