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BioNJ Elects New Board Chair, Officers and Trustees

BioNJ, the life sciences trade association for New Jersey, announced the election of its 2021 officers and board members.

Newly elected officers include Chair Will Lewis, JD, MBA, chair and CEO, Insmed, Inc.; Vice Chair Monika A. Vnuk, M.D., vice president, R&D Business Development, Pfizer, Inc.; Treasurer Greg Oakes, MBA, president, North America, Vifor Pharma and re-elected as Secretary Michele Korfin, R.Ph., MBA, chief operating officer & chief commercial officer, Gamida Cell.

Lewis succeeds Christopher J. Schaber, Ph.D., president and CEO, Soligenix, Inc., who concluded a two-year term moving into the immediate past chair’s role.

“We are honored to have Mr. Lewis as our next Chair,” said BioNJ President and CEO Debbie Hart. “A proven and highly respected industry leader and successful entrepreneur, Mr. Lewis’ knowledge, passion and experience will be invaluable as we continue to support New Jersey’s life sciences community in its ongoing response to COVID-19 and to ensure that the Garden State remains an innovation hub while advocating on behalf of medical innovation and access for all.

“Because Patients Can’t Wait®, we are grateful for our talented and dedicated Board whose guidance is instrumental in enabling our Mission,” added Hart.

In thanking Dr. Schaber, Hart called him the “Mentor’s mentor” and described “his devotion to supporting entrepreneurship — by helping today’s leaders and fostering tomorrow’s — second to none. I sincerely thank Dr. Schaber for all that he has done for BioNJ and the life sciences community during his dynamic two years as chair.”

“It is an honor to serve as the chair of BioNJ and to follow in the path of the strong leaders before me, particularly during these extraordinary times. I look forward to working with the board, our members and the team to support our industry’s unique ability to address the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and to educate and raise awareness of the positive impact that the New Jersey biopharmaceutical community can have on society. Just as importantly, we will continue to foster good corporate citizenship and champion diversity, equity and inclusion in the biopharma industry, as well as in the communities in which we live and work,” said Mr. Lewis.

Newly Elected Chair:

Will Lewis, JD, MBA, chair and CEO, Insmed, Inc.

Lewis joined Insmed in 2012 as president and CEO and as a member of the board of directors. He became chair of the board of cirectors in November 2018. Lewis is the former co-founder, president and CFO of Aegerion Pharmaceuticals, Inc., and previously spent more than 10 years working in investment banking in the U.S. and Europe. Prior, Lewis worked for the U.S. government. He holds a BA degree cum laude from Oberlin College as well as an MBA and a JD with Honors from Case Western Reserve University.

BioNJ’s Newly Elected Officers:

Vice Chair: Monika A. Vnuk, M.D., vice president, R&D Business Development, Pfizer, Inc.

Dr. Vnuk leads an international team responsible for executing all pre-clinical business development transactions for Pfizer. Since joining Pfizer in 2008, Dr. Vnuk has been responsible for leading the evaluation, execution and negotiations of many business transactions, including licensing deals, collaborations, joint-ventures and mergers and acquisitions, in support of Pfizer’s Innovative Medicines and Established Medicines businesses across developed and emerging markets. Before joining Pfizer, Dr. Vnuk was a vice president at Banc of America Securities where she helped life sciences companies complete initial public offerings, private placements and strategic transactions. Prior to her position at Banc of America, Dr. Vnuk was a principal at Oxford Bioscience Partners, a venture capital firm focused on early stage biotechnology investments.

Treasurer: Greg Oakes, MBA, Ppresident, North America, Vifor Pharma

Oakes joined Vifor Pharma in September, 2020. Previously, Oakes served as corporate vice president, global integration lead for Otezla at Amgen, where he oversaw the integration and continued success of the $2B brand. Prior to Amgen, Oakes was corporate vice president and U.S. general manager at Celgene, where he was responsible for Celgene’s I&I portfolio in the United States. Oakes also served as the global commercial integration lead at Celgene where he helped steer the $74B acquisition by Bristol Myers Squibb and the $13.4B divestiture of Otezla. Prior to Celgene, Oakes held several positions at Novartis, including head of Sandoz Biopharmaceuticals, North America, and senior vice president, U.S. Market Access, Primary Care & Established Medicines, Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation.

Four new members joined the BioNJ board of trustees as well, Including:

Amadou Diarra, Ph.D., senior vice-president, Global Policy & Government Affairs, Bristol Myers Squibb

Dr. Diarra leads an integrated organization focused on external environment dynamics, working with key stakeholders including Patient support organizations, health care professionals, policymakers and industry associations. He is passionate about partnering for improved health outcomes. Dr. Diarra joined Bristol Myers Squibb in 1991 as market research & business development manager, Africa Division. From 1999 to 2002 he led the company’s landmark philanthropic program, Secure the Future, a public-private partnership focused on care and support for women and children infected or affected by HIV/AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa. In 2002, he was appointed General Manager, Indonesia and in 2005 became General Manager, Turkey. In 2008, he assumed responsibility as General Manager for the Ireland & Nordic Region and was then promoted to vice president, Access Europe. Late 2010, he was appointed European vice president and general manager, UK & Ireland.

Emer Leahy, Ph.D., president and CEO, PsychoGenics, Inc.

Dr. Leahy received her Ph.D. in Neuropharmacology from University College Dublin, Ireland, and her MBA from Columbia University. She is CEO of PsychoGenics Inc., a profitable preclinical CNS service company, and CEO of PGI Drug Discovery LLC, a platform company engaged in neuropsychiatric drug discovery with five partnered clinical programs including a first in class treatment for schizophrenia in Phase III, and several advanced preclinical programs. She also holds an adjunct associate professor of neuroscience position at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. Dr. Leahy has more than 30 years of experience in drug discovery, clinical development and business development for pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, including extensive knowledge of technology assessment, licensing, mergers and acquisitions and strategic planning. Dr. Leahy has held senior positions at both pharma and biotech companies including Boehringer Ingelheim.

Susan L. Levinson, Ph.D., chief executive officer, BioAegis Therapeutics, Inc.

Dr. Levinson is a co-founder and the CEO of BioAegis, with over 30 years of life sciences pharmaceutical and consulting experience spanning the pharmaceutical value chain, from the lab bench to marketing. She is also a co-founder and board member at Azure Biotech, a biotech focused on unmet needs in women’s health. Prior to BioAegis, Dr. Levinson was the president of the Strategic Choice, a management consulting firm she founded after a successful career in the pharmaceutical industry. At Novartis Pharmaceuticals, Dr. Levinson held executive positions in business strategy and marketing planning, leading key initiatives, including the implementation of a global brand planning model and managing the U.S. annual strategic and tactical planning process. Prior to this, Dr. Levinson was responsible for new product marketing for women’s health, osteoporosis and chronic wound markets for the U.S.

Scott Megaffin, president and CEO, Adastra Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

Megaffin joined Adastra Pharmaceuticals in 2018 as the president, chief executive officer and cirector. He has more than 30 years of related experience in the pharmaceutical industry. Megaffin plans and directs all aspects of Adastra strategy, corporate vision, supporting values, policies and initiatives. Prior to joining Adastra, he served as president of Churchill Pharmaceuticals, leading the transaction and sale to Sun Pharma. Megaffin has held numerous global strategic and operational positions of increasing responsibility within Onconova, Schering-Plough, Yamounchi, Pharmacia and Bristol Myers Squibb. During his career, he has led six global drug approvals and development programs, within a variety of therapeutic categories including oncology, hematology, virology, critical care, anti-infectives, pain and inflammation.

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