Each member of Akashi’s executive team is a highly accomplished leader in his or her respective field. Senior members of the team have several decades of executive-level experience in pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies across multiple disease areas, including rare pediatric diseases. Having achieved success in their careers, they bring a strong sense of commitment, purpose and compassion to their work for Akashi.

Tom Wicka

Interim CEO

An experienced entrepreneur in the health care sector, Tom co-founded Novu Health, a membership engagement and behavior change company. Tom is a noted speaker and expert in member loyalty and engagement. At Novu, Tom works hand-in-hand with the nation’s most innovative health care providers and insurers to deliver member-driven wellness outcomes that benefit the entire health care system. Tom and his wife Angie co-founded the Nash Avery Foundation to fund the development of new treatments for Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Their son Nash, 17, has Duchenne.

Ernest D. Bush, Ph.D.

Chief Scientific Officer

Dr. Bush has spent over 28 years working in the field of biomedical R&D, most of which was spent working in preclinical safety departments for major pharmaceutical companies. From 1992 to 2005 he worked at Hoffmann-La Roche, Inc. and for the last five years of that time, led their Non-Clinical Drug Safety Department. In recent years, Dr. Bush has utilized his wide experience in the evaluation and assessment of new drug candidates to help small pharmaceutical companies, non-profit patient advocacy organizations and venture funding firms review their portfolios, rank or prioritize their opportunities, then plan and execute strategies to move them forward expeditiously and cost effectively. Dr. Bush holds a Ph.D. in Medicinal Chemistry from the University of Washington, an M.S. in Chemistry from the University of Oregon, and a B.A. in General Sciences from the University of Oregon.

Diana Escolar, M.D.

Chief Medical Officer

Dr. Escolar has applied nearly two decades of research in adult and pediatric neuromuscular diseases to help guide the development of new therapies. She has provided medical oversight and guidance for all phases of the drug discovery process as well as target identification, IND submission and clinical trial operations for various drug development firms. She is currently an associate professor of neurology at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Dr. Escolar was the co-founder and director of the Cooperative International Neuromuscular Research Group, an international consortium of academic medical centers developing and conducting target identification, translational studies and clinical studies in Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy and related disorders. She received her M.D. from the University of Buenos Aires, School of Medicine in Argentina and her post-graduate training from Boston University- and Harvard Medical School affiliated-programs.

Alka Batycky, Ph.D.

Executive Vice President, Portfolio Management and Operations

Alka Batycky brings to Akashi more than 18 years of experience in drug development, including more than a decade leading cross-functional teams, programs and alliances. Dr Batycky has held executive positions at Warp Drive Bio and most notably, as Vice President of regulatory affairs, clinical operations, and program and alliance management at AMAG Pharmaceuticals. Dr. Batycky has developed drugs and devices across a wide range of therapeutic areas including anaphylaxis, anemia, asthma, CNS, dermatology, endocrinology, inflammation, oncology, ophthalmology and pain. Prior to joining AMAG Pharmaceuticals, Dr. Batycky was responsible for leading development programs at CombinatoRx and Synta Pharmaceuticals. Previously, she was at Alkermes, where she was clinical lead for the company’s pulmonary insulin program and later program and alliance manager for the AIR inhaled technology programs working with alliance partners, including Eli Lilly and GlaxoSmithKline.

Dr. Batycky received her B.Sc. degree in pharmacology and toxicology and her Ph.D. in toxicology from the School of Pharmacy, University of London. Dr. Batycky also worked as a postdoctoral fellow at the Medical Research Center in the UK.