Alex Philippidis Senior News Editor Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News

Meet the most enterprising people in biotech.

Any business owner will tell you that it takes a lot of wits, energy, know-how, and no shortage of luck to found your own company. Many people have trouble getting one company off the ground, but then there are the special few who actually manage to found or co-found two, three, or even 19 companies in their lifetimes. You’ve already met the 10 most well-connected people in biotech; now, GEN has put together a baker’s dozen of biotech’s most enterprising entrepreneurs.

Michael R. Bristow, M.D., Ph.D

  • ARCA biopharma—Co-founder; Chairman and CEO, 2004–2006; Chief Science and Medical Officer, 2006–present; CEO, 2009–present. Company launched in 2002 to develop genetically targeted therapies for heart failure and other cardiovascular diseases. Company completed reverse merger with Nuvelo, 2009.
  • miRagen—Co-founder. Company launched 2007 to develop microRNA-based therapeutics for cardiovascular and muscle disease.
  • Myogen—Principal Founder. Chief Science and Medical Officer, October 1996–February 2006; Scientific Advisor, February 2006–November 2006. Developer of heart muscle disease drugs acquired by Gilead Sciences, November 2006.

At present: Professor of Medicine (Cardiology) and Co-Director of the University of Colorado Cardiovascular Institute at UC Denver School of Medicine.

Degrees: University of Illinois, Urbana, B.S. in Veterinary Science, 1966; University of Illinois, Chicago, College of Medicine, M.D., 1970; University of Illinois, Chicago, Graduate College, M.D.-Ph.D. program, Department of Pharmacology, 1971.

Marvin H. Caruthers, Ph.D.

  • Amgen—Co-founder; scientific consultant and former member of Scientific Advisory Board. Biotech giant launched 1980 by eight research scientists and three venture capital groups.
  • Applied Biosystems—Co-founder. Company launched to produce equipment for chemical synthesis of nucleic acids and the sequencing of proteins.
  • Array BioPharma—Co-founder; member, Board of Directors, 1998–2011.
  • miRagen—Co-Founder and Board of Directors member. 

At present: Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Colorado.

Degrees: Iowa State University, B.S. in Chemistry, 1962; Northwestern University, Ph.D. in Biochemistry, 1968.

John F. Crowley

  • Orexigen Therapeutics—Founding President and CEO. Launched 2002 to develop obesity drugs.
  • Novazyme Pharmaceuticals—Founding President and CEO, 2000–2001. Launched 2000 to develop a treatment for Pompe disease. Acquired by Genzyme, 2001; Genzyme acquired by Sanofi, 2011.

At present: Amicus Therapeutics—Co-founder; Chairman and CEO, 2010–April 2011, August 2011–present; President and CEO, 2005–2010. Launched in 2002 to develop pharmacological chaperones, orally-administered, small molecule drugs for diseases that include lysosomal storage disorders and diseases of neurodegeneration. Commissioned officer, U.S. Navy Reserve (completed active duty 2011; assignments included the U.S. Special Operations Command).

Degrees: Georgetown University, B.S. in Foreign Service; University of Notre Dame Law School, J.D.; Harvard Business School, M.B.A.

David R. Elmaleh, Ph.D.

  • AZTherapies—Scientific Founder, Executive Chairman, and Chief Scientific Advisor. Company founded 2011 to develop Alzheimer’s disease drugs.
  • Fluoropharma—Founder; Chairman, director, and chief scientific advisor ending 2012. Company founded 2003 to develop and commercialize medical diagnostic imaging products, specifically positron emission tomography (PET) imaging agents for detection and assessment of acute and chronic forms of coronary artery disease.
  • Molecular Insight Pharmaceuticals—Scientific Founder. Company founded 1997 as Imaging Biopharmaceuticals to develop targeted therapeutic and imaging radiopharmaceuticals for cancer. Changed its name to Biostream in 1998 and to Molecular Insight Pharmaceuticals in 2003.
  • Mersana Therapeutics—Scientific Founder. Company founded 2001 as NanoPharma to develop cancer therapeutics.
  • PureTech Ventures—Senior advisor and co-founder. Firm founded as institutional founder of companies in breakthrough technologies.

At present: Director of Contrast Media Chemistry, Massachusetts General Hospital; Associate Professor, Harvard Medical School.

Degrees: Hebrew University of Jerusalem, B.Sc. in Physics and Chemistry; M.S. and Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry.

Phillip Frost, M.D.

  • OPKO Health—Formed 2007 through merger of his merger of Acuity Pharmaceuticals, Froptix and Dr. Frost’s shell company eXegenics.
  • Protalix BioTherapeutics—Among the first investors, and the largest, in the Gaucher disease drug developer, launched 2006. Board of Directors, 2006–2007.
  • Ivax—Launched with two partners in 1987; Chairman and CEO, 1987–2006; President, 1991–1995. Company merged with Teva in 2006.
  • Key Pharmaceuticals—Launched with co-investors, 1972. Company sold to Schering-Plough, 1986 (Schering-Plough acquired by Merck & Co., 2009).

