William “Bill” Skillman became our President and Chief Executive Officer and a director effective January 1, 2014. Bill has more than 27 years’ experience in the life sciences sector including as a senior executive and international commercial business leader with Johnson & Johnson’s Transfusion Medicine business (Ortho Clinical Diagnostic Systems) and as Vice President, Worldwide Sales & Marketing, with J&J’s Therakos division. As Vice President, Worldwide Marketing, Transfusion Medicine, he held strategic responsibility for a $400M franchise in blood screening and immunohematology. He also served as Vice President, Marketing for Genzyme Genetics. Prior to Velico, he launched Cambridge Executive Services, Inc., a global retained search firm serving the Life Sciences industry. Mr. Skillman earned a B.B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania, Wharton Undergraduate Division, and completed the International Executive Program at Duke University.
Russell J. Barron joined Velico in November 2013 as Vice President and General Counsel, and subsequently was named Corporate Secretary and Chief Operating Officer. Mr. Barron has over 40 years of experience as an attorney. His practice has encompassed general corporate law, corporate governance, intellectual property litigation and the business of intellectual assets. He was a partner with Foley & Lardner for 22 years where he was a founder of the firm’s Intellectual Property Department. From 2007 to 2009, Mr. Barron was an executive with private equity funds focused on intellectual assets. From 2009-2012, he was a partner in the Boston office of Pepper Hamilton. Russ has an undergraduate degree from Princeton University and earned his Juris Doctorate at New York University. He is admitted to practice in Massachusetts, New York and the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Mr. Barron served as an infantry officer in the United States Army.
Tom Fitzgerald has served as our Chief Financial Officer since August 2006. Mr. Fitzgerald has extensive financial management experience with life sciences companies as an investment banker, chief financial officer and as a consultant to emerging growth companies. Tom was Managing Director for the healthcare investment banking firm of Leerink Swann where he raised capital in both the private and public markets and completed mergers, acquisitions and other strategic transactions. Mr. Fitzgerald graduated with an M.B.A. from the Harvard University Graduate School of Business Administration and an A.B. in Economics from Stanford University. Mr. Fitzgerald served in the U.S. Army for nearly four years, initially as an enlisted man and, subsequently, an airborne-qualified infantry officer.
Peter Liu, Ph.D. is our Chief Scientist and Director of Science Programs. Dr. Liu joined Velico in 2000 and has made major contributions including discoveries of two novel families of glycosidases that enable the conversion of group A, B or AB red blood cells into red cells that are functionally and scientifically equivalent to group O. This work was widely reported in over 40 countries around the world and featured in prominent publications including Nature Biotechnology (April 2007, Cover Story), Time Magazine (2007, Best Inventions of The Year) and Wired News (2007, Top 10 Scientific Breakthroughs of 2007).
Velico has licensed one of Dr. Liu’s technologies to a biomaterials company, generating over $23 million in royalties. Recently, Dr. Liu discovered key pathways leading to platelet storage lesion. Dr. Liu also has been pivotal in guiding the scientific aspects of Velico’s proprietary spray dried plasma (SpDP™) process.
Dr. Liu has nearly 20 peer-reviewed publications in leading scientific journals, including Blood, Nature Biotech, PNAS, JBC and JACS. He is a named inventor for a significant number of patents and patent applications. A poster describing Dr. Liu’s platelet work was designated a “Top Ten” poster at the 2012 AABB Annual Conference (the major gathering of the transfusion medicine sector). Dr. Liu earned his doctoral degree in Organic Chemistry at Brown University. His post-doctoral training was at Harvard University in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology where he performed research on the mechanism of DNA topoisomerases under the supervision of Dr. James Wang.