The Top 25 Biotech CEOs of 2022

The Healthcare Technology Report is pleased to announce The Top 25 Biotech CEOs of 2022. Over the past year, these leading biotechnology executives and their organizations have demonstrated ingenuity, skill, and perseverance in solving tremendous challenges. The specialties of this year’s CEOs and their companies run the gamut from gene therapy to vaccine development, cancer treatment, proteomics, mRNA-based therapeutics, and much more. Many of the awardees have also found success in raising significant amounts of funding for their companies, which enables them to continue to have positive impact on the biotechnology field for years to come.

Through their tireless work, these CEOs have succeeded in advancing research and bringing breakthrough drugs and treatments to market. For instance, Franz-Werner Haas and his company CureVac are currently focused on the development of its second-generation mRNA COVID-19 vaccine candidate, CV2CoV, in collaboration with GSK. Meanwhile, Dr. Roy Smythe and SomaLogic have leveraged artificial intelligence and machine learning to develop its first-in-class, high-plex proteomics SomaSignal™ tests, which are redefining diagnostics in precision medicine. And the diverse pipeline of RNA vaccines and therapeutics of Joseph Payne and Arcturus Therapeutics includes programs pursuing COVID-19 and flu vaccines, rare diseases, Hepatitis B, non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, cystic fibrosis, and glycogen storage disease type III.

One achievement all of our honorees share is the notable contributions they have made towards advancing the biotechnology industry. From hundreds of nominees, these executives stood out for their unflagging commitment to improving lives through the advancement of medicine. Please join us in recognizing the accomplishments of The Top 25 Biotech CEOs of 2022.

 

1. Emma Walmsley, GlaxoSmithKline
Title: Chief Executive Officer

Emma Walmsley has been the Chief Executive Officer of GlaxoSmithKline since April 2017, when her appointment made her the first woman to run a major pharmaceutical company. Since then, she has led a global restructuring program aimed at saving more than $500 million a year. She intends to use these savings to invest in R&D and fund a pipeline of new products. Her ultimate goal is to lead GSK into the future as the new world leader in consumer healthcare and positively impact the health of billions of people.

Prior to 2017, Walmsley was CEO of GSK Consumer Healthcare, a Joint Venture between GSK and Novartis, from its creation in March 2015. She has been a member of GSK’s Corporate Executive Team since 2011. She joined GSK in 2010 with responsibility for Consumer Healthcare, Europe. Prior to joining GSK, Emma worked with L’Oréal for 17 years, where she held a variety of global and local marketing and general management roles in Paris, London, New York, and Shanghai. Walmsley joined the Microsoft board as an independent director in December 2019. She was appointed Dame (DBE) for services to the pharmaceutical industry and business in the 2020 British Honours, and holds a Master of Arts in Classics and Modern Languages from Oxford University.

 

2. Charles Brown, LifeLabs Medical Laboratory
Title: President and Chief Executive Officer

Charles Brown is the President and Chief Executive Officer of LifeLabs Medical Laboratory, a Canadian-owned company that has been serving the healthcare needs of Canadians for over 50 years. By providing laboratory diagnostic information and digital health connectivity systems, LifeLabs supports 20 million customer visits annually and conducts over 100 million laboratory tests through cutting-edge technologies. This is Brown’s second consecutive year being named as a “Top 25 Biotech CEO.”

Since joining LifeLabs in 2018, Brown has worked to evolve LifeLabs into a commercially-driven organization that brings customer-centered value to market. During COVID-19, Brown’s leadership empowered staff to quickly pivot and respond to the pandemic by providing essential COVID-19 testing, while maintaining full operation of lab testing and diagnostic work. He was also recently recognized as a “Top Industry Leader” by Life Sciences Voice. Previously, Brown was the President of The Source and Executive Vice President of Strategic Initiatives at Bell. In addition to his impressive work experience, Brown served as the Chair of Kids Help Phone and was a past member and supporter of the United Way of Toronto and York Region’s Campaign Cabinet. Brown holds a Bachelor of Arts in History from the University of Toronto and an MBA from the Ivey School of Business at Western University.

 

3. Dr. Emil D. Kakkis, M.D., Ph.D., Ultragenyx
Title: Founder, President, and Chief Executive Officer

A medical geneticist by training, Dr. Kakkis is a pioneer in the development and commercialization of treatments for rare diseases. He is Founder and Chief Executive Officer at Ultragenyx, a biopharmaceutical company that develops novel products for the treatment of rare and ultra-rare diseases. Under Dr. Kakkis’s leadership, Ultragenyx went public in 2014 (NASDAQ: RARE) and has grown into a global biotech company with over 1,100 employees. Ultragenyx has three approved therapies for four indications and a deep pipeline of potential treatments across a variety of therapy modalities including gene therapy, mRNA therapy, traditional biologics, small molecule, and more. The company also holds the ex-U.S. commercial rights to Regeneron’s evinacumab-dgnb, which is approved by the FDA and EMA.

