John W. Kozarich Receives Director of the Year Awards 2014

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Dr. Kozarich is Chairman and President of Activx Biosciences and Chairman of Ligand Pharmaceuticals, both based in La Jolla. ActivX has pioneered chemoproteomic technologies for drug discovery and development that are considered gold standards by major pharmaceutical companies. Ligand develops and acquires royalty revenue generating pharmaceutical assets, managing a large and diverse portfolio of over 90 such programs.

Joining the start-up ActivX from Merck in 2001, Dr. Kozarich pursued an innovative strategy to escape the biotech venture-funding crunch in 2004. He orchestrated the acquisition of ActivX by Kyorin Pharmaceutical Co., LTD (Tokyo), retaining the ActivX name, US Corporation status and emerging third party technology business. The transition has been a 10-year success story of global business growth, company stability and recognition benefitting both partners.

A Ligand Director since 2003 and Chairman since 2007, Dr. Kozarich experienced the serious challenges that faced the company in the last decade. With a fresh, talented senior management team and a close-knit, shareholder-centric board, Kozarich acknowledges his good fortune having such a team spearheading Ligand’s new business strategy. His scientific insight has added value to acquisitions, such as Pharmacopeia, Metabasis, Neurogen and Cydex. Ligand has undergone a major reversal in its financial health and its business strategy is becoming a model in the sector.

Dr. Kozarich’s career began in academia, with tenured full professorships at Yale University School of Medicine in pharmacology and at the University of Maryland in chemistry and biochemistry. A sabbatical in 1990 as CSO of a start-up biotech company Alkermes (ALKS), in Cambridge, MA led to the company’s IPO in 1991. He became Vice President of Biochemistry at Merck (Rahway, NJ) in 1992 assuming broad responsibilities for a number of drug discovery programs and biotech ventures, including Aurora and the SIBIA acquisition.

Dr. Kozarich has received numerous awards and served on many committees in the academic, government and business sectors. He was an American Cancer Society Faculty Research Awardee. In 2009, Kozarich received the Distinguished Scientist Award of the San Diego Section of the American Chemical Society. In 1988, he received the Pfizer Award in Enzyme Chemistry by the American Chemical Society. He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He is a member of the Board of Directors of Corium Intl. and of QLT, Inc.; and Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Gordon Research Conferences.

Dr. Kozarich received a B.S. in chemistry from Boston College. He was a NSF Predoctoral Fellow in Chemistry at MIT and a NIH Postdoctoral Fellow in Biochemistry at Harvard.

SOURCES: Directors Forum

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