Leadership Team (OLD)
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
As the founding CEO and first employee of Akcea, Paula Soteropoulos has steered the company through significant development and growth fueled by Akcea’s commitment to improving the lives of the patients with unrecognized and underserved diseases.
Ms. Soteropoulos has demonstrated success in building high-performance global teams, leading complex development programs from early stage through approval, and commercializing global products. Prior to Akcea, she was a member of the executive leadership team of Moderna Therapeutics as the Cardiometabolic Business General Manager and Senior Vice President of Strategic Alliances. Ms. Soteropoulos also spent 21 years at Genzyme Corp. in a variety of roles from engineering and manufacturing early in her tenure, to leading global commercial businesses and finally serving as Vice President, Cardiovascular Business General Manager. Ms. Soteropoulos held global development and commercial leadership roles in various business units including Renal, Transplant, Oncology, Cardiometabolic and Rare Diseases. Prior to Genzyme, Ms. Soteropoulos was a bioprocess engineering consultant for various biopharmaceutical companies. She serves on the Board of Directors of gene therapy company uniQure and on the Advisory Board of the Tufts University Chemical and Biological Engineering Department.
Ms. Soteropoulos has been involved with several initiatives to support diversity and the development of female leadership in business, including the Healthcare Business Women’s Association and Women Unlimited. She is also a past honoree of Massachusetts High Technology Council’s Women to Watch. The Boston Business Journal named Akcea Therapeutics as Massachusetts’ fastest growing public company in 2017, and the company was one of 2017’s top performing biotechnology IPOs and was also named one of Massachusetts’ Top 100 Women-Led Businesses in both 2016 and 2017.
Ms. Soteropoulos has B.S. and Master’s degrees in Chemical and Biochemical Engineering from Tufts University and an executive management certificate from the University of Virginia.
Sarah Boyce is an experienced life sciences industry leader who has built out and overseen divisions and global commercial operations for a range of innovative therapies including Soliris®, Gleevec® and Tasigna®.
Ms. Boyce joined Akcea as a Board member and President in April 2018. Previously, she was the Chief Business Officer of Ionis Pharmaceuticals. In this role Ms. Boyce was responsible for leading investor relations and corporate communications, business development, alliance management, competitive intelligence and patient advocacy. She led the effort to establish a global agreement with Ionis and Novartis to develop and commercialize AKCEA APOa-L RX and AKCEA APOCIII-LRX.
Ms. Boyce also served as Vice President, Head of International Business Strategy and Operations at Forest Laboratories, Inc. where she led the establishment and expansion of their international pharmaceutical and consumer health businesses. Prior to Forest, she served as a global business leader at Alexion and Novartis. She 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
Mr. MacLean joined Akcea in August 2017 and has extensive experience managing the financial operations of biotechnology companies. In his previous positions, Mr. MacLean has held global roles focusing on all aspects of drug development including research, clinical development, manufacturing and commercialization. He has also built finance teams and scaled up infrastructure and processes for several emerging and globally established biotechnology companies in high growth mode.
Previously, Mr. Maclean served as Chief Financial Officer at PureTech Health, which he joined immediately following the company’s initial public offering. He also served as Senior Vice President of Finance and Chief Accounting Officer of Biogen, where he led the company’s worldwide finance organization and completed risk-benefit analyses of a wide range of commercial, R&D and expansion strategies. In addition, He was also Chief Financial Officer, North America at the leading information management provider, Iron Mountain, where he supported commercial operations representing 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.
VP, Corporate Communications and Investor Relations
Kathleen Gallagher is an experienced communications professional who has led the formation and growth of company operations in public relations, investor relations, internal communications, issues management and marketing strategies.
Prior to joining Akcea in September 2017, she served as Head of Communications for Merrimack Pharmaceuticals, a commercial-stage therapeutics and diagnostics company. At Merrimack, she was a member of the executive team with responsibility for all aspects of communications, including investor relations, corporate communications and marketing. She was responsible for the communications strategy development and execution for the pivotal Phase 3 program and launch of ONIVYDE®, Merrimack’s first commercial drug. She also led communications activities through multiple private funding rounds and an initial public offering, supporting Merrimack’s transition from a private development stage company to a fully-integrated commercial pharmaceutical company. Ms. Gallagher began her communications career at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston and holds a B.A. from Boston University.
VP, Human Resources
Maura Bullock is a deeply experienced human resources professional with a career spanning executive consulting, and in-house biotechnology and life sciences roles, including at major global commercial-stage biotechs. Ms. Bullock joined Akcea as the vice president of human resources in July 2018 and is responsible for building on the company’s organizational transformation, growth and development.