Before founding Ultragenyx in 2010, Dr. Kakkis was Chief Medical Ffficer at BioMarin, guiding the development and approval of three other rare disease treatments and contributing to the identification and development of approved products for four other rare diseases. Dr. Kakkis also founded and serves on the Board of EveryLife Foundation for Rare Diseases, a non-profit dedicated to accelerating innovation for rare diseases through practical development strategy, regulatory policy, and law. Dr. Kakkis has been recognized with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National MPS Society, the Roscoe O. Brady Award for Innovation and Accomplishment from the WORLDSymposium, BIO’s Henri Termeer Visionary Leadership award, and the California Life Sciences Pantheon Leadership Award. Dr. Kakkis received combined MD and PhD degrees from UCLA.

 

4. Franz-Werner Haas, CureVac
Title: Chief Executive Officer

Franz-Werner Haas is the Chief Executive Officer of CureVac, a global clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company pioneering the development of transformative medicines based on messenger RNA (mRNA). CureVac has a robust pipeline across prophylactic vaccines, cancer therapies, and molecular therapies, backed by its proprietary mRNA technology platform built upon decades of experience. Haas has led the company and navigated its COVID-19 programs since mid-2020, and the company is currently focused on the development of its second-generation mRNA COVID-19 vaccine candidate, CV2CoV, in collaboration with GSK.

Haas joined CureVac in 2012 as the Chief Operating Officer, through which he led the Human Resources, Intellectual Property, Legal, and Operations teams before being named the Chief Executive Officer in 2020. Prior to joining CureVac, Haas served as Vice President, Operations and Chief Compliance Officer at SYGNIS Pharma AG, where he was responsible for the execution of M&A and capital market transactions. Before that, he was Vice President and General Counsel at LION bioscience and the General Counsel of Sirona Dental Systems. Franz received his LLM from The University of Edinburgh and his LLD from Saarland University.

 

5. Dr. Roy Smythe, SomaLogic (tie)
Title: Chief Executive Officer

Dr. Roy Smythe, MD is the Chief Executive Officer of SomaLogic, a leader in data-driven proteomics technology. SomaLogic has a 20-year history of using its proprietary SOMAmer® reagents (slow off-rate modified aptamers) and SomaScan® platform to identify and measure proteins in the human body. This technology—along with SomaLogic’s world-leading clinical proteomics database and bioinformatics capabilities—powers pharmaceutical and biotechnology research worldwide. Leveraging artificial intelligence and machine learning, SomaLogic also developed first-in-class, high-plex proteomics SomaSignal™ tests which are redefining diagnostics in precision medicine. In September 2021, SomaLogic listed on the NASDAQ through a SPAC that raised $630 million.

Since joining SomaLogic in 2018, Dr. Smythe has leveraged his experience as an internationally prominent surgeon, biomedical scientist, academician, health system administrator, and healthcare business entrepreneur to bring SomaLogic’s proteomic expertise to the growing life science and healthcare markets. Before SomaLogic, Dr. Smythe was Global Chief Medical Officer (CMO) for Strategy and Partnerships at Philips. He previously served as CMO of Valence Health and AVIA Health. Prior to his industry roles, he chaired the department of surgery at Baylor Scott & White Health System and at Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine, where he also later served as Medical Director of Innovation and Executive Vice President of Institute Development. His clinical and biomedical research career began at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, where he was a recognized physician-scientist. He earned his Bachelor’s Degree from Baylor University and his MD from Texas A&M University before doing his Surgical/Medical Training at the University of Pennsylvania.

 

5. Paul Dabrowski, Synthego Corporation (tie)
Title: Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer

Paul Dabrowski is a Co-Founder and the Chief Executive Officer of Synthego Corporation. Synthego was founded to revolutionize genome engineering technology, helping translate genomics into the clinic and ultimately making engineered biological therapies accessible to all patients. The company leverages machine learning, automation, and non-viral CRISPR gene editing to build platforms for agile life science research and development from discovery to clinic. With its technologies cited in hundreds of peer-reviewed publications and utilized by thousands of commercial and academic researchers and therapeutic drug developers, Synthego is at the forefront of innovation enabling the next generation of medicines delivering genome editing at an unprecedented scale.

Before founding Synthego in 2012, Dabrowski was CEO of Caseless and Director of Special Operations at Halcyon Molecular, where he designed and built a blender-sized electron microscope for DNA sequencing (one is now on the International Space Station). He started his career as Lead Digital Designer at SpaceX, where he was focused on the Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft. He’s also an inventor on several patents, featured in the CRISPR documentary “Human Nature,” and a Forbes 40 Under 40 awardee. Dabrowski received his Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering and Mathematics and his Master of Science in Computer Engineering from the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana.

