Annual report pursuant to Section 13 and 15(d)

License, Collaborative and Employment Agreements and Commitments

v3.10.0.1
License, Collaborative and Employment Agreements and Commitments
12 Months Ended
Dec. 31, 2018
Disclosure of License Collaborative and Employment Agreements and Commitments [Abstract]  
License Collaborative And Employment Agreements And Commitments [Text Block]
7. License, Collaborative and Employment Agreements and Commitments
 
License and Collaborative Agreements
 
As described below, the Company has entered into several license and collaborative agreements for the right to use research, technology and patents. Some of these license and collaborative agreements may contain milestones. The specific timing of such milestones cannot be predicted and are dependent on future developments as well as regulatory actions which cannot be predicted with certainty (including actions which may never occur). Further, under the terms of certain licensing agreements, the Company may have the obligation to pay certain milestones contingent upon the achievement of specific levels of sales. Due to the long-range nature of such commercial milestone amounts, they are neither probable at this time nor predictable and consequently are not included in this disclosure.
 
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center (“CSMC”) Agreement
 
On December 5, 2013, the Company, through its newly formed, majority owned subsidiary, SYN Biomics entered into a worldwide exclusive License Agreement with CSMC for the development of new treatment approaches to target non-bacterial intestinal microorganism life forms known as archaea that are associated with intestinal methane production and chronic diseases such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), obesity and type 2 diabetes. As part of the terms of the License Agreement the Company issued 9,569 unregistered shares of the Company’s common stock to CSMC, paid $150,000 for the initial license fee and $220,000 for patent reimbursement fees. The License Agreement also provides that, commencing on the second anniversary of the License Agreement, SYN Biomics will pay an annual maintenance fee, which payment shall be creditable against annual royalty payments owed under the License Agreement. In addition to royalty payments which are a percentage of net sales of licensed and technology products, SYN Biomics is obligated to pay CSMC a percentage of any non-royalty sublicense revenues, as well as additional consideration upon the achievement of milestones (the first two of which are payable in cash or unregistered shares of Company stock at the Company’s option). On December 5, 2013, the Company also entered into an option agreement with CSMC, which expired unexercised on December 31, 2014.  
 
The License Agreement terminates: (i) automatically if SYN Biomics enters into a liquidating bankruptcy or other specified bankruptcy event or if the performance of any term, covenant, condition or provision of the License Agreement will jeopardize the licensure of CSMC, its participation in certain reimbursement programs, its full accreditation by the Joint Commission of Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations or any similar state organizations, its tax exempt status or is deemed illegal; (ii) upon 30 days notice from CSMC if SYN Biomics fails to make a payment or use commercially reasonable efforts to exploit the patent rights; (iii) upon 60 days notice from CSMC if SYN Biomics fails to cure any breach or default of any material obligations under the License Agreement; or (iv) upon 90 days notice from SYN Biomics if CSMC fails to cure any breach or default of any material obligations under the License Agreement. SYN Biomics also has the right to terminate the License Agreement without cause upon six months notice to CSMC; however, upon such termination, SYN Biomics is obligated to pay a termination fee with the amount of such fee reduced: (i) if such termination occurs after an Investigational New Drug submission to the FDA but prior to completion of a Phase 2 clinical trial, (ii) reduced further if such termination occurs after completion of, Phase 2 clinical trial but prior to completion of a Phase 3 clinical trial; and (iii) reduced to zero if such termination occurs after completion of a Phase 3 clinical trial.
 
Prior to the execution of the CSMC License Agreement, SYN Biomics issued shares of common stock of SYN Biomics to each of CSMC and Mark Pimentel, M.D. (the primary inventor of the intellectual property), representing 11.5% and 8.5%, respectively, of the outstanding shares of SYN Biomics (the “SYN Biomics Shares”). The Stock Purchase Agreements for the SYN Biomics shares provide for certain anti-dilution protection until such time as an aggregate of $3.0 million in proceeds from equity financings are received by SYN Biomics as well as a right, under certain circumstances in the event that the SYN Biomics shares are not then freely tradable, and subject to NYSE American approval, as of the 18 and 36 month anniversary date of the effective date of the Stock Purchase Agreements, for each of CSMC and the Dr. Pimentel to exchange up to 50% of their SYN Biomics shares for unregistered share of the Company’s common stock, with the rate of exchange based upon the relative contribution of the valuation of SYN Biomics to the public market valuation of the Company at the time of each exchange. The Stock Purchase Agreements also provide for tag-along rights in the event of the sale by the Company of its shares of SYN Biomics.
 
