Key Executives is pleased to announce The Top 25 Pharmaceutical Executives of 2023. The pharmaceutical industry has come a long way since the early days when apothecaries and pharmacies offered traditional remedies as far back as the middle ages. Some of the earliest organizations to pop up include Merck and GlaxoSmithKline, whose roots can be traced back to the 17th and 18th centuries respectively. More recently, the Covid-19 pandemic put the global pharmaceuticals industry into the spotlight with the world collectively working towards breakthroughs in order to prevent a permanent cycle of lockdowns and crises. Following in the tradition of many great scientific minds, the leaders on this year’s list play a vital role in the discovery, development, production, and distribution of medicines and healthcare products that improve lives for people around the globe.
Among the exceptional men and women featured in this year's list is Karen Lynch, who serves as President and CEO of CVS Health, where she leads more than 300,000 colleagues who touch the lives of 100 million people across the U.S. Additionally, Jean-Jacques Bienaimé, the Chairman and CEO of BioMarin, has impressively grown his company's valuation from around $450 million in 2005 to approximately $14 billion in 2021. Another prominent figure is Dr. Yvonne Greenstreet, Director and CEO of Alnylam, where she leverages her more than 25 years of experience in the biopharmaceutical industry–including previously serving as Head of Medicines Development at Pfizer, where she led a rapidly growing $16 billion division.
Please join us in recognizing the accomplishments of The Top 25 Pharmaceutical Executives of 2023.
1. David Ricks
Chair & CEO, Eli Lilly
Dave Ricks is Chair and Chief Executive Officer of Eli Lilly and Company. A Lilly veteran for more than 25 years, with experience in marketing, sales, drug development, and international operations, Ricks became CEO in January 2017 and was elected chair of the company’s board of directors effective June 2017. Ricks also served as president of Lilly Bio-Medicines from 2012 through 2016. Before that, he led the company’s largest affiliate, Lilly USA, as president from 2009 to 2012.
Earlier, Ricks served in international leadership roles for nearly eight years. He was president and general manager of Lilly China, operating in one of the world’s fastest-growing emerging markets, from 2008 to 2009. He led Lilly Canada as general manager from 2005 to 2008, after roles as director of pharmaceutical marketing and national sales director in that country. He joined Lilly in 1996 as a business development associate and held several management roles in U.S. marketing and sales before moving to Lilly Canada.
Ricks serves on the board of directors for Adobe and Business Roundtable. In addition, he is a member of the board and former board chair of Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America. He is also a member of the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Association’s CEO Steering Committee, The Business Council, and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s Council for Inclusive Innovation. Ricks earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Purdue University in 1990 and a Master of Business Administration degree from Indiana University in 1996.
2. Joaquin Duato
Chairman of the Board & CEO, Johnson & Johnson
Joaquin Duato is Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Johnson & Johnson, the world’s largest, most diversified healthcare products company. He leads a global workforce in developing and delivering transformational and innovative healthcare solutions in Pharmaceuticals, MedTech, and Consumer Health. From his early days in Spain, Duato found inspiration in how healthcare improved patients’ lives. Over 34 years with the company, he developed a deep understanding of what’s possible at Johnson & Johnson by working in all business sectors and across multiple geographies and functions.
Before becoming CEO in 2022, Duato served as Vice Chairman of the Executive Committee, where he provided strategic direction for the Pharmaceuticals and Consumer Health sectors and oversaw both Information Technology and the Global Supply Chain. Prior to this role, as Worldwide Chairman, Pharmaceuticals, Duato transformed the sector into a global powerhouse by refocusing strategy and investment around core therapeutic areas and areas of greatest unmet need.
Duato has long believed in the power of technology to accelerate progress in healthcare. Under his leadership, scientific expertise combined with AI and machine learning is accelerating how Johnson & Johnson confronts the most complex healthcare challenges and delivers for patients. A dual citizen of Spain and the United States, Joaquin earned an MBA from ESADE in Barcelona, Spain. He also holds a Master of International Management from Thunderbird School of Global Management in Phoenix, Arizona.
3. Robert Davis
Chairman of the Board & CEO, Merck
Rob Davis is Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Merck. Previously, Davis served as Merck’s president, responsible for the company’s operating divisions — Human Health, Animal Health, Manufacturing, and Merck Research Laboratories. Prior to that, he was executive vice president, Global Services, and the company’s chief financial officer.
