Our Board of Directors
Robert B. Chess
Robert B. Chess is the Chairman of our Board of Directors and has served as a director since May 1992. Mr. Chess currently is the Chairman and Co-Founder of Biota Technology, a private company developing applications of DNA-sequencing for the energy industry, and is Lead Director at Twist Biosciences (NASDAQ:TWST), which manufactures synthetic DNA using a silicon-based synthesis platform. From March 2006 until January 2007, Mr. Chess served as our Acting President and Chief Executive Officer, and from April 1999 to January 2007, served as Executive Chairman. He also served as our Co-Chief Executive Officer from August 1998 to April 2000, as President from December 1991 to August 1998, and as Chief Executive Officer from May 1992 to August 1998. Mr. Chess was previously start-up CEO and Chairman of OPX Biotechnologies, a renewable chemicals company, which was sold to Cargill, and the Co-Founder and President of Penederm, Inc., a publicly-traded pharmaceutical dermatology company that was acquired by Mylan Laboratories. He has held management positions at Intel Corporation and Metaphor Computer Systems (now part of IBM), and was a member of the first President Bush's White House staff as a White House Fellow and Associate Director of the White House Office of Economic and Domestic Policy.
From 1997 to 2009, Mr. Chess served on the Board of Directors of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) where he was Chairman of BIO's Emerging Companies Section and Co-Chairman of BIO's Intellectual Property Committee. Mr. Chess was the initial Chairman of Bio Ventures for Global Health and continues to serve on its board. He also serves on the Board of Trustees of the California Institute of Technology, where he chairs the Technology Transfer Committee and has taught entrepreneurship as a visiting professor. He is currently a member of the faculty of the Stanford Graduate School of Business, where he teaches courses in the MBA program on entrepreneurship and on the healthcare industry. Mr. Chess received his B.S. degree in Engineering with honors from the California Institute of Technology and an M.B.A. from Harvard.Close Bio
Jeff Ajer has served as our director since September 2017. Mr. Ajer is currently Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer at BioMarin, a global biotechnology company that develops and commercializes innovative therapies for people with serious and life-threatening rare disorders. Mr. Ajer has more than 25 years of experience driving commercial organizations within rare diseases and specialty medicines, including leading commercial planning for late-stage pipeline programs, product marketing, reimbursement and sales operations. Since joining BioMarin in 2005 as one of the first sales and marketing employees, he has held roles of increasing responsibility including Vice President, Commercial Operations, The Americas; Senior Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer; and Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer. Mr. Ajer has been integral in establishing BioMarin’s commercial infrastructure and global footprint and has played a leadership role in the launches and growth strategies for BioMarin’s commercial brands including Brineura™, Vimizim®, Kuvan® and Naglazyme®. Prior to BioMarin, Mr. Ajer served as Vice President, Global Transplant Operations at Genzyme Corporation and held positions in sales, marketing and operations at SangStat Medical Corporation and ICN Pharmaceuticals. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry and MBA from the University of California, Irvine.Close Bio
Karin Eastham has served as our director since September 2018. Ms. Eastham has more than 35 years of experience as an executive and independent director in the biotechnology industry, with particular expertise in finance and operations. Prior to her retirement in 2008, she served as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer and Trustee of the Burnham Institute for Medical Research. In her position at the Burnham Institute for Medical Research (now called the Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute), Ms. Eastham was responsible for managing all non-scientific operations of the Institute, including overseeing business development and strategic planning. From 1999 to 2004, Ms. Eastham was Senior Vice President of Finance and Chief Financial Officer for Diversa Corporation, a global leader in developing products for the pharmaceutical and other industries using genomic technologies. From 1997 to 1999, she was Vice President of Finance and Administration and Chief Financial Officer at CombiChem, Inc., a computational drug discovery company. From 1992 to 1997, she was Vice President of Finance and Administration and Chief Financial Officer of Cytel Corporation, a biopharmaceutical company. Earlier in her career, she was Vice President of Finance at Boehringer Mannheim Diagnostic. She began her career on the audit staff of Price Waterhouse.
