The Members of the Board of Trustees are thoughtful, engaged, and committed to the work of BioNJ and we are deeply indebted for their passion for Patients and for inspiring our work each day.

Chair: Emer Leahy, Ph.D., MBA

President & CEO, PsychoGenics, Inc.

Dr. Leahy received her Ph.D. in Neuropharmacology from University College Dublin, Ireland, and her MBA from Columbia University. She is CEO of PsychoGenics Inc., a profitable preclinical CNS service company, as well as CEO of PGI Drug Discovery LLC, a company engaged in neuropsychiatric drug discovery with five partnered clinical programs, including one in Phase III.  She also holds an Adjunct Associate Professor of Neuroscience position at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. Dr. Leahy has more than 30 years of experience in drug discovery, clinical development and business development for pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, including extensive knowledge of technology assessment, licensing, mergers and acquisitions and strategic planning. Dr. Leahy served on the Emerging Companies Section Governing Board for the Board of Directors of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), the Business Review Board for the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation and the Scientific Advisory Board of the International Rett Syndrome Foundation. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of PsychoGenics Inc., the Board of Directors of Intensity Therapeutics, a clinical stage oncology company and the Board of Directors of Pasithea therapeutics, a public company focused on development of treatments for brain disorders.

Samuele Butera

Vice Chair: Samuele Butera, MPP

President, Pulmonary Hypertension and Retina, Johnson & Johnson

As President of Pulmonary Hypertension and Retina Gene Therapies in the U.S., Mr. Butera is dedicated to supporting rare disease patient populations and responsible for leading this therapeutic area through the continued advancement of key brands and preparing future pipeline launches. With a proven track record in delivering global health care innovation and business leadership, Mr. Butera’s goal is to bring transformational solutions to patients, providers and health care systems around the world, which includes his work on the COVID-19 vaccine, CAR T cell therapy and biosimilars.

Prior to this role, Mr. Butera was the Worldwide Vice President for Infectious Diseases and Vaccines, where he led Johnson & Johnson’s efforts to build and maximize the value of the infectious diseases’ portfolio and pipeline in areas of high unmet need, such as COVID-19 (including the vaccine), HIV, hepatitis B, RSV, influenza and multi-drug resistant infections.

Prior to joining Johnson & Johnson, Mr. Butera spent 13 years at Novartis, where he was most recently the Global Cell & Gene Therapies Business Leader in Oncology. In this role, he was responsible for leading and overseeing all of Novartis’ activities to ensure the successful global launch of cell and gene therapies, which included the first CAR-T therapy for children and young adults with B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia, as well as Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma for adults. Mr. Butera also oversaw the market preparations for the launch of the first U.S. biosimilar, while leading Sandoz Biopharmaceuticals North America.

Mr. Butera was formerly a consultant at McKinsey & Company across multiple geographies, where he advised clients on corporate strategy, mergers and acquisitions, alliances, operational effectiveness and organizational redesign. He has also worked in global financial markets with Goldman Sachs, and on international economic development initiatives with the United Nations.

Mr. Butera earned a Bachelor of Science in International Economics from Bocconi University in Milan, Italy, and a Master’s Degree in Public Policy from Harvard University.

Debbie Hart

President & CEO: Debbie Hart, MS, APR

President & CEO, BioNJ

Ms. Hart worked alongside New Jersey’s biopharmaceutical industry leaders to establish BioNJ in 1994. Dedicated to BioNJ’s mission to help our Members help Patients, Ms. Hart is recognized as a respected thought leader and influential advocate. Under Ms. Hart’s leadership, BioNJ has become the trusted voice of the life sciences industry in New Jersey – working directly with legislative leaders in both Trenton and Washington D.C. to advance the life sciences industry, foster medical innovation and patient access while ensuring health equity and healthcare affordability. Most recently, she was named by Governor Murphy as the Chair of the New Jersey Commission on Science, Innovation and Technology.

With the onset of COVID-19, Ms. Hart was named by Governor Murphy to New Jersey’s Restart and Recovery Advisory Council and by Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin to the Economic Advisory Council to Restart the Economy, created to advise State leadership on economic matters impacted by COVID-19.

Additionally, Ms. Hart is the Co-Chair of the New Jersey Commission on Higher Education Strategic Plan Working Group on Research, Innovation and the Talent and the New Jersey Commission on Higher Education and Business Partnership. She also served as Chair of the bipartisan, bicameral New Jersey Biotechnology Task Force which was charged with making recommendations to the Legislature for fostering the growth of the biotechnology industry in New Jersey most of which have been enacted. Ms. Hart is Co-Chair of We Work for Health New Jersey, serves on the boards of the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce and Choose New Jersey, the New Jersey Equity in Commercialization Collective Advisory Board and the New Jersey Innovation Institute.  She chaired the EDA’s Commercialization Center for Innovative Technologies (CCIT) Board and served as a member of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority’s (EDA) Technology Advisory Board.

