We are a gene therapy company located in Philadelphia, PA’s thriving Life Sciences Corridor. Our diverse management team, researchers and partners focus on innovative treatments for respiratory diseases. At Spirovant, we are passionate about “CURES” – collaboration, urgency, respect, empowerment and science.
We are passionate about CURES for people living with cystic fibrosis and other respiratory diseases.
Joan Lau and Eric Yuen were two of the initial co-founders of the company, envisioning the potential for advanced gene therapies for unmet needs of people living with cystic fibrosis. As the company continued to rapidly grow, additional senior executives joined the team to accelerate the advancement of those treatments.
Joan Lau is Chief Executive Officer of Spirovant, responsible for the strategic direction and growth of the gene therapy company. She delivers more than 20 years of biopharma leadership experience, including as CEO for several venture-capital-backed biotech companies. Dr. Lau co-founded Spirovant (then called Talee Bio), envisioning the potential for advanced gene therapy to treat cystic fibrosis and other patients in need. Within a few years under Dr. Lau’s leadership, Spirovant gained the prestigious scientific support of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and was acquired twice (in one year), most recently by Sumitomo Pharma. As CEO of Spirovant, she has been selected to receive the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2020 Award in Greater Philadelphia and was named a Woman of Distinction by the Philadelphia Business Journal.
Previously, Dr. Lau co-founded and served as Managing Partner of Militia Hill Ventures, focused on building and growing high quality life sciences companies. Dr. Lau also has served as President and CEO of Azelon Pharmaceuticals, a venture-backed clinical stage company; President and CEO of Locus Pharmaceuticals, a computational chemistry discovery company; and in various leadership roles at Merck, including roles in R&D drug development and business development.
In addition, Dr. Lau is an adjunct instructor at the University of Pennsylvania. She also serves on several boards including the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Social Policy and Practice and the Roy & Diana Vagelos Program in Life Sciences Management, and she co-founded the nonprofit PhillyBio, an organization focused on fostering relationships across Philadelphia-based biopharma.
Dr. Lau earned her MBA from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, her PhD in Neuroscience from the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, and her BS in Bioengineering from the University of Pennsylvania.
Eric Yuen is the Chief Medical Officer of Spirovant and a clinical development physician with over 20 years of experience in academia and industry. During his career, Dr. Yuen has developed numerous biologics and small molecule therapeutics for a variety of diseases, including rare genetic diseases and neurology, psychiatry, pain and oncology disorders. Dr. Yuen has led departments responsible for Phase I-IV development and submissions of numerous INDs, CTAs, NDAs and MAAs.
Dr. Yuen was the Director of Clinical Research at Merck & Co., working on CNS and pain indications, and later Vice President of Clinical Development at Johnson & Johnson. While at Johnson & Johnson, Dr. Yuen served as the therapeutic area head for CNS and the head of clinical development at a monoclonal antibodies and vaccines joint venture between Johnson & Johnson and Elan. He later served as CMO of Ultragenyx, a start-up company focused on rare genetic diseases, as VP Clinical Development at BioClin Therapeutics, a start-up focused on the rare genetic disorder achondroplasia (dwarfism) and bladder cancer, and was CMO and co-founder of Talee Bio.
Earlier in his career, Dr. Yuen was an assistant professor of neurology at the University of Washington where he conducted clinical research in rare disorders such as ALS and muscular dystrophies. He received his BA from Stanford University, MD from the University of Chicago, Pritzker School of Medicine, and completed his neurology residency at UCSF and his post-doctoral fellowship at UCSF studying neurotrophic factor signaling.
Dr. Roland Kolbeck is Chief Scientific Officer of Spirovant and is responsible for leading the company’s research efforts and for identifying future gene therapy assets to build the pipeline. He delivers more than 20 years of research and executive leadership experience, specializing in respiratory and autoimmune sciences. Previously Dr. Kolbeck held executive roles of increasing responsibility and leadership at MedImmune, AstraZeneca’s global biologics organization. Most recently, he served as Vice President, Head of Respiratory, Inflammation and Autoimmune research (RIA), RIA Research Committee Chair and a member of the MedImmune Research Leadership Team as well as the Early Stage Portfolio Committee. During his tenure there, he set the scientific vision for more than 80 scientists; led the advancement of eight novel candidates into the clinic, including FASENRA®, AstraZeneca’s first biological for the treatment of severe eosinophilic asthma; and contributed to the spinout of six pre/clinical-stage autoimmune assets. Prior to that, he held senior scientific roles at Peptimmune and Millennium Pharmaceuticals.