On August 29, 2015, the Company, SYN Biomics and Mark Pimentel, M.D. entered into an amendment to the Pimentel Stock Purchase Agreement, which accelerated the date upon which Dr. Pimentel can exchange his shares of common stock in SYN Biomics for shares of the Company’s common stock. On August 29, 2015, Dr. Pimentel notified the Company of his intent to exchange all of the shares of common stock in SYN Biomics owned by him for 38,572 shares of the Company’s common stock in accordance with the terms of the Pimentel Stock Purchase Agreement, as amended. On August 31, 2015, the Company issued 38,572 shares of the Company’s common stock to Dr. Pimentel in exchange for all of the shares of common stock of SYN Biomics held by Dr. Pimentel.
 
During the year ended December 31, 2018 and 2017, the Company did not owe and did not pay 
CSMC for milestone payments related this license agreement.
 
On September 5, 2018, the Company entered into an agreement with CSMC for an investigator-sponsored Phase 2 clinical study of SYN-010 to be co-funded by the Company and CSMC (the “Study”). The Study will provide further evaluation of the efficacy and safety of SYN-010, the Company’s modified-release reformulation of lovastatin lactone, which is exclusively licensed to the Company by CSMC. SYN-010 is designed to reduce methane production by certain microorganisms (
M. smithii
) in the gut to treat an underlying cause of irritable bowel syndrome with constipation (IBS-C).
 
In consideration of the support provided by CSMC for the Study, the Company will pay $321,000 and the Company entered into a Stock Purchase Agreement with CSMC pursuant to which the Company has agreed, upon the approval of the Study protocol by the Institutional Review Board, (IRB) to: (i) issue to CSMC fifty thousand
(50,000)
shares of common stock of the Company; and (ii) transfer to CSMC an additional two million four hundred twenty thousand
(2,420,000)
shares of common stock of its subsidiary SYN Biomics, Inc. (“Synbiomics”) owned by the Company, such that after such issuance CSMC will own an aggregate of seven million four hundred eighty thousand
(7,480,000)
shares of common stock of SYN Biomics, representing seventeen percent (17%) of the issued and outstanding shares of SYN Biomics’ common stock. The services rendered are recorded to research and development expense in proportion with the progress of the study and based overall on the fair value of the shares ($
285,000
) as determined at the date of IRB approval. During 2018, research and development expense recorded related to this transaction approximated $36,000. Including the issuance of common stock and the proportion of the cash contribution recognized to expense in 2018, total research and development expense recognized in 2018 for this transaction approximated $102,000.
 
The Agreement also provides CSMC with a right, commencing on the six month anniversary of issuance of the stock under certain circumstances in the event that the shares of stock of Synbiomics are not then freely tradeable, and subject to NYSE American, LLC approval, to exchange its Synbiomics shares for unregistered shares of the Company’s common stock, with the rate of exchange based upon the relative contribution of the valuation of Synbiomics to the public market valuation of the Company at the time of each exchange. The Stock Purchase Agreement also provides for tag-along rights in the event of the sale by the Company of its shares of Synbiomics.
 
University of Texas Austin Agreement
 
On December 19, 2012, the Company entered into a License Agreement with The University of Texas at Austin (the “University”) for the exclusive license of the right to use, develop, manufacture, market and commercialize certain research and patents related to pertussis antibodies. The License Agreement provides that the University is entitled to payment of past patent expenses, an annual payment of $50,000 per year commencing on the effective date through December 31, 2014, a $25,000 payment on December 31, 2015 and milestone payments of $50,000 upon commencement of Phase 1 clinical trials, $100,000 upon commencement of Phase 3 clinical trials, $250,000 upon NDA submission in the U.S., $100,000 upon European Medicines Agency approval and $100,000 upon regulatory approval in an Asian country. In addition, the University is entitled to a running royalty upon net sales. The License Agreement terminates upon the expiration of the patent rights; provided, however that the License Agreement is subject to early termination by the Company in its discretion and by the University for a breach of the License Agreement by the Company.
  