 

6. Joseph Payne, Arcturus Therapeutics
Title: Co-Founder, President, and Chief Executive Officer

Joseph Payne is the Co-Founder, President, and Chief Executive Officer of Arcturus Therapeutics, a leading clinical-stage messenger RNA medicines company focused on the discovery, development, and commercialization of therapeutics for rare diseases and vaccines. Arcturus has proprietary technologies, strategic partnerships, and an experienced team with deep expertise in discovery and delivery of RNA-based therapeutics. In addition, the company’s diverse pipeline of RNA vaccines and therapeutics includes programs pursuing COVID-19 and flu vaccines, rare diseases, Hepatitis B, non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, cystic fibrosis, and glycogen storage disease type III.

Payne’s extensive background includes over two decades of successful drug discovery experience at companies such as Merck, DuPont Pharmaceuticals, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Kalypsys, and Nitto Denko. To date, he’s authored several seminal publications and patents and has provided leadership for several FDA-approved therapeutics. Payne received his Bachelor of Science in Chemistry from Brigham Young University, followed by a Master of Science in Synthetic Organic Chemistry from the University of Calgary. He also obtained an Executive Training Certification from the MIT Sloan School of Management.

 

7. Scott Hutton, Biodesix
Title: President, Chief Executive Officer, and Director

Scott Hutton is the President, Chief Executive Officer, and Director of Biodesix (NASDAQ: BDSX) in Boulder, Colorado, where his personal leadership philosophy emphasizes “helping people, giving back, and positively impacting and improving people’s health and lives.” Under his direction and leadership, Biodesix has grown into a leading patient-centric lung disease diagnostics company with a mission to improve patient outcomes and lower healthcare costs by developing diagnostic solutions that reduce ineffective and unnecessary treatments. In 2020, in response to the global pandemic, Hutton guided Biodesix to pivot to offer COVID testing and services, and then led the Biodesix team through an IPO in October.

Hutton is an accomplished and transformational leader with 24+ years of experience. He joined Biodesix from Spectranetics Corp (NASDAQ: SPNC), where he served as Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Vascular Intervention Division. Prior to joining Spectranetics, Hutton spent 16+ years at Medtronic plc (NYSE: MDT) in a variety of roles and leadership positions, where he most recently led the Neurosurgery business unit as Vice President and General Manager. Hutton is a Purdue University alumnus, having earned a Bachelor of Arts from the College of Health and Human Sciences in 1995. He was recently acknowledged by the university for his achievements and named a 2021 Purdue University Old Master (the highest honor Purdue students can bestow upon an alumnus). Hutton was named a Top 25 Biotech CEO of 2021 by the Healthcare Technology Report, 2020 CEO of the Year-USA by CEO Monthly Magazine, and led Biodesix in being recognized as the 2019 Colorado Company of the Year by the Colorado BioScience Association. While at Medtronic, Hutton received the 2011 Medtronic Wallin Leadership Award.

 

8. Gaurav Shah, Rocket Pharmaceuticals
Title: Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer

Gaurav Shah, MD, is a Co-Founder and the Chief Executive Officer of Rocket Pharmaceuticals, a clinical-stage company developing first, best, and only-in-class gene therapies for patients with devastating diseases. Under Dr. Shah’s leadership, Rocket has become the only pure-play gene therapy company with both ex-vivo lentiviral and in-vivo AAV platforms. He has led Rocket to demonstrate compelling proof-of-concept across four clinical programs, including two programs nearing Phase 2 pivotal topline readouts. Through its Phase 1 study of Danon Disease, Rocket is also the first company to show proof-of-concept for gene therapy targeting the heart.

Prior to Rocket, Dr. Shah was a Global Program Head in the Cell & Gene Therapies Unit at Novartis. His work on a blood cancer treatment that became the first CAR-T cell therapy approved in the U.S. opened his eyes to the life-changing possibilities of gene therapy. In addition to being passionate about seeking gene therapy cures for patients with rare diseases, Dr. Shah has a passion for Indian classical music and received Grammy nominations in 2019 and 2022. Dr. Shah earned his MD from Columbia (AOA) and graduated from Harvard College (summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa) with a degree in Behavioral Neuroscience.

