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Severin Schwan: Roche Pharmaceuticals, CEO

80xName: Severin Schwan

Company: Roche Pharmaceuticals

Position: CEO

Bio (from Business Week)

Severin Schwan has been Group Chief Executive Officer of Roche Diagnostics Corporation since January 1, 2008. Dr. Schwan serves as Chief Executive Officer of Roche Holding AG. He served as Chief Executive Officer of Roche Diagnostics Corporation a Diagnostics Divisions of Roche Holding Ag, since January 1, 2006. He served as Trainee of Corporate Finance, Roche Basel from 1993 to 1995, Head Finance & Administration, Roche Brussels from 1995 to 1998, Head Finance & Informatics of Roche Grenzach and Member of the Executive Board of Roche Deutschland Holding GmbH from 1998 to 2000, Head Global Finance & Services of Roche Diagnostics from 2000 to 2004, Head Region Asia Pacific of Roche Diagnostics from 2004 to 2006. He served as a Head of Diagnostics Asia-Pacific of Roche Holding Ag from 2004 to January 1, 2006. He served as Head of Global Finance & Services for the Diagnostics Division from 2000 until 2004. Dr. Schwan holds Degree in Economics at University of Innsbruck, University of York and University of Oxford Mag. rer.soc.oec. (Innsbruck, 1991) and Law at University of Innsbruck Mag. iur. (Innsbruck, 1991) and Doctorate in Law at University of Innsbruck Research studies at University Louvain, Belgium Dr. iur. (Innsbruck, 1993).


WSJ Interview (Dec. 8, 2008)


November 28, 2008 Posted by | Profiles | , , | Leave a comment

Robert Nelsen: ARCH Venture Partners, Managing Director

Robert NelsenCompany: Arch Venture Partners

Position: Co-founder and Managing Director

Bio (from

Robert Nelsen is a co-founder and a Managing Director of ARCH Venture Partners.

Mr. Nelsen joined ARCH at its founding and has played a significant role in the early sourcing, financing and development of more than thirty companies including Sapphire Energy, Ikaria, Illumina (ILMN), Adolor (ADLR), Aviron (AVIR, acquired by Medimmune-MEDI), Caliper Life Sciences (CALP), Trubion Pharmaceuticals (TRBN), Array BioPharma (ARRY), NetBot, deCODE Genetics (DCGN), Nanosys, Alnylam Pharmaceuticals (ALNY), XenoPort (XNPT), GenVec (GNVC), R2 Technology (acquired by Hologic-HOLX), IDUN Pharmaceuticals (acquired by Pfizer-PFE), Genomica (GNOM, acquired by Exelixis-EXEL), Surface Logix, NeurogesX (NGSX), (acquired by United Online-UNTD), Nura (acquired by Omeros), Kythera Biopharmaceuticals, Elixir Pharmaceuticals, Spaltudaq, VLST, Ensemble Discovery, Accelerator, Apoptos, Fate Therapeutics, Agios Pharmaceuticals, and Everyday Learning.

Mr. Nelsen is a director of Ikaria, Sapphire Energy, Fate Therapeutics, Agios Pharmaceuticals, NeurogesX, and Kythera Biopharmaceuticals. He previously serves on the boards of Trubion Pharmaceuticals, Surface Logix, Adolor, NetBot, Everyday Learning, Spaltudaq, Array BioPharma, Caliper Life Sciences, Illumina, R2 Technology, and, among others. He also serves as a director of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Institute. Mr. Nelsen holds an M.B.A. from The University of Chicago and a B.S. in Economics and Biology from the University of Puget Sound.

November 28, 2008 Posted by | Profiles, Venture Capital | , , , , | Leave a comment

All Just a Memory

Roche Pharmaceuticals (RHHBY) announced a $50M acquisition purchase of Memory Pharmaceuticals, a small-cap biotech developing CNS compounds that had an existing partnership with Roche.

Memory has developed a class of nicotinic alpha-7 agonists, which are in Phase II trials for the treatment of Alzheimer’s and schizophrenia.  The drugs treat the cognitive dysfunction of these CNS disorders through their interaction with nicotinic receptors in the brain.

November 26, 2008 Posted by | Biotech, Deals, Pharma | , , , , | Leave a comment

Chris Viehbacher: Sanofi-Aventis, CEO

Chris ViehbacherDivisional President/Director

GlaxoSmithKline PLC

Brentford, Middlesex ,  EN

Sector: HEALTHCARE  /  Drug Manufacturers – Major

Officer since January 2003
Bio (from
47 Years Old
Christopher Viehbacher, Appointed on 31st January 2008. President, US Pharmaceuticals. Mr Viehbacher joined the Group in 1988 and has held a variety of senior positions in Europe and Canada. He was appointed President, US Pharmaceuticals in January 2003. He served on the European Commission approved G10 working group to restore the competitiveness of the EU Pharmaceutical industry. He is a board member of PhRMA, the CEO Roundtable on Cancer and Research!America.

November 25, 2008 Posted by | Pharma, Profiles | Leave a comment

King and Alpharma = $1.6B Deal

After months of courting (read, hostile negotiation) King Pharmaceuticals has finally reached a deal to acquire drugmaker Alpharma for $1.6B.  An earlier bid of $1.4B was rejected in August.

Alpharma made news earlier this month when it’s painkilling compound, Embeda, was shown to have less potential for addiction than stand-alone morphine.  

Analysts commented that the deal clearly made sense, though the currently unfavorable economic climate led to a less attractive loan package for King.