A strong advocate for advancing education, Ms. Hart sits on the Board of the Blanche and Irwin Lerner Center for the Study of Pharmaceutical Management at Rutgers University Business School. She served on the Advisory Boards for Students 2 Science, the New Jersey Institute of Technology’s (NJIT) Biomedical Engineering Program, and the founding Advisory Board that guided the establishment of the nationally recognized Monmouth County Biotechnology High School.

A respected opinion leader, Ms. Hart has testified before State and federal legislative committees, authored numerous op-eds and is a frequent speaker on issues impacting medical innovation and Patient access. 

Ms. Hart was named one of the world’s 100 Most Influential People in Biotechnology by Scientific American Worldview; a PharmaVOICE 2021 Red Jacket Honoree and to PharmaVOICE‘s 100 Most Inspiring People list with repeat appearances on ROI-NJ’s Influencers Power Lists; ROI-NJ’s Healthcare Influencers; ROI-NJ’s Women in Business List for multiple years; NJBIZ’s Manufacturing 50; as well as #10 NJBIZ’s 2024 Healthcare Power List; one of New Jersey’s top CEOs by COMMERCE Magazine and for the 12th time in 2024 to the NJBIZ Power 100, a listing of the 100 most influential people in New Jersey business.

Ms. Hart holds an M.S. from the S. I. Newhouse School at Syracuse University where she graduated cum laude and a B.A. from Trenton State College, now The College of New Jersey, where she graduated magna cum laude.

Jayne Gershkowitz

Treasurer: Jayne C. Gershkowitz

Chief Patient Advocate, Amicus Therapeutics

Ms. Gershkowitz joined Amicus Therapeutics in 2006 and serves as Chief Patient Advocate, responsible for developing and executing the global strategies that ensure people living with rare diseases and their families remain at the core and inspire patient-first thinking throughout all company operations.

A long-time Patient advocacy professional, Ms. Gershkowitz leads the company’s highly regarded Global Patient & Professional Advocacy department, a function that ensures extraordinary Patient dedication as the bedrock of Amicus since its earliest days. She founded the company’s Patient Advisory Boards program, which gives voice to the concerns of Patients, families and caregivers; leads Amicus’ Public Policy work to advocate for policies that satisfy unmet needs and advance access for those living with rare diseases; initiated Healing Beyond Disease™, an Amicus initiative to further serve the rare disease community in extraordinary ways; and in 2024 is introducing the pilot program Patient Advocate In Residence (PAIR). Ms. Gershkowitz is a member of the company’s Executive Committee, reporting directly to the CEO, and sits on the board of directors.

Ms. Gershkowitz was the 2023 “Imagine & Believe” honoree for her decades of Patient Advocacy leadership by National Tay-Sachs & Allied Diseases Association (NTSAD).  In February of 2019, she received the second annual “Heart of BioNJ” Award in honor of her selflessness and dedication to Patients in the rare disease community, and her renown role as a trailblazer in Patient Advocacy. She is a 2018 PharmaVOICE 100 honoree, recognized for providing inspiration and innovation in the life sciences industry. She is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Healthcare Institute of New Jersey and is a co-founder and Vice Chair of the Board of Professional Patient Advocates in Life Sciences (PPALS), an educational nonprofit organization to advance the strategic function of Patient Advocacy in industry. Ms. Gershkowitz is the former Executive Director of NTSAD. A native of Medford, Massachusetts, Ms. Gershkowitz graduated from Syracuse University with a dual degree in Newspaper Journalism and English Literature and studied marketing management at Radcliffe College.

Christopher Mortko

Secretary: Christopher Mortko, Ph.D., MBA

Vice President and Head, HQ Search & Evaluation, Business Development & Licensing Merck Corporate Licensing

Dr. Mortko is Vice President and Head of Search and Evaluation in the Business Development and Licensing organization at Merck and a member of the Business Development and Licensing leadership team. 

In this role, Dr. Mortko leads a team responsible for the search, scientific evaluation, and due diligence for late-stage research and development opportunities across all therapeutic areas and enabling technologies. He is a key member of Merck’s Science, Strategy, and Business review governance committee that is responsible for decision making and deal structure/terms for business development opportunities. 

Prior to joining Merck business development, Dr. Mortko was a Senior Biotechnology Equity Analyst on Wall Street, focusing on oncology, immunology, and other therapeutic areas. Earlier in his career he was a research scientist at Amgen and Merck and was involved in drug discovery and development across therapeutic areas. He currently serves as a board member for BioNJ and board observer for several early-stage biotechnology companies. 

Dr. Mortko received his undergraduate education at Fordham University in New York. He received a Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from the University of California, Los Angeles and completed an MBA at the NYU Stern School of Business. 

Board Members

Sol J Barer

Sol J. Barer, Ph.D.

Former Chair & CEO, Celgene Corporation
Chair of the Board, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries

Dr. Barer spent most of his professional career with the Celgene Corporation. He was Chair from January 2011 until June 2011, Executive Chair from June 2010 until January 2011 and Chair and Chief Executive Officer from May 2006 until June 2010. Previously he was appointed President in 1993 and Chief Operating Officer in 1994 before assuming the CEO position. He also served as Senior Vice President, Science and Technology, and Vice President/General Manager, Chiral Products, from October 1990 to October 1993, and Vice President, Technology, from September 1987 to October 1990. Dr. Barer was the founder of the biotechnology group at the Celanese Research Company which was subsequently spun out to form Celgene.