Davis joined the company as chief financial officer in 2014, with additional responsibility for real estate operations, corporate strategy, and business development. In 2016, his role was expanded to include responsibility for information technology and procurement, forming Global Services. He became president in April 2021, CEO and a member of the board of directors on July 1, 2021, and chairman of the board on December 1, 2022. Prior to joining Merck, Davis was corporate vice president and president of Baxter’s medical products business. Before that, he held numerous positions of increasing responsibility over 14 years at Eli Lilly and Company.
Davis serves on the board of directors for Duke Energy Corporation; and is chair of its finance and risk management committee and a member of the corporate governance committee. In addition, Davis is a board member of Project Hope. He is also a board member of Catalyst, a global nonprofit that promotes equal access to career opportunities and corporate leadership for women. Davis received his JD from Northwestern University School of Law, his MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management, and his bachelor’s in finance from Miami University.
4. Richard Gonzalez
Chairman of the Board & CEO, AbbVie
Richard Gonzalez is Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of AbbVie, a global biopharmaceutical company that employs approximately 50,000 people worldwide and markets medicines in more than 175 countries. Prior to AbbVie’s separation from Abbott in January 2013, Gonzalez was a 30-year Abbott veteran. He served as President and Chief Operating Officer of Abbott before briefly retiring in 2007.
He also held various senior leadership positions in Abbott’s medical products businesses, including President and Chief Operating Officer of the Medical Products Group; Senior Vice President and President of the former Hospital Products Division; Vice President and President of the Health Systems Division; and Divisional Vice President and General Manager for Diagnostics Operations in the United States and Canada.
Gonzalez has been a long-standing leader in the greater Chicago community, where he is a member of the Commercial Club of Chicago and represents AbbVie on their Civic Committee. He is also a member of the Business Roundtable, which is the only national organization representing exclusively CEOs of America’s leading companies.
5. Dr. Albert Bourla
Chairman & CEO, Pfizer
As Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Albert Bourla leads Pfizer. During his more than 30 years at Pfizer, Bourla has built a diverse and successful career, holding several senior positions across a range of markets and disciplines. When he took the reins as CEO in January 2019, Bourla accelerated Pfizer’s transformation to become a more science-driven, innovative company — divesting its consumer and off-patent products businesses and dramatically increasing its R&D and digital innovation budgets. To create a culture in which the company’s people and science could thrive, Albert and his leadership team established Pfizer’s Purpose Blueprint, which included four core values: courage, excellence, equity, and joy.
In January 2022, he was named the 2022 Genesis Prize Laureate in recognition of his leadership during the pandemic. In 2021, he was named CEO of the Year by CNN Business, included in Insider Magazine’s Most Transformative CEOs list, and inducted into the Crain’s New York Business 2021 Hall of Fame. That same year, he received the Appeal of Conscience Award in recognition of his extraordinary leadership in service to the global community.
Bourla is chairman of The Pfizer Foundation. He is also on the executive committee of The Partnership for New York City, a vice president of the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Associations, a director on multiple boards (Pfizer Inc., PhRMA, and Catalyst), and a trustee of the United States Council for International Business. In addition, Albert is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the Business Roundtable, the Business Council, and the New York City Mayor’s Corporate Council. Bourla is a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and holds a Ph.D. in the Biotechnology of Reproduction from the Veterinary School of Aristotle University.
6. Giovanni Caforio
Chairman of the Board & CEO, Bristol Myers Squibb
Giovanni Caforio has been Chief Executive Officer of Bristol Myers Squibb since 2015 and has been serving on the company’s Board of Directors since 2014. In 2017, he assumed the role of chairman of the board. As CEO, Giovanni has led the company’s focus on researching and developing transformational medicines, which includes a leading portfolio of immunotherapies that are fundamentally changing the way cancer is treated. Under his leadership, Bristol Myers Squibb is evolving its operating model, in order to increase speed and competitiveness.
With a background as a physician, Giovanni has helped strengthen the company’s patient-focused culture - one driven by innovation, speed, accountability, and passion. As a leader, he is focused on the business value of a company culture that promotes and rewards diversity and inclusion.
