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Senior Management

Rodney Varner, Executive Chairman & CEO

Mr. Varner has more than thirty years of legal experience with large and small law firms, and as outside general counsel of a NASDAQ traded company. Rodney represents for-profit and non-profit companies at the Board of Directors or senior management levels in a wide variety of contractual, business, tax and securities matters, including technology transfers, licensing, collaboration and research agreements, clinical trial contracts, pharmaceutical and biologics manufacturing and process development contracts, state and federal grants, including NIH and SBA grants, corporate governance and fiduciary issues, and real estate matters. Rodney serves as counsel in company formation, mergers and acquisitions, capital raising, other business transactions, protection of trade secrets and other intellectual property, real estate, and business litigation.

Rodney is a member of the State Bar of Texas and has been admitted to practice before the United States Court of Appeals for Fifth Circuit and the United States Tax Court. He is a registered securities representative and owner of a company that is a licensed securities broker-dealer. He maintains Series 7, 24, 63, and 79 securities registrations.

Rodney is a member of the Board of Directors of Texas Healthcare and Bioscience Institute (THBI), and serves as its General Counsel. He is also a founder and member of the Board of Directors of Texas Medical Device Alliance.

Rodney is a graduate of the University of Texas School of Law (J.D., 1978); and Texas A & M University (BBA, with high honors, 1976.)

Julien Pham, MD, MPH, Chief Operating Officer

Julien L. Pham, MD, MPH, has over fifteen (15) years of leadership experience in clinical settings and in emerging medical technology companies.  During this time, he has held various research and teaching positions including Chief Residency in Internal Medicine and Pediatrics, and has received multiple awards including excellence in teaching awards from AOA and Harvard Medical School.  He is a board-certified Internal Medicine doctor and Nephrologist, who has received NIH research funding for translational research while at Harvard, and has published in basic science, translational, and health policy fields. Dr. Pham most recently co-founded and served as Chief Medical Officer of RubiconMD, a healthcare IT company that connects primary care providers to specialists for additional guidance and opinions on medical cases.  Prior to RubiconMD, he served on faculty at Harvard Medical School’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital with an appointment at Dana Farber Cancer Institute. He received his MD from the University of Washington School of Medicine and his MPH at the Harvard School of Public health.

Ryan Confer, Chief Financial Officer

Mr. Confer has more than ten years of experience launching and developing emerging technology companies. Previously, he served as an International Business Development Strategist for the University of Texas at Austin where he focused on evaluating the commercialization potential of nascent technologies for domestic and international markets. Prior to his experience at the University of Texas, Ryan served as an investment manager for a $500 million early-stage technology investment fund where he analyzed market opportunities, identified and negotiated operational milestones, and negotiated deal terms for approximately 100 early-stage technology companies.

Ryan has provided strategic advisory services and served as a board member for several Austin-based technology startups. He has served as an advisor for several Texas-based incubator and accelerators and regularly serves as a mentor and judge for the Jon Brumley Texas Venture Labs at the University of Texas at Austin. Ryan is a graduate of McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin (MS in Technology Commercialization, 2009) and Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania (BSBA in Finance and Legal Studies, 2005).

Elizabeth Han, Corporate Counsel

Elizabeth Han, JD joined Genprex from Norton Rose Fulbright, LLP in 2016. Elizabeth handles a variety of legal matters for the company. While at Norton Rose Fulbright, she focused her practice primarily on health care compliance and regulatory matters and represented a number of large medical device manufacturers, pharmaceutical companies, and hospitals. She has extensive experience in matters relating to the Federal Anti-Kickback Statute, the False Claims Act, and the Stark Law.

Elizabeth received her J.D. from the University of Michigan School of Law and her B.A. from Columbia University. Prior to working at Norton Rose Fulbright, she served as a judicial intern for the Honorable Judge Lee Yeakel at the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas. She also worked as a student attorney for the University of Michigan’s Child Welfare Appellate Clinic where she assisted parents with child custody issues. She is a member of the State Bar of Texas.


