Chief Science Officer
A nationally recognized scientist, inventor and researcher, Mark Heiman cofounded MicroBiome Therapeutics in 2009 after retiring from Eli Lilly Research Labs as chief scientific officer of obesity research. During his time at Eli Lilly, Heiman led groundbreaking research into obesity and helped develop 30 drug-related patents. Under his leadership, his lab discovered the neuroendocrine role for leptin, a key hormone the body uses to signal the level of fat storage to the brain, and then developed a method for detecting it. In recent years, Heiman has become recognized as one of the pioneering researchers expanding our knowledge about the GI microbiome. He also led efforts in the discovery of the appetite-stimulation role of ghrelin, known as the hunger hormone. Earlier in his career he co-invented the successful drug lanreotide.
After earning a Ph.D. from the Louisiana State University School of Medicine in 1978, Heiman received postdoctoral training in neuroendocrinology at the Indiana University School of Medicine. In the early 1980s, he returned to Louisiana to work with Dr. Andrew Schally, the Nobel Prize-winning endocrinologist and drug researcher, before joining Eli Lilly. Heiman is a fellow for The Obesity Society, one of the nation’s leading institutions for obesity research, education and advocacy. He serves on the editorial board of three major scientific journals, as well as the scientific advisory board of Helmholtz Zentrum Munchen, part of Germany’s largest scientific organization. He has authored more than 100 scientific papers and holds the patents on MicroBiome Therapeutics’ first products.
Chief Executive Officer
A cofounder of MicroBiome Therapeutics, Dale Pfost (pronounced “post”) is a successful serial biotechnology entrepreneur and venture capitalist. He launched his first company while earning a Ph.D. in physics at Brown University. Over the 35 years since then, he has worked as an entrepreneur, investor, business executive and board member in the high-tech, biotechnology and corporate governance sectors. Of the five successful biotech companies Pfost has launched, three were taken public and achieved valuations of more than $1 billion. He has worked extensively in mergers and acquisitions, and has served as a board member for numerous firms, both public and private. He currently serves as U.S. general partner of London-based Advent Life Sciences, a venture capital group focused on life-science investments in the United States and Europe. Pfost is coauthor of several published scientific papers and an inventor with more than 10 patents. He also serves as a board member for LouisianaBio, a nonprofit trade organization that promotes the development of the biotechnology industry throughout the state.
Director of Business Development
A veteran of the biomedical research industry, Gertrude Pfost (pronounced “post”) has almost three decades of experience in sales and marketing of groundbreaking scientific products at world-leading companies. After earning a master’s degree in biochemistry from Louisiana State University, she joined Beckman Instruments, now part of Danaher Corp., as product marketing manager for some of the company’s premier product lines, including its instruments for advanced biomolecular research. Pfost served as director of instrument marketing for Oxford GlycoSciences, a United Kingdom-based leader in biopharmaceutical research and development. She later worked in scientific product sales with VWR International, one of the world’s biggest distributors of research laboratory products. Pfost joined MicroBiome Therapeutics in 2016 as director of business development, overseeing product marketing strategy for BiomeBliss. She works with the company’s marketing team and partners to communicate the science and benefits of BiomeBliss to consumers.
John Elstrott, Ph.D., is a nationally-recognized natural foods entrepreneur, business executive and educator. The former chairman of Whole Foods Market and first chief financial officer of natural-foods innovator and speciality tea-maker Celestial Seasonings, Elstrott is known for both his work as an entrepreneurship business professor and his success as a business executive, investor, advisor and advocate for family-owned businesses. Elstrott joined Celestial Seasonings in 1975 as the company’s founding CFO. As Whole Foods’ lead director, then chairman from 2009 to 2017, he helped guide the iconic brand from its startup days to its status as a globally admired Fortune 300 and S&P 500 company before it was purchased by online retailing giant Amazon. He spent 30 years as a professor at the Tulane University A.B. Freeman School of Business, retiring in 2013 as executive director of the Levy-Rosenblum Institute for Entrepreneurship and the founder of the Tulane Family Business Center. He has served as an economic development and strategic-planning consultant for local and state governments.
Among his numerous professional honors, Elstrott received the National Freedoms Foundation Leavey Award for Excellence in Private Enterprise Education, the Edwin Appel Prize and the James T. Murphy Award for Teaching Excellence. He was named the Ernst and Young Louisiana Entrepreneur of the Year in 1997 for his support of entrepreneurial education. Elstrott earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in economics from Louisiana State University and a doctorate in economics from the University of Colorado at Boulder. He remains active in promoting entrepreneurship and is an investor in a number of industries, including food supplements, venture capital, pharmaceuticals, financial services, consumer packaged foods and technology. He serves on the boards of several private and nonprofit corporations.