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Our Management Team
Our leadership, including the management team and Board of Directors, is made up of pharmaceutical industry experts who are recognized for their contributions in drug development and their success in bringing novel therapies to market.
President and Chief Executive Officer
Howard Robin joined Nektar Therapeutics in January 2007. He has more than 25 years of successful biopharmaceutical experience managing clinical development and commercial operations. Most recently, Mr. Robin served as President and Chief Executive Officer of Sirna Therapeutics, a clinical-stage biotechnology company pioneering RNAi-based therapies for serious diseases and conditions, including age-related macular degeneration (AMD), hepatitis C, asthma, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and Huntington's disease. During his tenure at Sirna, Mr. Robin successfully re-launched the company and created significant shareholder value that led to its acquisition by Merck for $1.1 billion.
Prior to Sirna, Mr. Robin spent 20 years at Berlex Laboratories, the U.S. pharmaceutical subsidiary of the German pharmaceutical firm Schering AG. From 1991 to 2001, he served as corporate vice president and general manager of their U.S. Therapeutics division and was responsible for the development of drugs, such as Betaseron® (Interferon beta-1b) for multiple sclerosis and Fludara® (fludarabine phosphate) for chronic lymphocytic leukemia, generating annual global sales in excess of $800 million. He also served as a member of the Executive Committee. Prior to that, he was vice president of Finance and Business Development and CFO of Berlex. Earlier in his career, Mr. Robin was a senior associate with Arthur Andersen and Co.
Mr. Robin serves as a director of the Biotechnology Industry Organization, the world's largest biotechnology industry trade organization, and also serves as a director of BayBio, a non-profit trade association serving the Northern California life sciences community.
Mr. Robin holds a B.S. in Accounting and Finance from Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey and serves as a member of its Board of Trustees.
Senior Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer
Steve Doberstein joined Nektar in January 2010 as Senior Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer to lead all aspects of discovery research at Nektar. Dr. Doberstein brings over 17 years of experience in biotechnology research and development to the company. Prior to joining Nektar, Dr. Doberstein was Vice President of Research at XOMA where he was responsible for directing the discovery and development of their drug candidates, including antibody discovery and support of clinical development through non-clinical safety, translational medicine and pharmacokinetics/ pharmacodynamics. Prior to that, Dr. Doberstein served as Vice President, Research at Five Prime Therapeutics, Inc, a protein and antibody discovery and development company where he built and led a high performance discovery research and process development group. While at Five Prime, he established programs resulting in multiple strategic alliances with pharmaceutical partners, built a strong proprietary pipeline, and moved multiple product candidates from concept to pre-IND stages in diabetes, oncology, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. Prior to that, Dr. Doberstein was Vice President, Research at Xencor, an antibody and protein engineering and development company. At Xencor, he was instrumental in advancing its protein platform technologies and preclinical product candidates. Before that, he also held a number of senior positions at Exelixis.
Dr. Doberstein received his Ph.D. in Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and completed his postdoctoral work at UC Berkeley. Earlier in his career, Dr. Doberstein held a variety of engineering roles at DuPont after receiving his B.S.Ch.E. degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Delaware.
Senior Vice President, Drug Development and Chief Medical Officer
Ivan Gergel joined Nektar in May 2014 as Senior Vice President, Drug Development & Chief Medical Officer to oversee the company's clinical strategy and activities, including direct supervision of clinical research, medical affairs, regulatory affairs and drug safety and surveillance. Dr. Gergel brings over 25 years of pharmaceutical leadership and drug development experience to Nektar with deep expertise in all aspects of the clinical and regulatory process.