 

9. Norman Sharples, COPAN Diagnostics
Title: Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer

Norman Sharples is a Co-Founder and the Chief Executive Officer of COPAN Diagnostics, part of COPAN Group. It is the leading manufacturer of microbiology and virology collection and transport systems and laboratory automation, digital microbiology, and artificial intelligence software for clinical microbiology. Sharples’ impact on COPAN and his leadership have become most evident during the COVID-19 pandemic. He worked tirelessly, with the support of the COPAN team and unexpected partners, like Apple, to increase manufacturing in the United States, providing tens of millions of viral testing kits to clinicians and laboratories. Sharples collaborated with the U.S. government to expedite critical testing supplies. He has consulted with the FDA and CDC to qualify additional types of sample collection products in order to increase testing capacity. Sharples is a member of the Clinical Laboratory Standards Institute (CLSI), Quality Control of Microbiology Transport Systems subcommittee.

Sharples began his career at Broadgreen Hospital in England while attending Liverpool John Moores University. In 1982, he received his Master’s Degree in Clinical Bacteriology and became Broadgreen’s Microbiology Supervisor at the age of 22. He has served as General Manager, Business Development Manager, and Director of Marketing for companies specializing in Microbiology solutions. Sharples moved from England in 1995 to begin the United States subsidiary of COPAN.

 

10. Dr. Oguzhan Atay, BillionToOne (tie)
Title: Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer

Dr. Oguzhan Atay is a Co-Founder and the Chief Executive Officer of BillionToOne, a next-generation molecular diagnostics company with a mission to create powerful and accurate tests that are accessible to all. Co-developed by Dr. Atay, BillionToOne’s QCT molecular counting technology increases the resolution of disease detection using cell-free DNA by over 1000-fold. This technology is at the core of the company’s products. The rapidly growing UNITY Screen™ is the only non-invasive prenatal screen that can assess fetal risk for both common recessive conditions and aneuploidies from one maternal blood sample. This test is growing 300% year over year. BillionToOne is bringing this same molecular counting technology to oncology to launch a groundbreaking liquid biopsy test that combines treatment selection with monitoring. Dr. Atay’s unique ability to couple technical expertise with a leadership style and passion that motivates others to join BillionToOne’s mission has enabled the company to more than double its employees in the last year alone.

Dr. Atay led BillionToOne through the Y Combinator accelerator and has raised more than $100 million in funding to date, including from investors who previously invested in companies such as SpaceX, Uber, Spotify, Palantir, Braintree, WebMD, and Omada Health. Dr. Atay received his PhD from Stanford University. He graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Princeton University with a Bachelor’s in Molecular Biology and minors in Physics, Computer Science, and Applied Mathematics.

 

10. Thomas Ybert, DNA Script (tie)
Title: Chief Executive Officer

Thomas Ybert is the Chief Executive Officer of Paris and San Francisco-based DNA Script, a leader in Enzymatic DNA Synthesis (EDS). Ybert co-founded DNA Script in 2014 to tackle the ability to synthesize DNA on demand on a benchtop — quickly, safely, and sustainably. Ybert navigated DNA Script through major milestones including the launch of the SYNTAX System, the world’s first enzymatic synthesis-powered benchtop DNA printer, and $315 million raised to date in financing rounds that include an esteemed syndicate of investors, notably Fidelity, Baillie Gifford, and T. Rowe Price. Additionally, he has signed high-profile company partnerships with the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) of the NIH and the French Defense Innovation Agency (DGA). He has also signed separate partnerships with Moderna and GE Research in support of pandemic response research grants from the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), as well as a partnership with Harvard and the Broad Institute in support of a DNA data storage research grant from the U.S. Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA).

Ybert received his engineering degree and a PhD in Biotechnology from Ecole Polytechnique (Paris). Prior to founding DNA Script, he worked at Sanofi and later TOTAL Energies, leading efforts in a collaboration with Amyris on one of the most advanced synthetic biology initiatives at the time, developing airplane biofuels from renewable resources.

 

11. Dr. Scott Braunstein, Marinus Pharmaceuticals
Title: Chief Executive Officer

Scott Braunstein, MD, is the Chief Executive Officer of Marinus—a Radnor-based pharmaceutical company dedicated to improving the lives of patients with seizure disorders. Prior to his appointment as CEO in 2019, Braunstein was Executive Chairman of Marinus’ Board of Directors. Under his leadership, the company has more than tripled its employee base, expanded and advanced its drug pipeline with a focus on rare and refractory epilepsies, and filed its first NDA with the FDA. Braunstein led the execution of an exclusive collaboration agreement for European commercialization of their lead product candidate, launched an expanded access program, and has made particular efforts to engage with patients and their families on a global scale.

Dr. Braunstein has over 30 years of knowledge and experience from diverse biotech and pharma industry vantage points. He is currently an operating partner at Aisling Capital and most recently served as Chief Strategy Officer and Chief Operating Officer at Pacira Biosciences. Prior to that, he worked as a healthcare analyst and portfolio manager at J.P. Morgan Asset Management for 13 years and as a practicing physician at the Summit Medical Group. He currently serves on the boards of Trevena, Inc. and Caribou Biosciences, Inc. and previously served on the boards of Constellation Pharmaceuticals (acquired by MorphoSys AG in July 2021), Ziopharm Oncology, Inc., Esperion Therapeutics, Inc. and Protara Therapeutics, Inc.

