Management Team

Senior Management

John Higgins

Chief Executive Officer

John Higgins is Chief Executive Officer and a member of the Board of Directors of Ligand. 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 and CoMentis 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 Foehr

President and Chief Operating Officer

Matthew 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.

Matthew Korenberg

Executive Vice President, Finance and Chief Financial Officer

Matthew Korenberg has more than 18 years of healthcare business experience across healthcare investing banking and operations. Prior to joining Ligand in 2015, Mr. Korenberg was the founder and Chief Executive Officer 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. During his fourteen 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 holds a BBA in Finance and Accounting from The University of Michigan.

Charles Berkman, JD

Senior 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

Senior 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

Keith Marschke, Ph.D.

Senior Vice President, Biology and Scientific Affairs

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.

Lin Zhi, Ph.D.

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.

Eric Vajda, Ph.D.

Vice President, Preclinical Research and Development

Dr. Eric Vajda joined Ligand in 2002 and is the head of preclinical research and development. Dr. Vajda has had leadership roles in multiple research projects at Ligand including the Selective Androgen Receptor Modulator (SARM) program, Interleukin-1 Receptor Associated Kinase 4 (IRAK4) program, and Glucagon Receptor Antagonist program. Prior to joining Ligand, Dr. Vajda was a Sr. Research Scientist at Bayer Corporation in the departments of osteoporosis and cancer research. Dr. Vajda earned a B.S. from Yale University and a Ph.D. in Bioengineering from the University of Utah. Dr. Vajda held a research fellowship position at the Klinik Wilhelm Schulthess in Zürich, Switzerland 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.

Captisol Leadership

Vince Antle, Ph.D.

Senior Vice President, Technical Operations

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.

James Pipkin, Ph.D.

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), an Orphan designated drug, or reformulations of existing drugs for life cycle management via the 505(b)(2) regulatory pathway. 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 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 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.

OmniAb Leadership

Christel Iffland, Ph.D.

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. Dr. Iffland currently 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 Ph.D. 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.


Brian Lundstrom

Vice President

Brian Lundstrom has over 25 years of experience with R&D-driven and commercially operating biopharmaceutical companies, including six years in product and clinical development based in Europe and over 20 years in business development and financing functions based in the US. He has led over 70 corporate transactions, predominantly related to therapeutic human antibodies. Mr. Lundstrom started his career in 1987 with Novo Nordisk and UCB. During 2000-2004 he led the business development function at SangStat, including its sale and integration into Genzyme. During 2004-2011, Mr. Lundstrom was responsible for business and commercial development for ACADIA and ISCO. In 2011 he joined Open Monoclonal Technology (OMT) which was acquired by Ligand in 2016. He holds an MSc in immunology and molecular biology from Copenhagen Technical University and business degrees in international business management and finance from Copenhagen Business School, Monterey Institute of International Studies and Seattle University.