Board Officers

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: Will Lewis, JD, MBA

Chair & CEO, Insmed, Inc.

Mr. Lewis 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. Mr. Lewis 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. Mr. Lewis 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. Mr. Lewis serves as the Chair of the Board of Trustees of BioNJ, the life sciences association for New Jersey. Mr. Lewis is a member of the Board of Trustees of Case Western Reserve University, Mr. Lewis also serves as a member of the Board of the Helix Acquisition Corp.


Immediate Past Chair: Christopher J. Schaber, Ph.D.

President & CEO, Soligenix, Inc.

Dr. Schaber has over 30 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 Chairman of the Board on October 8, 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 $300 million through both public offerings and private placements, as well as over $80 million through the achievement of government grant and contract awards.


President & CEO: Debbie Hart, MS, CAE, 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.

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, she was named by Governor Murphy to the New Jersey Commission on Science, Innovation and Technology where she serves as Vice Chair; as Co-Chair of the New Jersey Commission on Higher Education Strategic Plan Working Group on Research, Innovation and Talent; and the New Jersey Commission on Higher Education and Business Partnership. Ms. Hart 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 List; ROI-NJ’s Healthcare Influencers: ROI-NJ’s Women in Business List; to the NJBIZ Health Care Power 50, to the NJBIZ Manufacturing 50, one of New Jersey’s top CEOs by COMMERCE Magazine and for the tenth time in 2022 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.


Treasurer: Jeffrey A. Nau, Ph.D., MMS

President & CEO, Oyster Point Pharma, Inc.

Dr. Nau is currently the President and CEO of Oyster Point Pharma since its inception in 2017. In that time, Oyster Point has established a leading team in eye care, and completed successful fundraising efforts through an IPO and global partnerships. He has built his career on developing novel, innovative therapies for diseases of the eye, with 20+ years of experience working with biotechnology, pharmaceutical and medical device companies. Most recently, he was Vice President, Clinical and Medical Affairs, at Ophthotech. Prior to that, Dr. Nau was a Medical Science Director at Genentech working on the development of Lucentis®, a transformative drug for retinal diseases. Dr. Nau has been instrumental in building a number of innovative start-ups, such as Genaera Corporation, Acuity Pharmaceuticals and NeoVista, Inc. He currently serves on the Board of BioNJ.

He holds numerous patents and peer-reviewed publications. Dr. Nau has a Ph.D. in Public Health and Epidemiology from Walden University, a M.S. in Medical Science from MCP Hahnemann School of Medicine and a BS in Biology from Stony Brook University.


Secretary: Michele Korfin, R.Ph., MBA

Chief Operating Officer & Chief Commercial Officer, Gamida Cell

Ms. Korfin is the Chief Operating Officer and Chief Commercial Officer for Gamida Cell. Ms. Korfin has over 20 years of experience in oncology, focused on product launches, clinical development, oncology marketing strategy, commercial sales, market access and government affairs.

Gamida Cell is an advanced cell therapy company committed to cures for patients with blood cancers and serious blood diseases. The lead investigational therapy, omidubicel, has FDA Breakthrough Designation and successfully achieved the primary endpoint of the Phase 3 clinical trial evaluating patients who were eligible for allogeneic bone marrow transplant but did not have a matched donor. Gamida Cell also has a natural killer cell development program, with the lead investigational therapy, GDA-201, demonstrating encouraging efficacy in a Phase 1 clinical study in patients with lymphoma.

Prior to joining Gamida Cell, Ms. Korfin was the Chief Operating Officer of TYME Technologies. Ms. Korfin’s focus at TYME was to advance the pivotal clinical trials for SM-88, an oral therapy and the lead investigational agent for the TYME proprietary cancer metabolism-based therapeutics (CMBTsTM) platform.

Prior to joining TYME, Ms. Korfin was Vice President of Market Access at Kite Pharma, where she oversaw the market access strategy, including payer relations, reimbursement, and government affairs for Yescarta®, the first approved CAR-T therapy in lymphoma. Ms. Korfin also established the Chain of Identity approach for the Kite CAR-T therapy and led the Kite Konnect team.

Prior to joining Kite, Ms. Korfin spent more than a decade at Celgene in a variety of key strategic and operational roles, including Global Marketing, head of the U.S. oncology sales force, U.S. Market Access lead, Lymphoma Marketing lead, and overseeing the global development programs for REVLIMID® in Lymphoma and CLL.

