Board of Directors

Willie Deese

Mr. Deese has extensive experience in pharmaceutical manufacturing, technical operations and supply chain management. He is recently retired from Merck & Co., where as Executive Vice President and President, Merck Manufacturing Division, he was responsible for Merck’s worldwide manufacturing and logistics operations. During his tenure with Merck, Mr. Deese led the company’s strategic initiative to sharpen its commercial and research and development focus, redesigning its operational model and reducing its cost base. Prior to joining Merck, Mr. Deese was Senior Vice President of Global Procurement and Logistics at GlaxoSmithKline, where he guided the integration of the Glaxo and SmithKline procurement organizations through the companies’ merger. Earlier in his career, Mr. Deese held several procurement leadership roles at SmithKline Beecham and Kaiser Permanente.

Mr. Deese serves on the board of directors for the Public Service Enterprise Group, CDK Global and Dentsply Sirona. Mr. Deese is a former chairman of the board of trustees for the North Carolina A&T State University, a past member of the Merck Executive Committee and has been named one of the “100 Most Powerful Executives in Corporate America” by Black Enterprise Magazine.

Mr. Deese holds an MBA from Western New England University and a B.A. in business administration from North Carolina A&T State University.

Fred Eshelman, Pharm.D.

Dr. Eshelman is the founder and principle of Eshelman Ventures LLC, investing in a variety of companies, primarily health care. Previously, he was the founding chairman of Furiex Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq: FURX), a company sold to Forest Labs / Actavis in July 2014.

Dr. Eshelman also founded and served as Chief Executive Officer and Executive Chairman for Pharmaceutical Product Development, Inc. (Nasdaq: PPDI) until the sale of the company to private equity interests (Carlyle, Hellman & Friedman). His career also included positions as Senior Vice President, Development and board member at Glaxo Inc., as well as various management positions at Beecham Laboratories and Boehringer Mannheim Pharmaceuticals. Dr. Eshelman is part of several industry boards and has served on the executive committee of the Medical Foundation of North Carolina and the board of the North Carolina Biotechnology Center.

Dr. Eshelman is active in higher education, serving on the board of governors for the University of North Carolina (UNC) System (audit committee chair) and as an adjunct professor at the UNC School of Pharmacy, where he chairs the board of visitors. One of the top pharmacy programs in the U.S., in May 2008 the school was named the Eshelman School of Pharmacy, in recognition of his many contributions to the school and profession.

Dr. Eshelman has received numerous awards, including the Davie and Outstanding Service awards from UNC, Chapel Hill and outstanding alumnus awards from UNC and the University of Cincinnati schools of pharmacy. He also received the Ernst & Young "Entrepreneur of the Year" and North Carolina Entrepreneur Hall of Fame award.

Dr. Eshelman holds a doctor of pharmacy from the University of Cincinnati and completed a hospital residency at Cincinnati General Hospital. He has a B.S. in pharmacy from UNC, Chapel. In addition, he has completed the Owner/President Management program at Harvard Business School.

Glenn P. Muir

Mr. Muir has extensive experience in financial management, having guided Hologic, Inc., from its early days with less than $10 million in revenue to its current position as one of the largest life science companies with annual revenues of more than $2 billion. He was Hologic’s Chief Financial Officer from 1992 to May 2014 and Executive Vice President since 2000 with a broad range of financial and operating responsibilities, including the oversight of the company’s strategic initiatives. Mr. Muir was at the helm for Hologic’s initial public offering in 1990. He is currently on the board of directors for Repligen Corporation and is audit committee chair at ReWalk Robotics and RainDance Technologies. His board of director experience also includes Hologic, from 2001 to 2013, and Vivid Technologies, Inc., from 1996 until the company was sold to EG&G in 1999. Mr. Muir was named one of America’s "Best CFOs" by Institutional Investor in 2009, and "CFO of the Year" by the Boston Business Journal in 2011.

Mr. Muir holds an MBA from Harvard Business School, an M.S. in taxation from the Bentley College Graduate School of Business and a B.B.A. with a major in accounting from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.. Mr. Muir is also a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Massachusetts Society of Certified Public Accountants.

Garry Nicholson

Mr. Nicholson has more than 30 years of pharmaceutical and biotech oncology experience. He led the global oncology franchise at Pfizer in the role of President, Pfizer Oncology from May 2008 through April 2015. His responsibilities included global commercialization and sales, clinical development and regulatory strategy, and business development. Under his leadership, the company developed and executed the global regulatory and launch strategy for Ibrance® (palbociclib), the first CDK4/6 inhibitor approved in the U.S. and Europe. During his tenure at Pfizer, Mr. Nicholson served on the board of directors of the Pfizer Foundation and was a member of the company’s Portfolio, Strategy and Investment Committee, which set corporate R&D priorities and investment strategy. In addition, he was an advisor to AMPATH, a consortium of North American universities and health centers, Moi University, Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital, and the Government of Kenya that helps build sustainable healthcare systems in developing nations.

Earlier in his career, Mr. Nicholson held various leadership positions in the oncology division of Eli Lilly and Company. Most recently, he served as President and Chief Executive Officer of XTuit Pharmaceuticals, where he also was a member of the board of directors. Mr. Nicholson began his career in healthcare as a staff pharmacist at Emory University.

