Stevia Corp. names Robert Brooke CEO, Dr. Avatar Dhillon chairman of the board
March 12, 2012
– Stevia First Corp. ("Stevia First" or the "Company"), an early stage agribusiness based in California's Central valley growing region and focused on the industrial-scale production of stevia, the all-natural zero-calorie sweetener that is rapidly transforming the food and beverage industry, is pleased to announce the makeup of its executive leadership team with the recent appointments of Mr. Robert Brooke as CEO and Dr. Avtar Dhillon, M.D., as Board Chairman.
Mr. Robert Brooke was previously the founder, president and CEO of Genesis Biopharma, Inc., a cancer drug development company. Prior to this, he founded Percipio Biosciences, Inc., a research diagnostics company which manufactures and globally distributes products related to oxidative stress research. From 2004 to 2008, he was a buy-side analyst with Bristol Capital Advisors, LLC, the investment manager for Bristol Investment Fund, Ltd. During this period, Mr. Brooke helped finance more than 60 public healthcare and life science companies, and Bristol was listed by The PIPEs Report as the most active investor in private placements by public biotechnology companies. He earned a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Georgia Tech in 2003 and an M.S. in Biomedical Engineering from UCLA in 2005.
Dr. Avtar Dhillon is a co-founder of Stevia First and brings over 20 years' experience in building public companies through mergers and acquisitions and leading innovation in scientific, engineering and farming enterprises. These enterprises have secured government grants and NGO funding in excess of US$50 million to date, as well as built dominant IP portfolios through partnering and negotiating deals with small businesses as well as large multinational companies. He is the former president & Chief Executive Officer of Inovio Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (listed on NYSE Amex) and currently serves as the firm's Chairman.
During his tenure at Inovio, Dr. Dhillon successfully led the turnaround of the company through restructuring and the acquisition of technology from several European and North American companies, including a merger with VGX Pharmaceuticals to develop a vertically integrated DNA vaccine development company with one of the strongest development pipelines in the industry. He led eight successful financings, raising more than $136 million for the company, and concluded several licensing deals valued at more than $200 million that included global Pharma leaders Merck and Wyeth (now Pfizer). Prior to joining Inovio, Dr. Dhillon was vice president of MDS Capital Corp. (now Lumira Capital Corp.), one of North America's leading healthcare venture capital organizations. He has been instrumental in successfully turning around struggling companies and highly influential as an active member in the biotech community.
Complementing Dr. Dhillon's extensive achievements in biotech and corporate development are his deep roots in agriculture. Growing up in an extended farming family, and preceded by generations of farmers, Dr. Dhillon and his family have farmed hundreds of acres of blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries over the years. Members of Dr. Dhillon's extended family have made significant innovative contributions to agriculture in the U.S., and both he and his wife now have several hundred acres under cultivation in California and British Columbia.
Further details of the Company's business, finances, appointments and agreements can be found as part of the Company's continuous public disclosure as a reporting issuer under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission's ("SEC") EDGAR database.
About Stevia First Corp. Stevia First Corp. is seeking to establish a vertically-integrated stevia enterprise in the U.S. with expertise in stevia seed and tissue propagation, plant breeding, and cultivation. Stevia First's U.S. operations are located in the heart of California's Central Valley, one of the world's most productive agricultural regions.
About the Stevia Industry The market for all-natural, zero-calorie stevia sweeteners is expanding rapidly. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates stevia intake could eventually replace 20-30% of all dietary sweeteners. The total global sweetener market was estimated at $58.3 billion in 2010.