David E. Friedman, Board Member

Mr. Friedman has a unique and valuable mix of high-level and relevant finance, legal and operations experiences that make him a well-rounded business leader. As a partner of Austin, Texas-based TCG Group Holdings, David oversees an SEC-registered investment advisor to separately managed institutional and private client accounts. In addition, David is a managing partner of ACM Investment Management, which manages hedge fund assets acquired from KeyCorp (NYSE: KEY), the bank holding company parent of KeyBank. Previously, David was the Chief Operating Officer of Austin Capital Management, where he led the company’s non-investment functions, including all legal, finance, investor relations, technology and operations teams. Before joining Austin Capital, David was a Director on the Global Prime Brokerage desk in the New York offices of Citigroup, and an associate at the law firm of Proskauer Rose in its New York headquarters.

David earned his undergraduate degree in management from Tulane University, and a Juris Doctor degree from Duke University School of Law. He is admitted to the Bar of the State of New York, also maintaining his FINRA Series 4, 7, 24 and 63 securities registrations.

Robert W. Pearson, Board Member

Mr. Pearson currently serves as Vice Chairman & Chief Innovation Officer of W2O Group, one of the fastest growing communications firms in the world. W2O Group and its companies (WCG, Twist Mktg, BrewLife, NextWorks) focus on integrated business solutions to drive growth through “pragmatic disruption of the status quo” for the world’s leading brands via offices in San Francisco, New York, Minneapolis, Austin, Los Angeles, Atlanta and London. Bob has previously worked for 25 years at three Fortune 500 companies and a major consultancy. He was Vice President of Communities and Conversations at Dell Inc. where he was responsible for developing an industry-leading approach to the use of social media, as highlighted in GroundSwell. Before joining Dell, Bob worked for Novartis Pharmaceuticals as Head of Global Corporate Communications and as Head of Global Pharma Communications, where he served on the Pharma Executive Committee. Prior to Novartis, Bob was President of The Americas for GCI and was responsible for creating and building the firm’s global healthcare practice. He was previously Vice President of Global Public Affairs & Media Relations at Rhone-Poulenc Rorer (now Sanofi-Aventis). Bob is an author of PreCommerce and serves on several technology advisory boards. He holds a Master’s Degree from Fairleigh Dickinson University and Bachelor’s Degree from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Jack A. Roth, M.D., Key Medical & Scientific Advisor, SAB Chairman

Jack A. Roth M.D., an internationally-recognized pioneer in targeted therapies for cancer, is the lead inventor of Oncoprex and was principle investigator for the world’s first IND for gene therapy for lung cancer. Dr. Roth is Professor and Bud Johnson Clinical Distinguished Chair, Department of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery; Professor of Molecular and Cellular Oncology; Director, W.M. Keck Center for Innovative Cancer Therapies; and Chief, Section of Thoracic Molecular Oncology, UTMDACC. Dr. Roth is the author of more than 600 peer-reviewed original research publications, the author of approximately 100 invited articles, the author of approximately 65 other articles and abstracts, the author of more than 100 book chapters and serves as editor or editorial board member of a number of medical journals. He has been an invited presenter at hundreds of medical and scientific conferences and symposia. Dr. Roth is the inventor of approximately 40 separate patent families representing hundreds of patents and patent applications. Most recently, he was selected as the 2015 Honorary Member of the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO), the highest honor ASTRO bestows on distinguished cancer researchers, scientists and leaders in disciplines other than radiation oncology, radiobiology or radiation physics.

Dr. Roth received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Cornell University in Ithaca, New York and received his MD degree from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

James E. Rothman, PhD, Strategic Advisor to the Board of Directors

Dr. Rothman is an internationally renowned scientist. He was awarded the 2013 Nobel Prize in medicine and has received numerous other honors including the Lasker Basic Research Award. Dr. Rothman is also a biopharmaceutical company founder, life science industry executive and prestigious academic leader. Dr. Rothman served as chief scientist and executive committee member at GE Healthcare, a $15B unit of General Electric Corporation. Prior to the acquisition of Amersham Biosciences PLC by GE Healthcare, Dr. Rothman served as chief scientist at Amersham. His distinguished academic career includes endowed chairs at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center where he served as vice-chair of the Sloan-Kettering Institute; Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons; and Yale University, where he is currently professor and chair of cell biology and executive director for high throughput cell biology. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, and fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.