– USA, WA – Acucela Inc. (TOKYO:4589), a clinical-stage biotechnology company that specializes in discovering and developing novel drug candidates to potentially treat and slow the progression of sight-threatening ophthalmic diseases, has announced that it has nominated Shintaro Asako to stand for election to the Company’s Board of Directors at the 2015 Annual Meeting of Shareholders on June 25, 2015 at Acucela’s headquarters in Seattle.
Mr. Asako, age 40, is the Chief Executive Officer of DeNA West, the U.S. affiliate of Tokyo-based DeNA, a global leader in mobile Internet services. Before becoming CEO in 2013, Mr. Asako was the Chief Financial Officer of DeNA West and, before that, served as CFO of MediciNova, Inc., a biopharmaceutical company traded on the NASDAQ Global Market and the JASDAQ Market of the Tokyo Stock Exchange. From 1998 to 2005, Mr. Asako held various positions at KPMG LLP and Arthur Anderson LLP, providing a variety of audit, tax, and business consulting services to multinational clients. Mr. Asako is a graduate of the Leventhal School of Accounting at the University of Southern California.
“Mr. Asako not only has executive management experience and a strong background in finance and financial accounting. He also has experience in the management of U.S. biopharmaceutical companies and publicly listed companies in the U.S. and Japan,” said Ryo Kubota, MD, PhD, Chairman, President and CEO of Acucela Inc. “He is an excellent fit for Acucela’s Board of Directors.”
Mr. Asako is intended to replace Yoshitaka Kitao, the Chief Executive Officer of SBI Holdings, Inc., a Japanese financial services group and large shareholder in Acucela, who has decided not to stand for re-election at the Annual Meeting and will retire from the Board effective June 25, 2015. Mr. Kitao was elected to the Board on May 1 as one of four new members to the 5-member Board, which that same day appointed Dr. Kubota, Acucela’s founder and former Chief Executive Officer, as Company President and Chief Executive Officer. The Board also appointed a new Acucela executive management team with a combined eight decades of experience in executive leadership, health care management, life science administration and technology.
“I became personally involved as a Board member because the recent leadership changes were so important for Acucela and I wanted to show my support,” said Mr. Kitao. “I am comfortable with the Company’s leadership going forward, including the nomination of Mr. Asako to the Board of Directors.”
“Acucela is grateful for Mr. Kitao’s service on the Board of Directors, which was integral to better positioning the Company as a global leader in the development of treatments for ophthalmic diseases,” Dr. Kubota said.
About Acucela Inc.
Acucela Inc. is a clinical-stage biotechnology company that specializes in discovering and developing novel drug candidates to potentially treat and slow the progression of sight-threatening ophthalmic diseases, which could impact millions of individuals worldwide. Acucela currently has the following co-development agreements with Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd.: emixustat hydrochloride, its lead investigational drug candidate for geographic atrophy associated with dry age-related macular degeneration based on Acucela’s proprietary visual cycle modulation technology; and OPA-6566, an investigational compound originating from Otsuka for the treatment of ocular hypertension and glaucoma.
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