Santen Leadership Team
Our Executive Leadership Team for Santen Inc.—which covers the US and Canada—is connected by a shared passion for science, a deep level of industry experience, and an enduring commitment to improving people’s quality of life by restoring and preserving vision.
Akihiro (Aki) Tsujimura
President & CEO, Santen Inc.
Executive Corporate Officer and Member of the Board of Directors, Santen Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd.
Aki currently serves as President and Chief Executive Officer of Santen Inc. He is Executive Corporate Officer, Head of the North America and Asia Divisions, and also serves as a Member of the Board of Directors for Santen Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. Since joining Santen in 2004, Aki has held various leadership roles of increasing responsibility in general management, country leadership, and corporate development. He previously served as both COO and CEO of Santen Inc. before returning to Japan to assume the role of Corporate Officer and Head of Asia Division. Under his leadership, Santen expanded its operations and presence in Asia from 4 countries to 15, including Singapore, Thailand, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Malaysia, and the Philippines.
Early on at Santen, Aki served as Manager of the Corporate Planning Group and then as General Manager of the Business Development Division, leading strategy and all licensing and M&A transactions. Prior to Santen, Aki held various roles at Nichimen Corporation, one of Japan’s largest trading companies, which later became part of Sojitz Corporation. Aki holds an MBA from Kobe University and a BS in Chemical Industry from Kanazawa University, both in Japan.
At Santen, we’re passionate about ophthalmology and fully committed to supporting eye care professionals and patients. Our people are connected by an unwavering determination to advance the science and the business so we can deliver important new therapies to patients who need them.
Naveed Shams MD, PhD
Head of Global R&D
Chief Scientific Officer
Senior Corporate Officer, Santen Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd.
Since joining Santen in 2010 as Vice President of Clinical Affairs, Dr. Shams has also served as Head of Global Clinical Development and Medical Affairs and, most recently, as President and CEO of Santen Inc. With 20+ years of experience in global drug development across a number of companies, Dr. Shams has played a significant and critical role in bringing important ophthalmology products to market, including Zaditor®/Zaditen®, Rescula®, and Lucentis®. He also supported the post-marketing efforts for Visudyne®. While at Genentech, Dr. Shams led the clinical team in the development and approval of Lucentis®. His experience also spans companies such as Novartis, OPKO Health, Storz Ophthalmics, and most recently On Demand Therapeutics, a drug delivery start-up where he was President and Chief Medical Officer.
Dr. Shams received his MD degree from Dow Medical College in Karachi, Pakistan and his PhD in Microbiology and Immunology from the University of South Carolina. He completed fellowships in cornea and external diseases at Harvard Medical School and in histocompatibility and immunogenetics at Massachusetts General Hospital. Dr. Shams is also a former faculty member at Schepens Eye Research Institute and Harvard Medical School.
We have a deep understanding of biology. That scientific knowledge gives us the ability to meet very challenging needs. It’s our strength. And it’s the way we can achieve what might at first seem ‘impossible.’
Masahiro (Mas) Inoue
Chief Administrative Officer
Since joining Santen in 2011, Mas has held several global leadership roles, including General Manager of Santen’s ASEAN and India centers, Managing Director of Santen Pharmaceutical Asia, and currently, Chief Administrative Officer of Santen USA.
Prior to Santen, Mas served as a Corporate Officer, the Head of New Business Development and Regulatory Consultation Services and as Director in the CEO office at CMIC Co., Ltd., the largest clinical research organization (CRO) in Japan. Previously, Mas held various leadership and general management roles at Novartis Pharma K.K. and Baxter Limited in Japan, where he was Head of Primary Care Sales and Business Unit Head of BioScience, respectively. Mas also served as President of Jens Corporation, AT&T Japan, and held several market planning and development positions at Grace Japan, a wholly owned Japanese subsidiary of W.R. Grace. Earlier in his career, Mas worked at a global strategy consulting firm and a Japanese commercial bank based in the US. Mas received his MBA from the Tuck School of Business, Dartmouth College and a Bachelor of Law degree from Keio University in Japan.
We’re lucky being in the US so we can experience, see, and interact with other innovations and innovators around us…We feel we can be a fountain of innovation here.
Chief Financial Officer
Marcel joined Santen in November 2013 as Controller and soon after became Senior Director of Finance and Accounting, leading the company’s finance, facilities, and procurement organizations. In 2016, he became CFO of Santen USA.
