Board of Directors
Our board of directors includes industry experts in the research, development and commercialization of novel therapeutics and orphan drugs.
Steven M. Altschuler
Senior Vice President of Health Affairs, University of Miami CEO, UHealth-University of Miami Health System
Dr. Steven M. Altschuler, is Senior Vice President of Health Affairs at the University of Miami and Chief Executive Officer of UHealth-University of Miami Health System. He was named to the position in November 2015.
Steve is responsible for the strategic and operational leadership of the University’s clinical delivery system, which includes the University’s hospitals, faculty practice plan and clinics. As South Florida’s only academic-based health system, UHealth combines patient care, research and education to create a leading-edge, precision medicine approach to health care. UHealth’s comprehensive network includes three hospitals: Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, the only Cancer Center of Excellence in South Florida, as designated by the state; University of Miami Hospital, the flagship hospital of UHealth; and Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, which has been recognized as the nation’s No. 1 eye hospital for 12 years in a row by U.S. News & World Report.
In addition, UHealth has more than a dozen outpatient facilities in Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and Collier counties; a new Bascom Palmer eye clinic in Naples, on Florida’s Gulf Coast; and a 200,000-square-foot ambulatory care facility, currently under construction, that will open on the University’s Coral Gables main campus in late 2016.
Previously, Steve was the CEO of The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), the nation’s oldest hospital dedicated to the care of sick children. Children’s Hospital’s Board of Trustees elected him to his position in April 2000, after an intensive international search. Prior to assuming this role, he was the Physician-in-Chief and the first holder of the Leonard and Madlyn Abramson Endowed Chair in Pediatrics at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and professor and chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. Dr. Altschuler took the reins of the now 527-bed hospital, at the initiation of the greatest period of growth in the institution’s 159-year history. CHOP has been ranked the nation’s No. 1 or 2 children’s hospital since 2000 by U.S. News & World Report.
Steve received his B.A. in mathematics and his M.D. from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. His pediatric internship and residency were taken at Children’s Hospital Medical Center-Boston, and he completed fellowship training in Gastroenterology and Nutrition at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. From 1985 to 2000, he was a faculty member of the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. His academic interests were focused in the area of gastrointestinal motility and included the leadership of a large clinical program, an NIH-funded research laboratory and a fellowship training program. He is a frequent guest lecturer locally, nationally and internationally.
Currently, Steve serves on the boards of Mead Johnson Nutritionals, Weight Watchers and Spark Therapeutics.
Lars Ekman, M.D., Ph.D.
Former President of Research and Development, Elan
Dr. Lars Ekman has 30 years of experience in senior executive, scientific and clinical functions. He has served as executive partner at Sofinnova Ventures since 2008, lending his extensive expertise in the life sciences industry to the investment team in driving new companies toward success.
Prior to joining Sofinnova Ventures, Lars was president of research and development at Elan. He is credited with advancing Elan’s drug discovery pipeline during his tenure, and under his leadership, the company received approval for four U.S. New Drug Applications, three European Marketing Approval Applications and five Investigational New Drug Applications. These efforts advanced Elan’s immunotherapeutic approach and brought to market three neuroscience products, including Tysabri for multiple sclerosis. Prior to joining Elan, Lars was executive vice president, research and development, at Schwarz Pharma AG, and before that, held a variety of senior scientific and clinical roles at Pharmacia (now Pfizer).
Lars is chairman of Amarin Corporation and Prothena Biosciences, executive chairman of Sophiris Bioscience, and a member of the board of directors of Ocera Therapeutics. He was co-founder and chief executive officer of Cebix, Inc. and previously served on the board of directors of InterMune (acquired by Roche) and Elan Pharmaceuticals (acquired by Perrigo).
Lars is a board-certified surgeon with a Ph.D. in experimental biology and an M.D. from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden.
Katherine A. High, M.D.
President and Head of Research and Development
Dr. Kathy High, an accomplished hematologist with a longstanding interest in gene therapy for genetic disease, began her career studying the molecular basis of blood coagulation and the development of novel therapeutics for the treatment of bleeding disorders.
