The Team

Deena Sisitsky

Deena Sisitsky, Co-Founder, CEO, Member of Board of Managers

Proven executive management track record driving growth in the pharmaceutical and technology industries. Deena developed and implemented awareness of a “new to market” specialized infectious disease drug.  She oversaw forecasting, budgeting, created nationwide physician focus groups, ad agency engagement and interface, soliciting, supervising and publishing the results of clinical studies, while overseeing the regulatory approval process during a global epidemic. Previously she designed and implemented strategic and cost effective campaign for advanced nano-structured carbon and metal composite material  that attracted Fortune 100 customers.

Hiro Hara, Co-Founder, CSO. Member of Board of Managers

Hiro began his career at Hitachi, LTD, in Japan. After relocating to America, Hiro specialized in assisting US technology companies  to advance into the Asian market. He set up an International Division of a Connecticut component manufacturing company serving the electronics industries and grew the business from annual sales of less than $300,000  to $10 million within two years.

Hiro  developed PhytoSmart’s patented Sterile Plastic Algal Growth System (SPAGS) drawing on his knowledge of medical device manufacturing technology.  This bioreactor system produces heterotrophic algae continuously in a sterile environment with a very high yield per reactor per growth cycle, in contrast to the more expensive yet less productive traditional heterotrophic  algal fermentation technology.

Hiro Hara

Robert Lerman, COO, Member of the Board of Managers

Bob’s experience spans investment, financing and industrial activities specializing in emerging growth companies. He has been the CEO or President  of several manufacturing companies. He concentrated on improving operating margins, lean, pricing margins and obtaining financing for their operations. He served on the Boards of public and private companies in the manufacturing, air purification, direct mail and fragrance industries. He was the Managing Director of three investment partnerships and co-founded an investment advisory company. He is a graduate school lecturer for Rensselaer’s Hartford Graduate School and the University of  Connecticut where he also mentors graduate business students.

Patrick Cregten, Operations Manager

Educated in Marine Biology and Aquaculture from James Cook University in  Australia, Patrick had five years of commercial aquaculture experience in the U.S. and Canada before joining the PhytoSmart team. His expertise in recirculating aquaculture systems afforded him the skills in mechanical aptitude, teamwork and management that make him  integral  to PhytoSmart’s daily operating platform. At PhytoSmart, Patrick ensures the growth and health of the algal biomass through the operation of the patented algal bioreactor growth system from sterile cell preparation through algal culture scale-up. He is also charged with executing the safe handling of the product during post processing, packaging, inventory management and distribution operating phases.

Patrick Cregten
Dr. Jed Fahey

Dr. Jed Fahey, Advisor

Dr. Fahey is a nutritional biochemist with broad training and extensive background in plant physiology, human nutrition, phytochemistry and nutritional biochemistry. He spent 27 years as a faculty member at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.  Until retiring in mid-2020, he ran the Cullman Chemoprotection Center, which he helped to create, and which has for many years developed plant-based agents for the purpose of enhancing healthspan. 

His research addresses the induction by phytochemicals, of cytoprotective, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant responses in mammalian systems. This work draws on elements of natural product chemistry, enzymology, nutritional epidemiology and clinical research to develop nutritional strategies for chronic disease prevention in humans. Many of these studies deal with the glucosinolates and isothiocyanates that are found primarily in cruciferous vegetables and in a nutritious tropical tree called the drumstick tree or Moringa oleifera.  Some of his past work has focused upon a variety of flavonoid and phenolic secondary metabolites from ginseng, honey, ginger, ashwagandha, black cohosh, and other plants.

At Johns Hopkins, Dr. Fahey’s group developed, characterized, and supplied preparations rich in specific phytochemicals for a large number of animal and clinical studies in which they have played an integral collaborative role.  Dr. Fahey also taught graduate courses in both the School of Public Health and School of Medicine.  Before joining the JHU faculty in 1993, he spent 15 years in the biotechnology industry and held senior management positions in research and process development. 

 

Dr. Jeffrey Feinman, Advisor

Jeffrey Feinman, BA, VMD, CVH, holds both molecular biology and veterinary degrees from the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Jeff’s natural curiosity drove him to study individuality and become a veterinary scientist. In 1980 he was admitted to the dual degree University Scholar program and in 1981 entered the Veterinary Medical Scientist Training program.

His scientific experience includes published papers and research at The Wistar Institute in Philadelphia, UPenn’s School of Medicine in the Department of Biochemistry, and the PennVet’s s Department of Medical Genetics. After a big shift in his thinking that occurred from a clinical internship in Boston, Dr. Jeff decided to postpone his planned academic career to help individual patients.

Over the next decade of conventional clinical practice he realized that the modern scientific medicine he learned in academia was not the solution for the increases in allergies, degenerative diseases and cancer he was seeing in pets. However, by keeping a skeptical but scientific medicine open mind and experimenting (then observing the results reproducible) he looked “outside the box” of conventional medicine. The holistic context of “Natural Medicines” that work by optimizing “flow” of cellular energy like Ayurveda, Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine, homeopathy, chiropractic, etc. provided the answer for why pets were getting sicker, and what to do.

Dr. Jeff is currently focused on sharing the many connections he sees between the current conventional veterinary medical paradigm and the potentially more sustainable model of ethnoveterinary medicine (EVN) practiced by indigenous people who live in accord with nature to care for their animals. Dr. Jeff integrates molecular biology with the homeopathic framework to activate and work with natural healing mechanisms using a framework of cellular coherence and information flow throughout pets’ bodies.

Vitality and Balance System (VBS) and homeopathy.

He is the director of the Holistic Actions! Foundation and Chief Empowerment Officer and founder of the Holistic Actions! online platform for pet parents where he teaches the method to pet parents and veterinarians. Dr. Jeff is Chairman of the Academy of Homeopathy (AVH) Research and Education committee, Director of the AVH Foundation, and was previously the holistic medical director for On The Wings Of Angels rescue in Odessa FL.

He and his wife Amy live with a super happy rescue pup Archie and Kitties Tigger and Aviva.

  • Founder and CEO of Holistic Actions!
  • Director of The Holistic Actions! Foundation
  • Columbia Exposome Bootcamp: 2021
  • Chairman of the Academy of Veterinary Homeopathy Education Committee
  • Past president of Academy of Veterinary Homeopathy
  • CT’s first Certified Veterinary Homeopath: 2000
  • Veterinary Honor Society (Phi Zeta): Inducted 1985
  • Member: American Veterinary Medical Association 1985-present
  • Veterinary Medical Scientist Training Program: 1981
  • University Pennsylvania Scholar: Inducted 1980
Dr. Jeffrey Feinman
Howie Hecht

Howie Hecht, Advisor

Howie is a Boston-based entrepreneur who loves creating and launching new products and helping other entrepreneurs succeed. He is cofounder of digital advertising startup AdsSciences which leverages their proprietary data science platform to run the world’s best performing ad campaigns for over 7 years. Through this work Howie has become an expert in marketing and advertising both B2B and B2C products and services across nearly every vertical. Howie also supports other entrepreneurs by both advising them and occasionally making seed-level angel investments in promising teams.

After earning his degree from MIT and the Sloan School of Management in 1996, Howie built up his background in management consulting and product leadership across many different verticals including content delivery (Akamai Technologies), networking (Sockeye Networks), security (Symantec via acquisition of Altiris via acquisition of Pedestal Software), compliance, financial services, mobile, and more. Howie advises PhytoSmart’s team on technology, marketing, fundraising and other areas.