In connection with the License Agreement, the Company and the University also entered into a Sponsored Research Agreement pursuant to which the University will perform certain research work related to pertussis. The Sponsored Research Agreement may be renewed annually, in the sole discretion of the Company, after the first year for two additional one year terms with a fixed fee for the first year of $303,287. The Sponsored Research Agreement was renewed for the second and third years for a fixed fee of $316,438 and $328,758 respectively, all payable in quarterly installments. The Sponsored Research Agreement was to expire on December 31, 2015; provided, however, the Sponsored Research Agreement is subject to early termination upon the written agreement of the parties, a default in the material obligations under the Research Agreement which remain uncured for 60 days after receipt of notice, automatically upon the Company’s bankruptcy or insolvency and by the Company in its sole discretion at any time after the one year anniversary of the date of execution thereof upon no less than 90 days notice.
 
On October 22, 2015, the Company and the University amended the Sponsored Research Agreement to extend the termination date to January 15, 2017, on September 2, 2016 to extend the agreement until January 15, 2018, on August 22, 2017 to extend the agreement until January 17, 2019 and again on August 24, 2018 until January 17, 2021. All other terms and conditions of the Sponsored Research Agreement remain unchanged. No further or additional payments will be made to the University as a result of this amendment.
 
Prev ABR LLC (“Prev”) Agreement
 
On November 28, 2012, the Company entered into an agreement (“Prev Agreement”) to acquire the C. diff program assets of Prev, including pre-Investigational New Drug (IND) package, Phase 1 and Phase 2 clinical data, manufacturing process data and all issued and pending U.S. and international patents. Upon execution and closing of the Prev Agreement, the Company paid Prev cash payments of $235,000 and issued 17,858 unregistered shares of its common stock to Prev. As set forth in the Prev Agreement, Prev may be entitled to receive additional consideration upon the achievement of certain milestones including: (i) commencement of an IND; (ii) commencement of a Phase 1 clinical trial; (iii) commencement of a Phase 2 clinical trial; (iv) commencement of a Phase 3 clinical trial; (v) filing a Biologic License Application (BLA) in the U.S. and for territories outside of the U.S. (as defined in the Prev Agreement); and (vi) approval of a BLA in the U.S. and for territories outside the U.S. With exception of the first milestone payment, the remaining milestones are payable 50% in cash and 50% in our stock, however, at Prev’s option the entire milestone may be payable in shares of the Company’s stock. Under the Prev Agreement, the Company may be required to the return all of assets acquired from Prev if (i) the Company has not initiated toxicology studies in non-rodent models within 30 months of the Prev Agreement execution date, or (ii) within 36 months of the Prev Agreement execution date the Company has not filed a C. Diff program IND and such failure is not due to action or inaction of Prev or breach of its representations or warranties or covenants or if there is a change of control as defined in the Prev Agreement and after such change of control the assets are not further developed; provided however that such 30 and 36 month periods can be extended by the Company for an additional 12 months upon payment of a cash milestone payment. As of December 31, 2015, the first three milestones have been met, and at Prev’s option, Prev elected to receive 18,724 shares of the Company’s common stock. No milestones were achieved or such payments were made during the years ended December 31, 2018 and 2017.
 
Intrexon Exclusive Channel Collaboration
 
On August 6, 2012, the Company expanded its relationship with Intrexon and entered into an Exclusive Channel Collaboration (“ECC”) (“Infectious Disease ECC”) with Intrexon that governs an “exclusive channel collaboration” arrangement in which the Company will use Intrexon’s technology relating to the identification, design and production of human antibodies and DNA vectors for the development and commercialization of a series of monoclonal antibody therapies for the treatment of certain serious infectious diseases. Pursuant to the terms of the Second Stock Issuance Agreement with Intrexon, which was approved by the Company’s stockholders on October 5, 2012, the Company issued 101,492 shares of its common stock, $0.001 par value, which issuance is also deemed paid in consideration for the execution and delivery of the Infectious Disease ECC, dated August 6, 2012, between the Company and Intrexon. The fair value of this transaction was $7.8 million and was charged to research and development expense for the year ended December 31, 2012, in accordance with the Company’s accounting policy. In connection with the transactions contemplated by the Second Stock Issuance Agreement, and pursuant to the First Amendment to Registration Rights Agreement (the “First Amendment to Registration Rights Agreement”) executed and delivered by the parties at the closing, which was declared effective on May 5, 2013. The Company filed a “resale” registration statement registering the resale of the shares issued under the Second Stock Issuance Agreement.
 