Prior to joining Nektar, Dr. Gergel served as Executive Vice President, Research & Development of Endo Pharmaceuticals and Chief Scientific Officer, where he led clinical, research, regulatory, project management and medical affairs. During his tenure with Endo, Dr. Gergel was responsible for a number of late stage development programs and product approvals, including BEMA® Buprenorphine, which is in Phase 3, Abuse-Deterrent Opana® ER for chronic pain, and Fortesta® and Aveed for hypogonadism. Prior to joining Endo, Dr. Gergel served as Senior Vice President of Research and Development for Forest Laboratories Inc. As the head of the clinical organization and then as the senior R&D executive for the company, Dr. Gergel oversaw the successful development programs leading to the approval of numerous NCEs to treat a range of CNS disorders and other medical conditions, including Celexa® for depression, Aerospan for asthma, Lexapro® for depression and generalized anxiety disorder, Namenda® for Alzheimer's Disease, Combunox for acute pain and Savella® for fibromyalgia. Dr. Gergel also led the organization through the approval and launch of Bystolic® for hypertension and Campral® for alcohol dependency. In addition, while at Forest Laboratories Inc. Dr. Gergel led the R&D team responsible for the successful in-licensing or acquisition of several new agents including Turdoza for COPD, Linzess® for IBS, and the anti-infective Teflaro®. Prior to Forest, Dr. Gergel was a senior leader at SmithKline Beecham where he led the U.S. clinical team responsible for the development and commercial support of Paxil®, which is approved to treat depression, OCD, panic disorder, social phobia and generalized anxiety disorder.
Dr. Gergel received his M.D. from The Royal Free Medical School of The University of London and an MBA from the Wharton School of The University of Pennsylvania.
Senior Vice President, Human Resources and Facilities Operations
As Senior Vice President, Human Resources and Facilities Operations, Ms. Hirth is responsible for designing and implementing HR strategies and programs that attract, develop and retain talent for a high-performing workforce. Ms. Hirth's experience spans 19 years at biotechnology companies leading strategic and tactical aspects of human resource functions, including managing issues surrounding mergers and acquisitions. Prior to joining Nektar in 2007, Ms. Hirth headed the human resource programs at Sirna Therapeutics, where she was part of the diligence team during the acquisition process by Merck. She was also part of the team that started SUGEN and transitioned it from start-up through two acquisitions initially by Pharmacia and then by Pfizer Inc. In addition, she served as Vice President, Human Resources and Facilities at Kosan Biosciences and Corgentech/Anesiva.
Senior Vice President, Pharmaceutical Development and Manufacturing Operations
Maninder Hora joined Nektar in August 2010 as Senior Vice President, Pharmaceutical Development and Manufacturing Operations to lead management and oversight of Nektar's CMC, bioanalytical and manufacturing operations worldwide. Dr. Hora has been in the biopharmaceutical industry for 27 years with demonstrated expertise in process, analytical and pharmaceutical sciences, manufacturing and quality functions for biologics, vaccines, small molecules and drug delivery systems. He has led large teams of scientists and engineers to perform early and late stage development as well as lifecycle management CMC activities. He brings to Nektar the experience of registering nine drugs or vaccines products in the United States or Europe. Dr. Hora most recently served as Vice President of Product Operations & Quality at Facet Biotech (a spin-off from PDL BioPharma, now a part of Abbott Laboratories). He joined PDL BioPharma in 2006 as Vice President of Process Development and later took charge of Product Operations & Quality. From 1986 to 2006, Dr. Hora served in various positions of increasing responsibility at Chiron Corporation (now Novartis) with his last position being Vice President of Process and Product Development during the period 2001 to 2006. Dr. Hora also worked at Smith Kline & French (now Glaxo SmithKline) and Ayerst-Wyeth (now Pfizer) prior to joining Chiron.
Dr. Hora received his Ph.D. from the Indian Institute of Technology in Bioengineering (Materials) in 1980 and held a Fulbright fellowship at the University of Washington, Seattle. Dr. Hora holds twenty one US Patents and has authored scores of publications and delivered numerous presentations in international forums. He serves as a scientific advisor for Reviva Pharmaceuticals, an emerging research based pharmaceutical company.
Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary
Gil M. Labrucherie joined Nektar in September 2005 as Vice President of Corporate Legal. Prior to joining Nektar, from October 2000 to September 2005, Mr. Labrucherie was Vice President of Corporate Development at E2open, Inc., where he was responsible for global corporate alliances and merger and acquisition activity. Prior to E2open, he was the Senior Director of Corporate Development at AltaVista Company, an Internet search company, where he was responsible for merger and acquisition transactions. Mr. Labrucherie began his career as an associate in the corporate practice of the law firm of Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati and Graham & James (DLA Piper Rudnick).
Mr. Labrucherie received his J.D. from University of California Boalt Hall School of Law, where he was a member of the California Law Review and Order of the Coif, and received his B.A. from the University of California, Davis.
Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer
John Nicholson was appointed Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of the company in December 2007. Mr. Nicholson reports to Nektar's President and Chief Executive Officer, Howard W. Robin. Previously, Mr. Nicholson was Senior Vice President, Corporate Development and Business Operations at Nektar. Prior to joining Nektar, he served in a number of leadership roles at Bayer Schering Pharma AG, including Vice President, Corporate Development and Treasurer of Schering Berlin Inc., President of Schering Berlin Insurance Company, President of Bayer Pharma Chemicals Inc., and President of Schering Berlin Capital Corporation. Mr. Nicholson also served as Treasurer of Berlex Inc.
Senior Vice President, Finance and Chief Accounting Officer
Jillian B. Thomsen joined Nektar in March 2006 and was appointed Chief Accounting Officer in April 2008. Ms. Thomsen has 20 years of financial reporting and accounting experience. She currently oversees accounting, financial reporting, planning & analysis, Sarbanes-Oxley compliance, treasury and tax.
Prior to April 2008, she served as Vice President, Finance and Controller of Nektar. Before joining Nektar, Ms. Thomsen was Deputy Controller of Calpine Corporation from September 2002 to February 2006. From December 1990 to May 2002, Ms. Thomsen performed various roles with Arthur Andersen starting as a staff accountant and concluding as a senior manager. Ms. Thomsen holds a Masters of Accountancy from the University of Denver and a B.A. in Business Economics from Colorado College.
Vice President, Development Operations
Deirdre BeVard leads operational execution of Nektar's clinical development programs, including clinical trial and data management as well as oversight of all outsourcing activities. Prior to joining Nektar in 2014, Ms. BeVard was Vice President of Development Operations at Endo Pharmaceuticals. While at Endo, she was involved in the development of the R&D business strategy and objectives, and oversaw the operational execution of the organization's clinical development programs, including Belbuca, AVEED®, Fortesta®, and Supprelin® LA.
Ms. BeVard's career spans over 25 years in clinical development during which she has held progressively responsible leadership roles in development operations and was part of the teams responsible for the development of Abilify®, SAMSCA®, and Pletal®. Her industry experience also includes clinical affairs and operations roles at Otsuka Pharmaceutical, IBAH (a contract research organization), a clinical site network and a start-up software company. Ms. BeVard is a recipient of the 2010 HBA Rising Star Award from the Healthcare Businesswomen's Association (HBA). Ms. BeVard is a frequently requested industry speaker and has served on the Advisory Board for the IIR Partnerships Conference since 2006. Ms. BeVard received her Bachelor of Science from Ursinus College in Collegeville, Pennsylvania. Ms. BeVard received her Bachelor of Science from Ursinus College in Collegeville, Pennsylvania.
Vice President, Drug Development & Regulatory Affairs
Carlo J. Di Fonzo leads drug development and regulatory affairs at Nektar with oversight responsibilities for regulatory affairs, GCP/GLP compliance and toxicology. Dr. Di Fonzo's experience includes over 25 years in regulatory affairs and safety roles in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry. During his career, Dr. Di Fonzo has been part of several teams that helped bring new medicines to patients, including Lipitor®, Neurontin®, Accupril®, Xigris®, Forteo®, Alimta®, Gemzar®, Zyprexa®, Strattera®, Cialis® and Movantik. Prior to joining Nektar in 2006, Dr. Di Fonzo led regulatory affairs and quality compliance at Eli Lilly Canada, where he was also responsible for patent-listing strategies and product safety functions. Prior to joining Eli Lilly in November 2000, he worked at Warner-Lambert/Parke-Davis Canada, where he was had oversight of toxicology and safety studies as well as regulatory affairs.
