Dr. Tadahisa “Hardy” Kagimoto, MD, is the Founder, Chairman and CEO of Healios K.K., a biotechnology company leading the development of stem cell derived regenerative therapies to treat major areas of unmet medical need, including solid tumors, ischemic stroke, and acute respiratory distress syndrome. Prior to founding Healios, Dr. Kagimoto founded and ran as President and CEO Aqumen Biopharmaceuticals K.K., a biotechnology company that developed the de facto standard adjuvant used in eye surgery on a worldwide basis. Prior to founding Aqumen, Dr. Kagimoto was a clinical ophthalmologist. Dr. Kagimoto graduated from Kyushu University School of Medicine, and he holds patents in the US, Europe, Japan and China. He is a Director on the board of Athersys, Inc. (NASDAQ: ATHX), an American biotechnology company, and Mobile Hospital International, a nonprofit organization that supports hospital ships for use in natural disaster recovery efforts.
Growing up next to a Shinto shrine in Kumamoto, Japan, Dr. Kagimoto came to appreciate nature and the value of life from a young age, and it was clear early on that medicine would be his pursuit. Specializing in ophthalmology, he believed, would be a highly rewarding path, as sight is arguably the most precious of all human senses, yet there were still many ailments without answers in the field.
During Dr. Kagimoto’s clinical experience, he had witnessed moving episodes of human struggle, and three patients in particular motivated him to want to do more, from a grandfather unable to watch his children play, to a patient who had ended her life upon losing her sight, to a young patient whose life was cut short with a terminal cancer diagnosis after earning placement in a prestigious university. While working to solve acute problems, he encountered intractable diseases and seemingly impossible challenges, and he wanted to cure these diseases through research and innovation before struggling patients reached the clinician’s table. To Dr. Kagimoto, these three cases soon became emblematic of his commitment to cure the uncurable, and today three symbolic crescents adorn his business card to remind him of what is at stake.
After graduating from medical school at Kyushu University in Japan, Dr. Kagimoto traveled to the United States to work, where he came to understand that medical research combined with an entrepreneurial drive could bring cures to patients at scale. While being a clinician, he could solve acute problems across a community of patients, yet he wanted to address the world’s most challenging diseases, and to bring these cures and solutions to the world.
Dr. Kagimoto started Aqumen in 2005 to address diseases of the eye. He found success early, with his research leading to grants from Fukuoka Prefecture, along with significant investments from venture capital. Through patented advancements made there, particularly through the innovative Brilliant Blue G (BBG) surgical adjuvant, Aqumen has contributed to improving sight for many thousands of patients worldwide. The success of Aqumen confirmed that it was possible through entrepreneurship to convert research from a Japanese university into a product that could help patients on a global scale.
After the success of Aqumen, Dr. Kagimoto committed to delivering more comprehensive treatments for intractable diseases. The enormous possibility of new treatments using induced pluripotent stem cells, or iPSCs, provided him with a path toward realizing that goal, and in 2011 Dr. Kagimoto started Healios to further advance this solution. Healios has grown into a world leader in the development of innovative, engineered iPSC derived therapies, with its lead program focusing on curing the leading cause of death due to disease globally, solid cancers. Through the development of Healios’ proprietary, gene-edited universal donor iPSC platform, and products derived from it, Dr. Kagimoto has positioned Healios to unlock the full potential of iPSC derived therapies across several domains, including immuno-oncology, diseases of the eye, and liver disease. At the same time, Healios is driving forward a somatic stem cell treatment for ischemic stroke and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) patients in Japan, leveraging the favorable Japanese regulatory framework for regenerative medicine. Stroke affects hundreds of thousands of people in Japan each year, leaving death and disability in its wake. ARDS is a life-threatening condition that affects patients with various severe diseases and is the leading cause of death in COVID-19 patients. He works tirelessly every day to make these regenerative medicine solutions a reality for patients as soon as possible.
In addition to his work at Healios, Dr. Kagimoto sits on the board of Mobile Hospital International, a non-profit that supports hospital ships, an ever-growing need in the face of natural disasters and climate challenges. He has been recognized by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry in Japan and also by the Fukuoka Industry, Science & Technology foundation in Japan for his success in bringing life-changing biotech solutions to the market at scale. Dr. Kagimoto is also a Scott M. Johnson Fellow of the US-Japan Leadership Program. He is an avid windsurfer, cook, painter and recreational golfer. He lives in Tokyo with his wife and four children.
Chairman & CEO
February 2011 – Present
President & CEO
April 2005 – Present
2003 - 2004
Athersys, Inc. (NASDAQ: ATHX), Director
Mobile Hospital International, Director
For development of BBG surgical adjuvant
Japan No. 4200222
US No. 6,057,160
Europe No. EP1819366B2
China No. CN101132814B
Memberships, Awards and Distinctions
US-Japan Leadership Program, Scott M. Johnson Fellow
Commendation by the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, Japan Venture Awards
Recognition by the Fukuoka Industry, Science & Technology foundation in Japan
Chairman and CEO
Hardy TS Kagimoto, MD
Executive Vice President CMO(Chief Medical Officer)
Masanori Sawada, MD, PhD, MBA
Executive Officer in charge of research and manufacturing/ Head of Kobe Research Institutes
Kouichi Tamura, PhD
Executive Officer in charge of development
Executive Officer CFO
Richard P. Kincaid
Executive Officer in charge of human resources and general affairs