Board of Directors
- Samantha Du, Ph.D.
Samantha Du, Ph.D., co-founded Zai Lab and has been director, chairman and chief executive officer since Zai Lab's inception. Prior to founding Zai Lab, Dr. Du spent two years as managing director of healthcare investments at Sequoia Capital China, where she led four investments. From 2001 to 2011, Dr. Du was founder and chief executive officer of Hutchison Medi-Pharma and the co-founder and chief scientific officer of Hutchison China MediTech Limited, a Nasdaq-listed biopharmaceutical company, where she pioneered China-based global biopharmaceutical innovation by bringing five internally-discovered innovative drug candidates into clinical trials, including two global Phase III ready drug candidates. Dr. Du began her career with Pfizer in the United States in 1994, where she was involved in the development and launch of two global drugs. While at Pfizer, she was responsible for Pfizer’s global metabolic licensing program on the scientific side. She received a Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of Cincinnati. Dr. Du has also been involved with and chaired several Chinese regulatory and government related committees.
- John D. Diekman, Ph.D.
John D. Diekman, Ph.D., has been our independent director since 2017. Dr. Diekman is founding partner of 5AM Ventures, where he has served since 2002. He is chairman of the board of directors of IDEAYA Biosciences, Inc. an oncology-focused biotechnology company; director of Igenica Biotherapeutics, Inc., a developer of antibody-based oncology treatments; director of Wildcat Discovery Technologies, Inc., a technology company that discovers materials for energy storage applications; charter trustee of Princeton University; chairman of the board of directors of The Scripps Research Institute; and a member of the advisory board of the Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics at the University of Southern California. During the last five years, Dr. Diekman also served as director of Calibrium LLC, a biopharmaceutical research company focused on diabetes and other metabolic diseases; Cellular Research, Inc., a single-cell genomics startup; and PhaseRx Inc., a biopharmaceutical company developing mRNA treatments for life-threatening inherited liver diseases in children. Dr. Diekman holds an A.B. in Organic Chemistry from Princeton University and a Ph.D. in Chemistry from Stanford University.
- Tao Fu
Tao Fu has been our independent director since 2017. He is currently executive vice president, chief commercial and business officer of Portola Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a publicly traded biotechnology company specializing in cardiovascular disease, hematological disorders and cancer. In this role, Mr. Fu leads Portola’s commercial operations, marketing, sales and business development functions. Prior to joining Portola in June 2015, Mr. Fu was vice president, business development, head of M&A and alliance management at BMS. Mr. Fu led all M&A, divestiture, strategic transaction and venture investment opportunities as well as alliance management for BMS. Between 2003 and 2015, Mr. Fu worked at Johnson & Johnson in a number of roles, most recently as vice president, business development, where he was responsible for global M&A activities in the pharmaceutical sector. Prior to joining Johnson & Johnson, Mr. Fu held managerial positions with Scios Inc., a biotechnology company in California; McKinsey & Company, a global management consulting firm; and Becton Dickinson, a leading medical device company. Mr. Fu received a master of science in cell biology from the University of Rochester, and a master of business administration in finance and marketing from Vanderbilt University. Mr. Fu did his undergraduate studies in biology at Tsinghua University and is a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA).
- Nisa Leung
Nisa Leung has been our independent director since 2014. Ms. Leung is a Managing Partner at Qiming Venture Partners, where she leads its health care investments. In addition to serving on our board of directors, Ms. Leung is also a member of the board of directors of Berry Genomics, a biotechnology company that provides prenatal genetic testing; CanSino Biotechnology, a vaccine developer; dMed, a Shanghai-based CRO consulting startup; Gan & Lee Pharmaceuticals, a developer of insulin analog; Nurotron Biotechnology, a developer of neurostimulation systems; and Venus Medtech, a developer of interventional artificial cardiac valve systems. Ms. Leung received a master of business administration from the Stanford Graduate School of Business.
- Peter Wirth
Peter Wirth has been our director since 2017 and has been our senior advisor since 2015. He is chairman of FORMA Therapeutics Holdings LLC, a small molecule drug discovery company; executive chairman of ZappRx, a digital health care company; chair of the board of directors at Syros Pharmaceuticals, a Nasdaq-listed biopharmaceutical company; and director of Aura Biosciences, Inc., a biopharmaceutical company. From 2011 to 2014, Mr. Wirth served as president and director of Lysosomal Therapeutics, Inc., a biopharmaceutical company focused on small molecule research. From 1996 to 2011, Mr. Wirth served as a senior executive at Genzyme, which is now part of Sanofi, and most recently as its executive vice president of legal and corporate development, chief risk officer and corporate secretary. During the last five years, Mr. Wirth also served as a director of Synageva BioPharma Corp., a biopharmaceutical company which is now owned by Nasdaq-listed Alexion Pharmaceuticals. Mr. Wirth received a law degree from Harvard Law School.
