Charles J. Link, Jr., MD
Chairman of the Board
Charles J. Link, Jr., MD, founded NewLink Genetics Corporation in 1999 and has served as Chairman of our Board and our Chief Scientific Officer since inception in 1999. He served as President from 2001 to 2009 and has served as Chief Executive Officer since 2003. From 1995 to November 2013, Dr. Link was a practicing oncologist at the Medical Oncology and Hematology Associates of Iowa. From 1995 to 2003, Dr. Link served as the Director of the John Stoddard Cancer Research Institute, which he cofounded. Dr. Link served as a Medical Oncology Clinical Fellow at the National Cancer Institute and National Institutes of Health from 1988 to 1991. Dr. Link attended the U.S. Air Force Academy from 1977 to 1980. Dr. Link holds a BA from Stanford University, an MD from Stanford University School of Medicine, and is certified in Internal Medicine by the American Board of Internal Medicine and has previously been certified in Medical Oncology.
Thomas A. Raffin, MD
Thomas A. Raffin, MD, has served as a member of our Board since 1999 and is currently our Board’s Lead Independent Director. Dr. Raffin has spent 30 years on the faculty at Stanford University School of Medicine, where he is the Colleen and Robert Haas Professor Emeritus of Medicine and Biomedical Ethics. Over the past two decades, Dr. Raffin has worked extensively in the health care and medical device business sectors and was an advisor to Cell Therapeutics Inc. from 1993 to 1997, Broncus Technologies from 1997 to 2004, iMedica from 1998 to 2002, and Inhale Technologies from 1998 to 2001. He cofounded Rigel Pharmaceuticals, a publicly traded company, in 1996. In 2001, he cofounded Telegraph Hill Partners, a San Francisco life sciences private equity firm as a General Partner. Dr. Raffin has been a director of the following Telegraph Hill Partners private portfolio companies: AngioScore, Confirma, Freedom Innovations, LDR Holding Corporation, Magstim, and PneumRx; and he has worked closely with Estech and Vidacare. Dr. Raffin received a BA from Stanford University and an MD from Stanford University School of Medicine, and did his medical residency at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital (now Brigham and Women’s Hospital) in Boston, MA.
Chad A. Johnson, JD
Chad A. Johnson, JD, has served as a member of our Board since March 2018. Mr. Johnson is currently General Counsel at Stine Seed Company. From May 2015 to April 2017, Mr. Johnson was the Assistant Corporate Secretary and Senior Corporate Counsel for Renewable Energy Group, Inc. (NASDAQ:REGI), the largest supplier of advanced biofuels by volume in North America. In addition to his role as a corporate officer, Mr. Johnson was a senior in-house attorney for the company, where he helped advance the company’s strategic expansion into Europe and other merger and acquisition activities, managed the company’s intellectual property portfolio, and managed the legal aspects of the company’s securities and public filings. From 2007 to April 2015, he spent eight years in roles of increasing responsibility at DuPont Pioneer, a subsidiary of DuPont and a global leading seed and agriculture biotechnology company. In those roles, Mr. Johnson provided legal guidance to a variety of businesses in connection with mergers and acquisitions, strategic collaborations with industry partners, and compliance initiatives. Mr. Johnson is admitted to practice law in the state of Iowa and before the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Mr. Johnson graduated from Iowa State University with a Master of Science in Crop Production and Physiology and received his JD from Drake University Law School.
Paolo Pucci has served as a member of our Board since 2015. Mr. Pucci has served as the Chief Executive Officer and as a director of ArQule Inc. (NASDAQ: ARQL) since 2008. Prior to that, he was with Bayer AG, where he served as Senior Vice President (SVP) in charge of the Bayer-Schering Pharmaceuticals Global Oncology/Specialized Therapeutics Business Unit. Previously at Bayer, Mr. Pucci was concomitantly SVP of the Global Specialty Business Unit and President of North America Pharmaceutical Operations and a member of the Bayer Pharmaceuticals Global Management Committee. Mr. Pucci joined Bayer in 2001 as head of its Italian Pharmaceutical and Biologicals operations. Prior to Bayer, Mr. Pucci held positions of increasing responsibility with Eli Lilly and Company, culminating with his appointment as Managing Director, Eli Lilly Sweden AB. In September 2016, Mr. Pucci was appointed to the Board of Directors of West Pharmaceutical Services, Inc. (NYSE: WST), where he serves as an independent director, member of the Audit Committee, and member of the Compensation Committee. In November 2011, Mr. Pucci was appointed to the Board of Directors of Dyax Corporation, where he served as an independent director, member of the Audit Committee, and Chairman of the Governance and Nomination Committee until its acquisition by Shire plc in January 2016. In April 2013, he was appointed to the Board of Directors of Algeta ASA, a Norwegian public company focused on oncology, where he served as an independent director and member of the Audit Committee until the acquisition of Algeta by Bayer AG in March 2014. Mr. Pucci holds an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth, is an Italian chartered accountant, and is a graduate in economics of the Universita Degli Studi Di Napoli Federico II in Naples, Italy.