Dr. Barer currently serves as Chair of the Board of the public companies Teva Pharmaceutical Industries and Neximmune and the private company Centrexion and is a Director of 3D Biotherapeutics and He is the Founding Chair of the HMH Center for Discovery and Innovation. He is a Founder of MIG, an organization dedicated to helping Israeli biotech entrepreneurs and is a Venture Advisor to the Israel Biotechnology Fund as well as an advisor to biopharma companies.

In 2011, Dr. Barer was Chair of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey Governor’s Advisory Committee which resulted in sweeping changes in the structure of New Jersey’s medical schools and public research universities. He previously served as a Commissioner of the NJ Commission on Science and Technology. He was a member of the Board of Trustees of Rutgers University (until 2013). He also served two terms as Chair of the Board of Trustees of BioNJ. Dr. Barer was named to the “Worldview 100” (Scientific American’s 100 most influential figures in today’s world of biotechnology) in 2015, named one of “25 Leadership Legends of NJ” (NJBIZ) in 2012, “The 50 Most Powerful People in N.J. Health Care,” in 2012, inducted into the NJBIZ Hall of Fame in 2011 and was named as one of NJ’s top 10 scientists by New Jersey Business in 2008. Dr. Barer has received numerous professional awards.

Wendy Short Bartie

Senior Vice President & General Manager, U.S. Hematology and Oncology
Bristol Myers Squibb

A compassionate and strategic leader, Ms. Bartie’s career journey has taken many turns, but her path has always been clear – the commitment to help people – first as a lawyer/public defender, and then as a biopharmaceutical industry professional, continuing to act as a voice for those with unmet needs and unequal access. Prior to joining Bristol Myers Squibb, Ms. Bartie was Vice President and Head of Commercial Operations for U.S. Oncology at Merck.  In this capacity, she was responsible for leading the sales, key accounts, market access, pricing and policy organizations within the U.S. Business Unit. Previously, Ms. Bartie served as Associate Vice-President of Global Marketing for Genitourinary Cancers (GU), including renal cell carcinoma, prostate cancer and bladder cancer and as the Global Disease Lead for Women’s Cancer. Prior to joining Merck, she held a range of commercial roles with increasing responsibility in sales, business analytics and marketing in cardiovascular neuroscience, osteoporosis, lung cancer, supportive care and chronic myeloid leukemia at various companies, including Novartis, Heron Therapeutics, Johnson & Johnson, Pharmacia and Abbott Labs.  

Prior to her career in biopharma, Ms. Bartie was a Public Defender in Washington, DC and Bronx, New York. She received her Bachelor of Arts from Clark Atlanta University and her Juris Doctor from Loyola University Chicago, School of Law. Ms. Bartie is an HBA Rising Star and was recognized by HBA as a Luminary in 2020.

Carrie Brown

Head, U.S. Communications, Sanofi

As Head of U.S. Communications, Ms. Brown is responsible for building and overseeing external and internal communication strategies and activities that support and drive the business priorities for Sanofi in the U.S., including messaging, media outreach, digital strategy, product communications and internal communications.

Ms. Brown has more than 20 years of health care communications experience. She joined Sanofi in 2007 as a product communications manager and since then has held roles of increasing responsibility across multiple therapeutic areas, including Diabetes, Cardiovascular, Consumer Healthcare, Oncology and Immunology. Ms. Brown is a seasoned communications professional and has led numerous branded and unbranded disease awareness programs, product launches and issues management throughout her tenure at Sanofi. Leading brand PR efforts for Immunology, including the launches of Dupixent and Kevzara, and across the Oncology portfolio, Ms. Brown worked to position Sanofi Specialty Care as a trusted health care partner, drive growth for established brands and prepare for future launches.

Before coming to Sanofi, Ms. Brown was with Pfizer for more than eight years in Corporate Media Relations, where she worked on a variety of corporate initiatives, including quarterly earnings and media events at major medical meetings. She also served on the corporate communications team for both the Warner-Lambert and Pharmacia acquisitions. Ms. Brown earned her B.A. in English from Rutgers University.

Christopher Cozic

Christopher Cozic

Executive Vice President & Chief People Officer, Genmab

Mr. Cozic joined Genmab as Global Vice President of Human Resources in November 2017. He is a global human resources professional with expertise in strategic leadership, organization design, human resource management, policy development, employee relations, organizational development and a heavy concentration in all aspects of corporate growth and expansion.

Prior to joining Genmab, Mr. Cozic was Vice President of Human Resources at Ipsen. Previously, he spent over eight years at Eisai, where he served as Director, Global Human Resources, after joining the company in 2006. During his career, Mr. Cozic held roles of progressive responsibility across the consulting and telecommunications industries. He received his bachelor’s degree in English and Communications from Quinnipiac University and also attained PHR, SPHR and GPHR certifications. 

