The leadership team at Akcea brings unmatched collective experience that is critical to guide the company’s focused effort to develop and commercialize its pipeline of therapies focused on serious and rare diseases. The team values a strong partnering ethos with physicians, patients, regulators and others in the industry, to advance critically needed therapies for the benefit of people living with these life-threatening diseases.
Chief Executive Officer
Paula Soteropoulos is a global strategic and operating management executive with nearly 30 years of experience and success building high-performance global teams, leading complex development programs from early stage through approval, and commercializing global products. Ms. Soteropoulos joined Akcea as President and Chief Executive Officer upon its formation in January 2015. Prior to joining Akcea, Ms. Soteropoulos was a member of the executive leadership team of Moderna Therapeutics as the Cardiometabolic Business Unit General Manager and Senior Vice President of Strategic Alliances. Prior to Moderna, she spent 21 years at Genzyme Corporation where she was instrumental in advancing new products from discovery through clinical development and commercialization, with significant roles driving strategy, sales and marketing, and business development. Additionally, she led manufacturing process development, strategic capacity planning, and supply chain development. Prior to Genzyme, Ms. Soteropoulos was a bioprocess engineering consultant for various biopharmaceutical companies. She serves on the Board of Directors of uniQure B.V. and on the Advisory Board of the Tufts University Chemical and Biological Engineering Department. Ms. Soteropoulos earned her B.S. and Master’s degrees in Chemical and Biochemical Engineering from Tufts University and earned an executive management certificate from Darden School of Business, University of Virginia. She is also a past honoree of Mass High Tech’s Women to Watch.
Sarah Boyce is an experienced commercial leader with over 25 years of experience in the life sciences industry, who has overseen both specialty pharmaceutical divisions and global commercial operations.
Ms. Boyce joined Akcea as a board member in March 2018. Previously, Ms. Boyce was the Chief Business Officer of Ionis Pharmaceuticals. In this role Ms. Boyce was responsible for overseeing the operations of investor relations and corporate communications, business development, alliance management, competitive intelligence and patient advocacy. Notably, she led Ionis activity to drive the strategic collaboration with Novartis, announced in January 2017, which established an exclusive, worldwide option and collaboration agreement regarding the development and commercialization of two therapeutic candidates now in Akcea’s pipeline. Ms. Boyce joined Ionis in January 2015.
Previously, Ms. Boyce was vice president, head of international business strategy and operations at Forest Laboratories, Inc. where she led launches in addition to development and expansion of their international pharmaceutical and consumer health businesses. Prior to Forest, she served as a global business leader for Alexion and Novartis, where she held a number of roles of increasing responsibility. During these roles, Ms. Boyce was involved in the commercializing of multiple blockbuster pharmaceuticals including Forest Laboratories’ Colobreathe®, Alexion’s Soliris® and Novartis’ Gleevec® and Tasigna®.
Ms. Boyce received her B.S. degree in microbiology from the University of Manchester, England.
Jeffrey M. Goldberg
Chief Operating Officer
Jeff Goldberg is an experienced biotech program and brand leader with 20 years of industry experience. He has driven programs from discovery and pre-clinical through IND, clinical trials, NDA, and commercialization/marketing in multiple therapeutic areas, including oncology, neurology, renal, and other rare/orphan diseases.
Mr. Goldberg joined Akcea as Chief Operating Officer upon its formation in January 2015. Prior to joining Akcea, Mr. Goldberg was VP of Business Operations, leading both program management and business development at Proteostasis Therapeutics, Inc., a privately held biotech company focusing on neurology and rare diseases. He also spent more than 11 years in positions of increasing responsibility with Genzyme and Sanofi, most recently as Associate Vice President, Project Head, providing brand management for two marketed products within Sanofi Oncology. Prior to joining Sanofi Oncology, Mr. Goldberg served as Global Brand Lead for Genzyme’s stem cell mobilization agent Mozobil, leading the global launch team and overseeing the program management and marketing functions for the product. He began his career at Genzyme as Director, Program Management, for the Renal business, overseeing the development and launch of Renvela.
Mr. Goldberg has both an MBA and a Master’s degree in Chemical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Cornell University.
Louis St. L. O’Dea, MB B.Ch. BAO, FRCP(C)
Chief Medical Officer
Dr. Louis St. L. O’Dea is a board-certified physician with more than 20 years of industry experience, including a track record of successful global drug development and regulatory approvals. Dr. O’Dea has led 13 clinical NDAs, four orphan drug approvals, and one device approval, and he has experience with proteins, peptides, small molecules and nucleotides, as well as with a broad range of devices and routes of administration.