Matthew L. Sherman, MD
Matthew L. Sherman, MD, has served as a member of our Board since April 2018. Dr. Sherman is Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer of Acceleron Pharma Inc., a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company researching and developing innovative compounds that engage the body’s ability to regulate cellular growth and repair for the treatment of serious and rare diseases. Dr. Sherman joined Acceleron as Chief Medical Officer in May 2006, became Executive Vice President in March 2015, and in his current role, provides executive leadership for medical research, clinical operations, biostatistics, and data management, among other areas of responsibility. Prior to joining Acceleron, Dr. Sherman was Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer at Synta Pharmaceuticals Corp. from 2004 to 2006, where he provided executive leadership for clinical research, clinical operations, and program management, among other areas of responsibility. During his tenure there, Dr. Sherman built the clinical development organization and initiated 16 studies overall, including five new Phase 2 clinical trials. From 1991 to 2004, Dr. Sherman held various leadership positions at Wyeth-Ayerst Research and Genetics Institute (acquired by Wyeth/American Home Products in 1997) in Clinical Research and Development, where among other achievements he led the successful process from submission to FDA approval of the first antibody immune-drug conjugate for acute myeloid leukemia. Dr. Sherman received an SB degree in Chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, MA and an MD degree with Honors from Dartmouth Medical School in Hanover, NH. Dr. Sherman is board certified in Medical Oncology and Internal Medicine and held various clinical and teaching positions at Harvard Medical School with corresponding hospital appointments at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, MA. He has published over 220 original papers, book chapters, reviews, and abstracts in basic research and clinical development and is named as an inventor of 10 patents. Dr. Sherman serves on the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth Board of Advisors and Alumni Council and on the Marine Biological Laboratory Council, an affiliate of the University of Chicago.
Ernest J. Talarico III
Ernest J. Talarico, III, AIF, has served as a member of our Board since 1999. Mr. Talarico has worked for Mesirow Financial Holdings, Inc., a diversified financial services firm headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, since 1998, where he has been a Senior Managing Director since December 2015. Prior to becoming Senior Managing Director, Mr. Talarico served as Managing Director from 2008 to 2015, Senior Vice President from 2005 to 2008, Vice President from 2003 to 2005, and Investment Executive from 1998 to 2003. Mr. Talarico specializes in financial planning and asset allocation, as well as other wealth accumulation and preservation strategies for individuals and businesses. Mr. Talarico has been named one of Chicago Magazine’s Five Star Wealth Managers for seven years in a row as selected through an independent survey to identify Chicagoland wealth managers who scored the highest in overall client satisfaction. Mr. Talarico sits on several boards and committees, including the Select Advisory Board and Committee and the Retirement Plan Advisory Investment Committee at Mesirow Financial and Benevolent Enabler, Inc., and the Advisory Board of Catholic Charities for the Archdiocese of Chicago. Mr. Talarico is also the Founder and Chairman of the Talarico Ataxia Open. Mr. Talarico holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Iowa as well as licenses in equities and options.
Nicholas N. Vahanian, MD
Nicholas N. Vahanian, MD, a cofounder of our Company, has served as President of our Company since 2009. He served as Chief Medical Officer of the Company from 2001 until November 2017 and previously served as Chief Operations Officer of the Company from 2001 to 2011. Dr. Vahanian began his research career at the National Cancer Institute and subsequently worked at the National Center for Human Genome Research Institute, National Institutes of Health. He attended St Bartholomew’s and Royal London Hospital Medical College and earned his Medical Degree and subsequently completed a Molecular Oncology Fellowship at the John Stoddard Cancer Research Institute. Dr. Vahanian holds a BS in Biology from Virginia Commonwealth University and an MBA from the University of Notre Dame.
Lota S. Zoth
Lota S. Zoth, CPA, has served as a member of our Board and Chair of our Audit Committee since November 2012. Since 2008, Ms. Zoth has served on the Board of Directors of several biopharmaceutical organizations, including Orexigen Therapeutics, Inc. (NASDAQ: OREX), Aeras, Circassia Pharmaceuticals plc (LSE:CIR.L), Spark Therapeutics, Inc. (NASDAQ: ONCE), and Zymeworks, Inc. She also served on the Board of Directors for Hyperion Therapeutics, Inc. from 2008 to May 2015 and Ikaria, Inc. from 2008 to 2014. Prior to her board service, Ms. Zoth served as Chief Financial Officer of MedImmune, Inc. from 2004 through 2007, and as its Corporate Controller from 2002 to 2004. Prior to that, Ms. Zoth was a financial executive at several companies, including Sodexho Marriott Services, Inc., PSINet Inc., Marriott International, Inc., and PepsiCo, Inc. Ms. Zoth began her career as an auditor at Ernst & Young, LLP. Ms. Zoth received a BBA in accounting, summa cum laude, from Texas Tech University.