Ms. Korfin has also held prior positions at Merck & Co as a manufacturing scientist, Bain & Company as a consultant and Schering-Plough in sales and marketing. Ms. Korfin holds a Masters in Business Administration from Harvard Business School and a Bachelor of Science degree in Pharmacy from Rutgers University. Ms. Korfin is a licensed pharmacist in New Jersey. She resides in New Jersey with her husband, Andy, and their two children, Amanda and Jake.


Board Members

Sol J. Barer, Ph.D.

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

Dr. Barer spent most of his professional career with the Celgene Corporation. He was Chairman from January 2011 until June 2011, Executive Chairman from June 2010 until January 2011 and Chairman 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 Chairman of the Board of the public companies Teva Pharmaceutical Industries and Neximmune  and the private company Centrexion, is a Director of 3D Biotherapeutics and Zephyr.ai, and is Lead Director of the public company ContraFect. 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 Chairman 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 (2010-2012). 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.


Carrie Brown

Head, U.S. Communications & CSR, Sanofi

As Head of U.S. Communications & CSR, Carrie 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, internal communications, and Corporate Social Responsibility.

Carrie has more than 20 years of healthcare communications experience. Carrie 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. Carrie 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, Carrie worked to position Sanofi Specialty Care as a trusted healthcare partner, drive growth for established brands, and prepare for future launches.

Before coming to Sanofi, Carrie 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. Carrie earned her B.A. in English from Rutgers University.


Amadou Diarra, Ph.D.

Senior Vice President, Global Policy, Advocacy & Government Affairs, Bristol Myers Squibb

Dr. Diarra leads an integrated organization focused on external environment dynamics, working with key stakeholders including Patient support organizations, health care professionals, policymakers and industry associations. He is passionate about partnering for improved health outcomes. Dr. Diarra joined Bristol Myers Squibb in 1991 as market research & business development manager, Africa Division. From 1999 to 2002 he led the company’s landmark philanthropic program, Secure the Future, a public-private partnership focused on care and support for women and children infected or affected by HIV/AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa. In 2002, he was appointed General Manager, Indonesia and in 2005 became General Manager, Turkey. In 2008, he assumed responsibility as General Manager for the Ireland & Nordic Region and was then promoted to Vice President, Access Europe. Late 2010, he was appointed European Vice President and General Manager, UK and Ireland.


Jayne C. Gershkowitz

Chief Patient Advocate, Amicus Therapeutics, Inc.

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 of 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 as an R&D organization. She founded the company’s Patient Advisory Boards program, which helps give a voice to the concerns of patients, families and caregivers, and leads Amicus’ Public Policy work to advocate for policies that satisfy unmet needs among those living with rare diseases, and initiated Healing Beyond Disease™, an Amicus initiative to further serve the rare disease community in extraordinary ways. She is a member of the company’s Executive Committee, reporting directly to the CEO, and sits on the board of directors.

In February of 2019, Ms. Gershkowitz 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 Boards of Trustees of BioNJ and of the Healthcare Institute of New Jersey, the Corporate Advisory Board of the Child Neurology Foundation, and is a co-founder and vice chair of the board of Professional Patient Advocates in Life Sciences (PPALS). Ms. Gershkowitz is the former executive director of National Tay-Sachs & Allied Diseases Association.

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. She and her husband, Bruce, reside in Lambertville, NJ; they have two adult children.


David Jiménez

President, Janssen Immunology, Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson

Mr. Jiménez has held numerous commercial, strategic and leadership positions in both mature and emerging markets across the world. He imbues a multicultural, patient-centric perspective from these unique experiences that inspires his teams to have a positive impact. In his current role, Mr. Jiménez leads the growing $10+ billion U.S. Immunology franchise, home to many of the most transformational brands in the pharmaceutical industry, including STELARA®, TREMFYA®, SIMPONI ARIA® and REMICADE®. Focused on rheumatology, dermatology and gastroenterology, Mr. Jiménez and his team aspire to relentlessly advance care for patients living with immune-mediated disease through medical innovation and enhancing the patient experience. Mr. Jiménez rose to this position with more than two decades with Johnson & Johnson in a variety of impactful leadership roles across multiple businesses within the medical devices, consumer health and pharmaceutical sectors, including across four continents.

In his immediate past role, Mr. Jiménez led all aspects of the Janssen Pulmonary Hypertension U.S. organization, including medical affairs, marketing and sales, with a laser focus on serving the unique needs of people living with pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH), a rare and progressive disease. He was responsible for increasing patient persistency and industry competitiveness of both in-market brands OPSUMIT® and UPTRAVI®, which achieved blockbuster status in the same year under his leadership.