Subject to certain expense allocations and other offsets provided in the Infectious Disease ECC, the Company will pay Intrexon royalties on annual net sales of the Synthetic Products, calculated on a Synthetic Product-by-Synthetic Product basis. The Company has likewise agreed to pay Intrexon a percentage of quarterly revenue obtained from a sublicensor in the event of a sublicensing arrangement. No such payments were made during the year ended December 31, 2018 and 2017.
 
The Company also agreed upon the filing of an IND application with the FDA for a Synthetic Product, or alternatively the filing of the first equivalent regulatory filing with a foreign regulatory agency (both as applicable, the “IND Milestone Event”), to pay Intrexon either (i) $2.0 million in cash, or (ii) that number of shares of common stock (the “IND Milestone Shares”) having a fair market value equaling
$2.0
million where such fair market value is determined using published market data of the share price for common stock at the close of market on the business day immediately preceding the date of public announcement of attainment of the IND Milestone Event.
 
Upon the first to occur of either first commercial sale of a Synthetic Product in a country or the granting of the regulatory approval of that Synthetic Product (both as applicable, the “Approval Milestone Event”), the Company agreed to pay to Intrexon either (i) $3.0 million in cash, or (ii) that number of shares of common stock (the “Approval Milestone Shares”) having a fair market value equaling $3.0 million where such fair market value is determined using published market data of the share price for common stock at the close of market on the business day immediately preceding the date of public announcement of attainment of the Approval Milestone Event.
 
On August 10, 2015, the Company expanded its relationship with Intrexon and entered into an Exclusive Channel Collaboration Agreement (the “Channel Agreement”) with Intrexon that governs a “channel collaboration” arrangement in which the Company will use Intrexon’s technology relating to the development and commercialization of novel biotherapeutics (a “Collaboration Product”) for the treatment of patients with PKU. On September 2, 2015, in accordance with the terms of the Intrexon Stock Issuance Agreement that that the Company entered into in connection with the Channel Agreement, the Company paid Intrexon a technology access fee by the issuance of 26,786 shares of common stock, having a value equal to $3.0 million as of August 7, 2015. Pursuant to the Second Amendment to Registration Rights Agreement, the Company filed a “resale” registration statement to register the shares issued under the Intrexon Stock Issuance Agreement, which was declared effective by the SEC on October 15, 2015.
 
On November 30, 2018, the Company received written notice from Intrexon Corporation (“Intrexon”) stating that Intrexon and the Company had terminated by mutual agreement the Exclusive Channel Collaboration Agreement (the “ECC”) executed by and between the Company and Intrexon on August 10, 2015 that governed a “channel collaboration” arrangement in which the Company intended to use Intrexon’s technology for the treatment of Phenylketonuria (“PKU”), such termination to be effective immediately. The ECC had granted the Company a worldwide exclusive license to use the patents and other intellectual property of Intrexon in connection with the research, development, use, importing, manufacture, sale, and offer for sale of biotherapeutic products (a “Collaboration Product”) for the treatment of PKU in humans by direct administration of a viral construct containing a gene to alter genetic expression of phenyalanine hydroxylase and/or administration of genetically modified bacteria that express an effector directed to the metabolic conversion of phenyalanine (the “Field”). The license was exclusive to both parties within the Field. As a result of the mutually agreed upon November 30, 2018 termination, each party retains its own respective confidential information and intellectual property and all licenses between the parties granted under the ECC are terminated. The Company had also entered into the Exclusive Channel Collaboration Agreement, dated August 6, 2012 with Intrexon that governs a “channel collaboration” arrangement in which the Company intends to use Intrexon’s technology relating to the identification, design and production of human antibodies and DNA vectors for the development and commercialization of a series of monoclonal antibody therapies for the treatment of Pertussis, remains in effect.
 
