Joseph Hernandez has been the Chief Executive Officer & Executive Chairman for Blue Water Vaccines, Inc. since October 2018. He has a background in company creation, early stage technology development, as well as private and public market financing. He brings leadership to the team, backed by a strong educational foundation in biology, medicine, molecular genetics, microbiology, epidemiology, marketing, and finance. Over the course of his career, he has founded or led eight entrepreneurial companies in cutting edge areas of healthcare and pharmaceuticals. After years of building his career at Merck & Co. (NYSE:MRK) from December 1998 to January 2001 and Digene from 2005 to 2009 (acquired by Qiagen (NYSE:QGEN)) from 2005 to 2009, Mr. Hernandez founded and became the President and CEO of Innovative Biosensors from 2004 to 2009. Later, Mr. Hernandez served as the Founder and Chairman of Microlin Bio Inc. from August 2013 to January 2017 and as Chairman of the Board of Ember Therapeutics (OTCMKTS:EMBT) from April 2014 to January 2019. He was also the Chairman of Sydys Corporation from May 2016 to January 2019. In 2018, Mr. Hernandez founded Blue Water Vaccines, an early stage biotechnology company focused on manufacturing a universal influenza vaccine in partnership with the University of Oxford in England. He has served as Chairman of Blue Water Vaccines, Inc. since 2019. Most recently, in January 2020, he founded and in May 2020 sold Noachis Terra, Inc. (acquired by Oragenics (NYSE:OGEN)) a company developing a vaccine for COVID-19. From May, 2020 to September 2021, Mr. Hernandez was also the chairman and chief executive officer of Blue Water Acquisition Corp. (“BWAC”), a special purpose acquisition company which completed its initial public offering in December 2020. On September 9, 2021, Blue Water Acquisition Corp. consummated a business combination with Clarus Therapeutics Holdings Inc. (Nasdaq:CRXT) (“Clarus”). Mr. Hernandez serves as a director of the post-combination entity, Clarus, until August 2022. He completed his undergraduate studies in Neuroscience, M.Sc. in Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, M.B.A. all at the University of Florida and is completing his M.Sc. in Chronic Disease Epidemiology and Biostatistics at Yale University.
James Sapirstein, one of our directors since February 2022, has over 35 years of experience leading, founding, growing, and selling healthcare companies, specifically in the pharmaceutical space. Mr. Sapirstein is currently the President, CEO and Chairman of First Wave BioPharma, Inc. (Nasdaq: FWBI), where he has been since October 2019. His career began in sales at Eli Lilly, eventually rising to Director of International Marketing at Bristol Myers Squibb from July 1996 to June 2000, and later led the launch of Viread (tenofovir) at Gilead Sciences, Inc. (Nasdaq: GILD), where he served as Global Marketing Lead from June 2020 to June 2002. From November 2006 to January 2011, he served as founding CEO of Tobira Therapeutics (Nasdaq: TBRA), then a private company, and later acquired by Allergan (NYSE: AGN). Since then, he has served as CEO of Alliqua Biomedical (Nasdaq: ALQA) from September 2012 to February 2014 and CEO of Contravir Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq: CTRV from March 2014 to October 2018. He has been part of almost two dozen drug product launches and specifically either led or has been a key member of several HIV product launches into different new classes of therapeutics at the time. Additionally, Mr. Sapirstein holds board positions on Marizyme (OTCMKTS:MRZM) (Executive Chairman) since December 2018 Enochian Biosciences (Nasdaq: ENOB) since April 2018 and Leading Biosciences since March 2016. He previously served as a director of BioNJ from February 2017 to February 2019, an association of biopharma industries in New Jersey, from February 2017 to February 2019, RespireRX (OTCBB:RSPI) from April 2014 to January 2020, NanoViricides Inc. (NYSE: NNVC) from November 2018 to January 2020 and BWAC from December 2020 until its business combination with Clarus in September 2021. He is also a Board Director for BIO, the leading Biopharma Industries Organization promoting public policy and networking in the healthcare space, where he sits on both the Health Section and Emerging Companies Section Governing Boards. Mr. Sapirstein received a B.S. in Pharmacy from Rutgers University and his MBA from Fairleigh Dickinson University.
Mike Venerable has been one of Blue Water Vaccines, Inc.’s directors since April 2020. As CEO and managing director of CincyTech, Mike Venerable leads with experience from both sides of the table: as a software industry entrepreneur and executive, and a seasoned investment and venture capital professional. Mike joined CincyTech in 2006, helping to raise its inaugural fund. He served as managing director for a decade, evaluating investment opportunities, advising startup companies, and helping to build a network of investors and strategic partners and raise CincyTech Funds II- IV. Previously, Mike was co-founder and CEO of Talus, a leading data warehouse consultancy, which was acquired by Sagent Technology. Mike led the company’s services organization through the company’s successful IPO in 1999. He has specific experience in raising angel and venture capital, software business design and operation, software product management, business valuation, financial analysis and intellectual property. As an industry practitioner, Mike is an expert on data warehouse design, business intelligence and analytic applications and software development processes. He has consulted on strategic product development initiatives for leading technology companies, including Siebel, Advent and Micros. Mike served in the US Army as a Korean linguist after graduating from the University of Dayton.