A shared vision for a world without genetic disease
We are fortunate to work with a board of directors who are deeply invested in our success and provide unwavering support to advance our technology and business.
President, Pharmaceuticals Division & Board Member, Bayer AG
Stefan Oelrich has been a member of the Board of Management of Bayer AG and Head of the Pharmaceuticals Division, headquartered in Berlin, Germany, since November 1, 2018. He is also responsible for the region Latin America. After graduating from high school in Paris, France, he joined Bayer AG as a commercial trainee in 1989 and qualified as a commercial assistant in 1991. Over the next 20 years, he held several positions of increasing responsibility in the health care business in Latin America, Europe and the United States. In 1998, after working in Argentina and Uruguay, Oelrich transferred to headquarters in Leverkusen for two years before assuming responsibility for Pharmaceuticals in Belgium. Between 2003 and 2005, he was Vice President of Marketing at Pharmaceuticals in the United States. He was subsequently appointed President of Healthcare and Diagnostics in France. In 2006, Oelrich returned to the United States as Senior Vice President and General Manager of Women’s Healthcare. In 2011, he joined Sanofi as General Manager in Germany, Switzerland and Austria. In 2015, Oelrich became head of Sanofi’s Diabetes and Cardiovascular business unit in Europe. At the same time, he served as Sanofi Europe Coordinator. In 2016, Oelrich became head of Sanofi’s global diabetes franchise. A year later, he was appointed Executive Vice President Diabetes & Cardiovascular on the Executive Committee of Sanofi. Since 2016, Oelrich has been a member of the Supervisory Board of the Berlin Institute of Health.
Wolfram Carius, PhD
Executive Vice President, Cell & Gene Therapy, Bayer AG
Wolfram Carius is the Head of Pharmaceuticals Product Supply since September 1, 2016 (Chemicals, Pharma, Biotech, Devices) at Bayer AG and is a member of the Executive Committee for Bayer Pharmaceuticals. He is based in Berlin, Germany. Prior to joining Bayer, Carius was a corporate senior vice president and member of the global leadership team at Sanofi Genzyme for two years. Before that, he worked for Boehringer Ingelheim from 1987 to the end of 2013, eventually becoming responsible for that company’s worldwide chemical, pharmaceutical, and biopharma production network. In his 30 years in the pharmaceutical industry he has worked in Asia, South America and Europe. In 2009, the Biberach University of Applied Sciences awarded him the title of honorary professor in recognition for his long and exceptional service.
Marianne De Backer, PhD
Executive Vice President, Head of Global Business Development & Licensing; Executive Committee Member at Bayer AG Pharmaceuticals
Marianne De Backer is Executive Vice President, Head of Global Business Development & Licensing, and a member of the Executive Committee of the Pharmaceuticals Division of Bayer AG. Before joining Bayer, Dr. De Backer held a series of positions in the Johnson & Johnson family of companies. She started as a scientist and scientific group leader during which time her work resulted in multiple patents. She progressed through commercial positions internationally including leading a sales and marketing business unit responsible for several product lines, culminating as Vice President, M&A Operations, Divestitures, and Janssen Business Development. During her tenure with Johnson & Johnson, Dr. De Backer had direct accountability for over 200 strategic alliances. She received an MSc in molecular biology from the University of Brussels, Belgium, a master’s degree in engineering and biochemistry and a PhD in biotechnology from the University of Ghent, Belgium, and an MBA from Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University, The Netherlands.
Christian Rommel, PhD
EVP, Global Head of Research & Development and Executive Committee Member at Bayer AG Pharmaceuticals
Christian Rommel became EVP, Global Head of Research & Development and a member of the executive committee of Bayer Pharmaceuticals in February 2021. He joined Bayer from Roche, where he was most recently Senior VP, Global Head of Oncology, Pharma Research and Early Development (pRED). Rommel also served at Amgen as Vice President of External Research and Development. Before that role, he was Amgen’s Vice President, Research Oncology. Previously, Christian Rommel served as Chief Scientific Officer of Intellikine, a private biotech company based in San Diego, from its inception to acquisition by Takeda. Earlier in his career, Rommel was Head of Target Research at Merck-Serono in Geneva, Switzerland. He also worked as a scientist in the team of George Yancopoulos at Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, New York. Christian Rommel received his PhD in molecular oncology from the Max Planck Institute in Berlin, Germany and the Institute of Medical Virology at the University of Zurich, Switzerland. He is also a lecturer of biotechnology at the ETH Zurich, Switzerland. He has authored more than 70 publications, including papers in Science and Nature, and is an inventor or co-inventor of 18 patents.
Sheila Mikhail, JD, MBA
Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder, Asklepios BioPharmaceutical, Inc.