Prior to Akcea, Ms. Bullock was most recently a managing director at Brimstone Consulting Group, where she worked directly with executive clients to achieve and sustain transformative change and organizational alignment. Prior to this, Ms. Bullock’s spent 7 years at Biogen in various HR leadership roles including Vice President of Human Resources for Pharmaceutical Operations & Technology and the Global Head of Leadership Development. Earlier in her career, Ms. Bullock held various HR leadership roles at PAREXEL International including Director level roles in Talent Acquisition, HR Strategy and HR Business Partner for the Clinical Pharmacology business unit.
Ms. Bullock holds a B.A. in English from Franklin & Marshall College.
VP, Global Head & General Manager, TTR and Cardiometabolic Franchises
Molly Harper has extensive experience in all phases of pre-launch market development and global biopharmaceutical commercial operations, and leads Akcea’s global expansion strategies. Ms. Harper joined Akcea in April 2015 and serves as Vice President, Global Head and General Manager in the TTR and Cardiometabolic Franchises. She is responsible for all aspects of the volanesorsen business in addition to the commercialization strategy for Akcea’s cardiometabolic pipeline programs. She came to Akcea from the Rare Disease division of Genzyme, where she was Senior Director and Head of US Endocrinology. In her role, she was responsible for all commercial functions for several development programs and products, as well as management of a molecular diagnostic co-promotion program with Veracyte, Inc. Her earlier roles at Genzyme included Global and U.S. 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. She has also 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.
Richard Jones, Ph.D.
Head of Europe
Dr. Richard Jones brings broad-ranging pharmaceutical industry experience to support Akcea’s European expansion and commercialization strategy. Prior to joining Akcea, Dr. Jones 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. He previously served at Novartis and GSK as VP, Medicines Commercialization Leader Global Hematology at both companies. In these roles, Dr. Jones was responsible for the planning and execution of three global product launches, three regulatory submissions and initiation of several new drug development programs. Earlier at GSK, Dr. Jones served as Vice President, Global Commercial Leader for the company’s Rare Disease Unit, leading the strategy across multiple 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 Ph.D. in Molecular Oncology from the University of Surrey (UK).
Michael W. Stevenson, R.Ph.,Ph.D.
VP, Medical Affairs
Mike Stevenson is an experienced senior medical affairs executive who has built leading field medical and medical affairs teams and led them through multiple successful product launches. His experience spans all levels and roles in medical affairs for both emerging and established biotechnology companies.
Dr. Stevenson joined Akcea as Vice President, Medical Affairs in November 2015. Prior to joining Akcea, he 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 five years building and leading the field medical function, ultimately serving as 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
VP, Pharmacovigilance and Drug Safety
Dr. Samuel Yonren, M.D. is an experienced drug safety specialist who has provided executive leadership oversight for global pharmacovigilance, device vigilance and REMS programs. He has managed significant safety issues in multiple therapeutic areas, including cardiometabolic, oncology, ophthalmology, neurology and infectious diseases.
Dr. Yonren joined Akcea as Vice President Pharmacovigilance and Drug Safety in June 2017. Prior to joining Akcea, he was Vice President of Drug Safety at Aegerion. He also served as Vice President of Drug Safety at Seattle Genetics, Alcon/Novartis, Ovation and MedImmune and Senior Medical Director and Head Drug Safety at Millennium. Prior to a career in pharmacovigilance, Dr. Yonren provided support in a range of clinical research programs at Pfizer Central Research and in medical affairs at SmithKline Beecham. He came to the pharma/biotech industry with experience in academic and clinical practice in internal medicine and infectious diseases at 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.
VP, Legal and Chief Compliance Officer
Joshua Patterson has over 17 years of experience handling legal issues that affect the biotechnology and pharmaceutical sectors, with extensive knowledge of commercial matters, drug licensing, clinical trials, privacy issues and healthcare compliance.
Most recently, Mr. Patterson was executive director and deputy general counsel at Ionis Pharmaceuticals. In this position, he served as counsel for many of Ionis’ strategic licensing and preferred partner transactions and was responsible for providing legal support for Ionis’ extensive drug development pipeline.
Prior to Ionis, Mr. Patterson served as in-house counsel at Amylin Pharmaceuticals, focusing on corporate transactions in support of clinical development, discovery research, and business development.
Mr. Patterson earned a B.A. in history from Carthage College and a J.D. from Syracuse University.