During December 2012, the Company paid Intrexon a prepayment of research and development expenses of $2.5 million for research and development goods and services to be provided in the future and was recorded on the Company’s Consolidated Balance Sheets in prepaid expenses and other current assets. Related research and development expenses of $643,000 and $424,000 were recorded against this prepayment for the years ended December 31, 2016 and 2015, respectively. At December 31, 2018, there is no remaining balance of the Intrexon prepayment of research and development expenses.
 
Employment Agreements
 
On April 28, 2015, the Company entered into a two-year employment agreement with Steven A. Shallcross (the “Shallcross Employment Agreement”), who was appointed to serve as the Company’s Chief Financial Officer, Treasurer and Secretary, effective June 1, 2015. Pursuant to the Shallcross Employment agreement, Mr. Shallcross was entitled to an annual base salary of $315,000. Additionally, Mr. Shallcross was granted options to purchase 25,714 shares of the Company’s common stock with an exercise price equal to the per share market price on the date of issue. These options vested pro rata, on a monthly basis, over 36 months. The Company measured the fair value of the stock options at approximately $1.9 million using the Black-Scholes option pricing model. In 2015 and for each full calendar year thereafter, Mr. Shallcross was eligible for an annual performance bonus of up to seventy-five percent (75%) of his base salary. The annual bonus is to be based upon the Board’s assessment of Mr. Shallcross’ performance. The Shallcross Employment Agreement also includes confidentiality obligations and inventions assignments by Mr. Shallcross and non-solicitation and non-competition provisions.
 
Effective November 30, 2016, the Company entered into an amendment to the Shallcross Employment Agreement to increase Mr. Shallcross’ annual base salary to $346,500. The Company entered into another amendment to the Shallcross Employment Agreement, dated as of May 31, 2017, to, among other things, extend the term of the agreement two years, or until May 30, 2019 (unless earlier terminated pursuant to the terms of the agreement).
  
On December 5, 2017, Mr. Shallcross was appointed as the Company’s Interim Chief Executive Officer. Effective December 20, 2017, the Company entered into an amendment to the Shallcross Employment Agreement to increase Mr. Shallcross’ annual base salary to $381,150 and for the period that Mr. Shallcross serves as Interim Chief Executive Officer, he shall receive a cash payment from the Company of Eight Thousand Dollars ($8,000) per calendar month; pro-rated for any partial months that Mr. Shallcross serves as Interim Chief Executive Officer, payable in accordance with the regular payroll practices of the Company.
 
On December 6, 2018, the Company entered into a three-year employment agreement with Steven A. Shallcross (the “Employment Agreement”), to serve as the Chief Executive Officer and to continue to serve as the Chief Financial Officer of the Company. The Employment Agreement replaced the prior employment agreement with the Company that Mr. Shallcross entered into on April 28, 2015. In addition, Mr. Shallcross was appointed as a director of the Company. Mr. Shallcross will not receive additional compensation for service as a Director of the Company and will not serve on any committees of the Board of Directors (the “Board”). The material terms of the Employment Agreement are set forth below.
 
Pursuant to the Employment Agreement, Mr. Shallcross is entitled to an annual base salary of $550,000 and an annual performance bonus of up to seventy five percent (75%) of his annual base salary. The annual bonus will be based upon the assessment of the Board of Mr. Shallcross’s performance. The Employment Agreement also includes confidentiality obligations and inventions assignments by Mr. Shallcross and non-solicitation and non-competition provisions.
 
The Employment Agreement has a stated term of three years but may be terminated earlier pursuant to its terms. If Mr. Shallcross’s employment is terminated for any reason, he or his estate as the case may be, will be entitled to receive the accrued base salary, vacation pay, expense reimbursement and any other entitlements accrued by him to the extent not previously paid (the “Accrued Obligations”); provided, however, that if his employment is terminated (i) by the Company without Cause or by Mr. Shallcross for Good Reason (as each is defined in the Employment Agreement) then in addition to paying the Accrued Obligations, (a) the Company will continue to pay his then current base salary and continue to provide benefits at least equal to those that were provided at the time of termination for a period of twelve (12) months and (b) he shall have the right to exercise any vested equity awards until the earlier of six (6) months after termination or the remaining term of the awards; or (ii) by reason of his death or Disability (as defined in the Employment Agreement), then in addition to paying the Accrued Obligations, Mr. Shallcross would have the right to exercise any vested options until the earlier of six (6) months after termination or the remaining term of the awards. In such event, if Mr. Shallcross commenced employment with another employer and becomes eligible to receive medical or other welfare benefits under another employer-provided plan, the medical and other welfare benefits to be provided by the Company as described herein would terminate.
 