Sheila Mikhail has over 20 years of biopharmaceutical leadership experience and is Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of Asklepios BioPharmaceutical, Inc. (AskBio), a company she started in 2001. She most recently served as Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of Bamboo Therapeutics, which in 20 months raised $50 million, advanced a therapeutic for GAN into the clinic, completed pre-IND studies for a Duchenne muscular dystrophy therapeutic, and built a GMP manufacturing facility. Bamboo was acquired by Pfizer in August 2016 in a deal valued at $827 million. Prior to that, she was part of the management team at Chatham Therapeutics, which was acquired by Baxter in 2014. Ms. Mikhail practiced law for more than 15 years. During that time, she founded Life Sciences Law, which serviced clients including Bayer, Gilead, GSK, Sanofi and Aventis. She also practiced with Ropes and Gray in Boston. She earned a JD with honors from Northwestern University, a finance MBA with honors from the University of Chicago, and a BS with highest honors from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
R. Jude Samulski, PhD
President, Chief Scientific Officer and Co-Founder, Asklepios BioPharmaceutical, Inc.
Dr. Samulski received his PhD in medical microbiology and immunology from the University of Florida. His graduate work (1978-82) demonstrated the first use of AAV as a viral vector and culminated in the first U.S. patent involving non-AAV genes inserted into AAV. After completing post-doctoral training at Princeton, Dr. Samulski was hired to provide his expertise in AAV biology as a member of the scientific advisory board of Avigen, a new AAV research company. In 1993, he co-founded an AAV-based gene therapy company called Merlin. This research group was headed by Xiao Xiao, PhD, and was the first to demonstrate AAV-mediated long-term gene transduction in muscle (J. Virology, 1996). This finding precipitated a merger of Merlin with Somatix, Inc., which then merged in 1995 with Cell Genesys. In total, Dr. Samulski has worked with AAV for 40 years, and for 25 years, he was director of the University of North Carolina Gene Therapy Center. He was the scientific founder of Bamboo Therapeutics, Inc. and served as the Chief Scientific Officer and Executive Chairman of the company until its acquisition by Pfizer in 2016. Upon its acquisition, Dr. Samulski joined Pfizer, as VP Gene Therapy, to ensure the successful transition of Bamboo’s Duchenne muscular dystrophy therapeutic, which is now in pivotal trials. Dr. Samulski is a former member of the Recombinant DNA Advisory Committee (RAC), a committee tasked with assisting the FDA with gene therapy clinical trial approvals in the U.S. He also frequently serves as a gene therapy consultant to the FDA. In 2008, Dr. Samulski was recognized by the American Society of Cell and Gene Therapy with the inaugural Outstanding Achievement Award for his work. He was also invited by Pope Francis to the Vatican in recognition for his work in the treatment of Canavan disease. Dr. Samulski has advanced therapeutics into human clinical trials for hemophilia, Duchenne muscular dystrophy, giant axonal neuropathy, Pompe disease and heart failure. He holds more than 200 patents related to AAV technology.
Katherine High, MD
President, Therapeutics at Asklepios BioPharmaceutical, Inc.
Katherine High joined AskBio in January 2021 as President, Therapeutics and member of the AskBio Board of Directors. Dr. High is responsible for driving the strategic direction and execution of the company’s preclinical and clinical programs. Most recently, she was a Visiting Professor at Rockefeller University. Previously, she served as President, Head of Research and Development, and a member of the Board of Directors at Spark Therapeutics, where she directed the development and regulatory approval of Luxturna®, the first gene therapy for genetic disease to obtain regulatory approval in both the United States and Europe. She was a longtime member of the faculty at the University of Pennsylvania and medical staff at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, where she was also an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. She served a five-year term on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Advisory Committee on Cell, Tissue and Gene Therapies and is a past president of the American Society of Gene & Cell Therapy. Dr. High received her bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Harvard University, an MD from the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, a business certification from the University of North Carolina Business School’s Management Institute for Hospital Administrators and a master’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania. She is an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the faculty of Pharmaceutical Medicine of the Royal College of Physicians (London).
CEO, Viralgen and Managing Director & Founder of Columbus Venture Partners
Javier García has spent over 30 years working in healthcare and the biopharmaceutical industry. He spent 25 years at Eli Lilly and Company. There he held senior management roles in Information Technology and Business Development. He is also co-founder and board member, along with Sheila Mikhail and Jude Samulski, of the Columbus Children’s Foundation, a U.S.-based nonprofit targeting the cure for ultra-rare diseases using gene therapy. Mr. García received a Bachelor in Mathematics from Universidad Complutense of Madrid and an MBA from ICADE.