Prior to becoming CEO, Giovanni served as COO with responsibility for leading a fully integrated worldwide commercial organization and the companywide functions of Enterprise Services and Global Manufacturing & Supply. This was preceded by his work as the company’s chief commercial officer. Born and educated in Italy, Giovanni received his MD from the University of Rome.
7. Robert Bradway
Chairman & CEO, Amgen
Robert Bradway is Amgen’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. He became chairman in January 2013 and chief executive officer in May 2012. Bradway served as the company’s president and chief operating officer from May 2010 to May 2012 and was appointed to the Amgen Board of Directors in October 2011. He joined the company in 2006 as vice president, Operations Strategy, and served as executive vice president and chief financial officer from April 2007 to May 2010.
Prior to joining Amgen, Bradway was a managing director at Morgan Stanley in London where, beginning in 2001, he had responsibility for the firm’s banking department and corporate finance activities in Europe. He joined Morgan Stanley in New York as a health care industry investment banker in 1985 and moved to London in 1990.
On top of his current CEO duties, Bradway is a member of the board of directors of The Boeing Company; serves as a board member of the W. M. Keck Foundation; serves on the board of trustees of the University of Southern California; serves as the Emeritus Director of the CEO Roundtable on Cancer; and serves as a member of the American Heart Association CEO Roundtable. Bradway holds a bachelor’s in biology from Amherst College and an MBA from Harvard University.
8. Daniel O’Day
Chairman & CEO, Gilead Sciences
Daniel O'Day joined Gilead Sciences in March 2019 as Chairman of the Board of Directors and Chief Executive Officer. Prior to Gilead, O'Day served as the Chief Executive Officer of Roche Pharmaceuticals. His career at Roche spanned more than three decades, during which he held a number of executive positions in the company's pharmaceutical and diagnostics divisions in North America, Europe, and Asia. He also served as a member of Roche's Corporate Executive Committee, as well as on a number of public and private boards, including Genentech, Flatiron Health, and Foundation Medicine.
O'Day holds a bachelor's degree in biology from Georgetown University and an MBA from Columbia University in New York. He currently serves on the board of directors for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America organization and Galapagos NV.
9. Reshma Kewalramani
CEO & President, Vertex Pharmaceuticals
Reshma Kewalramani has dedicated her career to improving the lives of patients, including the last 15+ years through the development of new medicines. She joined Vertex in 2017 and, in collaboration with the executive committee, board of directors, and everyone at Vertex, she leads and executes the company’s strategy and ambitious mission of transforming the lives of people with serious diseases. Prior to taking on her role as CEO and President, she was the Chief Medical Officer and Executive Vice President of Global Medicines Development and Medical Affairs.
Kewalramani earned her medical degree, with honors, from the seven-year medicine program at the Boston University School of Medicine; and completed the General Management Program at Harvard Business School. She then completed her internship and residency in internal medicine at the Massachusetts General Hospital; and her fellowship in nephrology through the MGH and Brigham and Women’s Hospital combined program.
Kewalramani is passionate about developing and supporting the next generation of scientists and giving back to her community—serving as a member of the board of directors of the Biomedical Science Careers Program, as a member of the Boston University School of Medicine Dean’s Advisory Board, as member of the MGH Board of Trustees, and as a member of the Ginkgo Bioworks board of directors. Among the numerous honors and recognitions she’s received over the years, Kewalramani is the recipient of the Harvard Medical School Excellence in Teaching Award. She was also included on the PharmaVOICE 100 list of the most inspiring and influential leaders in the life sciences, and Boston Business Journal’s list of Women Who Mean Business.
10. Leonard Schleifer
Co-Founder, President, & CEO, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals
Leonard Schleifer is currently the President, Chief Executive Officer, and Board Co-Chair of Regeneron. He grew up in Queens, New York. Later he earned his MD and Ph.D. in Pharmacology from the University of Virginia; and became a licensed physician certified in neurology.
In 1988, Schleifer co-founded Regeneron, which maintains the proud distinction of being one of the most innovative biotechnology companies in the world, with numerous FDA-approved medicines and product candidates in development. Under Schleifer’s leadership, Regeneron has been lauded as a top company to work for by Science magazine, Fortune, Forbes, Fast Company, and others.
In 2019, Schleifer was elected as a Fellow by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). He has also been recognized by Barron’s Best CEOs and as an Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year.
