DRIVEN BY A COMMON PURPOSE

Our biotech company is passionately committed to moving gene therapies into the clinical setting for patients and families devastated by rare and orphan neurological genetic diseases. With the support of industry and academic alliances, we're advancing cutting-edge science in order to treat rare and life-threatening genetic diseases—starting with our clinical-stage, proprietary gene therapy candidate, AVXS‑101.

Our Leadership

  • Sean P. Nolan,
    CEO

    Sean P. Nolan

    President and Chief Executive Officer
    Board of Directors Member

    Mr. Nolan's past success:

    • As Chief Business Officer of InterMune Inc.—a biotech company later acquired by Roche Holding AG—Mr. Nolan led multiple functions, including North American commercial operations, global marketing, corporate and business development, and global manufacturing and supply chain. He also planned and executed the U.S. launch of InterMune's treatment for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, a rare and fatal lung disease with no other approved treatments.
    • As Chief Commercial Officer of Reata Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Mr. Nolan led the market strategy development and commercialization of the company's first in-class product pipeline.
    • At Ovation Pharmaceuticals, Inc.—a company focused on orphan neurology diseases—Mr. Nolan held numerous management positions including President of Lundbeck Inc., a U.S. affiliate. Ovation Pharmaceuticals was acquired by H. Lundbeck A/S in March 2009.

    Sean P. Nolan holds a B.A. in biology from John Carroll University and also currently serves on the board of directors of Aquinox Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

  • Thomas J. Dee,
    CFO

    Thomas J. Dee

    Senior Vice President, Chief Financial Officer

    Mr. Dee's past success:

    • From October 2013 to July 2015, Mr. Dee was an independent business development consultant to early-stage companies.
    • Mr. Dee has held a number of senior management positions, including: Vice President, International Finance Operations; Vice President, Controller Pharmaceutical Products; Vice President, Controller Abbott International; and Vice President, Internal Audit at Abbott Laboratories Inc.

    He's earned a B.A. from Northern Illinois University, an M.B.A. from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, and is a Certified Public Accountant. Mr. Dee currently serves as a director or trustee of several educational institutions, as well.

  • MICHAEL B. JOHANNESEN,
    SVP

    MICHAEL B. JOHANNESEN

    Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Chief Compliance Officer

    Mr. Johannesen's past success:

    • He served as Vice President and Associate General Counsel at Hospira, where he was responsible for the commercial and compliance functions of Hospira’s legal department.
    • Prior to Hospira, Mr. Johannesen also worked as an attorney in the legal departments of Abbott Laboratories and Whirlpool Corporation.
    • Mr. Johannesen began his legal career at Winston & Strawn in Chicago.

    Mr. Johannesen earned his juris doctorate degree from the University of Michigan Law School and holds a bachelor's degree in political science and public administration from the University of Illinois.

  • Dr. Brian K. Kaspar,
    CSO

    Brian K. Kaspar, PH.D.

    Chief Scientific Officer
    Board of Directors Member

    Dr. Kaspar's past success:

    • Since August 2004, he's served as a principal investigator in the Center for Gene Therapy at The Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital and associate professor in the Department of Pediatrics and Department of Neuroscience at The Ohio State University College of Medicine, where his research focuses on basic and translational studies related to neurological and neuromuscular disorders.
    • Dr. Brian Kaspar was named Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2013.
    • He's published more than 100 scientific articles in peer-reviewed journals.

    Dr. Kaspar earned a B.S. from the University of Illinois and a Ph.D. from the University of California, San Diego. Dr. Kaspar has also done post-doctoral training at the University of California, San Diego and the Salk Institute for Biological Studies.

  • Andrew Knudten,
    SVP

    Andrew Knudten

    Senior Vice President, Manufacturing and Supply Chain

    Mr. Knudten's past success:

    • As Vice President of Operations and Vice President of API Operations at Hospira Inc., Mr. Knudten had overall global responsibility for the company's API business.
    • He served as Global Head of Contract Manufacturing and Strategy for Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics, Inc.
    • Mr. Knudten also held the position of Vice President of Manufacturing at CoDa Therapeutics Inc.
    • From 1994 to 2007, he took on various research, product development, finance and operations roles at Amgen Inc.—supporting the development of numerous pipeline products and more than five eventual commercial products now being marketed by Amgen.

    Mr. Knudten holds a B.S. in biology and health from Concordia University, an M.S. in cell biology from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, and an M.B.A. from the Anderson School at the University of California, Los Angeles.

  • Dr. James J. L’Italien,
    SVP

    James J. L’Italien, PH.D.