Dr. O’Dea joined Akcea as Chief Medical Officer in January 2016. Prior to joining Akcea, Dr. O’Dea was Chief Medical Officer at Oxford Imunotec, overseeing Medical Affairs and Clinical Development. Prior to Oxford, he was Chief Medical Officer and Head of Regulatory Affairs at Moderna Therapeutics, a biotech company focused on developing messenger RNA-based therapeutics. Before Moderna, Dr. O’Dea was Chief Medical Officer at Radius Health, where he brought forward a number of molecules through clinical development, including Abaloparatide. Dr. O’Dea came to the biotech industry from an academic position at McGill University, beginning his pharmaceutical career with Serono where he played a major role in the successful development of their reproductive and metabolic portfolios. At Serono, he advanced through positions of increasing responsibility, including Chief Medical Officer for Japan and Oceania, and worldwide Head of Clinical Development for Endocrine and Metabolic products.
Dr. O’Dea earned his medical degree at University College Dublin, is board-certified in Internal Medicine and in Endocrinology and Metabolism in Canada and the United States, and completed his postgraduate medical training at McGill University and Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School.
Chief Financial Officer
Mike MacLean has over 25 years of financial experience, which has been focused in the biotechnology space. He has experience in both large and small biotechnology companies. In his previous roles, Mr. MacLean has focused on research, development, manufacturing and sales of drugs. He has extensive international experience through his global roles at several companies. Mr. MacLean has also built finance teams, and scaled up infrastructure and processes for companies in high growth mode.
Most recently, he worked at PureTech Health as the Chief Financial Officer immediately following PureTech’s initial public offering. Previously, Mr. MacLean served as Senior Vice President of Finance and Chief Accounting Officer of Biogen, where he led Biogen’s worldwide finance organization, and evaluated the financial implications of commercial, R&D and expansion strategies. In addition, Mr. MacLean was the Chief Financial Officer, North America at Iron Mountain where he supported commercial operations with more than $2 billion in annual revenue.
Mr. MacLean graduated from the Carroll School of Management at Boston College with a B.S. in accounting and has been a licensed CPA for over 20 years.
Vice President, and Global Franchise Head, Cardiometabolics
Molly Harper is an experienced commercial leader with nearly 20 years of experience in the life sciences industry, including expertise in pre-launch market development and commercial operations for biopharmaceuticals.
Ms. Harper joined Akcea in April 2015 and serves as Vice President, Franchise Head, Cardiometabolic Division where she is responsible for all aspects of the volanesorsen business, in addition to commercialization strategy for Akcea’s cardiometabolic pipeline programs. Ms. Harper came to Akcea from the Rare Disease division of Genzyme, where she was Senior Director and Head of US Endocrinology, responsible for all commercial functions of an orphan-disease biological injectable and the management of a molecular diagnostic co-promotion with Veracyte, Inc. Her earlier roles at Genzyme included Global and US Marketing leads for the Endocrine and Cardiovascular businesses.
Prior to Genzyme, Ms. Harper was with Merck & Co., where she held positions in the Atherosclerosis and Acute Care franchises across marketing management, market research, and sales. In addition, Ms. Harper held positions in life sciences equity research at UBS Warburg and strategy consulting with The Wilkerson Group/IBM.
Ms. Harper has an MBA from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and she is a past board member of The Wharton Health Care Management Alumni Association and current board member of The Wharton Club of Boston. She also holds a BA from Cornell University.
Vice President and Global Franchise Head, TTR
Bernard Parker is a global life sciences executive with over 20 years of biotech and pharmaceutical experience in the U.S. and internationally. Possessing extensive growth strategy and commercialization expertise, Bernard has held influential leadership roles at companies including Ionis, Ignyta, Novartis, Amgen and Bain.
Prior to joining Akcea, Mr. Parker was Vice President, Commercial & Corporate Development at Ionis Pharmaceuticals. Prior to that, he served as Managing Director at Caligen Bio, where he advised emerging life science companies on commercialization strategy and business development. Mr. Parker was previously responsible for commercial development of a portfolio of precision oncology drug candidates at San Diego-based biotech Ignyta, Inc. Before that, over a period of five years at Novartis AG in Europe, Mr. Parker initially focused on growing a Munich-based oncology biosimilars portfolio from a zero base to the market-leading position in the EU, and later served as head of a Geneva-based $1 billion specialty pharmaceuticals franchise spanning Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
Prior to Novartis, Mr. Parker was a management consultant at Bain & Company, where he advised clients on topics such as corporate strategy, commercial due diligence, and performance improvement. Earlier, he held sales & marketing roles at Amgen Oncology, Pfizer and Parke-Davis/Warner Lambert and was involved in the commercialization of several blockbuster medicines including Lipitor®, Aranesp® and Celexa®. He also conducted biomedical research on cardiomyopathies at the NIH’s National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, who granted him a fellowship to pursue an M.D./Ph.D. at Baylor College of Medicine.