11. Kristin Peck
Chief Executive Officer, Zoetis
Kristin Peck is the Chief Executive Officer of Zoetis, the world’s leading animal health company, and a member of the Fortune 500. Peck is also a member of the Zoetis Board of Directors. Prior to becoming CEO, Peck was executive vice president and group president, of U.S. Operations, Business Development and Strategy at Zoetis. Peck helped usher Zoetis through its Initial Public Offering in 2013; and has been a driving force of change in many roles at the company, including Global Manufacturing and Supply, Global Poultry, Global Diagnostics, Corporate Development, and New Product Marketing and Global Market Research.
Before joining Zoetis, Peck served as executive vice president, Worldwide Business Development and Innovation at Pfizer. In this role, she was responsible for evaluating strategic alternatives for Pfizer's Animal Health and Nutrition businesses. Prior to joining Pfizer, Peck held roles at BCG, The Prudential Realty Group, The O'Connor Group, and J.P. Morgan.
Additionally, Peck serves on the Board of BlackRock, as a member of the Business Roundtable, and as a Board member of Catalyst. She is president of HealthforAnimals, the global animal health association. In addition, she serves on the Advisory Board for the Deming Center for Quality, Productivity and Competitiveness at Columbia Business School. Named by Barron’s as one of the top CEOs in 2022, and by Fortune as a 2020 Businessperson of the Year, Peck has been recognized for her leadership and Zoetis' strong performance in challenging times. She holds a bachelor's degree from Georgetown University and an MBA from Columbia Business School.
12. Joe Almeida
Chairman, President & CEO, Baxter
Joe Almeida was named Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer of Baxter in January 2016. He is now leading the company through a period of dynamic transformation powered by accelerated innovation, operational excellence, and strategic execution. Prior to joining Baxter, Almeida served as chairman, president, and chief executive officer of Covidien plc from 2012 through 2015; and was named a director of the company in 2011. Almeida previously served as president of Covidien's Medical Devices organization.
On top of that, Almeida has served in several leadership roles at Covidien's predecessor, Tyco Healthcare–including president of its worldwide medical device business; and vice president of worldwide manufacturing. Earlier in his career, he held leadership positions at Wilson Greatbatch Technologies, Inc., American Home Products' Acufex Microsurgical division, and Johnson & Johnson's Professional Products division. He began his journey as a management consultant at Andersen Consulting (Accenture).
Almeida is a member of the board of directors of Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc. He also serves on the board of trustees of Partners in Health. A native of Brazil, Almeida received an undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering from Instituto Mauá de Tecnologia.
13. Adam Schechter
Chairman, President & CEO, LabCorp
Adam Schechter became Chief Executive Officer of LabCorp in November 2019 and chairman in May 2020. Previously, Schechter was named lead independent director in January 2019 after serving on the board since 2013. Under Schechter’s leadership, LabCorp, a leading global life sciences company with more than 80,000 employees, harnesses science, innovation, and technology to improve health and improve lives.
Previously, Schechter was at Merck, where he served as executive vice president and president of global human health and was a member of the executive committee. At Merck, among other accomplishments, Schechter led a large global organization across the spectrum of commercial operations, transformed Merck’s commercial model, and led the integration of Merck and Schering-Plough.
In addition to his LabCorp duties, he is the vice chair of the Board of Directors for the American Clinical Laboratory Association (ACLA); he is a board member for Water.org; and he serves as an independent director on the board of DaVita, Inc. Furthermore, Schechter is chair of the Corporate Advisory Council for the National Alliance for Hispanic Health; and an Executive Advisor to its Healthy Americas Foundation. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Biology from La Salle University; and was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from the university in 2021.
14. Jean-Jacques Bienaimé
Chairman & CEO, BioMarin Pharmaceutical
Jean-Jacques Bienaimé is currently the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer at BioMarin. He joined the company in May 2005 as Chief Executive Officer and member of the board of directors, bringing with him over 25 years of experience in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries. Under his leadership, the market capitalization of BioMarin went from around $450 million in May 2005 to approximately $14 billion in spring 2021. BioMarin 2020 full-year revenues were $1.86 billion. BioMarin is a fully integrated biopharmaceutical company with over 3,000 employees worldwide.