    Senior Vice President, Chief Regulatory and Quality Officer

    Dr. L’Italien's past success:

    • As Senior Vice President of Regulatory Affairs and Quality Assurance for InterMune Inc., Dr. L’Italien oversaw all global regulatory affairs and quality assurance activities in support of the company's commercial- and development-stage pharmaceutical programs—including the regulatory process for Esbriet®, which was granted a breakthrough designation by the FDA.
    • As Vice President of Regulatory Affairs and Quality Assurance for the Geron Corporation, Dr. L’Italien supported development-stage programs in oncology and stem cell therapy.
    • He served as Senior Vice President of Regulatory Affairs and Quality Assurance at Somaxon Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
    • Dr. L’Italien also held the global position of Senior Vice President of Regulatory Affairs and Compliance at Ligand Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

    Dr. L’Italien earned a B.S. in chemistry from Merrimack College and his Ph.D. in protein biochemistry from Boston University.

  • Rick Modi,
    CBO

    RICK MODI

    Senior Vice President, Chief Business Officer

    Mr. Modi's past success:

    • He brings more than 15 years of commercial, business, and corporate experience to the position, including pre-launch preparation and global product launch experience in rare disease settings.
    • Prior to AveXis, Mr. Modi held positions of increasing responsibilities in sales, marketing, access and corporate strategy at Centocor (Johnson & Johnson), Medimmune (AstraZeneca) and InterMune (Roche), where he played leadership roles in product launches in multiple different rare disease indications.
    • Most recently, Mr. Modi served as Chief Business Officer at Catabasis Pharmaceuticals.
    • Mr. Modi earned a BS degree in Pharmacy from the University of Iowa and an MBA from the Wharton School.
  • Dr. Sukumar Nagendran,
    CMO

    Sukumar Nagendran, M.D.

    Senior Vice President, Chief Medical Officer

    Dr. Nagendran's past success:

    • He held the role of Vice President, Head of Medical Affairs of U.S. and international business for Quest Diagnostics Inc.—the largest lab/diagnostics provider in the world.
    • Dr. Nagendran served as Vice President, Head of Medical Affairs for the biotechnology company Reata Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
    • At Daiichi Sankyo Company, he took on a number of leadership positions, including head of new products, metabolism, oncology, biometrics, and clinical operations for medical affairs.

    Dr. Nagendran received a B.A. from Rutgers University and an M.D. from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. He also trained in Internal Medicine at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, and is a Mayo Alumni Laureate.

  • R.A. SESSION II,
    SVP

    R.A. SESSION II

    Senior Vice President, Corporate Strategy & Project Management

    Mr. Session’s past success:

    • Mr. Session held senior management positions at PTC Therapeutics, including Vice President, Commercial Development for APAC/LATAM Partnerships and Vice President, Corporate Development.
    • He has held a number of senior roles across the industry, including: Senior Director, Strategic Planning & Finance at Reata Pharmaceuticals; Senior Manager, Managed Markets at AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals; Senior Analyst, Strategic Business Group at Ortho-McNeil Janssen Pharmaceutical; and Senior Analyst, Global Drug Development, Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical Research and Development.

    Mr. Session earned a B.S.B.A. from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and an M.B.A. and M.S.F. from Texas A&M University at Commerce, College of Business and Technology. He also is a member of the Society of Kauffman Fellows.

  • LORI J. SMITH,
    SVP

    LORI J. SMITH

    Senior Vice President, Chief Human Resources Officer

    Ms. Smith’s past success:

    • Ms. Smith’s career has been focused in the human resources space across the pharmaceutical industry. She most recently served as an independent business consultant.
    • From 1999 to 2007, Ms. Smith held a number of senior management positions at Takeda Pharmaceuticals North America, including: Senior Vice President, Human Resources and Administration; Vice President, Human Resources and Administration; and Director, Human Resources.
    • Prior to Takeda, Ms. Smith served as Director of Human Resources across several functions at Abbott Laboratories, and has served as the Vice President of Human Resources at Gateway, the third largest PC company in the U.S. at the time.

    Ms. Smith earned a B.S. from the University of Wisconsin.

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Our Board of Directors

  • Daniel G. Welch

    Daniel G. Welch

    • Mr. Welch has served as a member, and the Chairman, of our board of directors since January 2016. Our board of directors believes that Mr. Welch should serve as Chairman based on his operational and strategic expertise and his extensive experience in leading companies from clinical-stage drug development to large-scale global commercialization.
    • He is an executive partner at Sofinnova Ventures, a position he has held since January 2015.
    • Mr. Welch previously served as the President, Chief Executive Officer and a director of InterMune, Inc. from September 2003 to September 2014, and from May 2007 to September 2014 also served as the Chairman of the board of directors of InterMune.
    • From August 2002 to January 2003, Mr. Welch served as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Triangle Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
    • He currently serves on the boards of directors of Seattle Genetics, Inc., Ultragenyx Pharmaceutical Inc., where he also serves as Chairman, and Intercept Pharmaceuticals, Inc. He previously served on the board of directors of Hyperion Therapeutics, Inc. from 2012 to 2015.
    • Mr. Welch received a B.S. from the University of Miami and an M.B.A from the University of North Carolina.
  • Dr. Brian K. Kaspar

    Brian K. Kaspar, PH.D.