Matthew B. Klein, M.D., M.S., FACS

CEO, PTC Therapeutics

Matthew B. Klein, M.D., M.S., FACS, is chief executive officer at PTC. Prior to joining PTC, Dr. Klein was chief executive officer of BioElectron Technology Corporation, a biotechnology company focused on the development of redox-active small molecules for mitochondrial disease and related disorders of oxidative stress. Before joining BioElectron, Dr. Klein was the Auth-Washington Research Foundation chair of restorative burn surgery at the University of Washington. Dr. Klein completed his bachelor’s degree in history and chemistry at the University of Pennsylvania where he graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa. Dr. Klein earned his medical degree with honors from Yale University.

Susan Levinson

Susan L. Levinson, Ph.D.

CEO, BioAegis Therapeutics, Inc.

Dr. Levinson is a Co-Founder and the CEO of BioAegis, with over 30 years of life sciences pharmaceutical and consulting experience spanning the pharmaceutical value chain, from the lab bench to marketing. She is also a Co-Founder and Board Member at Azure Biotech, a biotech focused on unmet needs in women’s health. Prior to BioAegis, Dr. Levinson was the President of The Strategic Choice, a management consulting firm she founded after a successful career in the pharmaceutical industry. At Novartis Pharmaceuticals, Dr. Levinson held executive positions in business strategy and marketing planning, leading key initiatives, including the implementation of a global brand planning model and managing the U.S. annual strategic and tactical planning process. Prior to this, Dr. Levinson was responsible for New Product Marketing for women’s health, osteoporosis and chronic wound markets for the U.S.

Will Lewis, JD, MBA

Chair & CEO, Insmed, Inc.

Will joined Insmed in 2012 as President and Chief Executive Officer and as a member of the board of directors. He became Chair of the Board of Directors in November 2018. Will is the former Co-Founder, President, and Chief Financial Officer of Aegerion Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Nasdaq: AEGR), and previously spent more than 10 years working in investment banking in the U.S. and Europe. He also previously worked for the U.S. government.

Will holds a Bachelor of Arts degree cum laude from Oberlin College as well as a Master of Business Administration and a Juris Doctor with Honors from Case Western Reserve University. Will is a member of the Board of Trustees of Case Western Reserve University.

John Maki

John Maki

CEO, Bayesian Biotech

Mr. Maki previously served as CEO of Vicus Therapeutics, as Managing Director of Technology Directors, Inc., as Managing Director of Audax Group and as Principal, Bain Capital, as well as a consultant for Bain & Company. Mr. Maki holds an AB degree from Harvard University. He has over 25 years of industry experience and has been a founding investor and/or board member of 11 life sciences companies. In addition, four of Mr. Maki’s portfolio companies had successful IPOs and grew to a combined market capitalization exceeding $2.5 billion dollars. Mr. Maki currently serves on the boards of Vicus Therapeutics, an immuno-oncology company and 3DMatrix, a wound healing device company.

Anthony Marucci

Anthony S. Marucci, MBA

Founder, President, CEO & Director, Celldex Therapeutics, Inc.

Mr. Marucci is a Founder of Celldex and serves as the company’s President and Chief Executive Officer and as a member of the Board of Directors. Prior to his appointment as President and CEO in 2008, Mr. Marucci served as Vice President, Chief Financial Officer, Treasurer and Secretary of Celldex. Celldex, founded in 2004 as a subsidiary of Medarex (Medarex is now a wholly-owned subsidiary of Bristol Myers Squibb), was initially spun out as an independent private company in October 2005 with the asset acquisition of CDX-110 from Alteris Therapeutics, Inc. and the acquisition of Lorantis Limited (Cambridge, UK). In addition to these acquisitions, Mr. Marucci is also responsible for the AVANT Immunotherapeutics, Inc. and Celldex Therapeutics, Inc. merger completed in 2008, the acquisition of CuraGen Corporation completed in 2009 and Kolltan Pharmaceuticals completed in 2016. He was Treasurer of Medarex from December 1998 to March 2004, where he held a series of senior financial positions since December 1998. Since May 2021, Mr. Marucci has served as a member of the board of directors of Genenta Science S.p.A., a publicly held biopharmaceutical company. Mr. Marucci received a B.S. in Accounting from Kean University, an MBA from Columbia University and an MHL from Brown University.

Scott Megaffin

Scott Megaffin

President & CEO, Adiso Therapeutics

Mr. Megaffin is Chief Executive Officer and President of Adiso Therapeutics, Inc. and possesses more than 35 years of successful industry leadership, serving as a senior executive in multiple different settings, including CEO and Board Director at both Fortune 500 pharmaceutical and emerging biotechnology companies. Among Mr. Megaffin’s many career leadership roles, he previously served as the CEO of Adastra Pharmaceuticals Inc., a pioneer in the pursuit of better treatment options for high unmet need cancers, where he led the company from early informative to clinical-stage advancement of first-in-class clinical programs, leading to its acquisition by Cothera Bioscience. Earlier, he served as a President of Churchill Pharmaceuticals, Inc., where he led organizational growth and clinical development of a fully differentiated oral oncology asset for metastatic castrate resistant prostate cancer, gaining FDA approval and resulting in a transaction to Sun Pharma. Mr. Megaffin has held global strategic and operational positions of increasing responsibility within Onconova, Schering-Plough, Yamanouchi, Pharmacia and Bristol Myers Squibb, including six global drug development programs resulting in regulatory approvals. He possesses far-reaching knowledge in a broad number of therapeutic categories, including oncology, anti-infectives, inflammation, pain, critical care and virology. Mr. Megaffin currently serves as a member of the board of Adiso and Adastra.