Mr. Jiménez first joined J&J as a sales representative with Ethicon, a Medical Devices company, in Madrid, Spain. He later became General Manager for the Johnson & Johnson Diabetes Care Companies (formerly Animas Corporation and LifeScan, Inc.) in the Middle East, Africa, Turkey and Pakistan – overseeing more than 25 countries. From his base in Dubai, David led the region to double-digit growth and the #1 or #2 position in key markets. Under his leadership, Janssen Puerto Rico became the fastest growing pharmaceutical company on the island with double digit above market growth. Mr. Jiménez has also served as President of Janssen Infectious Diseases U.S., leading the commercial organization through product launches and expansion into areas of unmet need.


Christian Kopfli, Esq.

CEO, Chromocell Corporation

Mr. Kopfli co-founded Chromocell in 2002, serving initially as General Counsel before becoming CEO in 2005. Prior to joining Chromocell, he was an Associate at Davis Polk & Wardwell, working in its New York City, Tokyo and Frankfurt offices. At Davis Polk, Mr. Kopfli worked extensively in mergers and acquisitions, capital markets and private equity transactions.

Mr. Kopfli received a doctoral degree in law (magna cum laude) from the University of Zurich in 2000 and earned his LL.M. from Columbia Law School in New York City in 1998. He is admitted to the Bar in New York and Switzerland.


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, CEO of PGI Drug Discovery LLC, a company engaged in psychiatric 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. and the Board of Directors of Intensity Therapeutics.


Leigh Anne Leas

Vice President & Head, North America Public Policy, Novartis Services, Inc.

Ms. Leas serves as the Vice President and North America Head, Public Policy for Novartis, representing all business divisions. She is responsible for developing the organization’s policy priorities and positions on key federal and state public policy issues and government health care programs. Ms. Leas and her team assess the impact of potential legislation and regulations on the Novartis U.S. businesses, including innovative medicines, generics and biosimilar pharmaceuticals. She is a member of the Novartis Public Affairs Leadership Team and leads the U.S. Pricing and Access Steering Committee. Since joining Novartis in 2003, Ms. Leas has held a variety of roles focused on Public Affairs strategy and government access, public policy, managed markets strategy and pharma pricing/contracting. Her prior pharmaceutical industry experience included government pricing/contracting, managed care strategy and product director roles with Bristol-Myers Squibb and Johnson & Johnson. Prior to joining the pharmaceutical industry, Ms. Leas worked for 10 years in the health insurance and pharmaceutical benefits management industries in roles including underwriting and actuarial positions with United Healthcare, and pricing, operations, and account management leadership roles with PCS Health Systems, now a part of the CVS/Caremark organization.

Ms. Leas is a board member of the National Pharmaceutical Council, an Advisory Board member of the Leonard D. Schaeffer Center for Health Policy & Economics and an Advisory Board member of the Duke Margolis Center for Health Policy Value-based Payment Consortium. She is a graduate of the University of Kansas with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration.


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.


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 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. He is a member of the Board of Trustees of BioNJ and also served as its Treasurer through 2010. Mr. Marucci received a B.S. in Accounting from Kean University, an MBA from Columbia University and an MHL from Brown University.


Scott Megaffin

Chief Executive Officer and President, Adiso Therapeutics

Scott 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, Adastra and BioNJ.


Christopher Mortko, Ph.D., MBA

Associate Vice President, Head of HQ Search & Evaluation, Merck Business Development & Licensing

Christopher Mortko Ph.D., MBA is an Associate 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, Chris 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, Christopher 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 or board observer for several early-stage biotechnology companies.

Christopher 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.


 

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

Chairman, Outcomes Matter Innovations, LLC
President, Celularity

A nationally recognized expert in care transformation, Dr. Pecora is at the forefront of the health-systems improvement movement. As Chairman 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 healthcare 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 chairman 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.


Stuart W. Peltz, Ph.D.

CEO, PTC Therapeutics, Inc.

Dr. Peltz founded PTC Therapeutics in 1998 and has served as CEO and a member of the Board of Directors since the company’s inception. Under his leadership, PTC has grown from a research organization into a global, publicly traded, fully-integrated biotech company with multiple approved products. PTC’s hallmark is its deep commitment to science, employing multiple technology platforms to drive a robust discovery pipeline in support of Patients with rare disorders around the world.