The Employment Agreement provides that upon the closing of a “Change in Control” (as defined in the Employment Agreement), all unvested options shall immediately vest and the time period that Mr. Shallcross will have to exercise all vested stock options and other awards that Mr. Shallcross may have will be equal to the shorter of: (i) six (6) months after termination, or (ii) the remaining term of the award(s). If within one (1) year after the occurrence of a Change in Control, Mr. Shallcross terminates his employment for “Good Reason” or the Company terminates Mr. Shallcross’s employment for any reason other than death, disability or Cause, Mr. Shallcross will be entitled to receive: (i) the portion of his base salary for periods prior to the effective date of termination accrued but unpaid (if any); (ii) all unreimbursed expenses (if any); (iii) an aggregate amount (the “Change in Control Severance Amount”) equal to two (2) times the sum of his base salary plus an amount equal to the bonus that would be payable if the “target” level performance were achieved under the Company’s annual bonus plan (if any) in respect of the fiscal year during which the termination occurs (or the prior fiscal year if bonus levels have not yet been established for the year of termination); and (iv) the payment or provision of any other benefits. If within two (2) years after the occurrence of a Change in Control, Mr. Shallcross terminates his employment for “Good Reason” or the Company terminates Mr. Shallcross’s employment for any reason other than death, disability or Cause, Mr. Shallcross will be entitled to also receive for the period of two (2) consecutive years commencing on the date of such termination of his employment, medical, dental, life and disability insurance coverage for him and the members of his family that are not less favorable to him than the group medical, dental, life and disability insurance coverage carried by the Company for him. The Change in Control Severance Amount is to be paid in a lump sum if the Change in Control event constitutes a “change in the ownership” or a “change in the effective control” of the Company or a “change in the ownership of a substantial portion of a corporation’s assets” (each within the meaning of Section 409A of the Internal Revenue Code (“Rule 409A”)), or in 48 substantially equal payments, if the Change in Control event does not so comply with Section 409A.
 
On January 17, 2017, the Company entered into a two-year employment agreement with Dr. Joseph Sliman (the “Sliman Employment Agreement”), who was promoted at the Company from the position of Senior Vice President–Clinical & Regulatory Affairs to the position of Chief Medical Officer. The terms of the Employment Agreement are set forth below. Pursuant to the terms of the Employment Agreement, Dr. Sliman was entitled to an annual base salary of $385,000 and an annual performance bonus of up to seventy five percent (75%) of his annual base salary. The annual bonus was to be based upon the assessment of the Board of Dr. Sliman’s performance. Dr. Sliman was also granted a seven (7) year incentive stock option to purchase at an exercise price equal to the per share market price on the date of issue, 5,397 shares of the Company’s common stock, vesting pro rata on a monthly basis over a three year period. The Employment Agreement also includes confidentiality obligations and inventions assignments by Dr. Sliman and non-solicitation and non-competition provisions.
 
The Shallcross Employment Agreement and the Sliman Employment Agreement each provide for a stated term of two years but may be terminated earlier pursuant to their terms. If either Mr. Shallcross’ or Dr. Sliman’s (each an “Executive”) employment is terminated for any reason, he or his estate as the case may be, will be entitled to receive the accrued base salary, vacation pay, expense reimbursement and any other entitlements accrued by him to the extent not previously paid (the “Accrued Obligations”);
provided
,
however
, that if his employment is terminated (1) by the Company without Cause or by the Executive for Good Reason (as each is defined below) then in addition to paying the Accrued Obligations, (x) the Company will continue to pay his then current base salary and continue to provide benefits at least equal to those which were provided at the time of termination for a period of twelve (12) months and (y) he shall have the right to exercise any vested equity awards until the earlier of six (6) months after termination or the remaining term of the awards, or (2) by reason of his death or Disability (as defined in the Shallcross Employment Agreement and the Sliman Employment Agreement), then in addition to paying the Accrued Obligations, he would have the right to exercise any vested options until the earlier of six (6) months after termination or the remaining term of the awards. In such event, if the Executive commenced employment with another employer and becomes eligible to receive medical or other welfare benefits under another employer-provided plan, the medical and other welfare benefits to be provided by the Company as described herein will terminate.
 
