Our Team

biologists, chemists, and engineers 


Michael L. Shuler, Ph.D- Chief Executive Officer

Dr. Shuler has over 25 years of experience in Body-on-a-Chip research and helped to define the field itself. He has made numerous technological improvements to the basic concept (e.g. use of 3-D tissue constructs and a pumpless system) that have made this more practical for adoption in pharmacological research and form the intellectual framework for Hesperos’ services.

Dr. Shuler is the founding chair for the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Cornell University, and has served as the James and Marsha McCormick Chair of Biomedical Engineering. Mike graduated with a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Minnesota and a B.S. from the University of Notre Dame. He has received numerous research related awards, among his honors is election to the National Academy of Engineering (1989) and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1996) and he has published over 300 peer reviewed journal articles of which over 70 focus on in vitro toxicology and pharmacology (Body-on-a-Chip). Dr. Shuler is the sole or co-inventor on multiple pending and issued U.S. and international patents.







James "J." Hickman, Ph.D-Chief Science Officer

The driving vision of Dr. James (“J”) Hickman is fundamental to Hesperos’ technological “Human-on-a-Chip” platform. He published the first serum-free, defined culture system for neuronal systems in 1995 (Schaffner, Barker et al. 1995) and has now extended this from rat to mouse, both embryonic and adult, as well as to human. J has also pioneered the establishment of functional in vitro systems and was one of the first to report toxicity studies from neurons on microelectrode arrays in a defined system back in the 90’s (Jung, Cuttino et al. 1998). He has extended these defined in vitro systems now to cardiac, muscle, glia, endothelial, hepatocytes bone marrow, cancer, and epithelial cells. In most cases, the cells have been shown to survive at least 2-3 months in this system while maintaining full functionality. His work developed a common media system, which supports a wide variety of cells, thus, establishing a common media system for multiple cell types with a high degree of test/retest reliability essential to commercial utility. J received his Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Chemistry), his M.S. and B.A. from Penn State, he was elected to the Board of Directors of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineers (AIMBE), the premier society for Biomedical Engineering of which he is a Fellow. Dr. Hickman is the sole or co-inventor on multiple pending and issued U.S. and international patents. He has presented over 135 invited presentations with more than 160 total presentations, as well as over 100 publications and 17 book chapters, in addition to 16 patents.


Torsten Hoffmann, Ph.D- Senior Consultant for Drug Discovery

Dr. Hoffmann has a broad background in medicinal chemistry, molecular design, pharmacology & toxicology, as well as drug discovery & development with more than 20 years of international scientific and research management experience. He is the lead inventor of the anti-emetic medicine Netupitant, which received FDA approval as Akynzeo® in 2014, recommended since 2015 by the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, an alliance of 26 of the world's leading cancer centers. At Roche´s headquarter in Basel, he set up the research department for “Discovery Enabling Sciences” in 2003, that encompasses the scientific functions of Assay development, High throughput screening, Drug metabolism and pharmacokinetics, Molecular properties determinations, as well as Miniaturization and automation. From 2005-2013, he has also been heading the Medicinal Chemistry department, where the group created 52 new chemical lead series, 32 molecules transitioned into GLP toxicology studies, and more than 20 NCEs entered clinical trials as potential Roche medicines. For the past 5 years Dr. Hoffmann has served as Chief Operating Officer and Chief Scientific Officer at Silence Therapeutics in Berlin and London, as Chief Scientific Officer and Managing Director at Proteros biostructures in Munich, and before that as Chief Scientific Officer and Executive Vice President at Zealand Pharma in Copenhagen. During this period and under his leadership, he has been instrumental in building and growing the proprietary R&D portfolios of these Biotech companies with the most advanced clinical assets Dasiglucagon and Glepaglutide, both currently in clinical phase 3 trials for the treatment of diabetic patients (Dasiglucagon) and patients with short bowel syndrome (Glepaglutide). Dr. Hoffmann holds a PhD in Chemistry from the ETH Zürich, Switzerland, which was followed by a role as research associate at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California. He has authored more than 95 publications, patent applications and published conference reports. He has served on a number of advisory boards, amongst them on the Corporate Advisory Board of Elsevier, the world's largest scientific publisher in Life Sciences and the Scientific Advisory Board of BioSolveIT, a leading custom scientific software development company based in Europe. His awards include the Feodor Lynen award and a fellowship from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, Germany.


Gilberto (Ybet) M. Villacorta, Ph.D, J.D.- Corporate Secretary

Dr. Villacorta is a intellectual property lawyer who focuses on establishing and enforcing intellectual property rights in marketable products, systems and services.  He possess decades of experience in working with large corporations and startups in licensing, marketing, product development negotiations and the preparation of the resulting agreements including due diligence investigations in connection with mergers, acquisitions, formation of joint ventures and financing.  As Hesperos' Corporate Secretary his key responsibilities will be to advise Hesperos Board Members and he will serve as a focal point for investor communication and engagement on corporate governance issues. He received his Ph.D. from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and his J.D. from Fordham University.