From November 2002 to April 2005, Bienaimé served as Chairman, Chief Executive Officer, and President of Genencor, a biotechnology company focused on industrial bioproducts and targeted cancer biotherapeutics. Under his leadership, Genencor’s revenues increased substantially to over $400 million and shareholder value increased dramatically, culminating in the sale of the company to Danisco in the spring of 2005 for an enterprise value of over $1.2 billion. From 1998 to late 2002, Bienaimé served as Chairman, Chief Executive Officer, and President of Sangstat Medical Corporation, an immunology-focused biotechnology company that he guided to profitability prior to its acquisition by Genzyme Corporation.
Earlier in his career, he worked at Rhone-Poulenc Rorer Pharmaceuticals (now Sanofi-Aventis) and Genentech, Inc., where he was involved in the launch of a tissue plasminogen activator for the treatment of heart attacks. Currently, Bienaimé serves on the boards of Incyte Corporation, a biotechnology company, PhRMA, and The Biotech Industry Organization. He received an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and a degree in economics from the École Supérieure de Commerce de Paris.
15. Hervé Hoppenot
Chairman & CEO, Incyte
Hervé Hoppenot joined Incyte in 2014 as President and Chief Executive Officer and was appointed Chairman of the Board of Directors in 2015. DuringHoppenot’s tenure, the company has tripled the number of clinical candidates in its portfolio, expanding beyond Oncology to include research and development in Inflammation & Autoimmunity. Under his leadership, revenue has increased by nearly 600%, which includes the addition of five new sources of potential revenue. With a goal to deliver medicines to patients worldwide, Incyte has expanded geographically and has operations in North America, Europe, and Asia.
Prior to joining Incyte, Hoppenot was the President of Novartis Oncology. He began his career at Novartis in 2003 as Chief Commercial Officer and later became President in 2010. He started his career in 1983 with Rhone Poulenc, later known as Aventis, where he served in several senior roles of increasing responsibility, including Vice President of Oncology and Head of the U.S. Oncology business unit. Hoppenot holds a diploma from ESSEC Business School.
16. Charles Kummeth
President, CEO & Board Member, Bio-Techne
Chuck Kummeth became President and Chief Executive Officer of Bio-Techne Corporation on April 1, 2013. Prior to joining the Company, he served as President of Mass Spectrometry and Chromatography at Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc.; and was President of that company’s Laboratory Consumables Division from 2009 to September 2011.
Prior to joining Thermo Fisher, Kummeth served in various leadership roles during his 24-year career at 3M Corporation, most recently as the Vice President of the company’s Medical Division from 2006 to 2008. He also previously served as 3M Corporation’s Managing Director for the UK and Ireland businesses.
Kummeth received a Master of Science in Software Engineering & Design from the University of St. Thomas and an MBA from the Carlson School of Business at the University of Minnesota. He is a graduate of the University of North Dakota, where he received a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering. Kummeth also serves on the board of Gentherm, a thermal technology company.
17. Douglas Ingram
President, CEO & Board Member, Sarepta Therapeutics
Doug Ingram has served as President, CEO, and Board Member since 2017. In these roles, Ingram has a single-minded focus to make Sarepta the leader in precision genetic medicine and rescue lives devastated by rare genetic diseases. “I saw something in Sarepta that was special. An opportunity to be part of something important. Much of what we’re doing has never been done before. It has the potential to upend the entire medical system.”
Ingram’s two decades in the pharma-biotech world began at Allergan, which he joined as General Counsel in 2001, holding positions of increasing responsibility until being named President in 2013. When Allergan was acquired by Actavis in 2015, he moved on to Chase Pharmaceuticals, serving as President and CEO before coming to Sarepta. Ingram received his JD from the University of Arizona and his BS from Arizona State University. He also sits on Relay Therapeutics’ Board of Directors.
18. Ying Huang
Board Member & CEO, Legend Biotech
Dr. Ying Huang currently serves as Chief Executive Officer of Legend Biotech. He sits on the Board of Directors of Legend, as well as Quanta Therapeutics. Dr. Huang brings over 9 years of experience in research and development at major multinational pharmaceutical companies and 12 years of experience as a biotechnology analyst on Wall Street.
