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November 13, 2012

Lucky 13 Serial Entrepreneurs

Meet the most enterprising people in biotech.

Lucky 13 Serial Entrepreneurs

These industry players have had no shortage of ideas when it comes to biotech businesses. [© escova -]

  • 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.