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.  Prior to BioCryst, Mr. Higgins was a member of the healthcare banking team of Dillon, Read & Co. Inc.  Currently, he is a Director on the Board of BioTechne Corporation and serves as chairperson of its Audit Committee and member of its Nominating and Governance Committee.  He graduated Magna Cum Laude from Colgate University with an AB in economics.

Matthew Foehr

President and Chief Operating Officer

Matt Foehr has over 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 Laboratories, Inc. 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 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 Board of Viking Therapeutics Inc. Mr. Foehr authored multiple scientific publications and is named on numerous U.S. patents.  He received a BS in biology from Santa Clara University.

Matthew Korenberg

Executive Vice President, Finance and Chief Financial Officer

Matthew Korenberg has more than 20 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 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, Inc., a company which develops and manufactures oncology focused therapeutics and diagnostic products.  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 Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary since April 2007.  Mr. Berkman joined Ligand in November 2001 and previously served as Associate General Counsel and Chief Patent Counsel for the Company.  Prior to joining the Company, Mr. Berkman was an attorney at the international law firm of Baker & McKenzie from 2000 to 2001.  Before that he served as an attorney at the law firm of Lyon & Lyon from 1993 to 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.  He is admitted to the State Bar of California.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Lin Zhi, PhD

Vice President, Chemistry and Pharmaceutical Sciences

Dr. Zhi joined Ligand in 1992 and is mainly responsible for Ligand's Chemistry and Pharmaceutical Science 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 and is the inventor of the LTPTM Technology platform.  Dr. Zhi received his BS and MS in chemistry from Beijing University.  He obtained a PhD in synthetic organic chemistry from Emory University and did postdoctoral training at Stanford University.  He is a coauthor of more than 60 publications and inventor on more than 100 issued U.S. patents.