Mr. Parker earned an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School and a B.A. in Biological Sciences magna cum laude from Hampton University.
Richard Jones, Ph.D.
Head of Europe
Dr Richard Jones leads Akcea’s European operations, bringing more than 20 years of broad-ranging pharmaceutical industry experience to bear on Akcea’s expansion and commercialization strategy.
Prior to joining Akcea, Dr Jones most recently served as CEO of Holostem Advanced Therapies, a cell and gene therapy developer, and Akinion Pharmaceutical AB, where he focused on furthering the company’s clinical program in rare leukemias. Dr. Jones previously served at Novartis and GSK as VP, Medicines Commercialization Leader Global Haematology responsible for developing and delivering the global haematology strategy including leading three global launches, three regulatory submissions and initiation of new development programs. Earlier at GSK, Dr Jones served as VP, Global Commercial Leader for GSK’s Rare Disease Unit leading the strategy across multiple rare diseases and platforms including oligonucleotides, neurosciences, muscular diseases and rare malignancies. Dr Jones joined GSK from Genzyme Corporation where he served as Oncology & Transplant Portfolio Director, Global Oncology business. Prior to Genzyme, Dr Jones worked as a Managing Consultant with MSI Consultancy and held various International and Therapy Area GM Project lead roles at Shire Plc.
Dr Jones holds both a BSc (Hons) in Biochemistry and a PhD in Molecular Oncology from the University of Surrey (UK).
Michael W. Stevenson, R.Ph.,Ph.D.
Vice President, Medical Affairs
Mike Stevenson is an experienced senior medical affairs leader with more than 18 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry. Dr. Stevenson has built leading field medical and medical affairs teams at prior companies, and has led teams through multiple successful product launches. His experience spans across all levels and roles within medical affairs and he brings considerable knowledge of all functions and operations within the medical affairs purview.
Dr. Stevenson joined Akcea as Vice President, Medical Affairs in November 2015. Prior to joining Akcea, Dr. Stevenson was Sr. Director, Medical Affairs at FORUM Pharmaceuticals, where he was responsible for building and leading the company’s inaugural medical affairs function. Previous experiences include leadership roles at AstraZeneca, UCB, and AMAG Pharmaceuticals, where he spent 5 years initially building and leading the field medical function, then increasing his breadth of responsibility, ultimately serving as the Executive Director, Medical Affairs.
Dr. Stevenson holds a bachelor’s degree in pharmacy from Duquesne University as well as a Ph.D. in pharmacology from Louisiana State University.
Samuel Yonren, MD
Vice President, Pharmacovigilance and Drug Safety
Dr. Samuel Yonren, M.D. is an experienced drug safety physician with more than 20 years of industry experience. He has provided executive leadership oversight for global pharmacovigilance, device vigilance and REMS programs and managed significant safety issues in multiple therapeutic areas, including cardiometabolic, oncology, ophthalmology, neurology and infectious diseases.
Dr. Samuel Yonren joined Akcea as VP Pharmacovigilance and Drug Safety in June 2017. Prior to joining Akcea, Dr. Yonren was VP Drug Safety in Aegerion. Prior to Aegerion, he was VP Drug Safety at Seattle Genetics, Alcon/Novartis, Ovation, MedImmune and Senior Medical Director and Head Drug Safety at Millennium. Prior to a career in pharmacovigilance, Dr. Yonren served in roles in clinical research in Pfizer Central Research and medical affairs in SmithKline Beecham. Dr. Yonren came to the pharma/biotech industry after a period of academic and clinical practice in internal medicine and infectious diseases in the National Health Service U.K. and New York University Medical Center.
Dr. Yonren earned his medical degree at the University of Lagos, and is a member of the Royal College of Physicians in Ireland.
Executive Director of Corporate Communications and Investor Relations
Kathleen Gallagher is a dedicated life sciences communications professional with nearly 15 years of experience in leading the growth and maturation of a biotechnology company’s communications and marketing infrastructure.
Prior to joining Akcea in September 2017, Ms. Gallagher’s served as Head of Communications for Merrimack Pharmaceuticals, a commercial-stage therapeutic and diagnostics company. At Merrimack, Ms. Gallagher was an executive team member with chief responsibility for all aspects of communications, including investor relations and corporate marketing, through the pivotal Phase 3 program and commercial launch of ONIVYDE®, Merrimack’s first commercial drug. Ms. Gallagher also led communications activities through multiple private funding rounds and an initial public offering, assisting in Merrimack’s transition from a private enterprise to a fully-integrated pharmaceutical company. Ms. Gallagher joined Merrimack in 2003, and during a series of roles of increasing responsibility built a full in-house communications team and worked with leadership across the company to build a productive and dynamic corporate culture to support the company’s growth.
Ms. Gallagher began her life sciences communication career at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, and holds a B.A. from Boston University.