The Vernx Leaders

Dr Craig Patch

Craig Patch |  CEO / Co-Founder

Dr Patch is a nutrition innovator with more than 20 years experience dedicated to improving the health and wellness of infants. He was instrumental in the identification, protection, in-licensing, development and spinning out of intellectual property from the Women’s and Children’s Hospital Adelaide to form Premneo Pharmaceuticals Pty Ltd, where he was the founding VP, Development & Innovation. Under his direction, he formed and led a high performance team to develop a novel DHA product to prevent bronchopulmonary dysplasia that was used in a phase-3 multisite NICU clinical trial involving 1273 premature babies. Furthermore, Dr Patch led the commercial strategy for Clover Corporation Pty Ltd for 8 years, resulting in the launch of many nutritional ingredients for infants sold globally.

Dr Patch has extensive experience in managing sales and marketing activities in nutrition science and biotechnology. Dr Patch is a also co-inventor of 6 patent applications, has published more than 60 peer-reviewed articles and has been instrumental in the formation of five start-up companies in the area of social enterprise, nutrition, biotechnology and pharmaceuticals. Dr Patch has a Bachelor of Applied Science, is qualified dietitian/nutritionist and has an MBA and a PhD in biomedical science.

Sarah Crennon

Sarah Crennan | Director of Product Development / Co-Founder

Sarah is an innovative product developer in the area of food, medical food and pharmaceuticals, with a focus on the health effects of novel fatty acids. She has extensive research and development expertise in microencapsulation, bio-fermentation, manufacturing, process development, product scale up and dairy processing. She has an established track record in new product development leading to commercialisation. Notably, in her role as a senior member of Fonterra and Nu-Mega Ingredients Pty Ltd R&D team, which delivered new nutritional products for infants sold globally. Ms Crennan, is the co-inventor and lead product developer on a number of patents, including a novel DHA product to prevent bronchopulmonary dysplasia in premature infants that was used in a phase II (n=30) and phase III multisite NICU clinical trial (n=1273). At the time this was the world’s largest nutritional intervention trial targeting premature infants and was also awarded GRAS status in the US in 2014. In 2015, the DHA product and associated intellectual property was spun out into a new entity Premneo Pharmaceuticals Pty Ltd, of which she was founding senior scientist, R&D. Ms Crennan has a Bachelor of Food Technology (Hons).

Prof Tom Brenna

Prof Tom Brenna | CSO / Co-Founder

J. Thomas Brenna (member since 2015): Professor of Pediatrics, of Chemistry and of Human Nutrition, Dell Medical School/Dell Pediatric Research Institute, and College of Natural Sciences, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas, USA; 2017-present; Professor Emeritus of Human Nutrition, of Chemistry, and of Food Science and Technology, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, USA, 2017-present.  Adjunct Professor of Public Health Sciences, University of Rochester (NY) School of Medicine and Dentistry, 2006-2015, 2020-present.

Education:  PhD/MS Chemistry, Department of Chemistry, College of Arts and Sciences, Cornell University; BS cum laude, Nutritional Biochemistry, University of Connecticut.

Previous Employment: Cornell University, Professor of Human Nutrition, Division of Nutritional Sciences, Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Graduate Field of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, 2000-2017, Professor of Food Science and Technology, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, 2012-2017,  Professor of Geological Sciences, Graduate Field of Geological Sciences, College of Engineering, 1998-2017, Associate Professor of Human Nutrition, Division of Nutritional Sciences, 1995-2000, Assistant Professor of Chemistry, Graduate Field of Chemistry 1994; Assistant Professor of Human Nutrition, Division of Nutritional Sciences, 1989-1995, Director of Undergraduate Studies, Division of Nutritional Sciences, 2001-2007; Adjunct Professor, Department of Public Health Sciences, University of Rochester College of Medicine and Dentistry, 2006-2016; Staff Scientist, Advanced Technology Development Laboratory, IBM Corporation and Founding Director of the Fourier Transform Mass Spectrometry Laboratory, 1985-1989; Adjunct Assistant Professor, Department of Chemistry, Binghamton University,1988-1989.

AOCS Activities: Ralph Holman Lifetime Achievement Award, 2021; Herbert J. Dutton Award, 2020; AOCS Annual Meeting Session Organizer and Chair, 2016-2017.

Other: Author/co-author of >300 peer-reviewed publications, primarily in Nutrition/Medicine and in Chemistry journals; 3 USPTO patents issued; Past President/Executive Board, ISSFAL: International Society for the Study of Fatty Acids and Lipids. 2012- 2015 President-Elect; 2015-2018 President; 2018-2021 Past-President, Member, Board of Directors, 2001-2009; 2017 Osborne and Mendel Award, American Society for Nutrition; 2013 Robert H. Herman Award, American Society for Nutrition; Deputy Editor, British Journal of Nutrition; 2018-present; previously First Editor (2012-2017); 2006-2018, Fats of Life Newsletter <>; 2002-present, Editorial Advisory Board, Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry; 2011-2015; Professional Society Memberships including, American Society for Nutrition; American Society for Mass Spectrometry; ISSFAL; American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology; American Chemical Society; Nutrition Society (UK)

Research/Professional Interests:  My research interests couple analytical chemistry and nutrition both focused on all aspects of fatty acids, from human genetics to effects of processing.  Recent interests include branched chain and fatty acids of unusual double bond structure.


Prof Tom Brenna

Mek Cheng | Innovation Manager

Mek has been an innovation and business development analyst for more than 8 years in the area of food, medical food and pharmaceuticals. She has vast experience in innovation management, including project management, pipeline management, market analysis, intellectual property searches and business case development. Mek has facilitated numerous products development and commercialization including commissioning of new production facilities. Her research and development skill led her became a co-inventor of several patents and patent applications. Uniquely, Mek has unique linguistic skills which she applies to communication with Chinese customers and regulatory authorities.