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Executive Team

OCT’s team have experience across pharmaceutical operations, research and development, intellectual property, law and finance.

Neil Mahapatra (Executive Chairman)

Neil Mahapatra is a Co-founder of OCT and serves as Executive Chairman of the Company, having conceptualised the business and directly hired the other Executive Directors. Neil has nearly two decades of experience in business and the investment industry. He began his career in investment banking at Morgan Stanley International plc, in healthcare corporate finance and UK equity capital markets before becoming a private equity executive at J. Rothschild Capital Management Limited, where he led private investments for the family office of Lord Rothschild and RIT Capital Partners plc.

In 2013, Neil founded London-based multi-family private investment firm Kingsley Capital Partners LLP, where he is Managing Partner. Neil currently is a non-executive director for a number of companies, including telecoms businesses Atlas Tower Group Limited and Spring Fibre Limited, and consumer businesses McQueens Flowers Limited and Equinox International Holdings Limited. When at J. Rothschild Capital Management Limited, Neil was a non-executive director of UK data centre company Infinity SDC Limited and a UK subsidiary of African telecom towers firm Helios Towers Plc, now listed on the Official List.

Neil is a known and respected leader in the European cannabis industry. Through KCP, Neil sponsored and launched the End our Pain campaign, a prominent campaign that was instrumental in effecting the UK government reforms to medical cannabis legislation in 2018. Outside of business, Neil serves as Chair of the board of a leading global architecture and design non-profit firm, the MASS Design Group, where he also sits on the finance and governance committees. Neil is also a trustee of the Oxford Union Literary and Debating Trust.

Neil holds a BA in Biological Sciences from the University of Oxford, where he was President of the Oxford Union, and an MBA from the Harvard Business School, where he was a Fulbright Scholar. Before starting his undergraduate degree at the University of Oxford, Neil spent a year performing genetic research at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, New York, where he was chosen by Professor James D Watson, Nobel Laureate for elucidating the structure of DNA.

Dr John Lucas (Chief Executive Officer)

Dr. John Lucas brings over 20 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry. John joined the Group in May 2018. He took on the role of Chief Commercial Officer in August 2018, becoming Chief Executive Officer in January 2021.

John began his career in biopharma at Genset S.A. (Paris) and Genset Corporation (San Diego, California) where he served as Vice President, Worldwide Intellectual Property. He also held the position of Vice President, Intellectual Property at Transform Pharmaceuticals Inc. of Lexington Massachusetts, a company specialising in small molecule drug form and formulation and at Metabasis Therapeutics Inc., a biopharmaceutical company in California.

John moved to the United Kingdom at the end of 2007 as General Counsel and Vice President of Intellectual Property at Silence Therapeutics plc where he was responsible for a wide range of legal and business matters and played a key role in the corporate transaction with Intradigm Corporation.

After the merger, John became Chief Executive Officer of Cizzle Biotechnology Limited, a company developing diagnostic tests for the detection of lung cancer. Other roles include: Head of Patents, Biosimilars, at Boehringer Ingelheim Pharma GmbH & Co. KG, Head of New Product Development at Venture Life Group plc, and Vice President, Intellectual Property at Ilika plc.

John holds a law degree (JD) from George Washington University and a PhD in molecular genetics from The Ohio State University. He also holds a Master’s in microbiology and a Bachelor of Education from Ohio University. In addition to his graduate studies, other experience includes a post-doctoral fellowship in cancer research at the National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland and working as a patent examiner with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

Clarissa Sowemimo-Coker (COO & General Counsel)

Clarissa Sowemimo-Coker has worked for many years as a solicitor and commercial consultant to companies in the retail, telecoms, and pharmaceutical sectors. Following an early career with Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP in London, where she spent time seconded to a range of clients including London Underground Limited and All Saints Retail Limited, she held posts as senior in-house counsel in established corporations including Hutchison 3G UK Limited (Three) and Virgin Media Limited, a subsidiary of Liberty Global plc.

