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Shire Names New President of Regenerative Medicine Unit

A dramatic changing of the guards is taking place at Shire of Dublin, Ireland, and its local Regenerative Medicine business as top leaders move into new roles or exit the company.

With 350 employees in the San Diego region, Shire Regenerative Medicine’s lead product is Dermagraft, a treatment for diabetic foot ulcers that has been available on the U.S. market for more than five years. The product has also received regulatory approval in Canada where it is expected to launch in the first quarter of next year.

Effective Nov. 15, Dr. Jeff Jonas has taken the helm locally as president of Shire’s Regenerative Medicine business, reporting to Shire Chief Executive Angus Russell. Jonas is replacing Kevin Rakin, who led Advanced BioHealing Inc. for several years before it was acquired by Shire in 2011. A company statement says Rakin is stepping down from his position as Regenerative Medicine president to pursue new career interests, but will provide transitional support through Dec. 28.

Jonas brings a wealth of varied experience to his new role, including leadership of Shire’s Specialty Pharmaceuticals Research and Development team since joining the company in July 2008.

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Jonas received his M.D. from Harvard Medical School, where he graduated in 1979 and completed a residency in psychiatry at Harvard. Jonas said his career has led him through a series of positions with increasing responsibility, starting with Upjohn Laboratories, where he advanced to the position of chief medical officer. Along the way he’s been a successful entrepreneur, founding AVAX Technologies, a company known for autologous cell therapy and individualized therapy that went public in 1997, and co-founding SCEPTOR Industries, a biotechnology company involved in biodefense surveillance. Jonas has also held positions as chief medical officer and executive vice president at Forest Laboratories Inc. and as executive vice president at Isis Pharmaceuticals.

‘A Great Passion’

Jonas said he was recruited to Shire by the former president and current CEO Angus Russell and was impressed with the “practical and patient driven” vision the company had for research and development.

Jonas attributes much of his accomplishments as head of the Specialty Pharmaceuticals R&D team and the Regenerative Medicine R&D team to his colleagues, who he says understand the science and the business behind Shire’s efforts.

Shire’s R&D work includes developing a treatment for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and programs to develop new therapies for depression, binge eating disorder, and negative symptoms and cognitive impairment in schizophrenia.

“My team has had a great track record over the last five years,” said Jonas, whose promotion stations him in San Diego rather than dividing his time between here and Pennsylvania. “Personally, I have a great passion for the business. This represents a great opportunity. Hopefully, my enthusiasm and commitment to this process helped me stand out.”

Building on Strengths

Stepping in to fill Jonas’ role as global head of Specialty Pharma R&D will be Dr. Arnaud Partiot, a psychiatrist who has been a senior member of the Shire Specialty Pharmaceuticals team in various clinical research and development, medical affairs and commercial roles since joining Shire in 2004. Previously, Partiot worked for Wyeth, where he spent a decade in roles of increasing responsibility in clinical research and development.

Most recently, Partiot led the international ADHD team in the development and preparation for the launch of Elvanse in the European Union.

In an email, Partiot indicated his new focus will be on building upon the considerable strengths of the Specialty Pharma R&D team as a strategic force for the business.

“Internally, we will continue to focus on being a valued partner in developing creative strategies and credible scientific data to deliver high-quality information,” according to the email. “Externally, because we want access to the best science, regardless of where it resides, one of our top priorities will be to continue to forge strategic collaborations to strengthen Shire’s already healthy pipeline.”

Angus Russell will be the next executive up for a transition, as he plans to retire as CEO of Shire in April. After joining Shire in 1999, Russell served as chief financial officer from December of that year to June 2008. In his current position as CEO, Russell divides his time between Shire’s offices in Chesterbrook, Pa., and Basingstoke, U.K., and regularly visits the company’s other facilities — Shire HGT in Lexington, Mass., and Shire Regenerative Medicine in La Jolla.

“It’s been an enormous privilege to work with so many talented, enthusiastic and committed people to build an exceptional company devoted to the needs of our patients,” Russell said in an email.

In line to become his successor is Flemming Ornskov, M.D. and M.B.A., who intends to join Shire on Jan. 2 as chief executive designate. After a handover period of several months, Ornskov plans to become CEO on April 30.

“Flemming brings a great breadth and depth of experience as well as innovative thinking and a brave perspective that I believe will carry Shire to great heights in years to come,” wrote Russell, who plans to spend more time with family and devote himself to other personal interests such as charitable causes.

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