Outstanding Talent, Outstanding Management
Metabolon has assembled a group of talented, experienced managers to develop and execute its business plan. We also have an impressive staff that includes specialists in biochemistry, mass spectrometry, informatics and software development.
John Ryals, PhD
President and Chief Executive Officer
Dr. Ryals has served as President, CEO and a member of the board of directors at Metabolon since April 2002. Prior to founding Metabolon, he was Chief Executive Officer, President and founder of Paradigm Genetics, Inc., a publicly traded agricultural biotechnology company focused on industrializing the process of gene function discovery. Dr. Ryals has 30 years of experience in the biotechnology industry, including senior research positions at Novartis and Ciba-Geigy. He currently serves on the board of directors at AgBiome, a provider of early-stage R&D for agriculture, and the advisory board of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at North Carolina State University. He earned a BA in biology and chemistry from the University of North Texas and MS and PhD degrees in molecular biology from the University of Texas at Dallas.
Mike Milburn, PhD
Chief Scientific Officer
Dr. Milburn has served as Chief Scientific Officer since 2005 and is responsible for global metabolomics technology development, laboratory operations, informatics, and data science. Before joining Metabolon, he was Senior Vice President of Research and Corporate Development at Sirtris Pharmaceuticals, where he led the preclinical/clinical development of drugs in metabolic disease and neurodegeneration. Prior to Sirtris, Dr. Milburn was Senior Vice President of Research at Plexxikon and was responsible for the development of its proprietary high-throughput, scaffold-based chemical technology platform. He also held various research positions at Glaxo and GlaxoWellcome from 1991 to 2001. Dr. Milburn received his PhD in biophysical chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley and was a post-doctoral research fellow at Harvard Medical School.
Frank E. Fee III
Chief Financial Officer
Mr. Fee joined Metabolon in 2011 and was promoted to the position of Chief Financial Officer in 2016. He has 17 years’ experience working with high-growth life sciences and technology companies and is responsible for overseeing all activities and relationships related to the financing, planning, reporting and treasury functions of the company. Prior to Metabolon, he was in the Life Sciences practice of Ernst & Young, serving both public and private life sciences companies ranging from development-stage to global organizations, guiding many through initial public offerings, public equity and debt transactions, and mergers and acquisitions. Mr. Fee is a graduate of North Carolina State University and a Certified Public Accountant.
William A. Pettit
Senior Vice President, Human Resources
Mr. Pettit is a human resources executive with proven abilities as a change agent building high-performance organizations and developing management teams. He has in-depth expertise in strategic human resources planning, organization development and talent acquisition and management. After graduating from Amherst College, he began his career with the Bristol Myers Company, where he held progressively more senior roles during an 11-year tenure. He then served as Senior Vice President of Human Resources & Administration for Pharmacia (now Pfizer) supporting the Americas. He moved into the biotechnology industry in 1996, accepting responsibility as Senior Vice President of Human Resources for Ligand Pharmaceuticals. Most recently, he served as Vice President of Human Resources & Administration for Intrexon Corporation.
Sandra Merkel DeJames, PhD
Vice President, Precision Medicine
Dr. Merkel DeJames leads Metabolon’s Precision Medicine group. She has international business experience across several industries, including pharmaceuticals, diagnostics, agriculture, energy and life sciences, and has broad experience in biotechnology, including direct research, early-stage commercialization and new technology development. Prior to Metabolon, Dr. Merkel DeJames was Head of Regional Development (Americas region) for Novozymes leading market strategy development and global commercialization for new products and technologies. While there, she also played a key role in developing a novel therapeutic cell-based technology to address next-generation market needs. Dr. Merkel DeJames serves on various boards and advisory councils, including the National Advisory Board for the NCSU Institute of Emerging Issues, the North Carolina Center of Innovation Networks, and NC Elite Volleyball, an organization focused on the development of student-athletes. She holds a Ph.D. in biology and completed her post-doctoral training at the UNC School of Medicine.
Jay Tolley, MBA
Vice President & General Manager, Pharmaceutical & Life Sciences Solutions
Mr. Tolley joined Metabolon in 2015 and has responsibility for its metabolomics and biomarker services business. He is an experienced healthcare executive with a history of exceeding financial targets and a passion for improving lives. He has held a wide variety of general management, sales, marketing and business development leadership positions supporting both the lab services and medical device industries. Prior to joining Metabolon, Mr. Tolley was COO for Medikidz, a VC-backed start-up providing medical education for young people. He has also served as Vice President of Business Operations for BioAgilytix Labs and marketing director for Roche Tissue Diagnostics. Prior to joining Roche, he served as an officer in the U.S. Navy. He is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy (B.S., economics) and holds an MBA from Harvard Business School.
Vice President, Population Health
Mr. Forrest-Hay joined Metabolon in 2017 to lead its Population Health business. He was most recently Director of Business Development at Thermo Fisher Scientific focusing on precision medicine and immuno-oncology. Mr. Forrest-Hay worked for Affymetrix for nine years prior to its 2016 acquisition by Thermo and was instrumental in closing multi-million dollar deals with the Million Veterans Program and UK Biobank. These precision medicine initiatives are the largest in the world and have analyzed DNA from over one million individuals. While at Affymetrix, he also developed and launched clinical RNA biomarker assays to enable accurate diagnosis of several types of cancer. Prior to that, Mr. Forrest-Hay was a genomics specialist at Beckman Coulter and worked as a researcher at the University of Keele. He has a molecular biology BSc Honors Degree from the University of East Anglia and a Higher National Diploma in applied biology from the University of the West of England.
Managing Director, Germany Operations
Dr. Schauer is responsible for operations in our Potsdam, Germany facility. Prior to joining Metabolon, he was managing director of Metabolomic Discoveries GmbH, a leading European metabolomics company, which he founded in 2009 and Metabolon acquired in 2017. Before that, Dr. Schauer was in the Netherlands, where he established metabolite profiling for the Dutch agriculture industry, and also worked at Keio University’s Institute of Applied Bioscience in Tsuoroka studying CE-MS metabolomics. Dr. Schauer earned his PhD at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology in Golm, Germany and has authored many high-ranking and peer-reviewed articles, as well as book chapters.
Robin Fastenau, MBA
Vice President, Corporate Communications & Investor Relations
Ms. Fastenau joined Metabolon in 2014 and has responsibility for its strategic communications and corporate branding. She has almost 20 years of experience in corporate communications, investor relations and public affairs and has held senior-level positions in a number of industries. She has extensive experience in U.S. and global communications in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries from GlaxoSmithKline, Trimeris, Triangle Pharmaceuticals (now Gilead Sciences) and consulting. Prior to her corporate communications roles, she was a vice president in the corporate finance team at an investment banking firm specializing in financial institution clients. Ms. Fastenau earned a B.S. in business administration with an economics concentration from Meredith College and holds an M.B.A. from Wake Forest University. She also completed graduate-level life sciences course work in the D.D.S. program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.