Management Team

Senior Management

John Higgins

Chief Executive Officer

John L. Higgins is Chief Executive Officer and a member of the Board of Directors of Ligand. Prior to joining our company, Mr. Higgins served as Chief Financial Officer at Connetics Corporation, a specialty pharmaceutical company, since 1997, and also served as Executive Vice President, Finance and Administration and Corporate Development at Connetics until its acquisition by Stiefel Laboratories, Inc. in December 2006. Before joining Connetics, he was a member of the executive management team at BioCryst Pharmaceuticals. Prior to BioCryst, Mr. Higgins was a member of the healthcare banking team of Dillon, Read & Co. Inc., an investment banking firm. Mr. Higgins serves on the board, audit committee and nominations & governance committee of Bio-Techne Corporation, a publicly-traded life sciences services. Mr. Higgins has served as a director on numerous public and private companies. He also serves as the chairperson of the board of trustees of Academy of Whole Learning, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing educational and therapy services to children of underrepresented communities. He graduated Magna Cum Laude from Colgate University with an A.B. in economics.

Matthew Foehr

President and Chief Operating Officer

Matthew W. Foehr, has been our President and Chief Operating Officer since January 2015. Prior to that time, Mr. Foehr served as our Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer since 2011, and has more than 20 years of experience managing global research and development programs. Prior to joining our company 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 serves on the Board of Directors of Viking Therapeutics, Inc., a publicly-traded biotechnology company and served as a director of Ritter Pharmaceuticals, Inc. from February 2015 until its merger with Qualigen Therapeutics, Inc. in May 2020. Mr. Foehr is the author of multiple scientific publications and is named on numerous U.S. patents. He received his B.S. degree in biology from Santa Clara University.

Matthew Korenberg

Executive Vice President, Finance and Chief Financial Officer

Matthew Korenberg, has served as our Executive Vice President, Finance and Chief Financial Officer since January 2018 and prior to that as our Vice President, Finance and Chief Financial Officer since August 2015. Prior to joining our company, commencing in September 2013, Mr. Korenberg was the founder, Chief Executive Officer and a director of NeuroCircuit Therapeutics, a company focused on developing drugs to treat genetic disorders of the brain with an initial focus on Down syndrome. Prior to founding NeuroCircuit Therapeutics, Mr. Korenberg was a Managing Director and member of the healthcare investment banking team at Goldman Sachs from July 1999 through August 2013. During his 14 year tenure at Goldman Sachs, Mr. Korenberg was focused on advising and financing companies in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical sectors and was based in New York, London and San Francisco. Prior to Goldman Sachs, Mr. Korenberg was a healthcare investment banker at Dillon, Read & Co. Inc. where he spent two years working with healthcare companies in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical sectors and industrial companies. Mr. Korenberg serves on the board, audit and compensation committees of Qualigen Therapeutics, Inc., a company which develops and manufactures oncology focused therapeutics and diagnostic products. Mr. Korenberg holds a B.B.A. in Finance and Accounting from the University of Michigan.

Charles Berkman, JD

Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary

Charles S. Berkman, J.D., has served as our Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary since January 2018 and prior to that as our Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary since April 2007. Mr. Berkman joined our company in November 2001 and previously served as Associate General Counsel and Chief Patent Counsel for our company (and Secretary since March 2007). Prior to joining our 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 B.S. in chemistry from the University of Texas and a J.D. from the University of Texas School of Law.

Audrey Warfield-Graham

Senior Vice President, Human Resources

Audrey Warfield-Graham directs Human Resources at Ligand.  Ms. Warfield-Graham has worked continuously in the Human Resources department since joining the Company in December 1994.  She has held a progression of positions with increased responsibilities during her tenure at Ligand.  She was promoted to Senior Vice President, Human Resources in 2018 and to Vice President, Human Resources in 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.

