Spirovant Sciences – Potential of Gene Therapy in Targeting the Drivers of Cystic Fibrosis

Joan Lau, Ph.D., MBA, CEO of Spirovant Sciences discusses cystic fibrosis (CF) and how the standard of care right now addresses but does not correct the underlying cause of the disease. She talks about what needs to be done, and how her organization is working to revolutionize treatment for people living with CF by directly targeting and correcting the underlying cause of the disease.

Joan Lau is Chief Executive Officer of Philadelphia-based biotech Spirovant Sciences. She co-founded the company (then called Talee Bio), envisioning the potential for gene therapy for patients with inherited respiratory diseases. Under her leadership, Spirovant gained the support of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and was honored as PACT Healthcare Startup of the Year. Spirovant was acquired twice in 2019, once as part of a $3 billion transaction with Sumitomo Pharma.

Dr. Lau co-founded and is partner with Militia Hill Ventures, a firm focused on forming and growing life sciences companies. Previously she held roles as COO of Immunome (IMNM); President and CEO of Azelon Pharmaceuticals; and President and CEO of Locus Pharmaceuticals, a computational chemistry discovery company. VELEXBRU ® was discovered & developed at Locus under her leadership. Dr. Lau began her career at Merck Research Laboratories.

Dr. Lau has been recognized for her entrepreneurial accomplishments and leadership in the biotechnology industry and within the Philadelphia and social justice non-profit communities. She serves on the board for the Philadelphia Orchestra & Kimmel Center; the Penn School of Social Policy and Practice; Brandywine Realty Trust; and Rockwell Medical, Inc. She is an Adjunct Professor at Penn in the Wharton Healthcare Management Program. Previously she served as national board chair, Human Rights Campaign Foundation (DC). She was selected as the 2020 EY Entrepreneur of the Year, Philadelphia Region; a 2020 Woman of Distinction by the Philadelphia Business Journal; and the 2021 Iris Newman Award recipient from the Alliance for Women Entrepreneurs.

Dr. Lau earned an MBA from the Wharton School of Business and a BSE in Bioengineering, both at the University of Pennsylvania; and a PhD in Neuroscience from the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine.

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