Prior to founding PTC, Dr. Peltz was a Professor in the Department of Molecular Genetics & Microbiology at the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, Rutgers University. Dr. Peltz is a recognized scientific leader in RNA biology in the area of post-transcriptional control processes involving mRNA turnover and translation, with more than 30 years of research and over 100 publications in the field. Dr. Peltz was elected as a Fellow of the American Academy for the Advancement of Science in 2010. He was recognized as PharmaVOICE’s 100 Most Inspiring People in 2009 and received the Dr. Sol J. Barer Award for Vision, Innovation and Leadership in 2014.

Dr. Peltz received a Ph.D. from the McArdle Laboratory for Cancer Research at the University of Wisconsin.


Spiro Rombotis, MPH, MBA

President & CEO, Cyclacel Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

Mr. Rombotis joined Cyclacel as its first CEO in 1997 and has over 37 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).


Bob Smith

Senior Vice President, Global Gene Therapy Business and Early Commercial Development, Rare Disease Business Unit, Pfizer Biopharmaceuticals Group, Pfizer Inc.

Mr. Smith is an accomplished biopharmaceutical executive with over thirty years’ experience in a variety of alliance management, business development, commercial, corporate, and research and development roles. Mr. Smith is responsible for leading Pfizer’s Global Gene Therapy Business including the strategic and operational development and implementation of Pfizer’s end-to-end, enterprise-wide efforts to be the industry leader in gene therapy. Mr. Smith is also responsible for leading the Rare Disease Business Unit’s Early Commercial Development activities in partnership with the Rare Disease Research Unit.

Prior his current role, Mr. Smith was responsible for leading and managing the Worldwide Business Development activities for Pfizer’s Worldwide Research and Development organization as well as Pfizer’s Strategic Transactions team. During his tenure at Pfizer, Bob also had responsibility for leading and managing the business development teams for Pfizer’s Animal Health, Capsugel, Consumer Healthcare and Nutrition Business Units and the Alliance Management function supporting Pfizer’s Biopharmaceutical Business Units and the Worldwide Research and Development organization.

Bob joined Pfizer from Wyeth in October 2009, following Pfizer’s acquisition of Wyeth, where he was responsible for leading and managing Wyeth’s Global Mergers and Acquisitions group.  He was also responsible for the global mergers and acquisitions activities for Wyeth’s Consumer Healthcare division and its Fort Dodge Animal Health division.  Prior to this role, Bob was Senior Vice President, Global Licensing, Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, where he completed a wide variety of transactions in support of Wyeth’s commercial and research and development divisions.

Mr. Smith serves or has served as a member of the Board of Directors of AM Pharma B.V., Bamboo Therapeutics Inc., Ignite Immunotherapeutics Inc., Iterum Therapeutics Limited, Life Sciences PA – the Pennsylvania Biotechnology Association, the Duke Margolis Value Based Agreements Advisory Board, the Alliance for Regenerative Medicine (ARM) and the Foundation of the Alliance for Regenerative Medicine (ARMF). He is also a member of the Executive Committees of the ARM and ARMF Board of Directors.

Bob obtained a B.S. in Neuroscience from the University of Rochester and an M.B.A. in Finance and Corporate Accounting from the William E. Simon Graduate School of Business Administration at the University of Rochester, Rochester, New York.


Marco Taglietti, M.D.

President & CEO, SCYNEXIS

Dr. Taglietti joined Scynexis’ Board of Directors in 2014 as an independent Director becoming Scynexis’ CEO and President in April 2015. He served as Executive Vice President, Research and Development and Chief Medical Officer of Forest Laboratories, Inc. and also as President of the Forest Research Institute until its purchase by Actavis in 2014. During his career at Forest, Stiefel and Schering-Plough, Dr. Taglietti brought to market more than 35 different products in the U.S. and internationally through a variety of regulatory strategies including NDA 505(b)1 and 505(b)2, 510k medical device, ANDA for generics and EMA MAA in many different therapeutic areas, including anti-infectives, oncology, psychiatry, neurology, cardiovascular, respiratory, dermatology, metabolism and internal medicine.


Board Advisors

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

Professor of Medicine, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School
Vice Chancellor, Clinical & Translational Science
Director, Rutgers Institute for Translational Medicine & Science
Emeritus Professor of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

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. He 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.


Investor Advisor: George Heinrich, M.D.

Vice Chair & CEO of 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.


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 healthcare IT. Within the life sciences sector, his experience includes biotechnology, medical devices and specialty pharmaceuticals.


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.