Christine Miller

Christine Ann Miller, MBA

President & CEO, Melinta Therapeutics

Since August 2020, Ms. Miller has served as the President and Chief Executive Officer, as well as a board member, at Melinta Therapeutics, a commercial-stage company and leader in acute care that provides innovative therapies for acute and life-threatening illnesses. Ms. Miller is a global pharmaceutical veteran with more than 20 years of experience in life sciences.

Prior to joining Melinta, Ms. Miller led the global and U.S. product portfolio for Sandoz, a $10 billion division of Novartis, where she was accountable for transitioning the portfolio toward rapid-growth and higher-margin segments, such as complex generics and value-added medicines, while continuing to build the branded generics business.

Among her various achievements, Ms. Miller directed more than 50 product launches that generated over $300 million of new annual revenue, closed numerous business development acquisitions, and built a robust five-year development and acquisition product pipeline. Before Sandoz, Ms. Miller spent over a decade at Actavis (now Allergan) and its predecessor Watson Pharmaceuticals where she led the preparation of numerous product launches and held leadership roles in both R&D operations and supply chain management.

Ms. Miller’s leadership focus combines her passion for building and leading high performing teams with goal-driven operational rigor. She articulates a clear mission, vision and strategy that engages people to cohesively work towards creative problem solving and innovative solutions.

In addition to her role at Melinta, Ms. Miller serves on the Board of Directors of IVERIC bio, Inc., a biopharmaceutical company focused on the discovery and development of novel treatments for retinal diseases. Her Board committee assignments include the Research and Development Committee and the Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee. She is an Advisory Board Member for the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association and is a frequent panelist and speaker at industry events. More recently, Ms. Miller joined the Stevens Institute of Technology President’s Leadership Council where she serves alongside accomplished thought leaders from academe, industry and the non-profit sectors. For this appointment, she provides expertise and guidance to the President and the Board as Stevens advances its plan to become an internationally recognized center of excellence in education, research and technological innovation.

Ms. Miller started her career at Merck as a chemical engineer and procurement analyst and earned an MBA and a Master’s in Technology Management at Stevens Institute of Technology and a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

Gregory Oakes

Gregory Oakes, MBA

Past President & CEO, Landos Biopharma

Mr. Oakes previously served as President & CEO at Landos Biopharma. Prior to joining Landos, Mr. Oakes served as President, North America for Vifor Pharma. Previously, Mr. Oakes was Corporate Vice President and U.S. General Manager at Celgene. Prior to Celgene, Mr. Oakes held several positions at Novartis, including Senior Vice President, U.S. Managed Markets, Primary Care and Established Medicines and Head Sandoz Biopharmaceuticals, North America. He began his career at Schering-Plough (Merck) where he held executive roles both in the U.S. and Europe. Mr. Oakes holds a bachelor’s degree in Marketing and Business Administration from Edinboro University and an M.B.A. from Clemson University. He previously was Board Member of FirstWave Bio, and United Way of Northern NJ.

Andrew L. Pecora, M.D., FACP, CPE

Andrew L. Pecora, M.D., FACP, CPE

Chair & CEO, Outcomes Matter Innovations, LLC

A nationally recognized expert in care transformation, Dr. Pecora is at the forefront of the health-systems improvement movement. As Chair and Chief Innovation Officer of Outcomes Matter Innovations (OMI), he is a national advocate for making medical practices more efficient and profitable, and at the same time, improving Patient care. Dr. Pecora, one of Modern Healthcare’s 2019 “50 Most Influential Clinical Executives,” is dedicated to pairing practices with artificial intelligence (AI) and health technologies to increase efficiencies, reduce costs and enable physicians to better do what they do best – heal Patients.

Dr. Pecora joined OMI from Hackensack Meridian Health, where he was President, Physician Enterprise and Chief Innovation Officer. A certified hematologist and oncologist – and one of the world’s leading experts in blood and marrow stem cell transplantation, cellular medicine and immunology research – Dr. Pecora played a pivotal role in the recruitment of leading oncologists, initiation of innovative research and clinical trials, expansion of Patient care services and introduction of new, state-of-the-art technologies to shift administrative burdens from health care professionals.

While at Hackensack Meridian Health, he created and expanded the John Theurer Cancer Center, named one of the United States top 50 cancer centers – the only New Jersey institute with this designation – and played a key role in the success of multiple Hackensack Meridian strategic partnerships, including those with Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and Georgetown Lombardi Cancer Center.

Dr. Pecora was instrumental in the John Theurer Cancer Center approval from the National Cancer Institute as a research consortium member of the NCI-approved Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center Consortium, awarded May 2019. This esteemed designation recognizes providers for their scientific leadership, community engagement and the depth and breadth of their cancer research. The collaboration is one of just 16 NCI-designated cancer consortia.