The Shallcross Employment Agreement and the Sliman Employment Agreement each provide that upon the closing of a “Change in Control” (as defined below), the time period that the Executive will have to exercise all vested stock options and other awards that the Executive may have will be equal to the shorter of: (i) six (6) months after termination, or (ii) the remaining term of the award(s). Upon the closing of a Change in Control, all of Mr. Shallcross’ and Dr. Sliman’s unvested options shall immediately vest. If within one year after the occurrence of a Change in Control, the Executive terminates his employment for “Good Reason” or the Company terminates the Executive’s employment for any reason other than death, Disability or Cause, the Executive will be entitled to receive: (i) the portion of his base salary for periods prior to the effective date of termination accrued but unpaid (if any); (ii) all unreimbursed expenses (if any); (iii) an aggregate amount (the “Change in Control Severance Amount”) equal to two times the sum of the base salary plus an amount equal to the bonus that would be payable if the “target” level performance were achieved under the Company’s annual bonus plan (if any) in respect of the fiscal year during which the termination occurs (or the prior fiscal year if bonus levels have not yet been established for the year of termination); and (iv) the payment or provision of any other benefits. The Change in Control Severance Amount is to be paid in a lump sum, if the Change in Control event constitutes a “change in the ownership” or a “change in the effective control” of the Company or a “change in the ownership of a substantial portion of a corporation’s assets” (each within the meaning of Section 409A of the Internal Revenue Code), or in 48 substantially equal payments, if the Change in Control event does not so comply with Section 409A. Upon the termination of employment for Good Reason by the Executive or upon the involuntary termination of employment of Executive for any reason other than death, Disability or Cause, in either case within two years commencing after the occurrence of a Change in Control, the Executive will be entitled to receive for a period of two years commencing on the date of such termination medical, dental, life and disability coverage for himself and his family members which is not less favorable than the coverage carried by the Company at the time of termination.
 
For the purposes of the Shallcross Employment Agreement and the Sliman Employment Agreement “Change in Control” is defined as: (i) any person or entity becoming the beneficial owner, directly or indirectly, of the Company’s securities representing fifty (50%) percent of the total voting power of all its then outstanding voting securities; (ii) a merger or consolidation of the Company in which its voting securities immediately prior to the merger or consolidation do not represent, or are not converted into securities that represent, a majority of the voting power of all voting securities of the surviving entity immediately after the merger or consolidation; or (iii) a sale of substantially all of the Company’s assets or its liquidation or dissolution.
 
For purpose of the Shallcross Employment Agreement and the Sliman Employment Agreement, “Good Reason” is defined as the occurrence of any of the following events without the respective Executive’s consent: (i) a material reduction in the Executive’s base salary (other than an across-the-board decrease in base salary applicable to all executive officers of the Company); (ii) a material breach of the employment agreement by the Company; (iii) a material reduction in the Executive’s duties, authority and responsibilities relative to the Executive’s duties, authority, and responsibilities in effect immediately prior to such reduction; or (iv) the relocation of the Executive’s principal place of employment, without the Executive’s consent, in a manner that lengthens his one-way commute distance by fifty (50) or more miles from his then-current principal place of employment immediately prior to such relocation.
 
For purposes of the Shallcross Employment Agreement and the Sliman Employment Agreement, “Cause” is defined as that the Executive shall have engaged in any of the following acts or that any of the following events shall have occurred, all as determined by the Board of Directors of the Company in its sole and absolute discretion: (i) gross insubordination, acts of embezzlement or misappropriation of funds, fraud, dereliction of fiduciary obligations; (ii) conviction of a felony or other crime involving moral turpitude, dishonesty or theft (including entry of a
nolo contendere
plea); (iii) willful unauthorized disclosure of confidential information belonging to the Company or entrusted to the Company by a client; (iv) material violation of any provision of the Executive’s employment agreement, of any Company policy, and/or of a confidentiality agreement, which, to the extent it is curable by the Executive, is not cured by the Executive within 30 days of receiving written notice of such violation by the Company; (v) being under the influence of drugs (other than prescription medicine or other medically related drugs to the extent that they are taken in accordance with their directions) during the performance of the Executive’s duties; (vi) engaging in behavior that would constitute grounds for liability for harassment (as proscribed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Guidelines or any other applicable state or local regulatory body) or other egregious conduct that violates laws governing the workplace; or (vii) willful failure to perform his written assigned tasks, where such failure is attributable to the fault of the Executive which, to the extent it is curable by the Executive, is not cured by the Executive within 30 days of receiving written notice of such violation by the Company.
 