Her pioneering bench-to-bedside studies of gene therapy for hemophilia led to a series of studies that characterized the human immune response to adeno-associated viral (AAV) vectors in a variety of target tissues. Kathy’s work has evolved to encompass clinical translation of potential gene therapies for multiple inherited disorders. As the director of the Center for Cellular and Molecular Therapeutics at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), Kathy assembled a multidisciplinary team of scientists and researchers working to discover new gene and cell therapies for genetic diseases and to facilitate rapid translation of preclinical discoveries into clinical application.
As president at Spark Therapeutics, she has led the development and regulatory approval of the first gene therapy for a genetic disease in the United States. Spark has shown human proof-of-concept of its leading gene therapy platform in both the retina and the liver, and has received breakthrough therapy designations for three different therapeutics across two different tissue targets, the eye and the liver. In addition to her operational role, Kathy serves as a member of the Board of Directors of Spark.
Kathy was a long-time member of the faculty at the University of Pennsylvania and of the medical staff at CHOP, where she was also an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. She served a five-year term on the FDA Advisory Committee on Cell, Tissue and Gene Therapies and is a past president of the American Society of Gene & Cell Therapy (ASGCT). She received her A.B. in chemistry from Harvard University, an M.D. from the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, a business certification from the University of North Carolina Business School Management Institute for Hospital Administrators and an M.A. from the University of Pennsylvania.
Jeffrey D. Marrazzo
Chief Executive Officer
Jeff Marrazzo has led the creation and growth of Spark Therapeutics from a research center within the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia to a fully integrated, commercial gene therapy company that is challenging the inevitability of genetic disease by discovering, developing and delivering potential treatments in ways unimaginable – until now. He also serves on Spark’s board of directors.
Under Jeff’s leadership, Spark has received FDA approval for and launched the first gene therapy for a genetic disease in the United States, and has established human proof-of-concept of Spark’s gene therapy platform in both the retina and liver. In the five years since founding Spark, Jeff has secured more than $1 billion in capital and built an organization of more than 325 colleagues. For two years running, Spark has been named to the top 10 of MIT Technology Review’s “50 Smartest Companies”. It’s also been recognized as one of 2018’s most innovative companies in Biotech by Fast Company.
During a career that has spanned the public and private sectors, Jeff has consistently championed the potential benefits of precision medicine and healthcare reform for patients. Prior to Spark, he helped build the first genetic testing benefit management and pharmacogenomics medicines company up to and through the acquisition of a majority of the company's shares by CVS Caremark. Previously, Jeff served as an advisor to former Pennsylvania Governor Edward G. Rendell, where he led reforms in the financing and delivery of healthcare.
Jeff currently serves as a board member of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO). Jeff received a B.A. in economics and B.S.E. in systems science and engineering from the University of Pennsylvania. He also holds a dual M.B.A. / M.P.A. from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard University, a program which he founded.
Jeff can be found on Twitter @JeffMarrazzo.
Anand Mehra, M.D.
General Partner, Sofinnova Ventures
Dr. Anand Mehra joined Sofinnova Ventures in 2007 and is focused on working with entrepreneurs to build drug development companies that have the power to improve the lives of patients. He has led the firm’s investments in Vicept Therapeutics (acquired by Allergan), Aerie Pharmaceuticals, Aclaris and Prothena, and he played a key role in the firm’s investments in SarCode (acquired by Shire), Preglem (acquired by Gedeon Richter) and Amarin. In addition to Spark Therapeutics, Anand is currently a director of Aerie and Marinus Pharmaceuticals and was on the board of Nextwave Pharmaceuticals until its acquisition by Pfizer.
Prior to joining Sofinnova, Anand worked in JP Morgan’s private equity and venture capital group, where he was heavily involved in new investments, management of their public portfolio and the firm’s spin-out from the bank. Before joining the venture community, Anand was a consultant in McKinsey & Company’s pharmaceutical practice, advising pharma and biotech on key strategic issues, and an NIH-funded fellow focused on reperfusion injury in stroke.
Anand received his M.D. from Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons and graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Virginia, where he was an Echols Scholar.
