Cardiologist-turned-Biotech CEO, Dr. Ted Love, Sells His Sickle Cell Company to Pfizer for $5.4 Billion

Meet Dr. Ted Love, a cardiologist turned biotech CEO. A decade ago, he set out to discover a solution for sickle cell disease, a genetic blood ailment that affects over 100,000 people in the United States and over 19 million people globally.

He led a team of scientists and researchers at Global Blood Therapeutics, Inc. (GBT) that brought the sickle cell disease medicine Oxbryta to market. According to Forbes, Dr. Love did not want to pursue a career in biotechnology or pharmaceuticals. He studied molecular biology at Haverford College, became a physician at Yale Medical School, and finished his residency and cardiology fellowship at Massachusetts General Hospital.

He got into biotech after one of his mentors was hired as Head of R&D at Bristol Myers Squibb after leaving Harvard’s Head of Cardiology position.By 1992, Dr. Love had begun his biotech career at Genentech.

“I decided that Genentech was the Harvard of biotechnology, with the most advanced science.” Of course, I knew nothing about drug approval or clinical trial design. But I figured, you know, I could learn all that stuff.”

He was quickly elevated to head of all drug development at Genentech after one of his mentors, Dr. David Stump, assisted him in acquiring the abilities needed in the art and science of drug development. After six years, Dr. Love was hired by Roy Vagelos, former CEO of Merck, who described him as “the best drug developer west of the Mississippi River!”.

He later joined Theravance as Senior Vice President of Development, where he contributed to the company’s growth and helped get its first medicine approved by the FDA.

In 2001, he was persuaded to become CEO of the biopharmaceutical business Nuvelo, Inc. In his new role, he will learn how to operate a firm, lead people, motivate them, and inspire them. Furthermore, he was instrumental in taking Nuvelo public and merging business with ARCA Biopharma, Inc. in 2009.

While on retirement in 2014, Dr. Love was asked to join GBT as president and CEO, and he soon led a team to create Oxbryta®, an FDA-approved medicine to treat sickle cell disease. The medicine was launched in 2019, then in 2022, GBT developed GBT021601 (GBT601), which Dr. Love stated was 15 times better than Oxbryta®.

Investors quickly grew interested in Dr. Love’s GBT, and other offers began to come in, including one from Johnson & Johnson. According to Forbes, Pfizer paid $5.4 billion in cash to acquire GBT in August 2022.

Dr. Love left the firm and retired following GBT’s takeover. Nonetheless, he remains involved in the sickle cell community, serving on the boards of Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO), Royalty Pharma, and Structure Therapeutics.

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