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.
Prior to taking his first operating role, Stephen spent 15 years as an investment banker to life sciences companies, raising more than $3 billion in financings and advising clients on more than $3 billion in aggregate mergers and acquisitions value.
Stephen received his A.B. in economics from Dartmouth College and his M.B.A. in finance from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
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 received regulatory approval of the first gene therapy for a genetic disease approved in both the U.S. and EU. 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.
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 regulatory approval for the first gene therapy for a genetic disease approved in both the U.S. and EU, 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 six years since founding Spark, Jeff has secured more than $1 billion in capital and built an organization of more than 400 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.