Dr. Kolbeck conducted his postdoctoral research in the Department of Neurobiochemistry at the Max-Planck Institute for Neurobiology, Munich. He earned a PhD from the University of Regensburg and Max-Planck Institute of Neurobiology, Munich. Dr. Kolbeck has (co)-authored more than 100 publications and is co-inventor on 6 pending or granted patents.
Eric Pastor, Senior Vice President of Technology Development and Operations
Eric Pastor brings more than 20 years of viral vector CMC and technical operations experience and is responsible for expanding Spirovant’s technology development and manufacturing capabilities. He was most recently Vice President, CMC Operations, for Vedere Bio in Cambridge, MA where he was responsible for building out a product development team and overseeing the overall CMC strategy. Previously, Eric served in a number of scientific positions at Sanofi in Framingham, MA, mostly recently as Head of Gene Therapy Process Development and CMC representative on the Sanofi Gene Therapy Global Project Team. Prior to Sanofi, Eric led the gene therapy analytical group at Targeted Genetics Corporation in Seattle, Washington. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree at the University of Northern British Columbia.
Ms Henry is responsible for leading the R&D Operations and Program Management function for Spirovant, bringing more than 25 years of product development and portfolio management experience to this role. She started her career at Merck, Sharpe & Dohme, and she has held leadership positions in program management at Jazz Pharmaceuticals, Immunome, OPKO, and Marinus.
Her professional career has focused on the discovery, development, and life-cycle management of pharmaceuticals across a variety of therapeutic areas, and she has managed multiple development programs in collaboration with internal, government, industry, and academic partners.
Dr. Toru Kimura is the Chief Scientific Officer and a member of the board of directors of Sumitomo Pharma. Dr. Kimura joined Sumitomo Pharmaceuticals as a scientist after completing his Ph.D. in 1989. Over the next three decades he held management positions of increasing responsibility. In 2013 he established and led the Regenerative & Cellular Medicine Office to promote the research and development of products based on induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) technology. In this role, he encouraged collaborative research and development efforts with academia and industry. Dr. Kimura and his team conceptualized the formation of a world-class facility in which regenerative medicine and cell therapy products could be manufactured. This concept was brought to fruition in 2018 with the completion of the SMaRT (Sumitomo Manufacturing Plant for Regenerative Medicine and Cell Therapy) manufacturing plant in Osaka.
Dr. Kimura’s expertise has been recognized with a position on the board of directors for the Forum for Innovative Regenerative Medicine (FIRM), which seeks to build a consensus among international governments, academia and industry organizations regarding the research and application of regenerative medicine. In addition, from 2019 to 2021 he served as a member of the Expert Panel of the Council for Science and Technology Policy in Japan’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology.
Dr. Kimura earned his Ph.D. from Kyoto University and studied at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School as a visiting scientist.
CEO, Sumitovant Biopharma, Inc.
Myrtle Potter is Chief Executive Officer for Sumitovant Biopharma, Inc., since December 2019, after having served since 2018 as Vant Operating Chair of Roivant Sciences. Sumitovant, a global biopharmaceutical company, is focused on rapidly developing innovative medicines for patients through a technology-first approach to drug discovery, development, and commercialization. Sumitovant’s portfolio consists of four wholly owned subsidiaries (rare enzyme deficiency company, Enzyvant; pulmonary arterial hypertension company, Altavant; gene therapy company, Spirovant; and urology company, Urovant) and one majority-owned subsidiary that is publicly listed (women's health and prostate cancer company, Myovant).
Prior to Roivant, Potter served as Chief Executive Officer of Myrtle Potter & Company, a healthcare advisory firm that she started in 2005. Potter has a track record of building and leading high-performing teams that deliver blockbuster drugs that make a meaningful difference in the lives of patients. Under her leadership as President of Commercial Operations and COO, Genentech achieved record sales and earnings growth for nineteen of twenty consecutive quarters and launched seven novel therapies in five years. The company launched seven breakthrough products, including Avastin™, the blockbuster cancer treatment. During her tenure, she co-chaired the Product Portfolio Committee, which made all asset investment and prioritization decisions for Genentech’s drug pipeline, making it the most valuable drug pipeline in the world at the time.
Prior to Genentech, she was President of Bristol-Myers Squibb’s U.S. Cardiovascular and Metabolic business, where she oversaw an operation of 3,500 people and which launched numerous multi-billion-dollar medicines, including Plavix, the fastest growing drug in the world at that time. Potter began her biopharmaceutical career at Merck, where she worked for fourteen years and led commercialization efforts for Prilosec, the industry’s first $5-billion drug. She also started the company Astra/Merck, which, through a series of transactions, became a part of the company that operates as AstraZeneca today.
Potter is a graduate of the University of Chicago and serves on the university’s board of trustees. She also serves on the boards of Liberty Mutual Insurance Group, Myovant Sciences (Chairwoman), and Urovant Sciences (Chairwoman). She has previously served on the boards of Amazon, Express Scripts, Medco Health Solutions, and Rite Aid.
