Our Leadership

Our leadership, including the management team and Board of Directors, is made up of biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry experts who are recognized for their contributions in the discovery and development of new therapies and their success in bringing new treatments to patients and physicians.

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.

Dr. Doberstein has over 25 years of experience in biotechnology research and development. Since joining Nektar in January 2010, he has spearheaded the discovery team at Nektar, which led to the identification and growth of the company’s proprietary pipeline of drug candidates. This included development of NKTR-181 (a first-in-class opioid analgesic with strategic brain entry kinetics) and NKTR-214 (a CD122-biased agonist that is currently in multiple clinical studies across a wide range of tumor types). Dr. Doberstein also serves as a representative of Nektar for the National Institute of Health (NIH) Public/Private Initiative to Address the Opioid Crisis.

Prior to joining Nektar, Dr. Doberstein was Vice President of Research at XOMA where he was responsible for directing discovery and development of multiple drug candidates, including antibody discovery and support of clinical development through non-clinical safety, translational medicine and pharmacokinetics/pharmacodynamics. Previously, Dr. Doberstein served as Vice President, Research at Five Prime Therapeutics, a protein and antibody discovery and development company where he built and led the discovery research and process development group. While at Five Prime, he created several successful drug candidate programs that resulted in multiple strategic alliances with pharmaceutical partners, and moved a number of product candidates from concept to clinical stage in diabetes, oncology, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. Prior to that, Dr. Doberstein was the Vice President of Research at Xencor and also held senior leadership 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.

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.

Gil M. Labrucherie was appointed Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of the company in June 2016. In this role, Mr. Labrucherie oversees finance, legal, procurement and logistics and information technology functions for the company. Since joining Nektar in 2005, Mr. Labrucherie has held several senior leadership positions with increasing responsibility, most recently he served as Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary of Nektar from 2007 to 2016.

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.

John Nicholson was appointed Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer (COO) of the company in June 2016. In this role, Mr. Nicholson oversees business development, marketing and product strategy, program management, alliance management and quality functions at the company.  Mr. Nicholson has over 30 years of finance and business operations experience in the pharmaceutical industry.  From 2007 to 2016, Mr. Nicholson was Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer (CFO). Previously, he 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.

Mary Tagliaferri, M.D. was appointed Chief Medical Officer in December 2017. Dr. Tagliaferri has over 20 years of experience in pharmaceutical drug development in oncology and women's health as well as extensive regulatory expertise. In her current role, Dr. Tagliaferri oversees clinical development and operations, biometrics and medical affairs functions for the company.  Since joining Nektar in January 2015, she has provided strategic development leadership for the company’s immuno-oncology portfolio, including NKTR-214, a CD122 biased agonist, which is in multiple clinical studies across a wide range of tumor types. She serves as strategic development leader for the clinical collaboration between Nektar and Bristol-Myers Squibb.

Prior to joining Nektar, she was a clinical and regulatory consultant to InterMune before its acquisition by Roche. She also served as Chief Medical Officer at KangLaiTe USA, a privately-held biotechnology company which develops oncology drug candidates in multiple solid tumor settings. Dr. Tagliaferri was also co-founder and President and Chief Medical Officer of BioNovo where she led the company's clinical drug development strategy and global regulatory affairs, led data management and biostatistics, and oversaw clinical operations and compliance. 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 of Science degree from Cornell University and her medical degree from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF).

Jillian B. Thomsen was appointed Chief Accounting Officer in April 2008. Ms. Thomsen has over 20 years of financial reporting and accounting experience. In her current role, Ms. Thomsen oversees accounting, financial reporting, planning & analysis, Sarbanes-Oxley compliance, treasury and tax functions at the company. Previously, she served as Vice President, Finance and Controller of Nektar.

Prior to joining Nektar in 2006, 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.

Jonathan Zalevsky was appointed Chief Scientific Officer in December 2017 to lead biological and translational research and guide strategy for the Nektar discovery portfolio. In this role, he is also responsible for safety assessment, clinical and nonclinical pharmacology, bioanalytical/bioassay for small and large molecules, and process development for biologics. Since joining the company in July 2015, Dr. Zalevsky’s expertise in immunology, as well as his experience across biological modalities and therapeutic areas, have helped fuel the growth of the company’s immuno-oncology and immunology pipeline. Dr. Zalevsky led the discovery and preclinical development for NKTR-358 (a T regulatory cell stimulatory agent being developed for auto-immune diseases with partner Eli Lilly & Co.) and NKTR-262 (a small molecule TLR agonist being developed in combination with NKTR-214).

Prior to joining Nektar, Dr. Zalevsky was 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. Prior to working at Takeda, Dr. Zalevsky held a number of research and development positions at Xencor, where he was responsible for the discovery and development of Xencor's first four clinical-stage assets.

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.

Kevin Brodbeck joined Nektar in 2002. As Senior Vice President of Manufacturing at Nektar, Dr. Brodbeck leads management and oversight of Nektar's CMC and manufacturing operations worldwide. Dr. Brodbeck has 25 years of pharmaceutical experience with small molecules and biologics in the fields of pain, oncology and immunology.

Prior to joining Nektar, Dr. Brodbeck headed Formulation and Process Sciences at PowderJect Technologies, and served as the Director of Product Development at ALZA in the Biopharmaceutical Research & Implant Division. While at ALZA, Dr. Brodbeck developed and commercialized the Viadur (leuprolide 65mg) one-year implant. Dr. Brodbeck was also the lead inventor of number of novel protein delivery technologies for sustained release and improved stability of biopharmaceutical agents.