Clarissa joined the Group’s executive team in December 2018 as General Counsel and Company Secretary, with ultimate responsibility for all legal aspects of the business as well as compliance and regulation, diversity and inclusion, people, culture and communications. On 4 February 2021 she became Chief Operating Officer, and is now also responsible for the operational side of the Group in addition to inputting on the Company’s strategic goals. Clarissa is a qualified solicitor in England and Wales and is a student member of ICSA, The Chartered Governance Institute where she is studying for an advanced certificate in corporate governance.

Clarissa is also a management coach and regularly delivers compliance training and management coaching to blue chip clients including Google LLC, Biogen Inc. and McDonald’s Corporation across the EMEA and APAC regions.

Clarissa holds a BA in philosophy and literature from Warwick University and PGDL and LPC from BBP Law School in London. After completing her undergraduate degree, Clarissa spent two years working as a project manager in the residential construction industry before retraining as a solicitor. She was selected as a 2021 mentor by Legal Geek, which connects mentors and mentees across the legal industry, with a particular focus on supporting underrepresented groups. She is also an elected member of the Parochial Church Council of St John the Evangelist, Notting Hill.

Dr Valentino Parravicini (Chief Scientific Officer)

Dr. Valentino Parravicini joined the Group as Chief Scientific Officer in July 2020, and as such he is responsible for the designing, planning and delivering of the scientific strategies in alignment with corporate objectives set by the Board, by internal activities and liaising with key academic and business partners.

Valentino has over 10 years of experience in drug discovery and development accrued while working in Big Pharma and SMEs. He started his research and development career as a scientist at Roche S.p.A in Italy, before joining GlaxoSmithKline plc as investigator in the Epigenetic Drug Performance Unit of the Immune- Inflammation Therapeutic Area in the UK. He was also involved in setting up two start-up biotechnology companies at Kesios Therapeutics Limited and at GammaDelta Therapeutics Ltd.

Valentino has spent his academic career at the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases at the National Institute of Health (USA) and at the National Institute for Medical Research – Medical Research Council, Mill Hill, now part of the Francis Crick Institute (UK), where his research in inflammation and autoimmunity led to the discovery of previously unknown signalling pathway and to high impact publications. He has lead research teams and programmes in the fields of immune-inflammation, oncology, and virology, both in small molecules and cell therapy, acquiring a wide breadth of knowledge in in vitro and in vivo models applied to early research and drug discovery and development, working in three different countries.

Valentino holds a Doctoral Degree in Medicinal Chemistry from the University of Milan (Italy), where he has also obtained the professional habilitation as a pharmacist. He has PRINCE2 accreditation in project management and he obtained a Home Office Personal Licence (PIL-AB). He became a Fogarty Fellow at the National Institute of Health, and, as part of his national service, he worked in a non-governmental organisation to support education, prevention and treatment of cancer.

Karen Lowe (Finance Director)

Karen Lowe started her career in accountancy, qualifying as a chartered accountant with KPMG before moving into industry. Karen has over 25 years’ experience in both the private and public sector, advising organisations on operational controls and financial risk management. She has worked internationally for the majority of her career at firms including Johnson & Johnson and DHL International GmbH. Whilst at Mazars LLP, she was the outsourced Head of Internal Audit for several listed companies as well as providing advisory services on risk management.

Karen is an Accredited Counter Fraud Specialist and has been a member of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners for the last 20 years. In 2000, Karen re-joined KPMG in the forensic accounting division, specialising in fraud risk management and investigation for UK and global firms. For the past six years, she has been at International Personal Finance PLC where she was responsible for the global risk management of financial crime, information security, safety and business continuity.

Karen sits on the board of a housing development company, and also on the audit committee of a north west housing association. She runs her own risk management consultancy firm and is training to become an executive coach.

Karen holds a BA in European Finance and Accounting from Leeds Beckett University, and a similar German qualification from the Hochschule Bremen in north Germany.