Chief Executive Officer, Idera Pharmaceuticals; Former President, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman, ViroPharmaVin Milano is chief executive officer of Idera Pharmaceuticals, a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company developing nucleic acid therapeutics for cancers and rare diseases. Prior to Idera, Vin was president, chief executive officer and chairman of the board of directors of ViroPharma Incorporated (acquired by Shire Pharmaceuticals in January 2014), which focused on bringing innovative therapies to market for serious, unmet medical needs. ViroPharma’s lead product was Cinryze®, approved and commercially available in the United States, for the prevention of hereditary angioedema attacks and in Europe for both the treatment and prevention of hereditary angioedema attacks, a rare disease. Vin joined the company in 1996 and served as vice president, chief financial officer and treasurer from 1997 to 2006. He was instrumental in building the company, including leading efforts in raising nearly $900 million in capital, as well as the acquisitions of Lev Pharmaceuticals and the drug Vancocin from Eli Lilly. Vin played critical roles in all business development and investor relations activities for ViroPharma and contributed significantly to establishing the strategic focus of the company. Prior to joining ViroPharma, he served as senior manager at KPMG LLP, an independent registered public accounting firm. Vin received his B.S. in accounting from Rider College.
Robert J. Perez
Founder and Managing Partner, Vineyard Sound Advisors; Founder and Chairman, Life Science Cares
Robert J. Perez is the managing partner of Vineyard Sound Advisors, which he founded in 2015 to provide advisory services to companies in the biopharmaceutical industry. He is also the founder and chairman of Life Science Cares, a nonprofit organization focused on fighting poverty in the greater Boston area.
He previously served as the chief executive officer of Cubist Pharmaceuticals, Inc. until its acquisition by Merck in 2015. Prior to his tenure as Cubist’s CEO, Rob held multiple roles since joining the company in 2003, including president, chief operating officer and senior vice president of sales and marketing, where he oversaw the launch of Cubicin (daptomycin for injection). He also held roles of varying commercial responsibilities in the industry, specifically leading Biogen’s central nervous system (CNS) commercial organization and as a regional business director at Zeneca Pharmaceuticals. He currently serves on the boards of directors at several public and private companies, including Vir Biotechnology, Akili Interactive Labs, Inc., AMAG Pharmaceuticals, Cidara Therapeutics, Zafgen, Inc. and Flex Pharma, Inc. He also serves on the board of trustees at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
Rob received a B.S. in business from California State University, Los Angeles and an M.B.A. from the Anderson Graduate School of Management at the University of California, Los Angeles.
Elliot Sigal, M.D., Ph.D.
Former Director, Executive Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer, Bristol-Myers Squibb
Dr. Elliott Sigal has over 25 years of combined experience in medicine, research and executive management. Most recently, he served as director, executive vice president and chief scientific officer and president of R&D at Bristol-Myers Squibb from 2004 until 2013. Elliott was a principal architect of the company’s successful biopharma transformation strategy, with a focus on innovative therapies for unmet medical needs, and was instrumental in increasing R&D productivity, developing the company’s strategy in biologics and acquiring external innovation in its String of Pearls initiative. Under his leadership, 14 new medicines were brought to market. Elliott previously held positions of increasing responsibility in drug discovery at the pharmaceutical company Syntex and also was vice president of R&D and chief executive officer for the genomics firm Mercator Genetics, where he provided the research leadership that resulted in the discovery of the gene for hemochromatosis, a common disorder that leads to iron overload, diabetes and liver disease.
Elliott received his M.D. from the University of Chicago and trained in internal medicine and pulmonary medicine at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). He received his research training at the Cardiovascular Research Institute at UCSF and served on the faculty of the UCSF department of medicine. He received his B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. in industrial engineering from Purdue University. Elliott currently serves as a member of the board of directors for the Mead Johnson Nutrition Company, the Melanoma Research Alliance and the University of California San Francisco Nina Ireland Program for Lung Health.
CPALota Zoth, CPA, has served in senior financial roles in a variety of commercial-stage companies over a 30-year career, including serving as chief financial officer for MedImmune before its acquisition by AstraZeneca in 2007. Prior to joining MedImmune in 2002, Lota served as senior vice president, corporate controller and principal accounting officer at PSINet Inc., vice president, corporate controller and chief accounting officer at Sodexho Marriott Services, Inc., Marriott International and PepsiCo, Inc. Lota was also an auditor at Ernst & Young, LLP and is a Certified Public Accountant. She currently serves on the board of multiple public companies in the biopharmaceutical industry. Lota received a B.B.A. in accounting from Texas Tech University.