Board of Directors

Vern Davenport

Chairman, Board of Directors

As Partner, Mr. Davenport has extensive executive experience in building and transforming healthcare technology and services companies. He is responsible for transaction origination and execution, portfolio company value creation initiatives, and investment policy. Mr. Davenport is a member of the Private Equity investment committee.

Before joining NovaQuest Private Equity, Mr. Davenport was CEO and Board Member at Medfusion. He was instrumental in the carve-out of the company from Intuit and returning its core portal solution to a market leadership position.

Prior to Medfusion, Mr. Davenport was Chairman and CEO of Medquist, a leader in transcription services before and after the privatization of the company. Mr. Davenport facilitated a transformation of the business through the acquisition of a speech technology company, rebranding the company M*Modal and leading the take-private process.

Mr. Davenport’s previous experience also includes his time as President, Allscripts; CEO, Misys Healthcare; GM & EVP, Kodak Health Group (now Carestream Health), and executive leadership roles at Siemens and Shared Medical Systems. Mr. Davenport started his career at IBM where he spent 11 years in sales, sales leadership, and executive management positions.

Mr. Davenport is a member of the East Carolina University Board of Trustees and a member of the WakeMed Health and Hospitals Board. Mr. Davenport earned a BS degree in Business and an M.B.A from East Carolina University.

Ajay Damani

Board Member and Chief Executive Officer of CoreRx

Ajay Damani is Chief Executive Officer and a member of the Board of Directors of CoreRx since October 2021.  Ajay brings over 20 years of experience in the life sciences industry across business development and marketing, M&A and licensing, and product development.  Prior to joining CoreRx, Ajay led the Pharmaceutical Technologies business unit at Adare Pharmaceuticals, and was a member of the executive leadership team.  Previously, Ajay led the Global Pharmaceutical Business Development organization at Capsugel, and led commercial integration efforts once the company was acquired by Lonza.  Ajay started his career as a management consultant in New York City at Marakon Associates and Booz & Co.  His passion for product development was influenced by his experiences in R&D organizations at Roche in Nutley, NJ and Merck Research Laboratories in Rahway, NJ.

Ajay enjoys working in the global business environment and values world culture and perspective.  He is known for his ability to find creative ways to create business relationships, and for his enthusiasm to serve customers.  He is a champion of diversity & inclusion, and has a reputation for building world-class teams.

Ajay holds dual degrees from the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Engineering and Applied Science and the Wharton School of Business.

Frank Leo

Board Member

Frank Leo is a 40-year veteran of the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries having experience with publicly traded, private equity-backed, and start-up companies in the capacity of executive, investor, and advisor.

From 1999 to 2004, Mr. Leo served as President and Group President of Sterile Technologies and Life Sciences at Cardinal Health. He joined Cardinal Health following its acquisition of the sterile pharmaceutical contract manufacturing company Automatic Liquid Packing (ALP), where he held various senior level positions including Chief Operating Officer during his 16-year career.

At Cardinal Health he oversaw the growth of the biotechnology and life sciences group as well as managed the entire R&D technology platforms, which was later spun out to form Catalent Inc. Mr. Leo left Cardinal Health in 2004 but continued to serve as a retained advisor through 2005.

Mr. Leo joined (Private Equity Backed) Morton Grove Pharmaceuticals where he served as CEO from 2006 to 2007, overseeing its sale for its owners in 2007. Mr. Leo served as a Board Member of Gala Biotech, Rx Elite, Monogen, GeneraMedix, Azurity (NovaQuest), Capsugel (KKR), and Leiters Pharma (HIG, SV LifeSciences, Frasier Health).

Mr. Leo is a serial entrepreneur, having been involved in business value creation and start-ups in the medical device, sterile drug, biotechnology and healthcare technology spaces.

Nailesh Bhatt

Board Member

With more than twenty years of pharmaceutical industry experience, Nailesh A. Bhatt brings a unique global perspective, valuable expertise, and a robust network to the Board of CoreRx.

A serial entrepreneur, Mr. Bhatt is Managing Director of Proximare – a strategic advisory firm that develops growth strategies for companies in the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries, including strategy development, licensing, mergers, acquisitions, and joint ventures. Proximare clients include large pharma, generics, CROs, CMOs, wholesalers, distributors, PBMs, payers, retailers, GPOs, and private equity groups. Proximare has successfully completed multiple M&A transactions, including cross-border deals. While at Proximare, Mr. Bhatt also launched Proximare Life Sciences Fund to invest in innovative biosimilars and emerging companies.

In addition, Mr. Bhatt is Founder and CEO of VGYAAN Pharmaceuticals which is focused on developing and commercializing clinically critical drugs.