Along with innovating in clinical settings, Dr. Pecora is a noted leader in building physician alliances. He was instrumental in the creation and development of Regional Cancer Care Associates (RCCA), one of the nation’s largest oncology physician networks. Dr. Pecora is also Executive Chair of COTA, a health care software analytics company guiding value-based care delivery for payers and providers. A medical innovator, he co-founded PCT Caladrius, LLC; a company focused on development, manufacturing and delivery of cell-based therapies, later sold to Hitachi.

Dr. Pecora has been awarded the prestigious BioNJ Dr. Sol J. Barer Award for Vision, Innovation and Leadership; the ASCO Cancer Foundation Research Award and Gallo Award for outstanding cancer research; tapped as one of America’s Top Doctors, listed as a “Who’s Who in the World”; and selected as the PM360 Uber ELITE honoree. His award-winning research has been published in numerous peer-review medical journals and funded by organizations, including the National Cancer Institute, AHEPA Research Foundation and biopharma giants Amgen and Merck.

Dr. Pecora is a Professor of Medicine and Oncology at Georgetown University and University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. He is Associate Dean for Technology and Innovation at Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine at Seton Hall University. He received his medical degree from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and completed his fellowship in hematology/oncology at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

Spiro Rombotis, MPH, MBA

Spiro Rombotis, MPH, MBA

President & CEO, Cyclacel Pharmaceuticals

Mr. Rombotis joined Cyclacel as its first CEO in 1997 and has over 38 years of service at three public biotechs and two pharmas. He participated in in-licensing, clinical development, regulatory approval, partnering and commercial launch of several drugs, mainly in inflammation and hematology/oncology, including Abelcet®, Evacet/Myocet®, ProHance®, Remicade® and Reopro®. Major functional roles included international operations and business development as Vice President at Liposome (subsequently acquired by Elan) and previously Vice President in the pharmaceuticals division of Bristol Myers Squibb. He began his career in the early ’80s, after training at Novartis, as one of the first employees of Centocor (subsequently acquired by Johnson & Johnson). He holds an MBA and MPH (Hospital & Health Services Management) with honors, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University and a BA, Williams College (1981 James A. Garfield Scholar).

Christopher Schaber

Christopher J. Schaber, Ph.D.

Chair, President & CEO, Soligenix

Dr. Schaber has over 33 years of experience in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry. He has been the President and CEO and a Director of Soligenix since August 2006. Dr. Schaber was appointed Chair of the Board in October 2009. He has served on the Board of Directors for the Alliance for Biosecurity and has been a member of the corporate councils of both the National Organization for Rare Diseases (“NORD”) and the American Society for Blood and Marrow Transplantation (“ASBMT”) since October 2009 and July 2009, respectively.

Prior to joining Soligenix, Dr. Schaber served from 1998 to 2006 as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Discovery Laboratories, Inc., where he was responsible for overall pipeline development and key areas of commercial operations, including regulatory affairs, quality control and assurance, manufacturing and distribution, pre-clinical and clinical research, and medical affairs, as well as coordination of commercial launch preparation activities. From 1996 to 1998, Dr. Schaber was a co-founder of Acute Therapeutics, Inc., and served as its Vice President of Regulatory Compliance and Drug Development. From 1994 to 1996, Dr. Schaber was employed by Ohmeda PPD, Inc., as Worldwide Director of Regulatory Affairs and Operations. From 1989 to 1994, Dr. Schaber held a variety of regulatory, development and operations positions with The Liposome Company, Inc., and Elkins-Sinn Inc., a division of Wyeth-Ayerst Laboratories. Dr. Schaber received his BA degree from Western Maryland College, his MS degree in Pharmaceutics from Temple University School of Pharmacy and his Ph.D. degree in Pharmaceutical Sciences from the Union Graduate School. During his career, Dr. Schaber has played a significant role in raising in excess of $350 million through both public offerings and private placements, as well as over $100 million through the achievement of non-dilutive funding awards from state and federal governmental agencies.

Michael Schoen

Michael Schoen

Chief of Staff & Special Advisor to the CEO, BeiGene

Mr. Schoen has served as Chief of Staff to the CEO since 2017. In August 2020, he took on the additional role of Special Advisor to the CEO – overseeing Global IT, Global Workplace Services and U.S. Government Affairs & Public Policy. Prior to that, he was Senior Vice President, Business Operations, overseeing Global HR, Global IT, Global Workplace Services and U.S. Corporate Communications. Mr. Schoen works closely with BeiGene’s CEO, John V. Oyler, and other senior management to help direct BeiGene’s operations. 

Before joining BeiGene, Mr. Schoen was a Managing Director and the Regional Head of Latin America and Caribbean Debt Capital Markets and Derivative Solutions for Scotiabank, based in New York. In this capacity, he was responsible for overseeing the origination and execution of all debt and derivative transactions from and within the region. Mr. Schoen joined Scotiabank in early 2013 after twelve years in a similar capacity at Credit Suisse. Mr. Schoen joined Credit Suisse in 2000 when the bank merged with Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette, where he was a member of the High Yield Capital Markets group. Prior to that, Mr. Schoen worked at J.P. Morgan and Lehman Brothers, respectively, in their Emerging Markets groups.