Degrees: University of Paris, attended 1955–1956; University of Pennsylvania, B.A. in French Literature, 1957; Albert Einstein College of Medicine, M.D., 1961.

Leroy (Lee) Hood, M.D., Ph.D.

  • Integrated Diagnostics—Co-founder and Member, Board of Directors. Launched 2009 to develop diagnostics and measurement technologies capable of monitoring hundreds of biomarkers simultaneously, for earlier detection and more accurate management of complex diseases that include lung cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Accelerator Corp.—Co-founder; member, Board of Directors. Founded 2003 with focus on investment and management in startup biotechnology companies.
  • MacroGenics—Co-founder. Launched 2000 to develop immunotherapeutics for treating cancer and inflammatory diseases.
  • Phenogenomics—Co-founder. Launched 2000 to develop rapid methods for detecting proteomic interactions, designed to discover new antibody-based drugs for cancer treatment. Company ceased operations.
  • Agilent Technologies—Co-founder. Spun out from Hewlett-Packard 1999 to commercialize ink-jet DNA synthesis technology for creating DNA arrays with tens of thousands of gene fragments.
  • Systemix—Co-founder. Launched 1987 to develop blood-marrow cell and gene therapies. Sold 60% of shares in 1991 for $391.8 million to Sandoz, now Novartis, which acquired the rest of the company in 1996.
  • Applied Biosystems—Founder. Launched 1981 to commercialize DNA sequencer, DNA synthesizer, protein sequencer, and peptide synthesizer, all developed by Dr. Hood.
  • Amgen—Co-founder.
  • Cell Tech (formerly Darwin Molecular)—Co-founder. Launched 1992 to capitalize on increasing computing power to search for compounds with pharmaceutical promise. Draws Microsoft founders Bill Gates and Paul Allen as key investors in 1994. Acquired 1996 by Chiroscience, which is acquired three years later by Celltech Group. Ceased operations in 2003.
  • Paracel—Co-founder. Launched 1992 to provide high-performance genetic data and text analysis systems for the pharmaceutical, biotechnology and government markets.
  • Prolinx—Co-founder. Launched 1995 to develop tools, applications, and systems that advance developments in proteomics and genomics by facilitating the manipulation of macromolecules. Ceased operations in 2003.
  • Rosetta Inpharmatics—Co-founder. Launched 1996 to design and develop DNA microarray gene expression systems. Acquired 2001 for $620 million by Merck, which operates the company as a wholly-owned subsidiary before shutting down operations in 2008.
  • T Cell Sciences—Co-founder. Launched to apply T cell and soluble receptor technology toward developing drugs for inflammation, autoimmunity, and cancer. Acquired Virus Research Institute in 1998 for $70 million; combined company changed name to Avant Immunotherapeutics, which in 2008 merged with Celldex Therapeutics.
  • Institute for Systems Biology—President, Co-Founder, and Director. Research institute founded 2000 to study the functioning of cells within their networks and in relation to other biological networks.

Degrees: California Institute of Technology, B.S. in Biology, 1960; Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, M.D., 1964; California Institute of Technology, Ph.D. in biochemistry, 1968.

Robert S. Langer, Sc.D.