OmniAb Leadership

Bill Harriman, PhD

Vice President, Antibody Discovery Services

Dr. Harriman has 25 years of biopharma industry experience in the development of innovative antibody-focused technology and project management.  Dr. Harriman joined Ligand in 2017 with the acquisition of Crystal Bioscience, where he was co-Founder and CSO, contributing key technology to enable the development of the OmniChicken platform, and overseeing its implementation in corporate partnerships.  Prior to Crystal, Dr. Harriman was an R&D Director at Trellis Bioscience, where he managed antibody discovery projects and was co-inventor of the company’s CellSpot technology platform.  Dr. Harriman has also held positions at Abgenix and Roche Diagnostics, and is a listed inventor on more than 30 issued or pending patents in the antibody field.  Dr. Harriman has received a PhD in immunology from the University of California San Francisco and an MBA from the University of California Berkeley.

Christel Iffland, PhD

Vice President, Antibody Technologies

Dr. Iffland joined Ligand in 2017 from Merck KGaA/EMD Serono where she served as Associate Director of Antibody Technologies, a Senior Scientist of Phage Technologies and Structural Biology and Group Leader of Antibody Display Technologies.  At Ligand Dr. Iffland supports current and new partnerships and collaborations for the OmniAb franchise, providing scientific guidance and input. Additionally, she contributes to the continued growth and next-generation innovation of OmniAb, and to the technical assessment of new opportunities.  Dr. Iffland received her PhD in molecular and cell biology from the Université de Nice Sophia-Antipolis in Nice, France and completed post-doctoral research training at both the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute at Harvard Medical School and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.  Dr. Iffland is an author of numerous scientific publications and patents.

Marie-Cecile van de Lavoir, DVM, PhD

Vice President, Operations

Dr. van de Lavoir joined Ligand in 2017, following Ligand’s acquisition of Crystal Biosciences.  Starting as a staff veterinarian at the University of Utrecht, The Netherlands, Dr. van de Lavoir has focused on animal reproduction and her research has been at the forefront of many new reproductive technologies in mammals and birds.  She is considered an authority on avian primordial germ cells and is sought out frequently for advice.  In 2008 she co-founded and became the Chief Operating Officer of Crystal Bioscience.  As part of a five-year contract on species-conservation, she directed and managed a team in the United Arab Emirates.  She has authored many scientific publications and holds numerous U.S. patents.  She was a Fulbright scholar and MRC fellow (Canada).  Dr. van de Lavoir holds a DVM from the University of Utrecht and a PhD in animal reproductive physiology from the University of Guelph, Canada.  

Icagen Leadership

Douglas Krafte

Site Head and General Manager

Dr. Krafte joined Ligand in 2020, following Ligand’s acquisition of Icagen.  Dr. Krafte has 30 years of experience in the pharmaceutical and biotech industry managing research sites and R&D programs.  Prior to joining Ligand, he was Chief Scientific Officer at Icagen and an executive officer of the company where he helped establish collaborative programs with Roche and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.  Dr. Krafte previously was Executive Director & Site Head for the U.S. arm of Pfizer’s Pain & Sensory Disorders Research Unit, where on the Emerging Science Fund he evaluated a wide range of asset and technology opportunities across all therapeutic and platform areas.  He has held positions at Boehringer Ingelheim and Aurora Biosciences focused on drug discovery projects and technology development.  Dr. Krafte is the author of multiple peer-reviewed scientific papers and several patents and has advised entrepreneurial groups for local North Carolina universities.  He is currently a non-academic student advisor for the Neuroscience Department at UNC-Chapel Hill.  Dr. Krafte completed his post-doctoral training at the California Institute of Technology in Molecular Neurobiology, received an MS/PhD in Physiology from the University of Rochester and a BS in molecular biology from Vanderbilt University.

Pelican Expression Technology Leadership

Diane Retallack, PhD

SVP, Platform Technology and Innovation

Diane Retallack, PhD has over 25 years experience in molecular biology, microbial genetics and protein expression. As a founding member of the team that established the Pelican Expression Technology™ platform within Dow Chemical Company, she has contributed to partnered and internal programs focused on strain engineering and upstream processing, supporting CMC development through regulatory filing. An inventor on over 70 granted patents and over 35 active patent applications, she actively managed the Pelican Expression Technology™ patent portfolio following the spin out from Dow, expanding the platform and product related intellectual property estate. Dr. Retallack earned her PhD in Microbiology and Immunology from the University of Michigan, completed post-doctoral studies in the Medical Microbiology and Immunology department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and is a registered patent agent.

