Our board of directors includes industry experts in the research, development and commercialization of novel therapeutics and orphan drugs.
Dr. Steven M. Altschuler has been chief executive officer of The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) since 2000. Previously, Steve served in many leadership roles at CHOP including: division chief of Gastroenterology, physician-in-chief, inaugural holder of the Leonard and Madlyn Abramson Endowed Chair in Pediatrics and professor and chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.
Steve’s tenure as CHOP’s CEO has seen the most significant growth in the Hospital’s 160-year history. Beyond its Main Campus in University City, CHOP maintains an extensive Care Network that provides primary, specialty and urgent care at over 50 locations in the Philadelphia region. The Hospital’s International Medicine program—encompassing patient care, professional education and clinical partnerships—is one of the largest in the world. A respected advocate for children’s health, Steve has spearheaded innovative multi-institution efforts to better coordinate services for complex patients, thus reducing financial burden and improving care.
CHOP’s Research Institute, number one in NIH funding among pediatric institutions, has made groundbreaking advances in gene therapy, T-cell therapy for cancer and prenatal treatment of birth defects. In forming Spark Therapeutics, Steve led the creation of the Hospital’s first for-profit enterprise in gene therapy.
Steve received his B.A. in mathematics and his M.D. from Case Western Reserve University. He completed his pediatric internship and residency at Children’s Hospital Medical Center-Boston and fellowship training in gastroenterology and nutrition at CHOP and the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. For 15 years, Steve was a faculty member of the department of pediatrics at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. Steve serves on the board of directors for Mead Johnson Nutritionals, Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, the Free Library of Philadelphia, University HealthSystem Consortium, the Healthcare Institute and the GAVI Alliance Campaign.
Jeffrey D. Marrazzo is co-founder and chief executive officer of Spark and serves on the board of directors. He is an experienced entrepreneur dedicated to curing disease through genomic medicine. Jeff was part of the founding management and senior vice president of corporate strategy and business development at Generation Health, a pharmacogenomics company that was acquired by CVS Caremark in 2009, and a member of the business development and finance teams at Tengion, a venture-backed regenerative medicine company that went public in 2010. Most recently, as chief business officer, Jeff launched the U.S. division of Molecular Health, Inc., leading the creation of the company’s business strategy and recruiting the management team for this emerging leader in personalized cancer therapy. As co-founder and CEO of Spark, Jeff has led the formation and advancement of the company’s assets and has raised more than $83 million since its inception in 2013. Prior to his work as a life sciences entrepreneur, he served as healthcare advisor to former Pennsylvania Governor Edward G. Rendell and as an IBM management consultant to global pharmaceutical companies. Jeff received his B.A. in economics, magna cum laude, and B.S.E. in systems science and engineering, magna cum laude, from the University of Pennsylvania, and holds a dual M.B.A. / M.P.A. from The Wharton School and Harvard University, a program which he founded.
Dr. Katherine High, a world renowned hematologist, began her career studying the molecular basis of blood coagulation and the development of novel therapeutics for the treatment of bleeding disorders. Her pioneering bench-to-bedside studies of gene therapy for hemophilia led to a series of studies that characterized the human immune response to adeno-associated virus (AAV) vectors in a variety of target tissues. Kathy’s work has evolved to encompass clinical translation of genetic therapies for multiple inherited disorders. As the director of the Center for Cellular and Molecular Therapeutics at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Kathy assembled a multidisciplinary team of scientists and researchers working to discover new gene and cell therapies for genetic diseases and to facilitate rapid translation of preclinical discoveries into clinical application. Kathy served a five-year term on the FDA Advisory Committee on Cell, Tissue and Gene Therapies and is a past-president of the American Society of Gene & Cell Therapy (ASGCT). She received her A.B. in chemistry from Harvard University, an M.D. from the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, business certification from the UNC Business School Management Institute for Hospital Administrators and a master’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania.
Dr. A. Lorris Betz joined University of Utah in June 1999 as senior vice president for health sciences, dean of the School of Medicine, and chief executive officer of the University of Utah Health Care. He held faculty appointments in the departments of pediatrics (professor with tenure) and neurobiology and anatomy (adjunct professor). During his time at the University of Utah, Dr. Betz twice served as interim president. Following his retirement in 2012, Dr. Betz was named senior vice president emeritus of health sciences and was awarded an honorary doctor of science degree by the University.
Dr. Betz received his B.S. degree in chemistry in 1969 and M.D. and Ph.D. (biochemistry and physiology) degrees in 1975 from the University of Wisconsin, and completed his pediatric residency and a research fellowship in pediatric neurology at the University of California, San Francisco. He joined the faculty at the University of Michigan in the departments of pediatrics and neurology in 1979 and later was appointed to the faculty in the department of surgery. Other administrative appointments at the University of Michigan included associate dean for Faculty Affairs, senior associate dean for Academic Affairs, executive associate dean, and interim dean.