  • Blend Therapeutics—Co-founder; member, Scientific Advisory Board. Launched 2012 to design and integrate drugs targeting distinct disease pathways.
  • Moderna Therapeutics—Co-founder. Launched 2010 to develop drugs using technology platform enabling cells to express proteins without changing their genome or creating long term safety concerns.
  • Kala Pharmaceuticals—Co-founder and member, Board of Directors. Launched 2009 to develop drugs capable of penetrating mucosal barriers for treatment of major diseases affecting the eyes, lungs, gastrointestinal tract, and female reproductive system.
  • Living Proof—Co-founder; Chief Scientific Advisor; Member, Board of Directors. Launched 2008 as Andora to market hair care and other beauty products for women. On Oct. 11, announced actress Jennifer Aniston as the company’s co-owner and hair care spokesperson.
  • Selecta Biosciences—Co-founder; Scientific Advisor. Launched 2008 to commercialize nanoparticle technology for therapeutic and prophylactic immune modulation.
  • Seventh Sense Biosystems—Co-founder. Launched 2008 to develop painless, simplified and safe blood collection technology platforms.
  • TARIS Biomedical—Co-founder. Launched 2008 to develop treatments for bladder diseases.
  • BIND Biosciences—Co-founder, Director, and Chairman of Scientific Advisory Board. Launched 2007 to apply nanotechnology toward treatment of cancer and cardiovascular disease.
  • T2 Biosystems—Co-founder. Launched 2006 to develop next-generation medical diagnostic products by combining nanotechnology and miniaturized magnetic resonance technology to provide rapid, accurate and portable diagnostics.
  • Arsenal Vascular—Co-founder; Member, Board of Directors. Launched 2005 as Arsenal Medical to develop its AxioCore nanofiber drug delivery platform as well as therapeutic foams. Renamed 2011.
  • InVivo Therapeutics—Co-founder; Member, Scientific Advisory Board. Launched 2005 to develop technologies for treating spinal cord injuries and neurotrauma.
  • Pervasis Therapeutics—Co-founder. Launched 2004 to develop therapies for common vascular interventions. In April 2012, Shire disclosed plans to acquire the company for an undisclosed sum.
  • Pulmatrix—Co-founder. Launched 2003 to develop an inhaled dry powder platform and advance a new inhaled therapeutics platform, iSPERSE (inhaled small particles easily respirable and dispersible).
  • Momenta Pharmaceuticals—Co-founder. Launched in 2001 to develop complex generics, follow-on biologics and new drugs.
  • MicroCHIPS—Co-founder; Member, Board of Directors. Launched 1999 to apply microreservoir technology first developed at MIT to a tech platform that incorporates long-term implant technologies and wireless communications.
  • TransForm Pharmaceuticals—Co-founder. Launched 1999 to develop superior formulations and novel crystalline forms of drug molecules. Acquired 2005 for about $230 million by Johnson & Johnson.
  • Advanced Inhalation Research (AIR)—Co-founder. Launched 1997 to develop drugs based on pulmonary drug delivery technologies jointly created at MIT and Penn State University. Acquired 1999 for more than $100 million by Alkermes.
  • Sontra Medical—Co-founder; Scientific Consultant. Launched 1996 to develop technology in ultrasound and skin permeation methods used in transdermal science for therapeutic and diagnostic applications. Merged 2007 with Echo Therapeutics.
  • Acusphere—Co-founder. Launched 1993 to develop an injectible suspension cardiovascular drug for detection of coronary artery disease.

At present: David H. Koch Institute Professor at MIT, one of 14 to receive the institute’s highest faculty honor.

Degrees: Cornell University, B.S. in chemical engineering, 1970; MIT, Sc.D. in chemical engineering, 1974.

James W. Larrick, M.D., Ph.D.

  • Panorama Research—Founder and Managing Scientific Director; Launched 1991 as biopharmaceutical incubator.
  • Panorama Institute of Molecular Medicine—Founder and President. Established 1991 as nonprofit research institute; formerly named Palo Alto Institute of Molecular Medicine.
  • TransTarget—Co-founder. Launched to develop bispecific antibodies to direct stem cells to damaged heart tissue.
  • Humanyx—Co-founder. Launched to create human therapeutic antibody candidates against disease targets.
  • StormBio—Co-founder; Chief Scientific Officer. Launched 2006 to develop drugs for highly pathogenic influenza.
  • Verdezyne—Co-founder; Member of Scientific Advisory Board. Launched 2005 as CODA Genomics to use computational technology to design genes. Repositioned 2008 into a biofuel and biochemical concern.
  • Galaxy Biotech—Co-founder. Launched 2002 to develop humanized antibodies against growth factors and their receptors for the treatment of cancer.
  • Neuromolecular Pharmaceuticals—Co-founder. Launched 2002 to develop and commercialize neuroprotective medicines for CNS disorders.
  • Absalus—Co-founder. Launched 2001 to develop antibody therapeutics. Acquired 2005 for $8 million by EvoGenix, which is acquired in 2007 for A$156 million ($129 million) by Peptech.
  • KaloBios Pharmaceuticals—Co-founder; Consultant and Chairman of Scientific Advisory Board. Launched 2001 to develop monoclonal antibody therapeutics.
  • Adamas Pharmaceuticals—Co-founder. Launched 2000 to develop aminoadamantane-based therapeutics for central nervous system (CNS) disorders.
  • NuGen Technologies—Co-founder. Launched 2000 to develop products for RNA amplification and detection for genomic and proteomic research.
  • InterMune—Co-founder. Launched 1998 to research, develop, and commercialize therapies in pulmonology and orphan fibrotic diseases.
  • Planet Biotechnology—Co-founder. Launched 1998 to discover, develop, and commercialize new monoclonal-antibody-based therapeutic and preventive products to meet underserved medical needs.
  • Target Quest—Co-founder. Launched 1997 to apply phage display technology for antibody engineering and discovery of novel cancer therapeutics. Company acquired 1999 by Dyax.
  • PanGenetics—Co-founder, Member, Scientific Advisory Board. Launched 1995 to develop clinical applications of monoclonal antibodies for treatment of immune mediated diseases and cancer. Acquired 1998 by Tanox.
  • Cetus Immune Research Labs—Founding scientist, 1982; Director of Research, 1986. Launched 1982, pioneered the use of PCR for construction of recombinant antibodies. Acquired by Chiron, acquired 2006 by Novartis.

