Meet the Team
Michelle French, Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder
Ms. French is a successful serial entrepreneur for the past 30 years. She has established and exited two privately-owned companies:
> Stonewall (1989-2008)
> Animal Element Inc. (2008-2018), which created and marketed innovation original veterinary products nationally and internationally
StoneWall was dedicated to the acquisition, breeding, importing, exporting globally, and training of the Japanese Tosa dog. The company laid the foundation for what is today the valuable and rare population/bloodline of Tosa outside Japan. Through Stonewall, Ms. French developed exceptional skills and instincts in identifying and addressing a unique niche market. Ms. French also established networks, structures, and processes for import/export of veterinary products in various countries, particularly in Asia and South America.
Animal Element, Inc. (AE) is a nutritional supplement company that Ms. French founded, managed and developed product formulations directed to the animal industry. Animal Element’s products include at least 15 nutritional supplements for equine, livestock, birds, and companion animals (e.g. dogs and cats). Although most of the nutritional supplement industry is unregulated, Ms. French distinguished the quality, safety, and consistency of the Animal Element products by voluntarily registering and complying with the National Animal Supplement Council (NASC) standards. Using retail and wholesale e-commerce, she managed >100 wholesale account dealers, created corporate Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for operational and manufacturing implementation, managed social media and marketing. Assembled and training teams in manufacturing, shipping logistics, and inventory control. Additionally, she directed the implementation of the entire back end software system for integrating management, inventory, finances, manufacturing, and shipping logistics. After she took over as CEO (2015) overall sales increased dramatically by more than 308% and then sold the company in late 2018.
(2018-present) Ms. French’s third and most challenging veterinary company because of the well-documented long timelines, high capital needs, and stringent regulatory control for biotech companies. Recognizing the significant unmet clinical veterinary needs in the traumatic tissue injury and repair market. Ms. French founded Liora based on an exclusive license of the NELL1 tissue regeneration technology developed by NellOne Therapeutics, INC. Ms. French has been armed with three decades of success in the veterinary space, great passion, and diverse business skills. To develop and brand Liora products that contain high quality patented products with innovation to market them globally.
Ms. French received:
> 2016 Rising Star award by the SBDC (Small Business Development Centers)
> 2017 Small Business Exporter of the year award from the SBA (Small Business Administration) of the state of Tennessee
Dr. James Schumacher, DVM, MS Chief Veterinarian Officer
Internationally renowned veterinary surgeon that has practiced in over 20 countries
Member of American College of Veterinary Surgeons and Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons
Previously Employed at:
University of London
University College Dublin
University of Tennessee (Knoxville), where he was a member of the faculty of the Department of Veterinary Clinical Science since 2003
Primary author/co-author of 147 articles in peer- reviewed prominent scientific journals, 78 book chapters, and a co-editor or co-author of 12 textbooks
Cymbeline T. Culiat, Ph.D. Chief Scientific Advisor and Co-Founder
Dr. Culiat is a scientist, entrepreneur, and educator
As a biologist for the past 30 years, she is an expert in the genetic and molecular basis of mammalian development, diseases and disorders
From 1999-2009, she was a senior scientist at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), a leading federal research institution in the United States. She discovered the role of the NELL1 signaling protein in tissue growth and maturation of the musculoskeletal and cardiovascular systems.
In collaboration with the University of California (Los Angeles), using a mutant mouse model that her team characterized at ORNL, she contributed to the understanding of the NELL1 pathway in cartilage and bone regeneration (e.g. osteoporosis), and in controlling inflammation during injury and disease (e.g. osteoarthritis)
Dr. Culiat is the sole inventor on 19 patents on the applications of the NELL1 protein in soft tissue regeneration, 17 of which are issued in the USA, Canada, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Australia, Japan, and Israel
In 2008, Dr. Culiat began an entrepreneurial career by co-founding NellOne Therapeutics Inc. (NellOne), with Tracy Warren (CEO; General Partner Astarte Ventures). NellOne is a biotech company dedicated to translating NELL1 science and technology into human and veterinary products for tissue regeneration after severe injuries. NellOne is the exclusive worldwide licensee of intellectual property from UT-Battelle/ORNL.
In 2018, Dr. Culiat co-founded Liora, LLC (ZV) with Michelle French (former CEO and co-Founder of Animal Element Inc.). Liora is the exclusive licensee of an improved recombinant NELL1 protein technology owned by NellOne (patent pending). The company will focus on developing veterinary products for unmet clinical needs in the equine and companion animal markets (e.g. laminitis, severe muscle, and cartilage injuries)
Dr. Culiat is also a creative and dedicated teacher for the past 37 years. She taught genetics, cell and molecular biology at the University of the Philippines, Laguna (1981-1991), where she earned degrees in B.S. Cell Biology (cum laude; 1981) and M.S. Genetics (1988). Dr. Culiat received a Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences from ORNL-University of Tennessee (1994), as a full scholar of ORNL and the Hilton-Smith Fellowship, and a recipient of the Chancellor's Citation for Professional Promise. Dr. Culiat completed postdoctoral training in molecular genetics and genomics at ORNL during the Human Genome Project (1995-1999), as an awardee of the U.S. Department of Energy's prestigious Alexander Hollaender Distinguished Postdoctoral Fellowship.
She became an adjunct faculty member of the College of Arts and Sciences, Graduate School of Genome Sciences and Technology, University of Tennessee, Knoxville (1999-2009). She mentored young scientists from high school (TN Governors Academy), college and graduate levels (3 national science internship programs). At present, she still lectures as an invited speaker at selected private and public universities and supports K-12 STEM education in local public schools and non-profit organizations.
Dr. Culiat is widely recognized for her work with major awards, including:
> Oak Ridge YWCA Woman of Distinction in Health, Science and Technology (2008)
> Biosciences Division Individual Achievement and Significant Event Award (2008)
> Federal Lab Consortium Excellence in Technology Transfer (Honorable Mention, 2008)
> Technology Transfer Key Contributor Award (2006) > ORNL-DOE Office of Science Outstanding Mentor Award (2006)
Her birth country (the Philippines) recognized her various achievements.
> Gawad Lagablab Outstanding Alumni Award for international achievements in genetics and genomics (2011; Philippine Science High School)
> Philippine Dept. of Science and Technology Outstanding Filipina Scientist, “She for We: Highlighting the Role, Life and Achievement of Filipina Scientists in the Local and International Scientific Community” (2015)