    Chief Scientific Officer
    Board of Directors Member

    Dr. Kaspar's professional experience:

    • Since August 2004, he's served as a principal investigator in the Center for Gene Therapy at The Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital and associate professor in the Department of Pediatrics and Department of Neuroscience at The Ohio State University College of Medicine, where his research focuses on basic and translational studies related to neurological and neuromuscular disorders.
    • Dr. Brian Kaspar was named Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2013.
    • He's published more than 100 scientific articles in peer-reviewed journals.
    • Dr. Kaspar earned a B.S. from the University of Illinois and a Ph.D. from the University of California, San Diego.
    • Dr. Kaspar has also done post-doctoral training at the University of California, San Diego and the Salk Institute for Biological Studies.
  • Terrence C. Kearney

    Terrence C. Kearney

    • Mr. Kearney served on the executive management team from 2004 to 2011 for Hospira, Inc., a global pharmaceutical and medical device company, where he held the roles of Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer.
    • Prior to Hospira, Mr. Kearney worked for 25 years in a variety of financial management roles at Abbott Laboratories.
    • Serves on the board of directors of Acceleron Pharma Inc.; Innoviva (formerly known as Theravance, Inc.) and Vertex Pharmaceuticals Incorporated.
    • Mr. Kearney holds a B.S. in biology from the University of Illinois and an M.B.A from the University of Denver.
  • Dr. Bong Koh

    Bong Koh, M.D.

    • Since 2009, Dr. Koh has been a partner at Venrock, a venture capital firm, where he is a manager of Venrock's public and crossover biotechnology funds.
    • Dr. Koh earned his M.D. from the University of California, San Francisco.
    • He also holds a B.A. from Yale University and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School.
  • Paul B. Manning

    Paul B. Manning

    • Mr. Manning holds the position of President and Chief Executive Officer of PBM Capital Group—a private equity investment firm in the business of investing in healthcare and life-science-related companies—which he founded in 2010.
    • Mr. Manning founded PBM Products, LLC—a producer of infant formula and baby food, which was sold to Perrigo Corporation in 2010.
    • He serves as a director of the National Neurovision Research Institute, the clinical trial support organization of the Foundation Fighting Blindness, and was previously on the boards of directors of Perrigo Corporation and Concordia Heathcare Corp.
    • He's an active member on the UVA Health Foundation Board of Trustees.
    • Mr. Manning earned a B.S. in microbiology from the University of Massachusetts.
  • Sean P. Nolan, CEO

    Sean P. Nolan, CEO

    President and Chief Executive Officer
    Board of Directors Member

    Mr. Nolan's professional experience:

    • As Chief Business Officer of InterMune Inc.—a biotech company later acquired by Roche Holding AG—Mr. Nolan led multiple functions, including North American commercial operations, global marketing, corporate and business development, and global manufacturing and supply chain. He also planned and executed the U.S. launch of InterMune's treatment for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, a rare and fatal lung disease with no other approved treatments.
    • As Chief Commercial Officer of Reata Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Mr. Nolan led the market strategy development and commercialization of the company's first in-class product pipeline.
    • At Ovation Pharmaceuticals, Inc.—a company focused on orphan neurology diseases—Mr. Nolan held numerous management positions, including President of Lundbeck Inc., a U.S. affiliate. Ovation Pharmaceuticals was acquired by H. Lundbeck A/S in March 2009.
    • He currently serves on the board of directors of Aquinox Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
    • Mr. Nolan holds a B.A. in biology from John Carroll University.
  • Dr. Joao Siffert

    Dr. Joao Siffert

    • Since May 2016, Dr. Siffert has served as chief medical officer and head of development at Nestlé Health Science S.A.
    • Previously, Dr. Siffert was executive vice president, research and development and chief medical officer of Avanir Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
    • He completed residencies in both pediatrics at New York University Medical School of Medicine and in neurology at Harvard Medical School.
    • Dr. Siffert holds an M.D. degree from the University of São Paulo School of Medicine, as well as an M.B.A. degree from Columbia University Business School.
  • Dr. Frank Verwiel

    Dr. Frank Verwiel

    • Dr. Verwiel was President and Chief Executive Officer of Aptalis Pharma (previously known as Axcan Pharma) from 2005 to 2014, where he also served on the board of directors.
    • Previously held a variety of international management positions at Merck & Co. Inc. and Servier Laboratories.
    • Served on the board of directors of InterMune, Inc. and the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO). Currently serves on the boards of directors of Achillion Pharmaceuticals Inc. and Obseva SA; also an observer of the board of directors of Bavarian Nordic A/S.
    • Dr. Verwiel holds an M.D. from the Erasmus University, Rotterdam in the Netherlands and an M.B.A. from INSEAD, Fontainebleau in France.
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