At present: Venture partner, CMEA Capital, 2010–present; Managing director and Chief Medical Officer, Velocity Pharmaceutical Development.

Degrees: Colorado College, B.S. in Chemistry; Duke University School of Medicine, M.D. and Ph.D., from Medical Scientist Training Program, Molecular and Cell Biology.

William S. Marshall, Ph.D.

miRagen—Co-founder; President and CEO; member of the Board of Directors. 

Dharmacon—Scientific co-founder; Executive VP for Research and Operations and General Manager. Company founded 1995 to provide RNA oligonucleotides, small interfering RNA (siRNA), and related RNAi products and technologies. Acquired in 2004 by Fisher Scientific International, now ThermoFisher.

Degrees: University of Wisconsin-Madison, B.S. in Biochemistry; University of Colorado at Boulder, Ph.D. in Chemistry.

Eric N. Olson, Ph.D.

  • Lone Star Heart—Co-founder; company launched 2010 to develop drugs and devices for heart regeneration and repair.
  • miRagen—Co-founder and Chief Scientific Advisor.
  • Myogen—Co-founder, scientific advisor of heart muscle disease drug developer.
  • The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, Department of Molecular Biology—Founder, 1995; Professor and Chairman; Holder of the Robert A. Welch Distinguished Chair in Science, the Annie and Willie Nelson Professorship in Stem Cell Research, and the Pogue Distinguished Chair in Research on Cardiac Birth Defects.

Degrees: Wake Forest University, B.A. in Chemistry and Biology; Ph.D. in Biochemistry; honorary doctorate.

Linda Rhodes, V.M.D., Ph.D

  • Aratana Therapeutics—Founding CEO; currently Chief Scientific Officer and member, Board of Directors. Launched 2010 to develop medicines for cats and dogs.
  • AlcheraBio—Co-founder of consulting and contract research organization focused on the animal health industry. Acquired 2008 by Argenta.

Degrees: Sarah Lawrence College, B.A.; University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, V.M.D.; Cornell University, Ph.D. in physiology.

David Warshawsky, Ph.D.

  • LifeMap Sciences—Co-founder; CEO. Launched 2011 to develop and commercialize a database of the thousands of cell lineages branching from embryonic stem cells.
  • Avraham Pharmaceuticals—Co-founder; Former CEO. Launched 2010 to develop drugs for treatment and/or prevention of neurodegenerative disorders.
  • XenneX—Founder; Chairman of the Board of Directors. Launched 2003 to provide GeneCards® bioinformatics database, developed at the Weizmann Institute of Science.

Degrees: University of Illinois at Chicago, Ph.D. in Molecular Biology, 1995,

Alejandro Zaffaroni, Ph.D.

  • Alexza Pharmaceuticals—Founder. Launched 2000 to research, develop, and commercialize drugs for acute treatment of CNS conditions.
  • Maxygen—Founder; CEO. Launched 1997 to develop technologies that improve the function of a protein or polynucleotide through the evolution of its DNA sequence.
  • SurroMed—Co-founder; Member, Board of Directors, starting 2001. Launched 1997 to discover and apply biomarkers toward drug development. Biomarker assets sold 2005 to PPD.
  • Symyx—Founder; CEO. Launched 1994 to apply combinatorial chemistry toward discovery of materials that included superconductors, magnets, catalysts, and polymers.
  • Technogen Associates—Founder. Firm launched with investment focus on human genetics and life sciences startups.
  • Affymetrix—Founder; member, Board of Directors, ending 1997. Company launched 1991 to commercialize technologies to acquire, analyze, and manage genetic information rapidly and cost-effectively using its GeneChip platform.
  • Affymax—Co-founder. Company launched 1988 to apply combinatorial chemistry technologies in the discovery of chemical compounds for treating disease. Acquired 1995 by Glaxo-Wellcome, now GlaxoSmithKline.
  • DNAX—Founder. Company launched in 1980 to develop macromolecular products combining genetic engineering and immunobiology. Acquired 1982 by Schering-Plough, which operated DNAX as subsidiary until 2005, when company was integrated with another subsidiary into Schering-Plough, now Merck.
  • ALZA—Founder; chairman and CEO, 1968–1987; Co-chairman, 1987–1997. Launched in 1968 to develop drug delivery technologies. Acquired 2001 by Johnson & Johnson.
  • Zaffaroni Foundation—Founder. Established 1963 for research in education, nutrition, and genetics in the development of depression and addictive disorders.

Degrees: University of Montevideo, B.Sc., 1941; Ph.D. in Biochemistry from University of Rochester, 1949.

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