Dr. Di Fonzo received his undergraduate degree in biologic sciences, his master's degree in clinical biochemistry and his Ph.D. in clinical biochemistry and toxicology from the University of Toronto, Canada.
Vice President, Quality Assurance
Henk Kocken joined Nektar in October 2015 as Vice President, Quality Assurance. Dr. Kocken brings over 20 years of experience in the management of quality systems and quality assurance in the biopharmaceutical industry to Nektar. Prior to joining Nektar, Dr. Kocken served as the VP of Regulatory Affairs and Quality for Alvine Pharmaceuticals. Prior to Alvine, Dr. Kocken was VP of Quality Systems at VaxGen, where he led the Quality Unit responsible for developing compliance, quality assurance, and quality control systems for the development, manufacture and control of anthrax and smallpox vaccines. Before VaxGen, Dr. Kocken served in various senior quality assurance and systems roles at CoTherix, InterMune, Fibrogen, Bio-Rad Laboratories and Clontech Laboratories.
Prior to his career in industry, Dr. Kocken was Assistant Professor of Molecular Biology at the Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands. He received his Ph.D. in Chemical Technology from Eindhoven University of Technology and his M.S. in Molecular Biology from Nijmengen University in the Netherlands.
Vice President, Chemistry
Jennifer A. Riggs-Sauthier leads both small and large molecule medicinal and polymer chemistry to support Nektar's discovery, preclinical and IND-enabling activities. Dr. Riggs-Sauthier is the co-inventor on more than 40 patents (issued and pending) in the areas of small molecule drug conjugates in inflammation, oncology, pain, and infectious disease. Before joining Nektar in 2005, Dr. Riggs-Sauthier held progressively responsible leadership roles in drug discovery and chemical innovation at Nobex Corporation, which was focused on discovery of novel conjugate drugs and directed a number of key projects that were partnered with the top five pharmaceutical companies. She also worked as a research scientist at Shearwater Corporation (acquired by Nektar).
Dr. Riggs-Sauthier earned her Ph.D. in organic chemistry from the University of Notre Dame. She has completed the Executive Education Program in Business at the Haas School of Business at University of California, Berkeley.
Vice President, Investor Relations & Corporate Communications
Jennifer Ruddock heads the investor relations and corporate communications department at Nektar, which includes public affairs, employee communications and public relations. Ms. Ruddock's experience spans 20 years in biotechnology, technology and finance. Prior to joining Nektar in 2004, Ms. Ruddock held leadership roles in investor relations, financial communications and corporate marketing at a number of public companies, including Catellus Development Corporation (acquired by ProLogis), Hewlett-Packard Company (NYSE:HPQ), and Tumbleweed Communications (acquired by Axway). Prior to that, she worked in the sales and trading department at Montgomery Securities (acquired by Bank of America), a San Francisco-based investment bank which specialized in high technology and healthcare sectors. While at Montgomery, she obtained both her Series 7 and 63 licenses. Ms. Ruddock began her career in medical device sales at Curtin Matheson Scientific, Inc. (acquired by Fisher Scientific). Ms. Ruddock received her undergraduate degree in neuroscience from Colgate University in 1991.
Vice President, Clinical Development
Mary Tagliaferri provides strategic and operational leadership at Nektar for clinical development, drug safety and risk management, as well as medical affairs and scientific writing. She brings to Nektar over 20 years of experience in pharmaceutical drug development and extensive regulatory expertise in oncology and women's health. Prior to joining Nektar in January 2015, she served as Chief Medical Officer at KangLaiTe USA, a privately-held biotechnology company which develops oncology drug products in multiple solid tumor settings. She also served as a consultant to InterMune, Inc. (acquired by Roche).