The entirety of Dr. Braunstein’s career has been patient-centric, with volunteerism at its heart. Most recently, he volunteered as a physician with Coastal Volunteers in Medicine, and now serves on its Board of Directors, driving a capital campaign to raise money to expand its current medical facility and patient services. Dr. Braunstein serves on Life Science Cares’ Board of Advisors and does significant philanthropic work through Cornell’s Alumni Association, establishing an experiential learning fund that supplies upward of $25,000 in annual funding for students. He was the 2017 Recipient of Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Outstanding Alumni Award. Braunstein received his medical degree from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and his Bachelor of Science from Cornell University.

 

12. Sarah Boyce, Avidity Biosciences
Title: President and Chief Executive Officer

Sarah Boyce joined Avidity Biosciences as President and Chief Executive Officer in 2019 and serves as a member of its board of directors. Boyce and her team have built a highly effective clinical stage biopharmaceutical company focused on profoundly improving people’s lives by revolutionizing a new class of targeted RNA therapies called Antibody Oligonucleotide Conjugates (AOCs™). Under Sarah’s leadership, Avidity conducted a successful IPO, raised additional capital, and advanced the first AOC into the clinic with the first patient dosed in 2021. In addition to the ongoing study of myotonic dystrophy type 1, the company continues to take enormous strides with programs anticipated to enter the clinic at the end of 2022 for facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy and Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

With over 20 years of experience in the life sciences industry, Sarah has built global organizations, bringing several innovative therapies including Tegsedi®, Waylivra®, Soliris®, Gleevec®, and Tasigna® to patients. She most recently served as President and a member of the board of directors of Akcea Therapeutics, where she led the commercialization of the company’s rare disease products. Prior to Akcea, Sarah held multiple executive-level roles at leading pharma and biotech companies including Ionis Pharmaceuticals, Forest Laboratories, Alexion Pharmaceuticals, Novartis Oncology, and Roche and currently serves as a member of the board of directors at Ligand, Inc. and Berkeley Lights, Inc. She received her Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Manchester.

 

13. Todd Zavodnick, Dermavant Sciences
Title: Chief Executive Officer

Todd Zavodnick has served as Dermavant Sciences’ Chief Executive Officer since November 2018 and as a member of the company’s board of directors since May 2019. Zavodnick has over 20 years of leadership experience in the biopharmaceutical industry. Dermavant is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company dedicated to making healthier skin a reality for millions of patients around the world living with chronic skin conditions. The company is hard at work developing novel treatments to deliver groundbreaking science exactly where patients need it—their skin. Dermavant’s robust medical dermatology pipeline includes both late-stage and earlier-stage-development product candidates the company believes could address important immuno-dermatological conditions, such as plaque psoriasis and atopic dermatitis.

Prior to joining Dermavant, Zavodnick served as Chief Commercial Officer and President of Aesthetics and Therapeutics at Revance. He served in global leadership roles at ZELTIQ Aesthetics prior to the company’s acquisition by Allergan; at Galderma Laboratories, where he was President and General Manager of North America; and at Alcon Laboratories. He is a member of the board of directors of Allurion Technologies and the Children’s Skin Disease Foundation. Zavodnick received his Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy from Rutgers University and his MBA from The University of Texas at Dallas.

 

14. Alexander Lorestani, Geltor
Title: Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer

Alex Lorestani is Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Geltor, the company igniting what’s possible through biodesign. Through its signature technology combining bioinformatics, strain engineering, and fermentation, Geltor has created the largest selection of 100% animal-free, globally scalable, and sustainably cultivated designer proteins, including the first topical human collagen for skincare, HumaColl21®, and the first ingestible vegan collagen for food and beverage, PrimaColl®. Geltor and its growing portfolio of biodesigned proteins have been recognized for excellence in the CEW Beauty Awards and the Indie Beauty Awards. Today, millions of consumer products powered by Geltor’s hero ingredients are sold across the U.S., Canada, Asia, Europe, and Australia.

Lorestani is strongly motivated by the positive impact that Geltor’s protein design and production technology can have on consumer packaged goods, public health, and sustainability. He became interested in transforming the global protein supply chain as an MD/PhD student working to solve antibiotic resistance. He studied Medicine at Rutgers University, received his PhD in Molecular Biology from Princeton University, and holds a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Boston College.

 

15. John Vitalie, Aizon
Title: Chief Executive Officer

John Vitalie serves as Chief Executive Officer and Board Member for Aizon, an AI software provider that transforms manufacturing operations with the use of advanced analytics, artificial intelligence, and other smart factory technologies focused on optimizing production and quality within highly regulated industries. Vitalie joined Aizon in March 2020, shortly after the Series B funding round was closed, and brings tremendous experience in sales leadership and accelerated growth to propel the company into this new phase.