Ms. Eastham currently serves on the Board of Directors of Illumina, Inc., Geron, Inc., and Veracyte, Inc. Previously, she has served on the public company boards of Morphosys AG, Trius Therapeutics, Inc., Amylin, Inc., Genoptix, Inc., Tercica, Inc., and SGX Pharmaceuticals, Inc. She has also served on several not-for-profit boards, including the Burnham Institute for Medical Research, UCSD Moores Cancer Center, and the San Diego Symphony. Ms. Eastham received both a B.S. in accounting and an M.B.A. in finance from Indiana University.Close Bio
R. Scott Greer has served as our director since February 2010. Since June 2003, Mr. Greer has served as Managing Director of Numenor Ventures, LLC, a venture capital firm. In 1996, Mr. Greer co-founded Abgenix, Inc., a company that specialized in the discovery, development and manufacture of human therapeutic antibodies, and from June 1996 through May 2002, he served as its Chief Executive Officer. He also served as a director of Abgenix from 1996 and Chairman of the board of directors from 2000 until the acquisition of Abgenix by Amgen, Inc. in April 2006. Prior to Abgenix's formation, Mr. Greer held senior management positions at Cell Genesys, Inc., a biotechnology company, initially as Chief Financial Officer and Vice President of Corporate Development and later as Senior Vice President of Corporate Development, and various positions at Genetics Institute, Inc., a biotechnology research and development company. Mr. Greer served as a member of the board of directors of Sirna Therapeutics, Inc., a biotechnology company, from 2003, and as its Chairman of the board of directors from 2005, through the closing of the acquisition of Sirna by Merck & Co., Inc. in December 2006. From 2001 to 2005, Mr. Greer served as a member of the board of directors of Illumina, Inc., a provider of integrated systems for the analysis of genetic variation and biological function, and from 2001 to 2004, he served as member of the board of directors of CV Therapeutics, Inc., a biotechnology company. He currently serves as a member of the board of directors of StemCells, Inc., a biopharmaceutical company focused on stem cell therapeutics, and as chairman of the board of directors of Ablexis LLC, a private development-stage biotechnology company. Mr. Greer received a B.A. in Economics from Whitman College and an M.B.A. degree from Harvard University. He also was a certified public accountant.Close Bio
Lutz Lingnau was appointed director in August 2007. Mr. Lingnau retired from Schering AG Group, Germany, in 2005 as a member of Schering AG's Executive Board and as Vice Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Schering Berlin, Inc., a United States subsidiary. Prior to his retirement, Mr. Lingnau was responsible for Schering AG's worldwide specialized therapeutics and dermatology businesses. He joined Schering AG's business trainee program in 1966. Throughout his career at Schering AG, he served in various capacities and in a number of subsidiaries in South America and the United States, including his roles as President of Berlex Laboratories, Inc., from 1983 to 1985, as the Head of Worldwide Sales and Marketing in the Pharmaceutical Division of Schering AG, from 1985 to 1989, and as Chairman of Berlex Laboratories, Inc. from 1985 to 2005. Mr. Lingnau was a member of the Supervisory Board of LANXESS AG, a specialty chemicals company from 2005 to May 2010. From December 2006 through December 2009, he served as Chairman of the board of directors of Micropharma Limited, a private biotechnology company, and was a member of the board of directors of Sirna Therapeutics, Inc., a biotechnology company, from February 2006 through the closing of the acquisition of Sirna by Merck & Co., Inc. in December 2006.Close Bio
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.Close Bio
Roy A. Whitfield has served as our director since August 2000. Mr. Whitfield is the former Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Incyte Corporation, a drug discovery and development company he co-founded in 1991. From January 1993 to November 2001, Mr. Whitfield served as its Chief Executive Officer and from November 2001 until June 2003 as its Chairman. He also served as a director of Incyte from 1991 to January 2014. From 1984 to 1989, Mr. Whitfield held senior operating and business development positions with Technicon Instruments Corporation, a medical instrumentation company, and its predecessor company, Cooper Biomedical, Inc., a biotechnology and medical diagnostics company. Prior to his work at Technicon, Mr. Whitfield spent seven years with the Boston Consulting Group's international consulting practice. He currently serves as a director of Illumina, Inc., a developer, manufacturer and marketer of integrated systems for analysis of genetic variations and biological functions, and Station X, Inc., a private development stage company. Since February 2008, he has also served as Executive Chairman of the board of directors of Bioseek. Mr. Whitfield received a B.S. in mathematics from Oxford University and an M.B.A. from Stanford University.Close Bio