Scientific Advisory Board

Craig J. Hawker, Ph.D.

Dr. Craig J. Hawker serves as director of the California Nanosystems Institute (CNSI), director of the Dow Materials Institute, and co-director of the Materials Research Lab at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB). He holds the Alan and Ruth Heeger Chair in Interdisciplinary Science at UCSB and is the Clarke Professor within CNSI. He is a member of the Materials Department and the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at UCSB. He also serves as an honorary professor in the School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences at the University of Queensland, Australia. Earlier in his career, he was a Queen Elizabeth II Research Fellow at the University of Queensland, Australia. He also was a research staff member at the IBM Almaden Research Center in San Jose, Calif.

Dr. Hawker’s research activities focus on synthetic polymer chemistry and materials design, integrating fundamental studies with the development of nanostructured systems for application in the biomedical, advanced electronic materials and personal care industries. Dr. Hawker has helped develop several materials that have been commercialized, including Olaplex, a hair repair treatment that reconnects broken disulfide bonds, for which he was a co-inventor.  

In addition to Relypsa, he has served on Scientific Advisory Boards for Amgen, Ilypsa Technologies, Symyx Technologies and Intermolecular.  

Dr. Hawker has authored more than 450 peer-reviewed papers, and his scientific work has led to 60 patents. He currently serves as editor of the Journal of Polymer Science and is on the editorial board of many other polymer-related publications. He has received numerous awards throughout his career, including the American Chemical Society (ACS) Award in Polymer Chemistry, the Centenary Prize from the Royal Society of Chemistry, and the Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award from ACS. He has been elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society (London), the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the ACS and the Royal Society of Chemistry.

Dr.  Hawker received a B.Sc. in chemistry from the University of Queensland and a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from the University of Cambridge, U.K. He completed post-doctoral work at Cornell University.

Randy Holmes-Farley, Ph.D.

Dr. Randy Holmes-Farley is a consultant in the fields of therapeutic polymers, biomaterials and drug discovery. He co-invented eight therapeutic polymers that reached clinical trials, three of which subsequently received FDA approval -- sevelamer hydrochloride and sevelamer carbonate for the control of serum phosphorus in patients with chronic kidney disease on dialysis, and colesevelam hydrochloride, a lipid-lowering agent.  

Dr. Holmes-Farley helped start GelTex Pharmaceuticals, a therapeutic polymer company that was acquired by Genzyme for more than $1 billion based largely on the technology that he co-invented. During 20 years at GelTex and later Genzyme, Dr. Holmes-Farley oversaw the therapeutic polymer and biomaterials activities and held positions of increasing responsibility, most recently serving as vice president and Distinguished Scientific Fellow. Following his tenure at Genzyme, he became a consultant for Genzyme/Sanofi and other pharmaceutical companies, venture capital firms and government agencies. Subsequent to that, he co-founded PixarBio Corporation, which focuses on polymeric drug delivery for neuroscience applications, and served as its chief technology officer.

Dr. Holmes-Farley has authored 35 journal publications, primarily related to polymers and therapeutics. His scientific work has led to 76 issued U.S. patents. He was named an American Chemical Society (ACS) Polymer Division Fellow and admitted to the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) College of Fellows. He has received several awards, including the ACS Team Innovation Award and the ACS Polymer Chemistry Division Industrial Sponsors Award.

Dr. Holmes-Farley received a B.A. in biology and chemistry from Cornell University and a Ph.D. in chemistry from Harvard University.  

Karen Madsen, Ph.D.

Dr. Karen Madsen is a professor of medicine in the Division of Gastroenterology and director of the Center of Excellence for Gastrointestinal Inflammation and Immunity Research (CEGIIR) at the University of Alberta, Canada. Her research interests include understanding interactions between gut microbes and the host and how to design treatments aimed at manipulating the gut microbiota to promote health and treat inflammatory bowel diseases.

She is the author of more than 120 publications in peer-reviewed journals. She has received several awards for her research, including from the Canadian Society for Clinical Investigation, the American Gastroenterological Association, the Canadian Association of Gastroenterology, and the Canadian Association for Medical Education. 

Dr. Madsen received a B.A. and an M.S. in biochemistry from the University of Manitoba, Canada, and a Ph.D. in gastrointestinal physiology from the University of Calgary, Canada.  She completed her postdoctoral training in gastrointestinal inflammation and immunology at the University of Alberta. 