Dr. Betz’s research focused on the physiology of the blood-brain barrier and the biochemical mechanisms that lead to brain injury in stroke. He has published over 150 scientific papers and chapters. Dr. Betz currently serves on the board and executive committee of The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
Lars Ekman has more than 28 years of experience in senior executive, scientific and clinical functions. He has served as executive partner at Sofinnova Ventures since 2008, lending his extensive expertise in the life sciences industry to the investment team in driving new companies toward success. Prior to joining Sofinnova Ventures, Lars was president of research and development at Elan. Lars is credited with advancing Elan’s drug discovery pipeline during his tenure, and under Lars’ leadership, the company received approval for four U.S. New Drug Applications, three European Marketing Approval Applications and five Investigational New Drug Applications. These efforts resulted in advancing Elan’s immunotherapeutic approach and bringing to market three neuroscience products, including Tysabri for multiple sclerosis. Prior to joining Elan, Lars was executive vice president, research and development, at Schwarz Pharma AG, and before that, held a variety of senior scientific and clinical roles at Pharmacia (now Pfizer).
Lars Ekman is Chairman of Amarin Corporation, Chairman of Prothena Biosciences, and Executive Chairman of Sophiris Bioscience and serves on the Board of Directors of Ocera Therapeutics. He co-founded and served as Chief Executive Officer of Cebix, Inc, and previously served on the Board of Directors of InterMune (acquired by Roche), and Elan Pharmaceuticals (acquired by Perrigo).
Lars is a board-certified surgeon with a Ph.D. in experimental biology, and an M.D., from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden.
Anand Mehra joined Sofinnova Ventures in 2007 and is focused on working with entrepreneurs to build drug development companies that have the power to improve the lives of patients. He has led the firm’s investments in Vicept Therapeutics (Acquired: Allergan), Aerie Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: AERI), Aclaris and Prothena (NASDAQ: PRTA), and he played a key role in the firm’s investments in SarCode (Acquired: Shire), Preglem (Acquired: Gedeon Richter) and Amarin (NASDAQ: AMRN). In addition to Spark, Anand is currently a director of Aerie and Marinus Pharmaceuticals and was on the board of Nextwave Pharmaceuticals until their acquisition by Pfizer.
Prior to joining Sofinnova, Anand worked in JP Morgan’s private equity and venture capital group, where he was heavily involved in new investments, management of their public portfolio and the firm’s spin-out from the bank. Before joining the venture community, Anand was a consultant in McKinsey & Company’s pharmaceutical practice, advising pharma and biotech on key strategic issues, and an NIH-funded Fellow focused on reperfusion injury in stroke. Anand received his M.D. from Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons and graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Virginia where he was an Echols Scholar.
Vin Milano is CEO of Idera Pharmaceuticals, a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company developing nucleic acid therapeutics for cancers and rare diseases. Prior to Idera, Vin served as president, chief executive officer and chairman of the board of directors of ViroPharma Incorporated, which was acquired by Shire Pharmaceuticals in January 2014, and was focused on bringing innovative therapies to market for serious, unmet medical needs. ViroPharma’s lead product was Cinryze, approved and commercially available in the United States, for the prevention of hereditary angioedema attacks and in Europe for both the treatment and prevention of hereditary angioedema attacks, a rare disease. Vin joined the company in 1996 and served as vice president, chief financial officer and treasurer from 1997 to 2006. He was instrumental in building the company, including leading efforts in raising nearly $900 million in capital, as well as the acquisitions of Lev Pharmaceuticals and the drug Vancocin from Eli Lilly. Vin played critical roles in all business development and investor relations activities for ViroPharma, as well as contributed significantly to establishing the strategic focus of the company. Prior to joining ViroPharma, Vin served as senior manager at KPMG LLP, an independent registered public accounting firm. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in accounting from Rider College.
Dr. Elliott Sigal has over 25 years of combined experience in medicine, research and executive management. Most recently, he served as director, executive vice president and chief scientific officer and president of R&D at Bristol-Myers Squibb from 2004 until 2013. Elliott was a principal architect of the company’s successful Biopharma Transformation Strategy, with a focus on innovative therapies for unmet medical needs, and was instrumental in increasing R&D productivity, developing the company’s strategy in biologics and acquiring external innovation in its String of Pearls initiative. Under his leadership, 14 new medicines were brought to market. Elliott previously held positions of increasing responsibility in drug discovery at the pharmaceutical company Syntex and also was vice president of R&D and chief executive officer for the genomics firm Mercator Genetics, where he provided the research leadership that resulted in the discovery of the gene for hemochromatosis, a common disorder that leads to iron overload, diabetes and liver disease.
Elliott received his M.D. from the University of Chicago and trained in internal medicine and pulmonary medicine at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). He received his research training at the Cardiovascular Research Institute at UCSF and served on the faculty of the UCSF Department of Medicine. He received his B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in industrial engineering from Purdue University. Elliott currently serves as a member of the board of directors for the Mead Johnson Nutrition Company, the Melanoma Research Alliance and the University of California San Francisco Nina Ireland Program for Lung Health.