Dr. Davidson is the Chief Scientific Strategy Officer of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), Director of the Raymond G. Perelman Center for Cellular and Molecular Therapeutics and the Arthur V. Meigs Chair in Pediatrics at CHOP. She is also a Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Davidson serves on the board of directors for the American Society for Gene Therapy and was Associate Director for the Center of Gene Therapy for Cystic Fibrosis and Genetic Diseases at the University of Iowa. Dr. Davidson also serves on the scientific advisory board for the NCL Foundation, Stanford Institute for Neuro-Innovative and Translational Science Core Facilities, and the Hereditary Disease Foundation, and has served on the editorial boards for Gene Therapy, Molecular Therapy and EMBO Reports. Dr. Davidson received her PhD from the University of Michigan, where she was also a post-doctoral research fellow.
Dr. McCray is a pediatric pulmonologist and Professor of Pediatrics, Microbiology, and Internal Medicine at the University of Iowa. He is the Executive Vice Chair in the Department of Pediatrics, Associate Director of the Center for Gene Therapy of Cystic Fibrosis, and the Roy J. Carver Chair in Pulmonary Research. Dr. McCray’s research interests include cystic fibrosis, airway epithelial biology, and pulmonary innate immunity. Dr. McCray also focuses on integrating vector systems for the treatment of inherited diseases, including gene transfer to airway epithelia for cystic fibrosis. A goal of his laboratory program has been to better understand the pathogenesis of cystic fibrosis as a path to new treatments. Dr. McCray earned his BA in biology from St. Olaf College. He completed his MD, pediatric residency, and pediatric pulmonary fellowship at the University of Iowa. He practiced pediatric pulmonology at Children’s Hospital of Oakland and performed research at CHO Research Institute, where he collaborated with investigators at UC Berkeley and UC San Francisco.
Dr. Engelhardt is Professor of Anatomy and Cell Biology and Internal Medicine and the Roy J. Carver Chair in Molecular Medicine, Chair Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology and Director of the Center for Cystic Fibrosis and other Genetic Diseases at the University of Iowa. Dr. Engelhardt’s research focuses on the molecular basis of inherited and environmentally induced diseases and using gene therapy to treat those diseases. Dr. Engelhardt received a BS in biochemistry from Iowa State University and a PhD in human genetics from Johns Hopkins University.
Dr. Welsh is the Roy J. Carver Biomedical Research Chair in Internal Medicine, Molecular Physiology and Biophysics and Neurosurgery at the University of Iowa. He has been a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator since 1989 and is director of the Cystic Fibrosis Research Center and the Pappajohn Biomedical Institute at the University of Iowa. Dr. Welsh served as president of the American Society for Clinical Investigation and president of the Association of American Physicians. He received the second annual Distinguished Mentor Award presented by the Carver College of Medicine. He has been elected to the Institute of Medicine, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the National Academy of Sciences.
Dr. Welsh’s clinical activities center on pulmonary diseases, and his research focuses on the biology, pathogenesis and treatment of cystic fibrosis. Dr. Welsh received his MD at the University of Iowa and trained in pulmonary medicine and research at the University of California at San Francisco and the University of Texas at Houston.
Dr. Zabner is Professor of Internal Medicine, Pulmonary, Critical Care and Occupational Medicine at the University of Iowa and Director, Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Occupational Medicine and Vice Chair for Translational Research at the University of Iowa. Dr. Zabner’s research focuses on gene transfer to airway epithelia to develop gene therapy for cystic fibrosis and fluid composition of the airway surface liquid and its effects on innate immunity. Dr. Zabner’s clinical focus is on cystic fibrosis and non-cystic fibrosis bronchiectasis. Dr. Zabner received his MD from the Universidad Central del Venezuela.
Joan Lau, CEO of Spirovant, is responsible for the strategic direction and growth of the gene therapy company. She delivers more than 20 years of biopharma leadership experience, including as CEO for several venture-capital-backed biotech companies. Dr. Lau co-founded Spirovant (then called Talee Bio), envisioning the potential for advanced gene therapy to treat cystic fibrosis and other patients in need.
Within a few years under Dr. Lau’s leadership, Spirovant gained the prestigious scientific support of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and was acquired twice (in one year), most recently by Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma.
Every member of Spirovant’s team is, first and foremost, deeply passionate – both about the transformative industry-leading technology and the patients whom await better therapies. The company has an “all hands on deck” approach that fosters a dynamic, collaborative, and positive environment.
We’ve found that the best way to be successful is putting our employees front and center – prioritizing professional development while having fun together along the way.