Aciont
Envisioning the Future of Ocular Therapeutics
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About Us

Management Team

John W. Higuchi, MBA, MSIS
President and CEO
John Higuchi has extensive experience in the area of product and technology licensing, finance and marketing management, public policy (in the areas of biotechnology, health care research and education) and research and development experience in start-up companies specializing in drug delivery. Before coming to Aciont®, Higuchi was strategic in the start-up of Lipocine Inc., a leading lipids-based drug development company, and where he served as Vice President of Business Development and Treasurer and he currently serves on its Board. He received his B.S. in Chemistry at Hope College, and his MBA and Master of Science in Information Systems from The George Washington University.
Balbir  Brar, D.V.M., Ph.D.
Senior Vice President, Research and Development
Dr. Brar has 25 years of drug development experience working with major pharmaceutical companies. This included 16 years at Allergan (NYSE:AGN) as VP Drug Safety, Metabolism, Pharmacokinetics, Life Sciences and Drug Candidate Optimization where he was responsible for building a new R&D facility at a cost of $75 million; staffing the facility with 100 scientists, and managing over 20 projects in all major therapeutic areas with an annual budget in excess of $20 million. His tenure at Allergan resulted in regulatory submission of 50 IND's/510K's and world-wide approval of 8 major NDA's that later became very successful drugs currently on the market, including: Alphagan, Lumigan, Tazarotene and Botox. During this period he developed strong contacts with world-wide regulatory agencies and contract research organizations. Through strong technical strengths and negotiations he reduced the drug approval time by a number of years, for an early entry to the market, thus changing Allergan from a small operation to a major pharmaceutical of over $2 billion annual sales. Prior experience includes SmithKline & Beckman (NYSE: GSK) as a Sr. Director of Drug Safety, where he participated in the early stage development and regulatory submission of a number of IND's. As a Sr. Scientist at Lederle /Wyeth (NYSE: WYE) he developed Azmacort for asthma and topical Aristocort, both multimillion dollar products currently on the market. Dr. Brar obtained his Ph.D. in Toxicology/Pathology from Rutgers and holds a DVM from India.
William I. Higuchi, Ph.D.
Chairman of the Board and CTO
Dr. Higuchi is a Distinguished Professor of Pharmaceutics in the Department of Pharmaceutics and Pharmaceutical Chemistry at the University of Utah. He received a B.A. from San Jose University and a Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of California at Berkeley. Along with graduating more than 100 Ph.D. students, Higuchi has authored more than 400 peer-reviewed papers and book chapters in the area of pharmaceutics and is a world-renowned leader in the field of drug delivery. Dr. Higuchi is co-founder and Chairman of Lipocine Inc., a lipid based drug delivery company located in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Dr. Higuchi was a co-founder of TheraTech, Inc., and served as Chairman, which is now a subsidiary of Watson Pharmaceuticals. Higuchi has had over 40 years of experience in the research and development of non-invasive therapeutics and medical devices, including over 15 years experience pioneering iontophoretic theories. Dr. Higuchi served as the editor for the International Journal of Pharmaceutics and as the editor of The Journal of Pharmaceutical
Kongnara  Papangkorn, Ph.D.
Vice President, Product Development
Dr. Papangkorn is leading Aciont’s preclinical studies. He is a registered pharmacist in Thailand and worked for Merck in Thailand two years prior to earning his graduate degree. Dr. Papangkorn graduated with honors from Chulalongkorn University (Thailand) with a B.S. in Pharmaceutical Science and later earned his Ph.D. in Pharmaceutics and Pharmaceutical Chemistry from the University of Utah. Dr. Papangkorn was introduced to ocular drug delivery research by his Ph.D. advisor, Dr. William I. Higuchi in 2006.
Charlotte A. Butler, B.S.
Project Manager/Research Scientist
Ms. Butler has a B.S. in Physiology and Developmental Biology from Brigham Young University. Butler has 5 years of experience working with in vivo drug testing models, with an emphasis on physiology and drug delivery design based engineering, which includes working with a group commercializing transdermal drug delivery systems. Butler studied limb development gaining expertise with in vivo surgeries on animal embryos.
Sarah Molokhia, Ph.D.
Research Consultant
Sarah Molokhia has over 10 years in ocular drug delivery experience. After completing her B.S in pharmacy school, she achieved her PhD in pharmaceutical chemistry, University of Utah. Her research focus was on transscleral iontophoresis, ocular imaging and ocular pharmacokinetics. She developed a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) method that is able to see how drugs migrate through the eye (pharmacokinetics of the drug) in real time (i.e., in vivo) after both topical and iontophoretic applications. She then joined the Moran Eye Center for a postdoctoral position for 2 years working on intraocular drug delivery implants and conjugation of biomarkers to proteins for imaging. Furthermore, she is Director of Pharmacodynamics, iVeena