Jeff Allen, PhD

VP, Protein Sciences

Jeff Allen, PhD was a founding member of the Pelican team responsible for analytical development, detailed protein product characterization, downstream processing, and regulatory CMC to support internal and partnered programs. Now with Ligand, Dr. Allen supports current and new partnerships and collaborations for Pelican Expression Technology™, providing scientific oversight and input to the continued growth, innovation, and technical assessment of new opportunities. Dr. Allen has more than 25 years of experience in protein biochemistry having held positions as R&D Leader of Analytical Biochemistry and Senior R&D Biochemist at DowPharma, a business within The Dow Chemical Company, prior to forming Pfenex in 2009. He joined Dow in 1999 where his main responsibilities included R&D support in Dow’s Human Health and Diagnostics platform. Dr. Allen has authored and contributed to multiple publications, presentations, global regulatory filings, and patents and holds a PhD in Biochemistry from Utah State University, and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Molecular Biology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Keith Haney

VP, Operations

Keith Haney, Vice President of Development Operations, leads our technology transfer, manufacturing, quality, and project and alliance management teams. Joining Mycogen Corporation in 1992, Mr. Haney performed in roles supporting discovery and process development including multiple agricultural products utilizing Pseudomonas fluorescens to deliver insecticidal proteins. Following the acquisition of Mycogen by The Dow Chemical Company, Mr. Haney developed fermentation processes for internal projects and client programs utilizing the Pelican Expression Technology™ for both industrial and pharmaceutical applications. Subsequently, he has transferred a number of processes into cGMP manufacturing facilities and had the opportunity to lead cross-functional product development teams, including the team which developed Bonsity™, Pelican’s first commercial product. Mr. Haney has contributed to multiple publications and patents and holds a BA in Biological Sciences from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Captisol Leadership

Vince Antle, PhD

Senior Vice President, Technical Operations and QA

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, he was 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 PhD from the University of Cincinnati in medicinal chemistry, and a BA in chemistry from the University of Minnesota, Morris.

James 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 development of new applications, intellectual property and products utilizing Captisol both internally and assisting clients, whether the application involves new molecular entities, an Orphan designated drug or reformulations of existing drugs for lifecycle management via the 505(b)(2) regulatory pathway.  Prior to joining Ligand, 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 was in the design and evaluation of controlled-release devices for ophthalmic and oral delivery 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 pre-formulation activities for new chemical entities.  He has contributed to numerous presentations, publications and patents and holds MS and PhD degrees from The University of Kansas in pharmaceutical chemistry, and a BA in mathematics and chemistry from Kansas University.

Research Leadership

Keith Marschke, PhD

Senior Vice President, Biology and Scientific Affairs

Dr. Marschke joined Ligand in 1994 and is currently the head of Biology and Scientific Affairs. He has had leadership roles in many of Ligand's most successful internal and collaborative discovery and development programs, including the Thrombopoietin (TPO) Receptor Agonist, Selective Androgen Receptor Modulator (SARM), Glucagon Receptor Antagonist (GRA), and Captisol-enabled Iohexol programs.  Dr. Marschke received a 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 60 publications.

Eric Vajda, PhD

Vice President, Preclinical Research and Development

Dr. Vajda joined Ligand in 2002 and is the head of preclinical research and development.  Dr. Vajda has held leadership roles in multiple research projects at Ligand including the Selective Androgen Receptor Modulator (SARM) program, the Interleukin-1 Receptor Associated Kinase 4 (IRAK4) program and the Glucagon Receptor Antagonist program.  Prior to joining Ligand, Dr. Vajda was a Senior Research Scientist at Bayer Corporation in the departments of osteoporosis and cancer research.  Dr. Vajda earned a BS from Yale University and a PhD in Bioengineering from the University of Utah.  Dr. Vajda held a research fellowship position at the Klinik Wilhelm Schulthess in Zürich and a postdoctoral research position in the Division of Radiobiology at the University of Utah.  Dr. Vajda has served as a reviewer for multiple scientific journals and has authored more than 50 scientific publications and presentations.