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Dr. Robert T. Foster most recently was CEO of Hepion Pharmaceuticals, based in Edison, NJ and Edmonton, Canada. He is also an Adjunct Professor, Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Alberta, and is currently a Board member of Transcriptome Sciences Inc. He previously served as a Board member for the Alberta Economic Development Authority; a Council Member, Alberta Premier’s Advisory Council on Health; an Advisory Board Member, Industry Liaison Office, University of Alberta; Co-Chair and Board Member of BioAlberta; and on the Board of Management, Alberta Science and Research Authority.
Dr. Foster first began working on cyclophilin drug development in 1988 and has more than 30 years of pharmaceutical and biotech experience. Prior to Hepion, he was CEO and Founder of Ciclofilin Pharmaceuticals Inc., which merged with Hepion in 2016. Before that, he founded Isotechnika Pharma Inc. in 1993, and was its Chairman and CEO for approximately 21 years. During his tenure at Isotechnika, Dr. Foster discovered voclosporin, an immunosuppressive drug to treat autoimmune diseases.
In 2002, Dr. Foster structured a USD $215 million licensing deal, Canada’s largest at the time, for voclosporin for kidney transplant immunosuppression with Hoffman-La Roche (Basel, Switzerland). Later, he was founding Chief Executive Officer, and subsequently Chief Scientific Officer, of Aurinia after it was acquired by Isotechnika in 2013. Today, voclosporin is Aurinia’s FDA-approved therapy for lupus nephritis, marketed under the brand name Lupkynis®.
In addition to pharmaceutical discovery and development, Dr. Foster also developed and obtained regulatory approvals for a commercially available 13C urea breath test, called Helikit, for the diagnosis of H. pylori, a bacteria that may cause peptic ulcers. Dr. Foster sold Helikit in 2009. Today, it continues to generate multimillion-dollar annual sales in Canada and other countries.
Dr. Foster holds undergraduate degrees in chemistry and pharmacy and has a post-graduate PharmD and Ph.D. in pharmaceutical sciences. Dr. Foster served as a tenured, Associate Professor in the Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Alberta from 1988 to 1997. From 1990 to 1994, Dr. Foster was Medical Staff, Scientific and Research Associate in the Department of Laboratory Medicine at the Walter C. Mackenzie Health Sciences Centre.
Dr. Foster has published approximately 200 papers, abstracts and book chapters focused on drug analysis, development, and pharmacokinetics, and received numerous awards for both pharmaceutical research and teaching. He was named one of Alberta’s 50 Most Influential People in 2002, and on behalf of Isotechnika, received recognition as both Alberta Venture’s 3rd Fastest Growing Company, and Profit Magazine’s top 100 Fastest Growing Canadian Company in 2003. Dr. Foster previously served as Division Chairman of Pharmacy Practice at the University of Alberta and has acted as a consultant to many pharmaceutical companies. Dr. Foster is named as an inventor on approximately 170 patents.