Executive Management

Robert S. Ward, Ph.D. (h) | President & Chief Executive Officer

 Dr. Bob Ward, a chemical engineer and well-known expert in biomedical polymer science, is Chairman of Emergence Venture Partners LLC and President and CEO of ExThera Medical. Prior to joining ExThera, Dr. Ward was President and CEO of DSM Biomedical in Berkeley, California, a biomaterials and medical device company he founded in 1989,as The Polymer Technology Group. Previously, Dr. Ward was Director of Research at Avco Medical Products, and spent a decade at Thoratec as President of the Biomaterials Division. Dr. Ward has numerous technical publications and patents and has received multiple awards from prestigious industry organizations, including:

  • 2012 - awarded an honorary Ph.D. from the University of Massachusetts
  • 2006 – received the Excellence in Surface Science award from The Surfaces in Biomaterials Foundation
  • 2004 – named one of Medical Device & Diagnostic Industry’s 100 Most Notable People in the Medical Device Industry
  • 2003 – awarded the Technology Innovation and Development Award from the Society for Biomaterials

Dr. Ward studied engineering management and polymer science at Northeastern University, and received a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the University of Massachusetts, Lowell. 


George G. Pitarra, Jr. | Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer

George Pitarra is currently Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of ExThera Medical. Prior to joining ExThera, Mr. Pitarra was CFO of The Polymer Technology Group, Chief Executive Officer of Humanetics Innovation Solutions, Inc., a market leader in automotive safety, and Chief Executive Officer of Triflo Medical, Inc., a prosthetic, replacement heart valve start-up company. Earlier in his career he worked for Baxter International as a scientist in protein chemistry, with a concentration in protein affinity chromatography. Mr. Pitarra entered the business world with tenures in corporate finance positions at Beckman Coulter, Max Factor & Co., and Coopers & Lybrand. 

Mr. Pitarra received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in in life science engineering from Tufts University, and an MBA in finance and marketing from the University of Southern California.


Kathleen A. White | Vice President & Chief Operating Officer

Kathleen White joined ExThera Medical in January 2011 as Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, with more than 30 years of experience in a variety of positions including operations, manufacturing, research, development, quality and regulatory approval for the medical device industry. Prior to joining ExThera Medical, Ms. White was Vice President of Operations for DSM Biomedical, a biomaterials and medical device company she co-founded in 1989 (formerly The Polymer Technology Group). In addition, Ms. White has held positions at Avco Medical Products and Thoratec and has been the principal investigator on two SBIR contracts awarded by the NIH. She has authored or co-authored over two dozen articles and abstracts and two book chapters and holds three patents in the field of biomaterials. Ms. White serves on the Advisory Board for the Biomedical Engineering program and is on the Board of Trustees for Western New England University.

Ms. White received a bachelor’s degree in biomechanical engineering from Western New England University.


Keith McCrea, Ph.D. | Vice President of Research & Development, & Chief Science Officer

Dr. Keith McCrea is currently is Chief Science Officer and Vice President of Research and Development of ExThera Medical. He began his career at The Polymer Technology Group, where he built a state of the art surface analysis laboratory focusing on a custom built advanced laser technique that has aided in the identification and development of new intellectual property at that company. Dr. McCrea also led R&D projects to develop new materials for several different medical applications. 

 Dr. McCrea received his doctorate in physical chemistry, with an emphasis on surface modification and characterization, from University of California, Berkeley. Dr. McCrea also serves on the scientific advisory board of NESAC/BIO, an NIH-sponsored program at the University of Washington with a mission to develop new techniques to solve biomedical related problems associated with surfaces and interfaces.


Medical Advisory Board

James Anderson, M.D., Ph.D.

Dr. James Anderson is a professor of pathology, macromolecular science and biomedical engineering at Case Western Reserve University (Cleveland), and is also a consultant to the National Institute of Health’s Artificial Heart Program, the FDA, and the International Standards Organization (ISO 10993). Dr. Andersen is also co-founder of the Society of Biomaterials, editor-in-chief of the Journal of Biomedical Materials Research, and a member of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the National Academies of Science.


George W. Bo-Linn, M.D., MHA

Dr. George Bo-Linn is Senior Adviser for Alvarez & Marsal, a global consulting firm. Prior to his current position, Dr. Bo-Linn served Chief Program Officer for Healthcare at the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, and as Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer of Dignity Health. Earlier,  Dr. Bo-Linn held positions as Chief Medical Officer with Unity Health System (St. Louis), University of Texas Medical School at Dallas, Baylor University Medical Center and Johns Hopkins Hospital.


Steven P. LaRosa, M.D.

Dr. Steven LaRosa is board-certified in internal medicine and infectious disease, and has been involved in clinical research in infectious disease and critical care for the past 20 years. Currently at the Lahey Clinic in Beverly, Massachusetts, where he leads the infectious disease practice. He also serves as acting Chief Medical Officer for three biotechnology companies. Earlier, during a three-year tenure as a clinical research physician at Eli Lilly and Company, he led the PROWESS Phase III trial that resulted in the approval of Xigris as the only therapy for severe sepsis. Dr. LaRosa went on to found and direct the Ocean State Clinical Coordinating Center (OSCCC). This center partnered with large and small pharmaceutical companies in developing a number of vital components of clinical trial design and execution, including protocol design, CRF design, investigative site and CRO selection and training, real- time site assistance, and data analysis. Previously Dr. Brown held several positions with Cleveland Clinic Foundation and Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University.


Michael Erne | Hospital Executive-In-Residence

Michael Erne retired in October 2008 after serving eight years as the chief operating officer for  Dignity Health, one of the leading not-for-profit health care systems in the United States.

Prior to joining Dignity, Mr. Erne served as the Senior Vice President for Centura Health in Denver, where he was President & CEO for four Denver-area hospitals, two Rocky Mountain regional hospitals and a number of health clinics. Centura Health is the Rocky Mountain Division of Catholic Health Initiatives.

Mr. Erne also served as Executive Vice President for Provenant Health Partners and as Chief Executive Officer for St. Anthony Hospitals in Denver. Provenant Health Partners was the Denver-based health system operated by the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati prior to the formation of Dignity Health Initiatives.  He also held senior leadership roles with Sharp Healthcare as the CEO of Grossmont Hospital in San Diego, and was the CEO of Ventura County Medical Center in Ventura, California.

Mr. Erne currently serves as a board member or advisor to several start-up company boards including EmergeMD, ExThera Medical and Auxilio,Inc. He also serves on boards in Hawaii including Catholic Charities Hawaii, St. Francis Health System and the University of Hawaii Medical School Clinical, Education and Research Board. Further, he serves in the National Social Policy Committee for Catholic Charities USA.

Mr. Erne holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of California, Santa Barbara and an MBA from San Diego State University.