Previously, Dr. Huang served as a Managing Director and Head of Biotech Equity Research at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, where he led a team of analysts covering more than 30 biotechnology companies that encompass a wide range of therapeutic areas. His knowledge and expertise have been recognized by the Institutional Investor survey as a top-ranked biotechnology analyst on Wall Street. On top of that, Dr. Huang previously worked at Wachovia, Credit Suisse, Gleacher, and Barclays. Besides providing investment research to investors, Dr. Huang and his team conducted due diligence for numerous successful initial public offerings (IPOs) and follow-on offerings in the biotechnology sector.
Prior to his Wall Street career, Dr. Huang was a Principal Scientist at Schering-Plough in the Department of Chemical Research focusing on small molecule drug discovery in the therapeutic areas of the cardiovascular and central nervous system. He is the co-author of multiple patents and peer-reviewed publications. Dr. Huang received his Doctor of Philosophy in Bio-organic Chemistry from Columbia University. He also studied in the Special Class for the Gifted Young at the University of Science and Technology of China and Columbia Business School.
19. Scott Smith
Chief Executive Officer, Viatris
Scott A. Smith is the Chief Executive Officer of Viatris and a member of the company’s board of directors. He is leading the execution of Phase 2 of the company’s strategic plan designed to guide Viatris into a period of renewed growth. Smith is a deeply knowledgeable senior global biotechnology and pharmaceutical executive with more than 35 years of experience. He is a seasoned builder who possesses vast global commercial and pharmaceutical expertise and a proven ability to build, grow and manage large complex organizations.
Before becoming Viatris’ CEO, Smith was President and Chief Operating Officer at Celgene Corporation, rising up the ranks from SVP and Global Head of Immunology, and then President of Inflammation and Immunology. One of his many achievements during his 10-year career at Celgene was to build and oversee the clinical development, registration, launch, and global commercial success of the blockbuster drug Otezla®. Most recently, Smith served as President of BioAtla, Inc., a global biotechnology company focused on the development of Conditionally Active BiologicsTM (CAB) antibody therapeutics.
Smith is a member of the BioAtla board of directors and is Chairman of the board of Triumvira Immunologics. He holds a BSc in Chemistry and Biology as well as an HBSc in Pharmacology and Toxicology from the University of Western Ontario. Smith also received his master’s degree in International Management from the American Graduate School of International Management.
20. Robert Blum
President & CEO, Cytokinetics
Robert Blum has served as President and Chief Executive Officer of Cytokinetics and a member of its Board of Directors since 2007. Previously, he served as Cytokinetics’ President and held other senior-level positions at the Company overseeing research and development, finance, corporate development, legal, commercial operations, and business development at various times since participating in the launch of Company operations in 1998. Prior to Cytokinetics, Blum held senior positions in business development and marketing at COR Therapeutics from 1991 to 1998.
He previously served on the faculty at the Center for BioEntrepreneurship at the University of California, San Francisco, where he taught a corporate finance course to graduate students. He also served on the Boards of San Francisco’s Contemporary Jewish Museum and the Anti-Defamation League, the Board of the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, and he founded and chaired its Business Leadership. Furthermore, Blum is a founding member of the Board of Life Science Cares Bay Area.
In recognition of his leadership in corporate and civic responsibilities, Blum was named a Henry Crown Fellow of the Aspen Institute. He holds BA degrees in Human Biology and Economics from Stanford University and an MBA from Harvard Business School.
21. Emil Kakkis
Founder, President & CEO, Ultragenyx
Dr. Kakkis is currently Ultragenyx’s President and Chief Executive Officer. He is also President of the non-profit EveryLife Foundation for Rare Diseases, an organization he founded in 2009 to work on regulatory policy issues. Over the last 22 years, Dr. Kakkis is best known for his work developing novel treatments for rare disorders. He began his work developing an enzyme replacement therapy (Aldurazyme®) for the rare disorder MPS I. In 2010, Dr. Kakkis founded Ultragenyx. Under his leadership, the company has since grown to more than 100 employees developing treatments for five rare and ultra-rare diseases in Phase 2 and Phase 3 clinical development. Notably, the company went public in January 2014.
Earlier in his career, Dr. Kakkis joined BioMarin in 1998. There, he guided the development and approval of two treatments for rare disorders, MPS VI and PKU. Later he founded and launched the EveryLife Foundation, which successfully advocated for improvements to the accelerated approval pathway for rare disease treatments–and was later passed by Congress in FDASIA in 2012.