Prior to Santen, Marcel held several positions at Novartis with increasing responsibilities, starting at Novartis Global Headquarters in Basel, Switzerland in 2005. Before joining Novartis, Marcel worked for KPMG as an auditor, after starting his career in the banking and airline industries. Marcel is a licensed CPA, holds an International MBA from the University of San Diego, and received a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Lausanne, Switzerland.
I like to think of our goal at Santen as vision beyond the imagination. That means beyond what you thought was possible and even beyond eyesight itself. It’s the quality of life all around it that drives us.
Ram Palanki, PharmD
Senior Vice President of Commercial, Americas
Dr. Palanki brings more than 15 years of experience in ophthalmology across marketing, sales, reimbursement, commercial operations, business development, and medical affairs leadership.
Prior to Santen, he was Global Head of Marketing and Sales at Thrombogenics, Inc., where he led the commercial launch for Jetrea®, a novel proteolytic enzyme therapy for Symptomatic VMA. Previously, Dr. Palanki served as Director of Global Marketing and Sales at NeoVista, Inc., and earlier in his career, held several positions at Genentech as part of the team that developed and launched Lucentis®. Prior to Genentech, he worked at Eyetech Pharmaceuticals as part of the initial team submitting the NDA for Macugen™ and at Novartis Pharmaceuticals in the New Product Commercialization group. Dr. Palanki earned his PharmD at Albany College of Pharmacy in New York and completed his postdoctoral fellowship at Rutgers University in New Jersey.
We focus on providing pragmatic solutions to solve complex challenges our customers face in ophthalmology. It’s all about vision, every day, at Santen.
Vice President, Human Resources
Jessica has 20 years of experience in Life Sciences, Organization Development (OD), and Human Resources (HR). She joined Santen after almost 10 years at Novartis in HR and OD Leadership roles within the US and Switzerland. At Novartis, Jessica introduced a new approach to drug discovery team effectiveness and led global matrixed teams in rolling out a new employee survey and change management approaches. Prior to Novartis, Jessica worked in HR and OD for EMC Corporation in Hopkinton, MA, in management consulting for Sibson Consulting in New York, and as a Program Associate at the New York Academy of Sciences. Jessica’s passion is for helping people recognize their talents and passions and for creating and supporting an environment that encourages people to do their best work. She holds a BA in Biology from Dartmouth College and an MBA from Columbia Business School.
What attracted me to Santen is the opportunity to have a real hands-on experience in a smaller, fast-growing place. I am impressed with our people, our high standards for the quality we provide patients, and our decades-long history.
Vice President, Legal and Compliance
Mika joined Santen Inc. as Vice President of Legal and Compliance in 2017 and is responsible for legal and compliance oversight and contracts management for Santen Americas. Before coming onboard at Santen, Inc., she served as Director of Global Business Development for Santen Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. in Osaka, Japan. Mika brings a diverse business and legal background to Santen, spanning general management, legal affairs, contracts, in-licensing and M&A activities, corporate governance, and commercial leadership.
Before joining Santen, Mika held various leadership roles at the Panasonic Corporation, most recently serving as General Manager of the Business Development Group in the Corporate Strategy Division. Currently a member of the New York State Bar, she is a graduate of the Kyushu University School of Law and holds a Master of Laws (LLM) degree from the New York University School of Law.
At Santen, we’re acting in a dynamic legal landscape on a global scale and working to shape the future of responsible scientific progress fused with business advancement.
Senior Director, Global Regulatory Affairs
Usha joined Santen with over 20 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry across the drug development value chain and over 10 years of experience in regulatory affairs. Prior to joining Santen, she was the regulatory lead on early- and late-stage molecules in the ophthalmology portfolio at Genentech.
Previously, she worked at Eli Lilly for 16 years across research, due diligence, Six Sigma, and global regulatory affairs. As global regulatory lead, she also led the development and submission of several early- and late-stage molecules in Oncology, Endocrine, and Cardiovascular therapeutic areas. Usha also previously managed the virtual development operations at Marcadia Biotech, which was acquired by Roche. Usha holds an MS in Molecular Biology from the University of Dayton in Ohio.
Science drives regulations. In developing novel treatments, science advances the solutions as well as the regulations for approval. At Santen, we relentlessly explore new regulatory frameworks for bringing innovative ophthalmology products to patients.