- Professor Kai-Xian Chen, Ph.D.
Professor Chen has been our independent director since August 2018. He has more than 55 years of academic and administrative experience. He was first elected as a member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) in 1999 and served as President of the Shanghai Science and Technology Association in 2011. Prof. Chen served as the Principal Scientist for two National Basic Research Programs (commonly known as the 973 Program) administered by the PRC Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST). In 2001, he served as a key architect for the "Innovative Drug and Modernization of Chinese Medicines" initiative of MOST, which is generally recognized as one of the highest impact programs undertaken to date by MOST. As an architect for this program, Prof. Chen organized and promoted a series of innovative drug policies for the Chinese government's 12th and 13th Five-Year Plans. Prof. Chen also served as a member of the National Committee of Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) from 2007 to 2017.
Prof. Chen started his academic career in 1985 when he joined the Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica (SIMM) as an Associate Professor, where he was promoted to Full Professor in 1990. From 1993 to 1996, he served as Deputy Director of SIMM. From 1996 to 2004, he served as Director of SIMM. From 2005 to 2014, Prof. Chen served as President of Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine.
Prof. Chen graduated with a chemistry degree from Fudan University in 1967. He received his M.Phil. and Ph.D. degrees at SIMM and CAS, in 1982 and 1985, respectively. From 1985 to 1988, he conducted postdoctoral research at Institut de Biologie Physico-Chimique in Paris, France. Prof. Chen has published more than 200 papers in academic journals worldwide.
- William Lis
William Lis has been our independent director since October 2018. He has 27 years of biopharmaceutical experience. He served as Chief Executive Officer and a Director of Portola Pharmaceuticals, Inc. from 2010 until 2018 after serving as Chief Operating Officer and Chief Business Officer in 2009 and 2008. Under his leadership, Portola successfully grew from a discovery stage company to a fully integrated R&D and commercial organization, and independently advanced: Andexxa® and Bevyxxa® that received FDA Breakthrough and Fast Track designation respectively, from discovery and early stage development through commercial launch; cerdulatinib, a novel immunology and oncology compound, from discovery through phase 2. He led private and public financings totaling $1b, including an initial public offering in 2013; multiple corporate partnerships; academic clinical development collaborations; and oversaw the execution of milestones that resulted in the growth of the company’s valuation from $250 million to $2.7 billion during his tenure.
Prior to Portola, Mr. Lis held executive and management positions at Scios, Inc. (a Johnson & Johnson company) from 2003 to 2008 where he last served as Vice President of Commercial Operations and Business Development, having led efforts for the in-licensing, and then the strategic development and pre-commercial launch for Xarelto®; and served on the Janssen West Coast Research and Development Committee. He also held positions of increasing responsibility at Millennium Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (previously COR Therapeutics, Inc.) from 1998 to 2003 in sales, marketing, and medical affairs for the launch and commercialization of INTEGRILIN® and project management and business development for early stage compounds. Earlier in his career, he was involved in the U.S. commercial launch of several products with multiple pharmaceutical companies, including Lovenox® and Rilutek® while at Rhone-Poulenc Rorer.
Mr. Lis serves as Independent Director for Zai Laboratories Inc. (ZLAB, Nasdaq) and served as a member of the Bio Board of Directors, Emerging Companies Section in 2015 and 2016.
Mr. Lis holds a B.S. from the University of Maryland.
Scientific Advisory Board
- Lieping Chen, M.D., Ph.D.
Lieping Chen, M.D., Ph.D., has served on our Scientific Advisory Board since 2019. Dr. Chen is the United Technologies Corporation Professor in Cancer Research, Co-Director of the Cancer Immunology Program at the Yale Cancer Center and a Professor of immunobiology, dermatology and medicine (Medical Oncology) at the Yale University School of Medicine.
