Ligand Leadership


Senior Management Team

John Higgins, Chief Executive Officer

John Higgins is Chief Executive Officer and a member of the Board of Directors of Ligand Pharmaceuticals Inc. Prior to joining Ligand, Mr. Higgins served as Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President, Finance and Administration and Corporate Development, of Connetics Corporation, a specialty pharmaceutical company acquired by Stiefel Laboratories in 2006. Before joining Connetics, he was a member of the executive management team at BioCryst Pharmaceuticals. Currently, he is a Director on the Boards of BioTechne Corporation, CoMentis and Blue Zones and serves as Chairperson of the BioTechne Audit Committee. Prior to BioCryst, Mr. Higgins was a member of the healthcare banking team of Dillon, Read & Co. Inc., an investment banking firm. He graduated Magna Cum Laude from Colgate University with an AB in economics.


Matthew W. Foehr, President and Chief Operating Officer

Matthew W. Foehr has 20 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry, having managed global operations and research and development programs. Prior to joining Ligand in 2011, he was Vice President and Head of Consumer Dermatology R&D, as well as Acting Chief Scientific Officer of Dermatology, in the Stiefel division of GlaxoSmithKline (GSK). Following GSK's $3.6 billion acquisition of Stiefel in 2009, Mr. Foehr led the R&D integration of Stiefel into GSK. At Stiefel Laboratories, Inc., Mr. Foehr served as Senior Vice President of Global R&D Operations, Senior Vice President of Product Development & Support, and Vice President of Global Supply Chain Technical Services. Prior to Stiefel, Mr. Foehr held various executive roles at Connetics Corporation including Senior Vice President of Technical Operations and Vice President of Manufacturing. Currently, he is a Director on the Boards of Ritter Pharmaceuticals and Viking Therapeutics Inc. Mr. Foehr is the author of multiple scientific publications and is named on numerous U.S. patents. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Santa Clara University.


Melanie Herman, Chief Accounting Officer and Interim Chief Financial Officer

Melanie Herman joined Ligand in January 2011 as the Company's Controller, and was named Director of Accounting in March 2014 and Chief Accounting Officer in April 2014. Previously she was Controller at CyDex Pharmaceuticals, Inc. from 2009 to 2011, Assistant Controller and Accounting Manager at Entertainment Properties Trust from 2004 to 2009 and Senior Accountant at KPMG, LLP from 2001 to 2004. Ms. Herman holds a Bachelor of Science with a dual major of Accounting and Finance from Kansas State University, is a Certified Public Accountant (inactive) and a member of the Association for Bioscience Financial Officers.


Charles Berkman, JD, Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary

Charles Berkman has served as our Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary since April 2007. Mr. Berkman joined the Company in November 2001 and previously served as Associate General Counsel and Chief Patent Counsel for the Company (and Secretary since March 2007). Prior to joining the Company, Mr. Berkman was an attorney at the international law firm of Baker & McKenzie from November 2000 to November 2001. Before that he served as an attorney at the law firm of Lyon & Lyon from 1993 to November 2000, where he specialized in intellectual property law. Mr. Berkman earned a BS in chemistry from the University of Texas and a JD from the University of Texas School of Law. 


Audrey Warfield-Graham, Vice President, Human Resources

Audrey Warfield-Graham directs Human Resources. Ms. Warfield-Graham has worked continuously in the Human Resources department since joining Ligand in December 1994. She has held a progression of positions with increased responsibilities during her tenure at Ligand. She was promoted to Vice President, Human Resources in January 2007. Her previous Human Resources experience was with Fresh Western, an interstate agricultural business located in Monterey County, California. Ms. Warfield-Graham's management experience includes benefits administration, change management, employee relations, leave management, recruitment, staffing strategies, stock administration and performance management. She received her SPHR certification in January 2007.


Research Leadership

Lin Zhi, PhD, Vice President, Chemistry and Pharmaceutical Sciences

Dr. Lin Zhi joined the Company in 1992 and is mainly responsible for Ligand's Chemistry and Pharmaceutical Development activities. Dr. Zhi specializes in the area of small-molecule drug discovery and development. He has been instrumental in producing many of Ligand's development compounds and programs through the years. Dr. Zhi received his B.S. and M.S. in chemistry from Beijing University. He obtained his Ph.D. in synthetic organic chemistry from Emory University and did postdoctoral training at Stanford University. He is a coauthor of more than 60 publications and holds more than 70 issued US patents.

Keith Marschke, PhD, Vice President, Biology

Dr. Keith Marschke joined Ligand in 1994 and is currently the head of Biology. He has had leadership roles in many of Ligand's most successful internal and collaborative discovery programs, including the TPO, EPO and GCSF Receptor Agonist programs, the Selective Androgen Receptor Modulator (SARM) program, and the Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulator (SERM) program. Dr. Marschke received his PhD in Molecular and Cellular Pathobiology from the Bowman Gray School of Medicine at Wake Forest University, and held a postdoctoral research position in the Laboratories for Reproductive Biology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He is the author of more than 50 publications.

Captisol® Leadership

James D. Pipkin, PhD, Vice President, New Product Development

Dr. Pipkin joined Ligand in 2011, following Ligand's acquisition of Cydex Pharmaceuticals. He joined Cydex in 2001. Dr. Pipkin's responsibilities include leading internal or assisting clients with development of new applications, intellectual property and products utilizing CAPTISOL, whether the application involves new molecular entities (NMEs) or reformulations of existing drugs for life cycle management. Prior to joining the Company, he was Executive Director for CMC Services and Director of Formulation Development at Oread Laboratories from 1995 to 2001. From 1986 through 1995, he was a Research Fellow with Merck Research Laboratories in the INTERx Research Division and West Point PR&D facilities; his area of research interest was in the design and evaluation of controlled release devices to enhance therapeutic efficacy and lower systemic burden. He was at The Squibb Institute for Medical Research from 1980 through 1985, where he directed the preformulation activities for new chemical entities. He has contributed to numerous presentations, publications and patents and holds a M.S. and Ph.D. from The University of Kansas in Pharmaceutical Chemistry, and B.A. in Mathematics and Chemistry from Kansas University.


Vince Antle, Vice President, Technical Operations & Quality Assurance

Dr. Antle joined Ligand in 2011 following Ligand's acquisition of Cydex Pharmaceuticals. He joined Cydex in 2005. Dr. Antle is currently responsible for quality assurance, internal drug product quality, operations, distribution and logistics for Captisol. From 1999 to 2005 Dr. Antle was Technical Operations Manager and Head of Process Development at EaglePicher Pharmaceuticals Services. Prior to 1999, Vince was the Group Leader for the Combinatorial Chemistry Department of MDS Panlabs in Bothell Washington. Dr. Antle has contributed to publications, presentation and patents and holds a Ph.D. from the University of Cincinnati in Medicinal Chemistry, and a B.A. in Chemistry from the University of Minnesota, Morris.