Leadership Team

Mark A. Bernard, Ph.D.

President and Co-founder

Dr. Bernard is a leading research biochemist and enzymologist with 16 years of experience in pharma/biotech industry. Areas of expertise include drug discovery, nucleotide metabolism, nucleic acids and enzymology. In large pharma (Pfizer and Bayer Healthcare Pharmaceuticals) and startups, Dr. Bernard’s research involved drug discovery and mechanism of action for biopharmaceuticals and small molecules in oncology, immunology and hematology. At the Pfizer Oligonucleotide Therapeutics Unit, he invented and published an enzymatic platform to optimize therapeutic RNA interference molecules and provide mechanistic insight. Bringing his RNAi expertise to Harvard Medical School, he discovered that HIV encodes novel microRNAs that stimulate a pro-inflammatory response through an unconventional mechanism. 

At Targeted Molecules Corp., Dr. Bernard initiated the program for anti-inflammatory Vatelizumab taking the program from proposal and drug discovery through humanization leading to IND. Vatelizumab completed four Phase 2 clinical trials (Sanofi/Glenmark, $613M deal). 

In biotechnology, he led enzymology research at the startup Omniome to produce an enzymatic platform for label-free Next-Gen Sequencing (leading to $8.1M Series A1).  At SmithKline Beckman/Beckman Instruments he produced 11 marketed in vitro diagnostic (IVD) products for drug and immunochemistry analysis while novel prototype  Synchron CX3, CX4 and CX5 analyzers were being developed in parallel with chemistry. 

Mark earned a B.S. Biochemistry degree from the University of California, Los Angeles and Ph.D. Biochemistry and Biophysics degree from Oregon State University.  He conducted post-doctoral research at the University of Texas Medical School (Medical Genetics) and Harvard Medical School (HIV, host defense and innate immunity). He has 10 peer-reviewed publications, 6 Patents issued/pending and prior experience at 2 startups.  

Donald Barnhart, Ph.D.

Director of Optical Engineering

Dr.  Barnhart is the Creator of Optica and Founder of Optica Software (a  subgroup of Barnhart Optical Research LLC), where he has guided Optica's  development for more than 28 years in addition to maintaining an active  professional career as a principal-level  optical scientist in areas of holography, flow cytometry, augmented  reality, and DUV laser technology. He holds both a BS and MS in  Electrical Engineering from the University of Illinois, and a PhD in  Opto-Mechanical Engineering from Loughborough University,  UK. He is a founder of the holographic velocimetry discipline and  inventor of the SlideOScope. Donald has had over 30 years' experience in  the coherent optics industry.  

Donald has published papers in the fields of holographic  velocimetry, holographic recording in  bacteriorhodopsin, and computer  generated diffractive optics. While living in England, Donald was once  an invited guest to Buckingham Palace where he personally  met with Prince Phillip and the Queen of England. He has authored over  Six Patents in the fields of holographic velocimetry, augmented reality,  automated optical alignment, anamorphic optics (SlideOScope), and  speckle reduction. His areas of special interest  include speckle reduction, computer generated diffractive optics,  augmented reality device development,  and of course, the continued  development of Optica's optical modeling software tools.

 As a graduate student, Donald started development of Optica in  1991 to build the first successful holographic camera that takes  near-instantaneous three-dimensional volumetric velocimetry measurements  at a million points of fluid flows at the University  of Illinois. Three years later in 1994, after publishing his  ground-breaking results, which appeared on the front cover of Applied  Optics, Donald founded Optica Software with the first commercial release  of the Optica package for Mathematica. In these intervening years, Optica has continually enjoyed a modest but loyal following of  users in the optical sciences community.