Dr. Chen studies cell membrane proteins which control lymphocyte functions and translates his laboratory findings for the treatment of human diseases including cancer. Dr. Chen did the first proof-of-concept study in 1992 showing that the B7-CD28 family molecules could be the targets for cancer immunotherapy by introducing B7-1 into tumor cells to enhance therapeutic immunity. This study inspires subsequent studies targeting the B7-CD28/CTLA-4 family molecules for the treatment of cancer. Dr. Chen discovered B7-H1 (also called PD-L1) molecule in 1999 and demonstrated the role of PD-L1 in the evasion of immunity in tumor microenvironment. He singularly established the PD-1/PD-L1 pathway as the target for cancer immunotherapy in 1999-2002. He also initiated and help organized the first-in-man clinical trial of anti-PD-1 monoclonal antibody for treating human cancer in 2006 and developed PD-L1 staining as a biomarker to predict treatment outcome. His discoveries directly led to the development of anti-PD-1/PD-L1 antibody therapy against broad spectrum of human cancers (first approved in 2014 and five anti-PD-1/PD-L1 antibodies approved by US FDA since then). Dr. Chen’s discoveries have revolutionized current oncology practice and cancer treatment.
Dr. Chen’s laboratory also discovered various molecular pathways with immune modulatory functions and their applications in human disease treatment. These pathways include 4-1BB (CD137), ICOS/B7-H2, B7-H3, B7-H4, B7-H5/CD28H, PD-1H (VISTA), LIGHT/HVEM, RELT, TROY, B7-H2/CD28/CTLA-4 (human), SALM5/HVEM, FGL1/LAG-3, Siglec-15 etc. These discoveries led to the development of therapeutic agents in various stages of clinical trials for the treatment of human diseases including cancer and autoimmune diseases.
Dr. Chen has published more than 350 research articles, review and book chapters. He has received several awards and professional recognitions including William B. Coley Award (2014), Warren Alpert Foundation Prize (2017) and Giants of Cancer Care (2018).
- Richard A. Flavell, Ph.D.
Richard A. Flavell, Ph.D., FRS, has served on our scientific advisory board since 2017. Since 2002, Dr. Flavell has been the Sterling Professor of Immunobiology at Yale University School of Medicine. Prior to joining the Yale faculty in 1988, Dr. Flavell was the President and Chief Scientific Officer of Biogen Research Corporation. Dr. Flavell received a Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of Hull, England, and performed postdoctoral work in Amsterdam and Zurich. He is an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, a fellow of the Royal Society, a member of the National Academy of Sciences, and a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies. He has published over 800 papers and has received many awards, including the Invitrogen Meritorious Career Award from the American Association of Immunologists.
- Gwen A. Fyfe, M.D.
Gwen Fyfe, M.D., has served on our scientific advisory board since 2016. Since 2009, Dr. Fyfe has been a consultant for venture capital firms and for a variety of biotechnology companies. From 1997 to 2009, Dr. Fyfe held various positions with Genentech Inc. (now a member of the Roche Group), including Vice President, Oncology Development and Vice President, Avastin Franchise Team, as well as the honorary title of Senior Staff Scientist. Dr. Fyfe played an important role in the development of Genentech’s approved oncology agents including Rituxan®, Herceptin®, Avastin® and Tarceva®. From 1990 to 1997, Dr. Fyfe was Medical Director at Chiron Therapeutics. Dr. Fyfe currently serves as a director of Array Biopharma, Inc., Cascadian Therapeutics and Molecular Partners AG and previously served as a director of Infinity Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Dr. Fyfe received a medical degree from Washington University and is a board-certified pediatric oncologist. She has been an invited member of Institute of Medicine panels, National Cancer Institute working groups and grant committees and American Society of Clinical Oncologists oversight committees.
- Neal Rosen, M.D., Ph.D.
Neal Rosen, M.D., Ph.D. has served on our scientific advisory board since 2016. Dr. Rosen is a Member of the Department of Medicine and a Member of the Molecular Pharmacology and Chemistry Program at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, where he serves as Head of Developmental Therapeutics. He is also a Professor of Pharmacology, Cell Biology and Medicine at Cornell University Medical School. He has played an important role in the development of tyrosine kinase-mediated signaling inhibitors and has pioneered the concept that cancer cells are dependent on cellular machinery for protein folding. Dr. Rosen received a medical degree and a Ph.D. in Molecular Biology from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. He completed a residency in Internal Medicine at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital and post-doctoral training and a fellowship in Medical Oncology at the National Cancer Institute, where he served on the senior staff prior to joining the faculty of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. He was the recipient of the NIH/NCI Outstanding Investigator Award in 2016.