Previously, Vitalie served as Senior Vice President of NAA CX Sales for Oracle, where he led Oracle’s front office application sales and drove several key CX categories while also driving higher growth. Before Oracle, Vitalie led the entire go-to-market organization as the Senior Vice President of the Healthcare and Life Sciences vertical for North America at Salesforce, Inc. He comes from a strong corporate leadership background, including serving as CEO of Precise Software, President and CEO of Encover, Inc., and Corporate Vice President for NASDAQ Stock Exchange. He also established Siebel Systems as the global market leader of the Life Science Industry as VP of Sales. John received his MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business and a Bachelor of Science from the Business School Honors Program at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

 

16. Dr. Bobak Azamian, Tarsus Pharmaceuticals
Title: President and Chief Executive Officer

Dr. Bobak “Bobby” Azamian has served as President and Chief Executive Officer of Tarsus Pharmaceuticals since co-founding the company in 2017. In that time, Tarsus has established a leading team and culture and completed successful fundraising efforts through an IPO and global partnerships. Tarsus continues to advance its pipeline into clinical studies, including its lead product, TP-03, which is now in Phase 3 clinical trials and commercial planning. Dr. Azamian has co-founded and led two other novel therapeutics companies. Vibrato Medical, where he serves as Co-Chair, is developing a wearable treatment for peripheral arterial diseases and has obtained NIH grant awards and Series A financing. Metavention, where he served as President and CMO through multiple clinical trials and Series A through C financings, is developing an interventional treatment for metabolic diseases.

Dr. Azamian began his biotechnology career at Versant Ventures and Third Rock Ventures, where he was an investor and board observer in numerous life sciences companies. He also served on the board of the nonprofit organization Octane. He trained as a physician scientist, completing his residency in internal medicine and serving as an attending hospitalist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. He received an MD from Harvard Medical School (Harvard-MIT Heath Sciences and Technology), a PhD in Chemistry from Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar, and a Bachelor of Arts in Physics from Rice University. He is also an author of numerous patents and peer-reviewed publications. He enjoys sports, travel, and the arts, and spending time in Newport Beach with his wife, dog, and extended family.

 

17. Dr. Joanne Smith-Farrell, Be Biopharma
Title: Chief Executive Officer

Dr. Smith-Farrell joined Be Bio as Chief Executive Officer in February 2021, where she leads a dynamic team pioneering a new class of Engineered B Cell medicines to provide previously impossible solutions across a wide range of therapeutic areas to patients with many of today’s least tractable diseases. Prior to joining Be Bio, Dr. Smith-Farrell was the COO and Business Unit Head, Oncology at bluebird bio. She established and led the team that transformed an early single-candidate effort within a Rare Disease Gene Therapy company to a leading Oncology Cell Therapy business. This business would encompass Abecma, a transformative, first-in-class CAR-T medicine for patients with multiple myeloma; a full portfolio of clinical and near-clinical cell therapies; a research engine producing 1-2 new INDs/year; and a 400+ person team with full Research-Development-Commercial-Manufacturing infrastructure and capabilities. Prior to this, Dr. Smith-Farrell held executive leadership roles in business development at Merck, Pfizer, and GeneLogic.

Dr. Smith-Farrell did her post-doctoral research in Biomedical Engineering in Bob Langer’s lab, where she received the National Service in Research Award Fellowship from the NIH. She holds a PhD in Physics from The Catholic University of America and a Bachelor of Science in Physics and Mathematics from Vanderbilt University.

 

18. Andrew Barnell, Geneoscopy
Title: Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer

Since 2015, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer Andrew Barnell has led Geneoscopy Inc., a life sciences company focused on the development of diagnostic tests to help screen, monitor, and guide treatment for gastrointestinal diseases. Alongside his sister, Dr. Erica Barnell, Geneoscopy’s Chief Science Officer, Barnell expanded the company from a student-founded start-up at the BioGenerator Accelerator Lab to one of the most successful young enterprises in St. Louis, raising $113 million in total capital since inception. He has guided the development and intellectual property protection strategy of Geneoscopy’s R&D pipeline, including a non-invasive screening test for colorectal cancer, the company’s lead clinical diagnostic. Barnell was recognized as one of the “100 Most Intriguing Entrepreneurs” by Goldman Sachs at the 2021 Builders + Innovators Summit.

Previously, Barnell worked as an associate at Lindsay Goldberg, a private equity firm with $10 billion of assets under management and focused on partnering with family businesses and entrepreneurs. He began his career as a financial analyst in J.P. Morgan’s healthcare investment banking group, where he completed $20 billion of transactions across 13 total deals. Barnell received his Bachelor’s Degree in Applied Economics & Management from Cornell University, and an MBA in Health Care Management and Entrepreneurial Management from The Wharton School.