Previously, Mr. Bhatt was the founder of with presence in the US, India, and Japan. Before that, Mr. Bhatt worked in increasing roles and responsibilities at Arthur Andersen, SEPPIC, and Sidmak Laboratories.

In addition to CoreRx, Mr. Bhatt serves as a Member of the Board of Directors of Azurity Pharmaceuticals, Sonnet BioTherapeutics (NASDAQ: SONN), and VGYAAN Pharmaceuticals.

Mr. Bhatt is a sought-after speaker at various industry conferences and has presented at the India Economic Summit organized by the World Economic Forum, the Federal Trade Commission, DCAT, and more.

Jeff Edwards

Board Member

Jeff Edwards has over 20 years of investment experience and is a Founder and Investment Committee Member of NovaQuest Private Equity.  He is responsible for the day-to-day management of NovaQuest Private Equity and transaction origination.  He currently sits on the boards of Azurity Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Catalyst Clinical Research, LLC and CoreRx, Inc.  Prior to joining NovaQuest, Mr. Edwards co-led the Principal Investment Private Equity program at the Teacher Retirement System of Texas, leading the efforts in the Healthcare and Industrial sectors across a variety of geographies. In that role, he was responsible for deal origination, as well as portfolio construction and portfolio management. Mr. Edwards’ previous experience also includes M&A advisory work for Raymond James Capital Markets, focusing on middle-market companies. Mr. Edwards also worked for State Street Global Markets (SSGM). 

His efforts were focused on private equity fund formation, portfolio management, and investment due diligence. Before moving back to the capital markets sector, he worked in finance and administrative roles in the healthcare industry with Carolinas HealthCare Systems and HCA, Inc. He started his career with the middle market investment bank RW Baird. Mr. Edwards received an MBA from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, an MSF from Boston College, and a BA from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.

Ashton Poole

Board Member

Ashton Poole, Partner at NovaQuest Private Equity, has over 28 years of investment and transaction experience. He is responsible for transaction origination and execution, portfolio company value creation initiatives, investment policy, and investor relations. Mr. Poole is a member of the Private Equity investment committee and currently serves on the Board of Directors of Azurity Pharmaceuticals and CoreRx, two NovaQuest Private Equity portfolio companies.

Prior to joining NovaQuest, Mr. Poole was Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Triangle Capital Corporation, a publicly traded business development company making private debt and equity investments in lower middle market companies across a variety of industries, including healthcare. In that role, he was responsible for setting corporate strategy and managing key functional areas of the company, including investment origination, underwriting, portfolio monitoring, capital raising, and investor relations. Mr. Poole served on the Management Committee, Investment Committee and Board of Directors of the company.

Mr. Poole’s previous experience also includes 19 years of corporate finance and M&A advisory work for Morgan Stanley, where he was a Managing Director in the investment banking division and worked out of the New York office. Mr. Poole started his career in strategy consulting, where he worked for 3 years in San Francisco at The MAC Group, which was subsequently acquired by Gemini Consulting.

Mr. Poole earned a BS in Business Administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an M.B.A from the J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University.

Nikhil Puri

Board Member

Nikhil Puri has over 25 years of experience serving the pharmaceutical industry. He has held senior positions within pharma, Private Equity, and as a healthcare investment banker.

Mr. Puri currently serves as a Managing Director at Signet Healthcare Partners (“Signet”), a role that he has held since 2016. Signet is a New York-based Private Equity firm that predominantly focuses on investing in the pharmaceuticals, pharmaceuticals services and medical devices sectors.

Most recently prior to joining Signet, Nikhil was responsible for worldwide business development for the Global Established Pharmaceuticals (“GEP”) business at Pfizer. At that time, GEP had annual revenues of over $20 billion comprised of a broad portfolio of brands, sterile injectables, generics and biosimilars. During his five-year tenure at Pfizer, several key inorganic growth initiatives were consummated for GEP including the acquisitions of Hospira, Innopharma and Nextwave Pharmaceuticals within the United States as well as several international transactions in Latin America, Japan and China. Nikhil was a member of both Pfizer’s Business Development leadership team and the GEP leadership team and Investment Committee.

Prior to joining Pfizer, Nikhil spent 15 years as an investment banker in the United States and in Asia at firms including Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns, predominantly focused on the pharmaceutical sector. During that time, he was involved in the consummation of over 50 capital-raising and strategic advisory transactions with an aggregate value exceeding $20 bn for clients including Endo Pharmaceuticals, Valeant Pharmaceuticals and MedPointe.

Nikhil received his M.B.A from New York University. He has a Bachelor’s degree in commerce from the University of Mumbai and is a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of Leading Pharma and Goodwin Biotechnology.

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