Senior Management Team
John Higgins, President and CEO
John Higgins is President, 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 Techne Corporation, CoMentis and BioCryst and serves as Chairperson of the Techne 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, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer
Matthew W. Foehr has more than 18 years of experience managing global 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. 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.
Nishan de Silva, MD, Vice President of Corporate Development
Nishan de Silva, M.D. has more than thirteen years of healthcare experience across healthcare investing and management consulting. Prior to joining Ligand, Dr. de Silva served as a Principal of private equity firm Warburg Pincus LLC, where he was responsible for sourcing late-stage biopharmaceutical investments. Over the previous eight years, he evaluated hundreds of biopharmaceutical company investment opportunities, negotiated and structured major equity positions for several companies and served on the Board of Directors for several public and private biopharmaceutical companies. Prior to joining Warburg Pincus, Dr. de Silva worked in healthcare venture capital at Sprout Group and as a management consultant at McKinsey & Company, where he focused on growth strategy projects for senior management at leading global pharmaceutical and healthcare services companies. Dr. de Silva holds an M.D. from The University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, an M.B.A. in Healthcare Management from The Wharton School, and an A.B. in Biology from Harvard College.
John Sharp, CPA, Vice President, Finance and CFO
Prior to joining Ligand, Mr. Sharp served as Vice President of Finance and Principal Accounting Officer for Sequenom, (NASDAQ: SQNM). From August 2000 to November 2004, Mr. Sharp served as Director of Accounting at Diversa Corporation, a publicly traded biotech company, where he was responsible for managing the overall accounting function, including financial reporting, internal controls, and corporate governance, during a period of significant company growth. From January 1994 to August 2000, Mr. Sharp was at the public accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, most recently as a Senior Audit Manager. He received a BS from San Diego State University, and is a Certified Public Accountant (inactive) and a member of the Association of 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.
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.
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