 

19. Dwight Egan, Co-Diagnostics
Title: Chief Executive Officer

Dwight Egan is Chief Executive Officer of Co-Diagnostics, Inc. (Nasdaq: CODX), a molecular diagnostics company with a unique, patented platform for the development of molecular diagnostic tests. The company’s mission is to provide robust, high quality PCR diagnostic tests at an affordable price, especially to regions of the world that wouldn’t be able to afford them otherwise. Co-Diagnostics was one of the first U.S. manufacturers to receive FDA EUA for a COVID-19 PCR test and was the first U.S. company to receive a CE Mark from Europe. In addition to its existing line of diagnostic tests, Co-Diagnostics is currently developing an at-home/point-of-care PCR device called YourTest PCR, which is subject to FDA review and not currently for sale.

Egan has been an officer and director of Co-Diagnostics since April 2013, and he has been engaged in private investment since February 1999. He was a senior executive at Data Broadcasting Corporation from 1995 to 1999. He co-founded and served as CEO and Chairman of the Board of Broadcast International, Inc. from 1984 to 1995, when Data Broadcasting Corporation acquired Broadcast International and created CBS MarketWatch. He also participated in its initial public offering. Egan’s prior experience in directing a public company and working with capital markets gives him valuable experience in advising the board on matters of finance and operations.

 

20. Charles Fisher, Unlearn.AI
Title: Chief Executive Officer

Charles Fisher is the Chief Executive Officer of Unlearn.AI, which helps biopharma companies develop drugs more ethically and efficiently by leveraging generative machine learning models to reduce the number of patients required for placebo controls in clinical trials. Unlearn enables clinical trial sponsors to run RCTs that are up to twice as fast, require fewer participants, produce better evidence about therapeutic efficacy, and in which fewer participants need to be given placebos.

Fisher is a scientist with interests at the intersection of physics, machine learning, and computational biology, and he has a passion for solving the most challenging problems in biology and healthcare using statistical physics and machine learning. Previously, he worked as a Machine Learning Engineer at Leap Motion, where he worked on machine learning and computer vision for tracking the positions of hands in video for virtual and augmented reality, and as a Computational Biologist at Pfizer. He was a Philippe Meyer Fellow in Theoretical Physics at École Normale Supérieure in Paris, France, and a postdoctoral scientist in biophysics at Boston University. Charles holds a PhD in Biophysics from Harvard University and a Bachelor of Science in Biophysics from the University of Michigan.

 

21. James Peyer, Cambrian Biopharma
Title: Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer

James Peyer, PhD, is the Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Cambrian Biopharma, which is developing over 15 programs targeting the biological drivers of aging. Each therapeutic developed by Cambrian has the potential not only to treat one or more diseases, but also to prevent disease and lengthen healthspan. Since Cambrian’s founding in 2019, Peyer has raised a combined $160 million, and the team has grown to over 120 employees across Cambrian and its majority-owned pipeline companies. He and the Cambrian team are poised to advance multiple programs into first in human studies in the next 18 months.

Peyer previously founded and served as Managing Partner of Apollo Ventures, the first venture builder for longevity biotech. While there, he founded, funded, and operated three companies, each of which has gone on to raise follow-on financings. In 2021, Peyer also co-founded the Longevity Biotech Association (LBA) and serves as a founding board member of the Alliance for Longevity Initiatives (A4LI) – two nonprofits advancing key agendas in the rapidly evolving longevity biotech field. Peyer holds a PhD in Stem Cell Biology from University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, where he was a National Science Foundation Fellow, and received his Bachelor of Arts from the University of Chicago.

 

22. Alex Martin, Palladio Biosciences
Title: Chief Executive Officer

Alex Martin is Chief Executive Officer of Palladio Biosciences, which is currently conducting Phase 3 clinical trials to study lixivaptan’s potential to deliver a differentiated safety profile for patients with autosomal polycystic kidney disease. Martin led Palladio through its acquisition by Centessa Pharmaceuticals and continues to oversee the efforts to build out the team and develop lixivaptan. He also serves as Chairman of Veralox Therapeutics, a private company with a novel small molecule approach to rare diseases. Martin is a passionate mentor who believes in people as well as the power of culture to create world class performance. Prior to Palladio, Martin was CEO of Realm Therapeutics, where he restructured the team and engineered a turnaround and ultimate sale of the company to ESSA Pharma. He was also COO of Intercept Pharmaceuticals and CFO at BioXell.