Mr. Schoen graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) with a Bachelor of Science in Management from the Sloan School of Management. Mr. Schoen is Chair of the Board of Directors for HealthCare Chaplaincy Network, Inc., a leader in the research, education and practice of spirituality within health care and palliative care.

Keely Beck Zipp

Vice President, Commercial Strategy and Innovation, Internal Medicine, Pfizer

Keely Zipp is Vice President, Commercial Strategy and Innovation, Internal Medicine at Pfizer, where she is responsible for leading asset- and portfolio-level commercial strategy for drugs in Discovery through Phase 3.

Ms. Zipp is a seasoned life sciences executive with extensive leadership experience in pharma and biotech across a variety of functions, including marketing, corporate development, operations, and corporate strategy. She has a strong track record of leading clinical development strategy, business development, product commercialization, public relations/investor relations, and financing strategy. Prior to Pfizer, she held corporate development leadership positions at private and public biotechs, where her responsibilities included leading business development, financing, and clinical development strategy. In addition, she has over a decade of experience in large pharma and biotech, with positions of increasing responsibility at Wyeth, GSK, and Incyte which included commercial roles and development of business unit- and company-level strategic plans.

Ms. Zipp has a BA in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Dartmouth College (magna cum laude) and a MBA from The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.

Board Advisors

Reynold A. Panettieri, Jr., M.D.

Academic Advisor: Reynold A. Panettieri, Jr., M.D.

Professor of Medicine, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School
Vice Chancellor for Translational Medicine and Science
Director, Rutgers Institute for Translational Medicine and Science
Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences
Emeritus Professor, University of Pennsylvania

Dr. Panettieri is Professor of Medicine, Vice Chancellor for Translational Medicine and Science at Rutgers University, and the Director of the Institute for Translational Medicine and Science. Previously, he was the Robert L. Mayock and David A. Cooper Professor of Medicine in the Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Division of the Department of Medicine and served as Deputy Director of the Center of Excellence in Environmental Toxicology at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine where he remains Professor Emeritus.

Dr. Panettieri’s basic science interests focus on airway smooth muscle function in asthma and the molecular and cellular mechanisms of airway smooth muscle function and growth. His lab also focuses on cytosolic signaling pathways that mediate gene expression and alter myocyte function. Dr. Panettieri is principal investigator on several NIH-sponsored grants and industry-sponsored clinical studies, is director of a program project grant examining novel approaches in modulating GPCR function and is the Principal Investigator of the CTSA Hub entitled ‘New Jersey Alliance for Clinical and Translational Science’. He is the author of over 475 peer-reviewed publications.

Dr. Panettieri is the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including the Robert E. Cooke Memorial Lectureship at the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology Annual Meeting, the Joseph R. Rodarte Award for Scientific Distinction and the Recognition Award for Scientific Accomplishments from the American Thoracic Society. He is also an active member of national professional and scientific societies, including the American College of Chest Physicians and the American Thoracic Society. In 2013, he was elected Chair of the Respiratory Structure and Function Assembly of the American Thoracic Society.

In addition to his research and clinical interests, Dr. Panettieri served as Chair of the NIH Lung Cellular, Molecular, and Immunobiology Study Section, is a member of the NIH Distinguished Editorial Panel, and is a member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation and Association of American Physicians. He manages the comprehensive clinical care of patients with asthma and is actively involved in clinical investigations focused on the management of asthma and COPD.

Brian Wilcomes

Accounting Advisor: Brian Wilcomes, CPA

Strategy & Analytics Principal, Deloitte & Touche

Mr. Wilcomes is a Certified Public Accountant with more than 20 years of accounting, auditing and internal control experience in serving significant domestic and global clients in the life sciences, consumer products, retail and private equity industries. He has significant experience with the evaluation of complex transactions, including acquisitions, restructurings, dispositions and carve-out of financial statements. Additionally, Mr. Wilcomes has extensive experience with International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) and Generally Accepted Accounting Principles in the United States (US GAAP). He serves clients with significant global operations in North America, Europe and Asia, including public and private companies as well as private equity- backed, foreign-owned and highly leveraged entities. Mr. Wilcomes has worked with Syneos Health, SK Life Science, Inc., GlaxoSmithKline, inVentiv Health, Inc., American Standard Brands, Toys “R” Us, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR) and Vitamin Shoppes.

George Heinrich, M.D.

Investor Advisor: George Heinrich, M.D.

