BioNJ Elects New Board Trustees and Advisors

TRENTON, N.J. (May 4, 2020) –  BioNJ, the life sciences trade association for New Jersey, announced the election of two new Board Members and four new Advisors.

Newly elected Board Members are  Mitzi Conners,  Executive Director & Head of Operations, MRL Business Development & Licensing, Merck & Co. and Leigh Anne Leas, North America Head of Public Policy, Novartis.  Newly appointed Advisors are  Kathleen Coviello, Vice President of Technology & Life Sciences Investments, NJEDA;  George Heinrich, M.D., Vice Chair and CEO, New Jersey Health Foundation, Inc., and Foundation Venture Capital Group, LLC;  Teresa Leste, Strategy & Analytics Principal, Deloitte Consulting and  Brian Wilcomes, Deloitte & Touche LLP will join the Audit and Investment Committee as an Advisor.

” Because Patients Can’t Wait, we are thrilled to have the addition of two new Board Members  and four new Advisors  who are accomplished and respected industry leaders,” said BioNJ President and CEO Debbie Hart. “We are grateful for our talented and dedicated Board and Advisors whose guidance is invaluable to BioNJ’s mission of helping our Members help Patients. We look forward to working with all of them as we forge ahead ensuring that New Jersey  can come back from this pandemic  and remains a robust life sciences ecosystem and that Patients have access to the right medicines at the right time. ”

BioNJ’s Newly Elected Board Members:

Mitzi Conners, Executive Director & Head of Operations, MRL Business Development & Licensing, Merck & Co.
Ms. Conners has been with Merck for more than 25 years and has a broad range of strategic and operational experience spanning roles in manufacturing, communications, marketing and research. Currently, she leads a team that oversees outreach and relationship management, communications, governance activities and knowledge management. Over her tenure, Ms. Conners has led teams supporting the development of medical education programs for a number of Merck products. She has supported the successful product launches of VYTORIN, CRIXIVAN and GARDASIL as well as the development of publications documenting The African Comprehensive HIV/AIDS Partnerships (ACHAP). Ms. Conners started her career in Merck’s Manufacturing Division where she managed community relations programs and an array of communications projects including critical manufacturing and regulatory issues.

Leigh Anne Leas, North America Head of Public Policy, Novartis
Ms. Leas is responsible for developing Novartis’ policy priorities and positions on key federal and state public policy issues and government health care programs. She and her team assess the impact of potential legislation and regulations on the Novartis U.S. businesses, including innovative medicines, generics and biosimilar pharmaceuticals. Ms. Leas 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.

BioNJ’s Newly Appointed Board Advisors:

Kathleen Coviello, Vice President of Technology & Life Sciences Investments, NJEDA
At the NJEDA, Ms. Coviello 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 — 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 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.

George Heinrich, M.D., Vice Chair and CEO of New Jersey Health Foundation, Inc., and 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.

Teresa Leste, Strategy & Analytics Principal, Deloitte Consulting
Ms. Leste leads the U.S. Life Sciences hypergrowth biotech and medtech practice at Deloitte. She 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. She has over 25 years of experience in strategic advisory consulting and worked directly at a top three medtech multinational. Ms. Leste 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.

Brian Wilcomes, 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.

BioNJ’s 2020 Board of Trustees: (Click here for full bios.)

In addition to the new Board Members, BioNJ’s Board of Trustees includes:
Chairman Christopher J. Schaber, Ph.D., President and CEO, Soligenix; Immediate Past Chair James Sapirstein, R.Ph., MBA, President and CEO, AzurRx BioPharma; Debbie Hart, President and CEO, BioNJ; Vice Chairman Daniel J. O’Connor, J.D., President and CEO, OncoSec Medical; Treasurer Monika A. Vnuk, M.D., Vice President, R&D Business Development, Pfizer; and Secretary Michele Korfin, R.Ph., MBA, Chief Operating Officer, Tyme Technologies; Sol J. Barer, Ph.D., Former Chairman and CEO, Celgene Corporation and Chairman of the Board, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries; Angela Bechan, Vice President, Head of North America Communications & Corporate Social Responsibility, Sanofi; Tom Cavanaugh, President, Oncology, Janssen; Jayne C. Gershkowitz, Chief Patient Advocate, Amicus Therapeutics; Christian Kopfli, Esq., CEO, Chromocell Corporation; Will Lewis, J.D., MBA, Chairman and CEO, Insmed; John Maki, President, ConSynance Therapeutics; Anthony S. Marucci, MBA, Founder, President, CEO and Director, Celldex Therapeutics; Jeffrey A. Nau, Ph.D., M.M.S., President and CEO, Oyster Point Pharma; Greg Oakes, MBA, Corporate Vice President, Amgen; Andrew L. Pecora, M.D., FACP, CPE, CEO, Outcomes Matter Innovations; Stuart Peltz, Ph.D., CEO, PTC Therapeutics; Navneet Puri, Ph.D., Founder, Chairman and CEO, Nevakar; Matthew Roden, Ph.D., Senior Vice President, Head of Enterprise Strategy, Bristol-Myers Squibb; Spiro Rombotis, MBA, President and CEO, Cyclacel Pharmaceuticals; Alan L. Rubino, President and CEO, RenovaCare; and Marco Taglietti, M.D., President and CEO, SCYNEXIS.

Additional BioNJ Board Advisors include: Steven M. Cohen, J.D. , Partner, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP; Reynold A. Panettieri, Jr., M.D., Vice Chancellor, Translational Medicine and Science and Director, Rutgers Institute for Translational Medicine and Science, Professor of Medicine, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey and Emeritus Professor of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania; and VC Advisor Jorge Ramirez, MBA, Principal, H.I.G. BioHealth Partners.

About BioNJ
BioNJ is the life sciences trade association for New Jersey with nearly 400 Member companies representing research-based life sciences organizations and stakeholders across the ecosystem from the largest biopharmaceutical companies to early stage start-ups. BioNJ is dedicated to ensuring a vibrant ecosystem where Science is Supported, Companies are Created, Drugs are Developed and Patients are Paramount. Because Patients Can’t Wait®, BioNJ supports its Members in the discovery, development and commercialization of therapies and cures that save and improve lives and lessen the burden of illness and disease to society by driving capital formation, fostering entrepreneurship, advocating for public policies that advance medical innovation, providing access to talent and education and offering a cost-saving array of critical commercial resources. For more information about BioNJ, please visit

Randi Bromberg
Vice President, Communications and Marketing
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