Martin began his career at SmithKline Beecham Pharmaceuticals, where he progressed through roles of increasing responsibility in sales, marketing, and business development. He subsequently joined Novartis as Vice President, Global Business Development & Licensing. Martin is an active coach, mentor, and guest lecturer at Wharton and Columbia Business School. He holds a Bachelor of Arts from Cornell University and an MBA from Harvard.

 

23. Scott Megill, Coriell Life Sciences
Title: President and Chief Executive Officer

Scott Megill is President and Chief Executive Officer of Coriell Life Sciences. With a vision to translate decades of cutting-edge genetic research into insights that drive the most precise medical care, Megill launched Coriell Life Sciences out of the renowned Coriell Institute for Medical Research in 2013. Under his leadership, CLS earned recognition as IBM’s Global Entrepreneur of the Year and has grown to become an internationally trusted provider of comprehensive medication risk management solutions, bioinformatics, and genetic interpretation and reporting services. Pioneering innovation in precision medicine, Megill is unlocking the power of technology to fuel smarter healthcare. This includes empowering individuals and their healthcare providers with actionable insights on the safest and most effective medications for them based on their unique DNA and dozens of other factors.

Megill previously served as CIO at the Coriell Institute for Medical Research and held business technology leadership roles at Dow Chemical Company and Rohm and Haas. He also founded the Moorestown Robotics Club, an organization that immerses New Jersey elementary, middle, and high school students in the excitement of science and technology through international robotics competitions. Megill received his Executive MBA from Villanova University and a Bachelor of Arts in English and Philosophy from Drew University.

 

24. Dr. Christopher Thanos, Actym Therapeutics
Title: Co-Founder, President, and Chief Executive Officer

Dr. Christopher Thanos is a Co-Founder and the President and Chief Executive Officer of Actym Therapeutics, a venture-backed biotech focused on developing novel immunotherapies intended to transform the treatment of cancer. Actym’s microbial-based platform is designed to overcome the hostile tumor microenvironment and promote durable anti-tumor immunity. This technology allows for the safe, programmed delivery of multiplexed immunological payloads to tumor-resident immune cells after IV dosing in a single therapeutic composition. This paves the way for safely targeting immunological pathways that are intractable using conventional therapies due to their systemic toxicities.

Dr. Thanos assembled the founding team at Actym, raised initial capital ($40.5 million), and co-invented Actym’s therapeutic technology platform. Despite the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Dr. Thanos led the effort to close an oversubscribed Series A financing backed by top tier investors (Boehringer-Ingelheim Ventures, Panacea Ventures, Illumina Ventures, Korea Investment Partners, and JLo Ventures). In late 2021, Actym announced a lead therapeutic candidate for clinical development. Dr. Thanos has built a world-class team and is personally committed to expanding opportunities for women in the biotechnology industry. Actym’s management team is two-thirds female.

Dr. Thanos is an inventor on 32 issued U.S. patents and previously held positions at Halozyme, Sutro, Catalyst, and Sunesis. He has contributed to a variety of programs at different stages ranging from discovery to IND-enabling studies, clinical development, and FDA approval. As an NIH Predoctoral Fellow under Professor James Bowie at UCLA, Dr. Thanos discovered the atomic structure and binding mode of SAM domains—one of the most common protein modules found in eukaryotic cells and oncogenes—work which was prominently featured in Science. Dr. Thanos also trained under Professor Jim Wells as a National Cancer Institute Postdoctoral Fellow at Sunesis and UCSF. He has a PhD in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry from UCLA.

 

25. Thurein Htoo, Qlaris Bio
Title: Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer

Thurein Htoo is a Co-Founder and the Chief Executive Officer of Qlaris Bio, a clinical-stage biotechnology company committed to developing innovative first-in-class therapies for patients living with debilitating ophthalmic diseases. Along with his co-founder, Qlaris’ Chief Medical Officer Barbara Wirostko, MD, FARVO, Htoo identified an opportunity based on the research of Professor Michael Fautsch, PhD, at Mayo Clinic to address glaucoma by targeting a critical component of intraocular pressure previously considered untreatable—episcleral venous pressure (EVP). This resulted in the company’s lead asset, QLS-101, now in clinical trials in patients with primary open-angle glaucoma, normal tension glaucoma, and Sturge-Weber syndrome.

Before founding Qlaris Bio, Htoo served in leadership capacities for several biopharmaceutical companies, particularly in ophthalmology and rare diseases. These positions include Chief Business Officer of Qrativ, a joint venture between Mayo Clinic and nference, and VP, Head of Business Development and Corporate Strategy, at Novelion Therapeutics. He also served in leadership roles across business development and disease area strategy at Pfizer and NPS Pharmaceuticals. Htoo holds an MBA from the University of Rochester and a Master of Science in Physiology and a Bachelor of Science in Neurobiology and Psychology from UC Davis.

The Top 25 Biotech CEOs of 2022