Dr. Brodbeck received his Ph.D. and M.S. degrees in Chemical Engineering from the University of Illinois, and his B.S. degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley. Dr. Brodbeck is the holder of numerous patents and speaks at industry conferences on pharmaceutical formulation and process sciences.

Brian L. Kotzin, M.D., joined Nektar Therapeutics in April 2017 as Head of Clinical Development for the company’s immunology program and was appointed Senior Vice President, Clinical Development, in April 2018. In this role, he serves as the Development Program Lead for the company’s auto-immune and immuno-oncology investigational compounds NKTR-358, NKTR-262 and NKTR-255. Dr. Kotzin has more than 30 years of experience in the fields of inflammation and immunology in academia and industry, and expertise in various autoimmune and inflammatory diseases, including systemic lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis. Prior to joining Nektar, Dr. Kotzin served as Vice President of Global Clinical Development and Head of the Inflammation Therapeutic Area at Amgen. During his 11 years at Amgen, he also served as Vice President of Translational Sciences and Head of Medical Sciences/Early Development, where he was responsible for the planning and execution of early-phase clinical development in all therapeutic areas as well as the discovery and implementation of pharmacodynamic biomarkers in clinical studies and clinical immunology support for clinical studies. After leaving Amgen in 2015, he became a consultant to groups involved in developing new therapeutics for systemic lupus erythematosus and other immune-mediated diseases.

Earlier in his career, Dr. Kotzin served as Head of Clinical Immunology in the Department of Medicine and Director of the Autoimmunity Center of Excellence at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver. During his time in Denver, he was a professor in the Departments of Medicine, Pediatrics and Immunology at the National Jewish Medical and Research Center. In addition to previous academic posts in rheumatology and microbiology/immunology, Dr. Kotzin served as Chief of the Rheumatology Section at the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Denver.

Dr. Kotzin has authored more than 200 publications in medical journals, books and book chapters. He also served on the editorial boards of Arthritis and Rheumatism, The Journal of Immunology and the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

Dr. Kotzin received a B.S. in mathematics from the University of Southern California and an M.D. from Stanford University School of Medicine. He completed a residency in internal medicine and a fellowship in rheumatology and medicine at Beth Israel Hospital in Boston. He was a postdoctoral fellow in the Division of Immunology and Rheumatology at Stanford University School of Medicine. He is board certified in rheumatology and internal medicine.

Wei Lin, M.D., joined Nektar in November 2018 as Senior Vice President of Clinical Development and Head of Nektar’s Oncology Programs. In this role, he leads development strategy and study oversight of the company’s immuno-oncology candidates and other oncology programs. Dr. Lin has nearly a decade of experience in oncology, with expertise in lung and head and neck cancers. Prior to joining Nektar, Dr. Lin served as the Global Development Leader for cancer immunotherapy in lung and head and neck cancer at Genentech. During his seven years at Genentech, he held several senior leadership positions of increasing responsibility including Global Clinical Leader of Cancer Immunotherapy in lung and head and neck cancer, where he led a team of 20 medical directors and clinical scientists and directed clinical development strategy for cancer immunotherapy in lung cancer and executed registration trials in lung cancer and head and neck cancer including the successful readouts of five Phase 3 trials in first-line lung cancer and regulatory filing of three of these trials. In addition, he also served as the Site Head for Oncology Development in Roche Asia Pacific and oversaw the regulatory approval of three oncology products in China. Prior to Genentech, Dr. Lin was a faculty member at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston in the Department of Thoracic/Head and Neck Medical Oncology. Dr. Lin has extensive clinical research experience and has been published in more than 15 peer-reviewed journals.

Dr. Lin received a B.A. in physics from Haverford College and an M.D. from Harvard Medical School. He completed a residency in internal medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and a fellowship in medical oncology at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.

Jennifer Ruddock joined Nektar in 2004 and currently serves as Senior Vice President, Strategy and Corporate Affairs leading the company’s initiatives on strategy and corporate affairs. In this role, Ms. Ruddock also oversees and directs investor relations, corporate and employee communications, and public and government affairs functions. Ms. Ruddock's professional experience spans over 25 years in biotechnology, technology and finance. Prior to joining Nektar, 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) and Tumbleweed Communications (acquired by Axway). Prior to that, she worked at Montgomery Securities (acquired by Bank of America), a San Francisco-based investment bank which specialized in high technology and healthcare sectors. 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.

Mark A. Wilson was appointed Senior Vice President and General Counsel in December 2017. In this role, Mr. Wilson oversees all legal matters pertaining to the company, including contracts, corporate governance, securities law, SEC reporting, litigation, and all intellectual property matters including patent, copyright and trademark matters.  Mr. Wilson has over 20 years in the legal field, with a particular emphasis on intellectual property. Prior his appointment as Nektar’s General Counsel in July 2016, Mr. Wilson led Nektar’s intellectual property department with oversight for the company's extensive patent portfolio, including the preparation and prosecution of patent applications.

Prior to joining Nektar in 2002, Mr. Wilson was an associate at Reed & Associates, a patent law firm in Menlo Park, California, where he successfully represented both start-up and Fortune 500 companies. 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 and is a member of the California Bar.