He currently serves on the board of directors of G1 Therapeutics, Inc., Five Prime Therapeutics, Inc., TESARO, Inc., and SQZ Biotechnologies.

Mr. Nicholson holds an MBA from the University of South Carolina and earned his B.S. in Pharmacy at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

Seth Rudnick, M.D., Chair

Dr. Rudnick has extensive expertise in oncology, drug discovery and development, and healthcare investments. He is recently retired from Canaan Partners, where he built the global venture capital firm's capability in biopharmaceutical investing. Prior to joining Canaan, he was the Chief Executive Officer and chairman of CytoTherapeutics, a developer of cell therapies to combat chronic diseases. He also helped start and led the development of Ortho Biotech, a division of Johnson & Johnson. Earlier in his career, Dr. Rudnick worked at Schering-Plough and directed pharmaceutical development efforts at Biogen.

Dr. Rudnick was a Yale Fellow and Robert Wood Johnson scholar in medical oncology. He earned his medical degree at the University of Virginia and holds a BA in history from the University of Pennsylvania.  He is a Clinical Professor of Medicine at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, teaching and advising faculty members on biotechnology issues. He also currently serves as the chairman of Liquidia Technologies and Meryx, and serves on the board of Abyrx. 

Cynthia Schwalm

During her more than 30-year career in healthcare, Ms. Schwalm has advanced from healthcare provider to Chief Executive Officer, with demonstrated strategic and operational experience that drives value creation. She is the founder and life sciences advisor for EIR Advisory, providing strategic counsel on organizational and operational issues to biopharma organizations. Previously, Ms. Schwalm was President and Chief Executive Officer for Ipsen North America, where she led its transformation into the company’s highest-growth subsidiary worldwide. Prior to Ipsen, Ms. Schwalm served as President of Eisai Pharmaceuticals, where she oversaw commercial operations, medical affairs and services, alliance management and other functions. She has also held leadership roles at Amgen Oncology and Johnson & Johnson. Ms. Schwalm began her healthcare career as an oncology/critical care nurse.

Ms. Schwalm has held positions on numerous corporate and non-profit boards, including the Women’s Leadership Advisory Board for the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and the board of directors for the Sarah Cannon Oncology Research Institute. She currently serves on the advisory board for the Neuroendocrine Cancer Awareness Network and as a Wharton Business School Leadership Advisor.

Ms. Schwalm holds an MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and a B.S.N. from the University of Delaware.

Mark Velleca, M.D., Ph.D.

Dr. Velleca joined G1 as Chief Executive Officer in 2014. Previously, he was at CGI Pharmaceuticals, where he guided the company from its inception through its establishment as a drug discovery company that brought multiple drug candidates into clinical trials. After Gilead Sciences acquired CGI, Dr. Velleca served as a senior advisor to Gilead in R&D Strategy and Corporate Development. Earlier in his career, Dr. Velleca was an attending physician at Yale New Haven Hospital and on the faculty of the Yale University School of Medicine.

Dr. Velleca earned an M.D. and Ph.D. from Washington University in St. Louis, and a B.S. from Yale University. He has served on the boards of directors and scientific advisory boards of several biotechnology companies, including Intellikine, an oncology therapeutics company acquired by Takeda in 2011. He most recently served as Executive Vice President at the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

Sir Andrew Witty

Mr. Witty is Chancellor of the University of Nottingham and recently retired as Chief Executive Officer of GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) plc, a position he held between 2008 and 2017.

Mr. Witty joined Glaxo in 1985 and held a variety of roles in the U.K. and overseas, including in South Africa, Singapore and in the U.S.. During his tenure, GSK consistently achieved the top position in every Access to Medicine Index.

While in Singapore, Mr. Witty was a board member for the Singapore Economic Development Board and the Singapore Land Authority. In 2003, he was awarded the Public Service Medal by the government of Singapore and in August 2012 he received the Public Service Star. He continues to be a member of the EDB International Advisory Council.

Mr. Witty has served in numerous advisory roles to governments around the world, including South Africa; Guangzhou, China; and the U.K., where he was a member of the Prime Minister’s Business Advisory Group from 2010 to 2015. In 2012, Mr. Witty was awarded a knighthood for services to the economy and the U.K. pharmaceutical industry. In 2014, he was appointed as a business ambassador for the U.K. government. Mr. Witty became a member of the Advisory Council for the China-Britain Business Council in 2015.

Mr. Witty was president of the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations from 2010 to 2013. From 2013 to 2015 he was the only pharmaceutical industry representative in the UNAIDS–Lancet Commission for Defeating AIDS and Advancing Global Health. In November 2015, Mr. Witty was appointed as a member of the U.N. High-Level Panel on Access to Medicines. In May 2016, he became a visiting professor at the Institute of Global Health Innovation at Imperial College, London. He also serves on the board of directors for UnitedHealth Group.

Mr. Witty has a joint honours B.A. in economics from the University of Nottingham and holds honorary degrees from the Universities of Exeter, Manchester and Nottingham.