Dr. Kakkis is board certified in both Pediatrics and Medical Genetics. He graduated from Pomona College, magna cum laude, and received the Vaile prize for his research. He received combined M.D. and Ph.D. degrees from the UCLA Medical Scientist Program; and received the Bogen prize for his research. He completed a Pediatrics residency and Medical Genetics Training Fellowship at Harbor- UCLA Medical Center from 1989-1993; and from 1993 to 1998, he was an assistant professor of Pediatrics at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, where he initiated the enzyme therapy program for MPS I.
22. Warren Huff
Chief Executive Officer, Reata Pharmaceuticals
Warren Huff is the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Reata. He has served as their sole Chief Executive Officer and as Chairman of the Board since their founding in 2002, and as their President until February 2022. Prior to founding Reata, Huff served as Chief Executive Officer in a number of biotechnology and information technology start-up enterprises. Huff started his career as an attorney with Johnson & Gibbs, P.C., where he was a partner and Chairman of the Corporate Securities Practice.
Huff received a B.B.A. magna cum laude from the University of Texas at Austin. He also holds a J.D. from Southern Methodist University. Their Board believes that Huff is qualified to serve on their Board due to his extensive experience investing and working in the pharmaceutical industry.
23. John Leonard
President, CEO & Board Member, Intellia Therapeutics
After a 30-year career in pharmaceutical R&D, John Leonard retired from his position as Chief Scientific Officer and Senior Vice President of Research and Development at AbbVie in 2013. Inspired by the opportunity to work with a new therapeutic modality and form a new company, he returned to his life’s passion and joined the Intellia team to direct the research and development effort to make CRISPR/Cas9 technology into a therapeutic reality.
Leonard is among the leading R&D executives who have led breakthrough medicines through their discovery, development and launch into blockbuster drugs. While serving as the Global Head of Pharmaceutical R&D at Abbott Laboratories, he oversaw the development of numerous novel therapeutics. His ground-breaking work with HIV protease inhibitors Norvir® and Kaletra® led to new treatment paradigms for AIDS. His work with Humira® made it the all-time top-selling drug worldwide. Furthermore, he led significant growth of the R&D pipeline at Abbott and Abbvie. In addition to serving on the Board of Directors of Intellia, Leonard also serves on the Board of Directors of QuintilesIMS and Chimerix. He received his M.D. from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and completed his residency in Internal Medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine followed by a fellowship at the National Institutes of Health.
24. Rami Elghandour
Chairman & CEO, Arcellx
As Chief Executive Officer for Arcellx, Rami Elghandour oversees a diverse and vibrant team that is reimagining cell therapy through the development of innovative immunotherapies for patients with cancer and other incurable diseases. Under his leadership, the company completed an upsized IPO in 2022, raising gross proceeds of $142.3 million; an upsized public offering in June 2022, raising gross proceeds of $128.8 million; and closed a transformational partnership with Kite, a Gilead Company, in January 2023, where Arcellx received a $225 million upfront payment and $100 million equity investment.
Prior to joining Arcellx, Elghandour served as President and Chief Executive Officer of Nevro. During his tenure, Nevro grew from a small private company to a public company approaching $400 million in revenue. Previously, Elghandour was an investor with Johnson & Johnson Development Corporation (JJDC), where he led investments and served on the Board of Directors of several private companies. A strong advocate of gender equity, diversity, and inclusion, Elghandour has earned recognition as an EY Entrepreneur of the Year. He is also a recipient of the Bill Campbell Award by Watermark for his influence, impact, and advocacy in promoting women and women’s issues. Elghandour received an MBA from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. He also holds a BS in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Rutgers University School of Engineering.
25. Chris Gibson
Co-Founder & CEO, Recursion
Chris Gibson developed the technology and approach that seeded Recursion as part of his MD/Ph.D. work in the lab of Co-Founder Dr. Dean Li (current President of Merck Research Labs) while at the University of Utah. After completing his Ph.D., Gibson left medical school to build Recursion into the rapidly growing company it is today. He also holds degrees in bioengineering and management from Rice University.
Away from Recursion, Gibson also serves on the board of BioHive, the public-private partnership driving expansion of Utah's life-science ecosystem, the fastest-growing in the nation. In addition, he is active as an advisor and mentor, both formally and informally, of many young biotech founders. Gibson enjoys cycling on both the road and the trails that cut through Utah's great wilderness, as well as spending time with family.