ONL’s experienced board of directors is actively involved in helping the company achieve its goal of protecting and improving the vision of patients with a range of retinal diseases and conditions.

John Freshley, President and Chief Executive Officer

John has 17 years in leadership roles of fast-paced entrepreneurial companies within both the life science and software fields. His expertise spans the assembly of multi-disciplinary leadership teams, product and business strategy development, partnership development, communications, and venture capital fundraising.

Most recently, John was chief business officer of Compendia Bioscience through its acquisition by Life Technologies. He helped launch the company in 2006 with co-founders from the University of Michigan and served as its interim chief executive officer. In this role, he assembled the management team, secured initial funding and acquired the company’s initial round of customers. Previously, John had been president and chief executive officer of Genetics Squared, an Ann Arbor start-up focused on developing personalized oncology drugs and diagnostics.


David Zacks, M.D., Ph.D., Interim CEO, Co-Founder and Chief Science Officer

Dr. Zacks is an associate professor of ophthalmology and a clinician-scientist at the University of Michigan, Kellogg Eye Center. For over the past 15 years his research has focused on the molecular regulatory mechanisms controlling photoreceptor death or survival in retinal disease. Dr. Zacks is a pioneer and recognized thought leader in the field of retinal neuroprotection and photoreceptor cells physiology. He has demonstrated that the Fas pathway is largely responsible for cell death and has discovered unique molecules that block the Fas receptor and preserve photoreceptors.

A recognized expert in the study of retinal detachment, Dr. Zacks has received numerous honors for his work, including the Macula Society’s W. Richard Green Lecture and Award in 2011. He earned his M.D. and Ph.D. degrees at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and completed his residency in ophthalmology and fellowship in vitreoretinal surgery at Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary of Harvard Medical School.


Rafael E. Castilla

Mr. Castilla is the director of investments and structuring at the University of Michigan Investment Office and a supervisor of the University of Michigan’s Michigan Investment in New Technology Startups (MINTS) program. In his role at the University of Michigan, Mr. Castilla manages MINTS, the University’s direct investment program in early stage venture companies. He has also lectured on investment management law at the University of Michigan Law School. Mr. Castilla has spent his career in the securities industry having held legal and business positions with JPMorgan Chase and Merrill Lynch. He received an AB in applied mathematics from Harvard College and a JD from Yale Law School, and is also a CFA charterholder.


Mark E. Hooper

Mark has nearly 40 years of experience in public accounting, including 17 years as a partner with Ernst & Young. Currently, he serves as a founding member of Andrews, Hooper, Pavlik PLC, a regional CPA firm in the state of Michigan. During his career, Mark has accumulated broad professional expertise which ranges from advanced tax matters for business and publicly traded corporations to estate and individual tax planning.

An active member of the business community, Mark serves on the board of directors of the Auto Owners Insurance Group and Capital Community Angels, in addition to ONL Therapeutics. He also holds the position of treasurer of the Capital Community Angels and has served as chair of a number of community boards, providing guidance to groups ranging from the Capital Region Community Foundation to the Broad College of Business Alumni Board at Michigan State University.


M. Christine Gibbons

Chris has over thirty years of financial management, fundraising and operating experience and for the past twenty years has been deeply involved with early-stage emerging technology companies, both as an investor and part of entrepreneurial management teams. Together with other founders, she has raised over $80 million in start-up capital to launch and support fourteen new ventures.

Chris is currently Co-Founder/Chief Operating Officer of HistoSonics, Inc., a medical device company developing a non-invasive, image-guided, highly precise tissue ablation technology for cost effective treatments of significant cancers and diseases. She has served the company in various roles including president, chief operating officer and interim chief executive officer. Prior to HistoSonics, she has held various leadership roles in entrepreneurial ventures including Executive in Residence (EIR) for Venture Investors, LLC, chief financial officer for Sensicore, a company with lab-on-a-chip sensor products (acquired by a division of GE), VP of Finance for Ardesta, an investor in “small-tech” opportunities and Partner and CFO of Seaflower Ventures, a venture capital firm focused on early-stage biomedical opportunities.

Chris serves as an Advisor to Apjohn Ventures Fund LP, is a member of UM’s Venture Center Council and is an advisory board member of Michigan State University’s Center for Venture Capital, Private Equity and Entrepreneurial Finance. She was on the Technical Oversight Committee for the Coulter Program at the University of Michigan (UM) from 2008 – 2016 and serves as a guest lecturer at Michigan State University’s Business School. Chris holds an MBA from Wayne State University and a BA from Michigan State University.

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