The Yaso Team

We have medical, scientific and business experience

The leadership team have dedicated decades to improving sexual health of millions through providing medical care as well as research in new drugs, the development of new drugs and devices and full commercialization of the Today® Contraceptive Sponge and the Instead Softcup®.  We know that to be successful, we must produce consumer-centered products that people trust and control.
 

We are Committed

Developing better contraceptives and reversing the growing epidemic of sexually transmitted disease is not a get-rich-quick field.  We see a global and growing problem with few solutions on the horizon.  However, dedicated research scientists, medical and public health professionals, working hard to keep people healthy.  We hope to make a global difference.
 

Trustworthy

We have a track record of successful regulatory compliance and are in communication with FDA for our lead products.  We will produce products that are safe, efficacious and pleasant to use.
 

Funded

Our science is current and innovative.  We have been funded by the National Institutes of Health through four peer-reviewed, Small Business grant to support drug Development.  Both NIAID (1R42 AI069659, R43/R44 AI084225)  and NICHD (1R44 HD092206) awards total $4.5 million.  We also won a $50,000 First Prize in the Harvard Business School New Venture Competition Social Enterprise in 2013.

 

Mary Weitzel

CEO/President

Mary has 16 years’ experience in the field of women’s reproductive health and 25+ years of successful senior management experience.  Prior to founding Yaso in 2004, she was President and COO of Instead Inc. (now Evofem Inc.)  a women's reproductive health company that makes and markets the Instead Softcup® (OTC Device).   Prior to joining Instead Inc. in 2000, she was President of CBI Laboratories, an FDA-registered contract manufacturer of OTC drugs and personal care products including skin care and other topical products.  She has also served as President and Director of Operations for manufacturers of specialty polymers and specialty chemicals. She has served as co-PI and PI on three NIH-NIAID grants totaling and currently serves a PI for Phase 2 SBIR grant from NICHD.  She was the first prize winner of Harvard Business School’s New Venture Social Enterprise Competition in April 2013. She has served as grant reviewer for NIAID-DAIDS, served as a mentor for MBA students at HBS and consulted to entrepreneur MDs and PhDs starting their own life science ventures or research seeking federal funding. Mary has an MBA from Harvard School of Business Administration and BS from the University of Utah.

 

Barbara North MD, PhD

Medical Director

Barbara is a practicing family physician and clinical researcher with a strong commitment to women’s health. She earned her undergraduate degree from Stanford University, her Ph.D. in physiology from the University of California, her M.D. from the University of Miami (FL), and residency training in Family Medicine at the University of California Irvine. Dr. North has been a spokesperson for women’s health issues for more than 30 years. She has a strong track record as a Medical Director for two companies where she led clinical studies that resulted in commercialization of two reproductive health products - the Today® Contraceptive Sponge and the Instead Softcup®.  In addition to those two products, her research activities have included clinical testing the safety and effectiveness of a urinary incontinence device, as well as treatments for vaginal infections such as yeast and bacterial vaginosis. She helped design the Instead menstrual Softcup®, and conducted the clinical trials that demonstrated its safety and acceptability. Currently, Dr. North is focused on developing better methods of contraception and protection against sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.  

 

Donald Waller, PhD

Dr. Waller is a Professor at the University of Illinois Chicago  has served as a consultant to 25 pharmaceutical and chemical companies, as well as non-profits and Federal and International agencies such as NIH, FDA, EPA, and WHO, primarily in the area of reproductive sciences and toxicology.  As cofounder of TOPCAD, he fostered several lead vaginal microbicides to clinical trials, the establishment of drug GMP standards at international sites, the development of a preclinical testing program, and the preparation of the IND's to support the products.  He has co-patented several products. Don has particular expertise in animal toxicology and manufacturing.  He is also an excellent spokesperson and liaison to the domestic and international research and drug manufacturing communities and will be invaluable in helping us establish working partnerships with international entities.

 

Advisors

 

Toni Chancellor, PhD

Advisor, consultant - CMC

Dr. Chancellor has been a senior manager of CMC development and manufacturing throughout her career.  She was most recently VP of Manufacturing at Ironwood Pharmaceuticals and held senior manufacturing positions at Genzyme, Gel Tex and Procept.

PhD - MIT

 

Chris DeJonge, PhD

Scientific Advisor - Contraception and Assay Development

Director of Andrology Program, University of Minnesota Medical Center; Adjunct Professor University of Minnesota.

Dr. DeJonge has been actively involved in the field of Reproductive Endocrinology for 30 years.  He is board-certified as a high-complexity clinical laboratory director and the first person to be certified as “Embryologist” by the American College of Embryology.  Professor De Jonge has served as an Editor for numerous books and publications including the “WHO Laboratory Manual for the Examination of Human Semen and Sperm–Cervical Mucus Interaction”, “Human Reproduction”, “Biology of Reproduction”, “Journal of Andrology”, “Fertility & Sterility” and “Reproductive BioMedicine Online”. Professor De Jonge has written over 20 book chapters and more than 50 peer-reviewed scientific publications, and edited numerous books, including: “Assisted Reproductive Technologies: Accomplishments and New Horizons”, and “The Sperm Cell: Production, Maturation, Fertilization, Regeneration”. Christopher serves as an ad-hoc reviewer for numerous prominent journals and for major granting agencies such as the NIH.

PhD - Rush University Medical Center

 

Alec Krunic, PhD

Scientific Advisor - Chemistry

Director of Shared Instrument Resources and Research Assistant Professor, Department of Medicinal Chemistry and Pharmacognosy, University of Illinois at Chicago. Co-discoverer of PPCM.

Alec is an expert in chemical synthesis, conformational studies of small molecules and polymers in solution by nuclear magnetic resonance and computational modeling. He  advises the company on synthesis and manufacturing issues.  He will also continue to explore new applications of PPCM for other indications in humans.

PhD - University of Illinois, Chicago

 

Pedro Mesquita, PhD

Scientific Advisor - Virology

Medical Liaison, Theratechnologies Inc.; formerly Assistant Professor, Albert Einstein College of Medicine (AECOM).

Dr. Mesquita is an accomplished virologist with expertise in HIV and HSV and has conducted published research on PPCM.  He supported vaginal microbicide research at Mount Sinai School of Medicine as well as AECOM.  

PhD - St. George’s University of London

 

Michael Oldham, PhD

Co-founder, Advisor - Regulatory Affairs and Product Development

Dr. Oldham is currently Principal Scientist at Altria Client Services, serving on the team that is helping the tobacco industry with FDA regulatory compliance.  He has over 27 years’ experience in medical device and pharmaceutical startups, focusing on regulatory affairs and product development.  Mike led development and obtained approval for novel products including vaginal contraceptives (Today® Contraceptive Sponge, Amphora®), menstrual protection (Ultrafem Softcup®), anti-infectives (Lectin Biopharma) and infection controls products among others. He has been a consultant to numerous medical and life-science companies including reproductive health companies.  He served as EVP and COO of Lectin Biopharma Inc.; was VP Regulatory and Technical Affairs at Ultrafem Inc. where he spearheaded development and FDA approval of the Softcup®.; General Manager of Spectrum IntraOcular; and Director of Regulatory Affairs for VLI Corporation, creators of the  Today® Contraceptive Sponge.  Mike provides domestic and international regulatory guidance and compliance for the company.