November 25, 2008 Posted by | Deals, Pharma | Leave a comment

Richard Clark: Merck, CEO

Richard ClarkCEO/President/Director/Chairman of the Board

Merck & Company, Incorporated

Whitehouse Station ,  NJ

Sector: HEALTHCARE  /  Drug Manufacturers – Major

Officer since January 2000
61 Years Old
Richard T. Clark, Chairman of the Board (since April 2007), President and Chief Executive Officer (since May 2005), President, Merck Manufacturing Division (June 2003-May 2005) of the Company; Chairman, President (January 2000-December 2002) and Chief Executive Officer (January 2003-June 2003), Medco Health Solutions, Inc., formerly a wholly owned subsidiary of the Company Director, Project HOPE and United Negro College Fund; Chairman, Federal Health Care Legislation Committee of Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America; Trustee, Washington & Jefferson College and The Conference Board.

November 23, 2008 Posted by | Pharma, Profiles | , | Leave a comment

Christoph Westphal: Sirtris, CEO


Christoph WestphalChristoph Westphal, M.D., Ph.D., co-founded Sirtris in 2004 and has since served as Chief Executive Officer.  Under his leadership, Sirtris has become a recognized pioneer in the research and development of small molecule drugs that target the sirtuins, a family of enzymes that control the aging process.

In 2007, Dr. Westphal successfully led the company through its initial public offering, resulting in recognition by the Boston Globe as one of the Globe 100 top IPOs of 2007.  In June 2008, GSK acquired Sirtris for $720 million, and Dr. Westphal continues to lead Sirtris as an independent discovery performance unit within GSK.

Prior to establishing Sirtris, Dr. Westphal co-founded Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ: ALNY), Momenta Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ: MNTA) and Acceleron as CEO.  Dr. Westphal was formerly a general partner at a venture fund and a consultant with McKinsey.  He earned his M.D. from Harvard Medical School and Ph.D. in genetics from Harvard University.  He graduated with a B.A. summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Columbia University.

Dr. Westphal currently serves on the Board of Directors for Alnara Pharmaceuticals, Concert Pharmaceuticals and Magen BioSciences, and he serves on the Board of Fellows of Harvard Medical School.  Dr. Westphal has been the lead or senior author on several patent applications and scientific papers in journals including CellNature and Nature Genetics.

Dr. Westphal has received a number of industry awards, including the 2008 Outstanding Individual of the Year Award at the annual Laguna Biotech Meeting; recognition in the Pharmaceutical Executive “45 Under 45” andPharmaVOICE 100 issues, both in 2008; Mass High Tech All Star Award in 2007; and Ernst & Young’s New England Entrepreneur of the Year award in the Biopharmaceutical category in 2006.

Dr. Westphal enjoys traveling (he has visited over 130 countries) and playing the cello.  He is also fluent in English, German, Spanish and French.  Dr. Westphal is married with three young children.

November 21, 2008 Posted by | Biotech, Pharma, Profiles | , , , , | Leave a comment

Has Pharma Lost its Heart?


Pfizer’s announcement that it was planning to discontinue its cardiovascular (CV) research and development program about a month ago sent signals throughout the life sciences industry that the rule of CV pharmaceuticals may be coming to an end.


Pfizer is the maker of the all-time largest blockbuster drug, Lipitor, which is used to lower cholesterol.  And although the drug has been a veritable cash cow, analysts expect its revenue generation to dwindle as it faces competition from generics.

That being said, Pfizer has chosen to pursue what it sees as more promising avenues of research focus such as neurology and oncology.

Major competitor, Merck, made a Saturday announcement “reaffirming” its commitment to CV development.  This release offered no real news to speak of, but comes at a time of pronounced uncertainty in the life sciences industry, where entire research programs are being scrapped.

Merck has definitively confirmed that they do not plan to follow suit in respect to Pfizer’s CV restructuring, as VP of Cardiovascular Clinical Research at Merck, Dick Pasternak, stated (pointing out the obvious), “… CV is still the number one killer.”

So, does Pfizer’s decision to bail out now indicate an isolated event, or will other companies (other than Merck) decide to leave their CV prospects undeveloped?

November 10, 2008 Posted by | Pharma | , , , , , | Leave a comment

New Leadership at the FDA

The discussion of healthcare reform in the 2008 election was front and center.  Now that the election is over, President-elect Obama is charged with the task of filling a whole host of positions in his cabinet and at various agencies in Washington.

In this post, we discuss the names of several candidates for the position of Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), as it will have immediate and salient effects throughout the life sciences industry.

The FDA Commish oversees a budget of over $2 billion and an employee base of 11,000 (growingly disgruntled) people.  The current head of the FDA, Andrew von Eschenbach, has been heavily criticized, and the driving force in this appointment will likely be a response to these criticisms – safety of approved drugs and integrity of imported food and drugs.

Below is a list of names that have been floated in the past week or so: Continue reading

November 8, 2008 Posted by | FDA | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tarceva Reaches Phase III Primary Endpoint

A press release yesterday from Genentech (DNA) reports that its drug Tarceva (erlotinib) reached its primary endpoint in a Phase III global clinical trial.  Tarceva is used to treat non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and functions by interrupting the tyrosine kinase activity of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR).

The study demonstrated that treatment with Tarceva immediately following platinum-based chemotherapy increased the period of time without further disease progression in patients suffering from NSCLC.  

Tarceva was initially discovered by OSI Pharmaceuticals (OSI) and is the only EGFR inhibitor that that has been proven to increase survival rates in advanced NSCLC.  The drug is now marketed through a partnership between OSI and Genentech.

November 7, 2008 Posted by | Biotech | , , , , , , | Leave a comment