Technology Advisor: Anu Gupta

Senior Partner, Global Leader, Enterprise Strategy, IBM Healthcare & LifeSciences

Mr. Gupta leads IBM’s Global Strategy Practice for the Healthcare & Life Sciences industries. He is a senior healthcare strategist with deep expertise in digital health. His experience in healthcare consulting spans over 25 years, assisting leading biopharma, medical device, payer and provider organizations achieve their strategic and performance ambitions.

His work has focused on: corporate and business unit strategy, technology driven innovation, digital strategy and digital health products. Mr. Gupta has been a speaker at industry forums including World Healthcare Congress, HealthTech conferences and industry events sponsored by The Boston Consulting Group and Booz & Co., and lectured at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. Mr. Gupta has co-authored articles in In Vivo, Strategy+Business Magazine and Perspectives published by BCG.

Prior to joining IBM, Mr. Gupta was part of the management team at a HealthTech start-up. Prior to that, Mr. Gupta was a Partner and Managing Director at The Boston Consulting Group where he was a senior leader in the healthcare strategy practice and the Global Leader for Digital Health for BCG Digital Ventures (a BCG wholly owned Corporate Venture Capital Firm). Before his role at BCG, Mr. Gupta was a Partner at Booz & Co., and a Partner at Deloitte, also focusing his work in healthcare and HealthTech.

Mr. Gupta serves as a Trustee for the Foundation for Morristown Medical Center and has been an active mentor for BluePrint Health and The Women’s Mentoring Initiative sponsored by Senator Kristin Gillibrand.

He received a bachelor’s degree (summa cum laude) and an MBA (with distinction) from NYU. Anu also earned a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree from Columbia University with a focus on health services and policy.


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.


Gregory Oakes, MBA

Mr. Oakes recently served as President, North America for Vifor Pharma. Previously, he served as Corporate Vice President at Amgen where he oversaw the integration and continued success of the $2B brand acquired from Celgene. Prior to Amgen, Mr. Oakes was Corporate Vice President and US General Manager at Celgene. Mr. Oakes also served as the Global Commercial Integration Lead where he helped steer the $74B acquisition by Bristol-Myers Squibb and the $13.4B divestiture of Otezla. Prior to Celgene, Mr. Oakes held several positions at Novartis, including Senior Vice President, US 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 US and Europe. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Marketing and Business Administration from Edinboro University and a M.B.A. from Clemson University. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for First Wave BioPharma and Defender Pharmaceuticals. In addition, Mr. Oakes serves as an advisor to Clemson University’s Wilbur O & Ann Powers College of Business.


James Sapirstein, R.Ph., MBA

President, Chairman, and CEO, First Wave BioPharma

James Sapirstein has served over thirty-seven years in the pharmaceutical industry. He is currently the President, Chairman, and CEO of First Wave BioPharma (FWBI:NASDAQ).

He began his career in 1984 with Eli Lilly, moving to Hoffmann-LaRoche in 1987, where he served for almost a decade on various commercial teams in the US and Internationally. He joined Bristol Myers Squibb as the Director of International Marketing in the Infectious Diseases group in 1996. While at BMS, he worked on several important HIV/AIDS projects including Secure the Future.

Mr. Sapirstein started his career in smaller biotech companies when he later joined Gilead Sciences, Inc. (GILD) in order to lead the Global Marketing team in its launch of Viread (tenofovir). In 2002, he accepted the position of Executive Vice President, Metabolic and Endocrinology, for Serono Laboratories. Later, in 2006, he became the founding CEO of Tobira Therapeutics, then a private company. Tobira Therapeutics was acquired by Allergan in 2016. In 2012, Mr. Sapirstein became the CEO of Alliqua, Inc. Thereafter, he served as CEO of Contravir Pharmaceuticals from March 2014 until October 2018. All of these are publicly listed companies. Mr. Sapirstein has raised over $300 Million dollars in venture capital and public capital markets financing in his various engagements as CEO. He was named as a Finalist for Ernst&Young Entrepreneur of the Year award in 2015 as well as in 2016.

Mr. Sapirstein holds board positions on Enochian Biosciences (ENOB:NASDAQ), and Blue Water Acquisition SPAC (BLUWU:NASDAQ). He was Chairman of the Board for BioNJ, an association of biopharma industries in New Jersey from Feb 2017-Feb 2019. In addition, he is a Board Director for BIO, the leading Biopharma Industries Organization promoting public policy and networking in the healthcare space, where he sits on the Emerging Companies Section Governing Board.

Mr. Sapirstein received BS (Pharmacy) from Rutgers University in 1984 and an MBA from Fairleigh Dickinson University in 1997.


Brian Wilcomes

Strategy & Analytics Principal, Deloitte & Touche LLP

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.