Robert joined Flagship Pioneering as venture partner in 2013 and focuses on providing strategic counsel and support to portfolio companies. He is also the CEO of Axcella Health, a pioneer in protein-based therapeutic nutrients and founded within Flagship’s VentureLabs innovation foundry. Robert has 30+ years of experience starting, financing, building and leading companies in the life sciences sector. He is the former CEO of Domantis, Pulmatrix, and WikiCell Designs, and has served as chairman of the board for Aero Designs and as a director for Pulmatrix and Rainier Wines. He has raised over $200 million in private financing for his companies and led numerous transactions including license, platform, drug discovery, co-development, government and foundation, and M&A partnerships and has launched many innovative products during his career.
Robert began his career with the Medical Diagnostics Division of Abbott Laboratories, spending 11+ years in sales, marketing and management positions. After leaving Abbott in 1994, he spent six years with BioVeris (formerly IGEN International; acquired by Roche for $1.6 billion) in the roles of senior vice president of sales and marketing and general manager of IGEN’s Life Sciences unit. Robert led IGEN’s efforts to develop, market and license novel detection technologies utilized in medical diagnostics and drug discovery. He had a central role in IGEN’s financing activities that raised more than $150 million in public financing during his tenure.
In 2001, Robert became the founding CEO and first employee of Domantis, a private UK-based biotechnology company founded by world-renowned scientist entrepreneurs Ian Tomlinson and Greg Winter. Domantis created a novel fully-human antibody fragment platform (domain antibodies-DABs), growing into a 75-person organization with operations in the UK and USA, novel therapeutic programs in cancer, respiratory and autoimmune indications, and seven therapeutic partnerships before being acquired by Glaxo SmithKline in 2007 for $454 million in cash, the largest all-cash valuation paid for a preclinical biotechnology company.
In 2007, Robert was appointed CEO of Pulmatrix (NASD:PULM), a pharmaceutical company developing inhaled drugs for respiratory diseases including chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD) and cystic fibrosis (CF). During his tenure, Pulmatrix moved several lead candidates into clinical trials in patients with asthma, CF and COPD and developed a next generation platform for formulating drugs for inhaled delivery (iSPERSE). In 2012, Robert co-founded WikiCell Designs with Pulmatrix Founder David Edwards to utilize biotechnology tools to develop sustainable, edible forms of packaging for food, beverage and nutrition products. In 2013 WikiCell Designs merged with Aero Designs to form Incredible Foods.