Prior to that, Dr. Tagliaferri was a co-founder and President and Chief Medical Officer of BioNovo, Inc. At BioNovo, she was responsible for all aspects of the company's clinical drug development strategy including spearheading clinical studies for all drug products, overseeing global regulatory affairs, leading data management and biostatistics, and ensuring the proper conduct of clinical studies. Dr. Tagliaferri received the 2012 State of California Woman of the Year award for her advancements of clinical research in women's health and her mentorship of women in the biotechnology field. Dr. Tagliaferri received her bachelor degree of science from Cornell University and her medical degree from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF).
Vice President, Intellectual Property
Mark A. Wilson leads the intellectual property department at Nektar with oversight for the company's extensive patent portfolio, including the preparation and prosecution of patent applications. During his tenure at Nektar, he has overseen over 100 patent filings. Mark's experience spans more than 20 years in the patent field. Prior to joining Nektar in 2002, Mr. Wilson was an associate at Reed & Associates, a patent law firm in Menlo Park, California. While at Reed & Associates, he successfully drafted and prosecuted patent applications for both start-ups and Fortune 500 companies. Mr. Wilson began his legal career at an IP boutique law firm in New Jersey. Mr. Wilson received his J.D. from Seton Hall University, School of Law, and his B.S. in pharmacy from Rutgers University, College of Pharmacy. He is registered to practice before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
Vice President, Biometrics and R&D Systems
Sunny Xie leads Biometrics and R&D Systems at Nektar with oversight of biostatistics and statistical programming for clinical development. Mr. Xie brings 20 years of statistics and programming experience in both biotech and large pharmaceutical companies to Nektar. Prior to joining Nektar in 2015, Mr. Xie was Senior Director, Statistical Programming at Gilead Sciences, Inc. While at Gilead, Mr. Xie led statistical programming group that supported all therapeutic areas including HIV, Liver Disease, Oncology, Inflammation & Respiratory and Cardiovascular. Prior to Gilead, Mr. Xie worked at Shire Pharmaceuticals overseeing process improvement, clinical applications, and support and training in Clinical Development, Operations and Biometrics. Before Shire, he spent more than 5 years at Forest Laboratories as the Executive Director of Statistical Programming. Earlier in his career, he held various roles in the Biometrics groups at Eli Lilly & Company and at Pharmacia (now Pfizer). Mr. Xie received his Masters of Science degree in Statistics from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas and his Bachelor of Science degree in Applied Mathematics and Application Software Design from Shandong University in China.
Vice President, Biology & Preclinical Development
Jonathan Zalevsky joined Nektar in July 2015 as Vice President of Biology and Preclinical Development to lead biological research and grow the discovery portfolio. Dr. Zalevsky brings over 13 years of experience spanning both large pharmaceutical and small biotechnology companies to Nektar. Prior to joining Nektar, Dr. Zalevsky was the Global Vice President and Head of the Inflammation Drug Discovery Unit at Takeda Pharmaceuticals. As the leading immunologist for Takeda, he was responsible for an immunology pipeline that spanned from early target discovery to late-stage development and launched products. While at Takeda, Dr. Zalevsky's leadership resulted in 10 new INDs and Phase 1 clinical starts, which included both internally-discovered and in-licensed first-in-class immune-targeting molecules. Prior to working at Takeda, Dr. Zalevsky held a number of research and development positions at Xencor, Inc., where he was responsible for the discovery and development of Xencor's first four clinical-stage assets. During that period, he authored numerous high-profile publications on Xencor-discovered drugs and wrote four INDs. Earlier in his career, Dr. Zalevsky worked as a developmental biologist at Stanford University.
Dr. Zalevsky received his Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the Tetrad Program at the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF). He received dual bachelor degrees in Biochemistry and Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology from the University of Colorado at Boulder.