Effective February 3, 2012, Jeffrey Riley was appointed to serve as the Company’s Chief Executive Officer and President and entered into an agreements with Mr. Riley to serve in such capacity.
 
Effective March 18, 2015, the Company entered into a new two-year employment agreement with Mr. Riley (the “2015 Riley Employment Agreement”). Pursuant to the 2015 Riley Employment Agreement, Mr. Riley’s annual base salary remained at $385,000. Beginning in 2015 and for each full calendar year thereafter, Mr. Riley was eligible for an annual performance bonus of up to seventy-five percent (75%) of his base salary. The annual bonus was to be based upon the Board’s assessment of Mr. Riley’s performance. The 2015 Employment Agreement also included employment termination provisions similar to those in the Shallcross Employment Agreement and the Sliman Employment Agreement as well as confidentiality obligations, inventions assignments by Mr. Riley as well as change in control, non-solicitation and non-competition provisions.
 
Effective December 4, 2015, the Company entered into an amendment to the Riley Employment Agreement dated March 18, 2015, to increase Mr. Riley’s annual base salary to $550,000. Effective February 2, 2017, the Company entered into a new two-year employment agreement with Mr. Riley (the “2017 Riley Employment Agreement”). Pursuant to the 2017 Riley Employment Agreement, Mr. Riley’s annual base salary remained at $550,000. The 2017 Riley Employment Agreement provided that Mr. Riley was eligible for an annual performance bonus of up to seventy-five percent (75%) of his base salary. The 2017 Employment Agreement also included employment termination provisions similar to those in the Shallcross Employment Agreement and the Sliman Employment Agreement as well as confidentiality obligations, inventions assignments by Mr. Riley as well as change in control, non-solicitation and non-competition provisions.
 
Effective December 4, 2017, Mr. Riley resigned his position as President and Chief Executive Officer of the Company. Pursuant to his resignation, the Company entered into a Separation Agreement effective December 4, 2017 (the “Separation Agreement”) with Mr. Riley. The Separation Agreement provides that in addition to receiving all accrued obligations, including salary and earned and unused vacation days, Mr. Riley will receive the following separation benefits: (i) twelve months’ payment of Mr. Riley’s current base salary, subject to payroll withholdings and deductions, paid on the Company’s regular payroll dates; (ii) a cash bonus for 2017 of $200,000; and (iii) the right to exercise vested stock options for one year following December 5, 2017. Mr. Riley is also entitled to COBRA continuation coverage and the Company shall pay the COBRA premium for Mr. Riley for a maximum period of twelve months after his separation from the Company. The Separation Agreement also contains additional provisions that are customary for agreements of this type. These include confidentiality and non-solicitation provisions. All costs associated with the Separation Agreement were recorded during the year ended December 31, 2017.
 
Operating Lease
 
During the years ended December 31, 2018 and 2017, the Company recognized rent expense of $201,000 and $199,000, respectively. 
The following table summarizes the Company’s future minimum lease payments as of December 31, 2019 
(in thousands)
:
 
 
 
2019
 
 
2020
 
 
2021
 
 
2022
 
 
Total
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Operating Lease
 
$
300
 
 
$
309
 
 
$
321
 
 
$
192
 
 
$
1,122
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Total
 
$
300
 
 
$
309
 
 
$
321
 
 
$
192
 
 
$
1,122
 
 
Consulting Fees
 
In November 2017, the Company engaged a regulatory consultant to assist in the Company’s efforts to prepare, file and obtain FDA approval for ribaxamase. The term of the engagement is on a monthly basis, provided that either party may terminate the agreement at any time by providing the other party a six-month notice period. The Company is obligated to pay the consultant a monthly retainer in addition to the success fee payments of up to an aggregate of $4,500,000 for attainment of certain regulatory
milestones. The achievement of the milestones is not probable at this time.