Randy Mrsny, Ph.D.

Dr. Randy Mrsny has more than three decades of industry and academic experience in pharmaceutical sciences, drug development, and research into the mucosal trafficking of peptide and protein therapeutics. He currently serves as the co-founder and chief scientific officer of Applied Molecular Transport, a biopharmaceutical company developing oral biologic therapies. He also holds the Professor’s Chair of Epithelial Cell Biology in the Department of Pharmacy and Pharmacology at the University of Bath, U.K. His research focuses on finding novel methods to treat inflammatory conditions and epithelial-derived cancers.  

Earlier in his career, Dr. Mrsny led the drug delivery/biology research group at Genentech and the peptide biology research group at ALZA. He founded Trinity Biosystems, which focused on the mucosal delivery of macromolecules and antigens for vaccination, and Unity Pharmaceuticals, which explored novel methods to treat inflammatory conditions and epithelial-derived cancers.

In addition to Relypsa, he serves on Scientific Advisory Boards for Midatech, Catalent and Ipsen.

Dr. Mrsny is considered an expert in macromolecular drug delivery and was identified as one of the top 100 Medicine Makers worldwide. He has authored numerous articles in peer-reviewed publications, books and book chapters. He is the recipient of many awards and commendations, including being elected president to the College of Fellows of the Controlled Release Society.

Dr. Mrsny received a B.S. in biochemistry and biophysics from the University of California, Davis, and a Ph.D. in anatomy and cell biology from the UC Davis School of Medicine. As a National Institutes of Health (NIH) postdoctoral fellow, he studied membrane lipid-protein interactions at the Institute of Molecular Biology at the University of Oregon.

Chris Stevens, M.D.

Dr. Chris Stevens, a gastroenterologist, spent 10 years as part of the faculty at Harvard Medical School, where he cared for patients and conducted basic science research in the area of mucosal inflammation in inflammatory bowel disease. As a National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded researcher in the field of mucosal immunity, he investigated cytokine and serine protease mediators and their interplay with intestinal epithelial cells in inflammatory bowel disease. He was awarded the Mary H. Anzilotti Research Fellowship from the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation.

Following his career in academia, Dr. Stevens spent 17 years in the biopharmaceutical industry serving in senior management positions and as a consultant for more than 20 companies. He provided clinical and regulatory strategy for small molecule and biologic drugs in Phase 1-4 trials, prepared Investigational New Drug (IND) applications, New Drug Applications (NDAs), Biologics License Applications (BLAs) and Marketing Authorization Applications (MAAs), and presented at U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Advisory Committee meetings. He most recently served as a consultant to Takeda, where he was responsible for regulatory filings that led to successful approvals in the United States and Europe for vedolizumab for the treatment of ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.  

Dr. Stevens received a B.A. in chemistry from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an M.D. from the University of Miami School of Medicine.

Nick Vaziri, M.D.

Dr. Nick Vaziri is a professor of medicine, physiology and biophysics and chief of the Division of Nephrology and Hypertension at the University of California, Irvine School of Medicine. Previously, he served as chair of the Department of Medicine and president of the Academic Senate there. His research interests center on the role of oxidative stress, inflammation and dysregulation of nitric oxide in the pathogenesis of hypertension and chronic kidney disease, as well as the molecular mechanisms of lipid disorders in renal insufficiency and proteinuria.

Dr. Vaziri has made seminal contributions to the understanding of molecular mechanisms of lipid disorders in renal disease, as well as the characterization of the nature, mechanisms and consequences of oxidative stress, inflammation and altered nitric oxide metabolism in chronic kidney disease and hereditary and acquired forms of hypertension.

Dr. Vaziri is a member of the editorial board of several scientific journals, including Kidney International and the Journal of Renal Nutrition. He has authored more than 540 original papers and more than 175 invited book chapters, reviews and editorials. He is a recipient of numerous awards, including the National Kidney Foundation Spirit of Nephrology Award. He is a master and laureate of the American College of Physicians, past president of the Western Association of Physicians, and past president of the American Paraplegia Society.

Dr. Vaziri received an M.D. from Tehran University. He completed his residency and a nephrology fellowship at the University of California, Los Angeles.