Our Section 16 corporate directors are leaders in the clinical study of gene therapy – from designing and manufacturing vectors to conducting clinical trials and in commercialization, finance, business development, human resources and legal affairs of novel biotechnology companies and products.
Jeffrey D. Marrazzo
Co-Founder and 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 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 successfully completed the first randomized, controlled Phase 3 trial of an investigative gene therapy for a genetic disease and established human proof-of-concept of Spark’s gene therapy platform in both the retina and the liver. The company is currently preparing the first Biologics License Application submission for a gene therapy for a genetic disease in the U.S. In the three years since founding Spark, Jeff has raised more than $500 million in capital, established a global collaboration with Pfizer, and built an organization of nearly 200 colleagues.
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 and sell the first genetic testing benefit management and pharmacogenomics medicines company to 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 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.
Katherine A. High, M.D.
Co-Founder, President and Chief Scientific Officer
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 AAV vectors in a variety of target tissues. Kathy’s work has evolved to encompass clinical translation of potential genetic therapies for multiple inherited disorders.
As the director of the Center for Cellular and Molecular Therapeutics at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, 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.
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.
Chief Financial Officer
Stephen Webster has nearly 30 years of experience as a financial professional in the life sciences industry. Prior to Spark Therapeutics, Stephen was senior vice president, finance and chief financial officer at Optimer Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a commercial-stage company in the antibiotic field. Before that, he served in the same capacity at Adolor Corporation, a commercial-stage company in the gastrointestinal space. Stephen played an integral role in the sale of both Optimer and Adolor to Cubist Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
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.
Daniel R. Faga
Chief Business Officer
Dan Faga brings 15 years of biopharma industry experience to the company. Prior to joining Spark Therapeutics, Dan was a managing director at Centerview Partners, where he served as a founding member of Centerview's healthcare advisory practice. Primarily focused in the life sciences sector, Dan has extensive expertise in corporate strategy, mergers and acquisitions, and partnering, and he has advised on more than $50 billion in biopharma transactions. Prior to Centerview, Dan worked at Merrill Lynch in its healthcare investment banking group and as a management consultant in the life sciences practice at PRTM.
Dan earned a B.S. in engineering from Cornell University and an M.B.A. in healthcare management from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
Chief Operating Officer
John Furey is responsible for global commercial operations, medical affairs, technology development and technical operations at Spark Therapeutics. He has 25 years of experience in developing and implementing operational strategies and leading commercial and technical teams.
Prior to joining Spark Therapeutics, John was senior vice president and head of global operations for Baxalta, where he directed manufacturing, quality, engineering, and process development. He actively managed a $2.5 billion production budget across Baxalta's global network and led a first-in-class supply chain organization for rare diseases. John led the team that coordinated and delivered the successful establishment of Baxalta through a spin out from Baxter and led the Baxter Vaccine inline business to realize significant top line and bottom line growth. He also spent two years in China as general manager of Pfizer’s vaccine business unit following a role with responsibility for global pricing and reimbursement at Pfizer Vaccines. In these roles, John gained extensive experience in pipeline development and global product launches. Earlier in his career, he held both commercial and operations positions of increasing scope and responsibility with Pfizer and Wyeth Pharmaceuticals.
John has an executive M.B.A. from St. Joseph’s University, Philadelphia, a B.S. from Trinity College, Dublin, and a diploma in Environmental Health from the Dublin Institute of Technology.
Joseph La Barge, J.D.
Joe La Barge is a seasoned executive and legal advisor with more than 15 years of experience counseling life science companies and healthcare institutions. Before joining Spark Therapeutics, Joe was vice president, general counsel and chief compliance officer at Tengion, Inc., a clinical-stage regenerative medicine company, where he oversaw legal affairs, compliance and quality assurance. While at Tengion, Joe helped lead the company’s initial public offering in 2010. Joe also played an integral role in developing Tengion’s intellectual property strategies for their novel, first-in-class, cell-based therapies.
Joe was previously of counsel at Ballard Spahr LLP in Philadelphia, where he advised biotechnology companies in private and public financings, mergers and acquisitions, and collaboration and licensing transactions. He also served as deputy general counsel to the Kennedy Health System in New Jersey.
Joe received his J.D. from Temple University and a B.A. from Bucknell University.