Vice Chair & CEO, New Jersey Health Foundation, Inc., & Foundation Venture Capital Group, LLC (FVCG)

Dr. Heinrich earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Cornell University and his M.D. degree from New Jersey Medical School (NJMS) with a residency in Internal Medicine at Martland Hospital in Newark, New Jersey. He is the Associate Dean for Admissions at the Rutgers – New Jersey Medical School, and Adjunct Professor in the NJMS Department of Medicine. Dr. Heinrich also serves as Vice Chair and CEO of New Jersey Health Foundation, Inc., and Foundation Venture Capital Group, LLC (FVCG) which support the formation of start-up companies at six partner institutions: Kessler Foundation, New Jersey Institute of Technology, Princeton University, Rowan University, Rutgers University and Stevens Institute of Technology. These organizations are dedicated to the advancement of research and education throughout New Jersey. FVCG has formed 14 companies with faculty to advance science. Dr. Heinrich formerly served as Chair of the Board of Trustees for New York Hospital Queens and the Silvercrest Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation. He has also been a trustee of the NewYork-Presbyterian Healthcare System. Dr. Heinrich has and continues to serve on many other boards.

Emilio Ragosa

Legal Advisor: Emilio Ragosa

Partner & Managing Partner, Short Hills Office, DLA Piper

Mr. Ragosa counsels clients on securities offerings, mergers and acquisitions and venture capital transactions. He also advises on corporate transactions ranging from seed financings, venture financings and private placements to public offerings. Mr. Ragosa’s clients include private and public companies, as well as venture capital firms and underwriters. His experience makes him uniquely capable of advising clients from formation through capital raising until a sale or IPO. Within the technology industry, Mr. Ragosa has experience with digital media, financial services technology, e-commerce and health care IT. Within the life sciences sector, his experience includes biotechnology, medical devices and specialty pharmaceuticals.

Kathleen Coviello

State Government Official Advisor: Kathleen Coviello

Chief Economic Transformation Officer, New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA)

Ms. Coviello is the Vice President of Technology & Life Sciences Investments at the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA), where she is responsible for working closely with the State’s emerging technology and life sciences companies and investors and delivering Edison Innovation Fund products to this community. Ms. Coviello also oversees the management of the NJEDA’s 46,000-square-foot New Jersey Bioscience Center (NJBC) – Incubator at North Brunswick and the NJBC – Step Out Labs, a 32,000-square-foot post-incubation facility. Under her leadership, the NJEDA’s Technology and Life Sciences (TLS) Division has delivered over $1 billion in direct investments, business incentives, tax credits and venture fund investments through the Edison Innovation Fund.

During her tenure, New Jersey’s first accelerator – TechLaunch – was established, federal State Small Business Credit Initiatives funds were deployed into several regional venture funds, the State’s Angel Tax Credit Program was launched, and the New Jersey Founders & Funders program was born. Prior to joining the NJEDA, Ms. Coviello spent over 17 years in the banking industry, with the last eight focused on the NJ Technology Venture Lending Market. Her venture lending experience includes employment at Silicon Valley Bank, Comerica Bank and Progress’ Techbanc.

Kelly Watson

Technology Advisor: Kelly Watson

Vice President & Senior Partner, IBM Consulting

Ms. Watson is a Vice President and Senior Partner with IBM Consulting since 2021. She has more than 30 years of business, operations and P&L experience. She currently leads a global team of professionals driving a range of financial, risk, operational and technology solutions to clients for the Public Sector Practice which includes life sciences, health care, government and higher education industries. She also leads Market Development for the Public Sector for the Americas region. 

Prior to her role at IBM, Ms. Watson served as the Senior Advisor for Sector Development to the New Jersey Office of the Governor and the New Jersey Economic Development Authority where she led the State’s effort to attract, retain and grow the priority industry sectors. In 2019, Ms. Watson retired from KPMG LLP after a long and successful career at the public accounting firm, where she held roles of increasing responsibility and leadership.  From 2016 to 2019, she served as the Partner in Charge of KPMG’s U.S. and Americas Risk Consulting Practice, leading a team of more than 5,000 partners and professionals who provide the compliance, risk and technology insights organizations need to protect themselves and grow. Prior to this position, Ms. Watson spent six years as the Office Managing Partner of the firm’s New Jersey business unit, which houses more than 1,100 people who serve the state’s largest companies and mid-market clients.

Ms. Watson has been a global lead partner and account executive on a number of Fortune 100 clients. She also served a five-year term on the firm’s Board of Directors and led an entire governance refresh during her final year as the Lead Director, the first woman in the firm’s history to hold that position.

Additional Advisors

Teresa Leste

Teresa Leste

Principal, Life Sciences Strategy & Analytics, Deloitte

Ms. Leste is a Strategy & Analytics Principal at Deloitte Consulting and leads the U.S. Life Sciences hypergrowth biotech and medtech practice. Ms. Leste is focused on enterprise growth – capability building and scaling with emphasis on financial value maximization. Her experience spans the health care value chain and has worked with numerous large and small biopharmaceutical, medtech and select large health non-profit firms. Prior to the merger with Deloitte in 2013, Ms. Leste was a Partner at Monitor Group where she led the U.S. Life Sciences practice. Ms. Leste has over 25 years of experience in strategic advisory consulting and worked directly at a top three medtech multinational. She has expertise in the area of health care marketplace profitability, consolidation and convergence, and over the course of her career, has gained a deep global perspective working in-market in over 18 countries, including a three-year assignment based in Europe. Ms. Leste serves on the Board of Directors at the Cardiovascular Research Foundation (CRF) and the University of Florida Machen Scholars Leadership Council.