Spark Therapeutics Announces Departure of CEO and Founder Jeff Marrazzo; COO Ron Philip Named as Successor
Under Jeff Marrazzo's leadership, Spark launched world's first FDA-approved gene therapy for a genetic disease. He also spearheaded Spark's $4.8 billion acquisition by Roche.
Company's longtime business and pipeline leader Ron Philip takes helm as CEO.
PHILADELPHIA, February 23, 2022 – Spark Therapeutics, a member of the Roche Group (SIX: RO, ROG; OTCQX: RHHBY) and a fully integrated, commercial gene therapy company dedicated to challenging the inevitability of genetic disease, today announced that Ron Philip, Spark's chief operating officer, will succeed co-founder Jeffrey D. Marrazzo as chief executive officer. Jeff, who co-founded the company in 2013, will step down on April 1.
“When I think about Spark's future, I've long viewed Ron as the next person to take over at the helm – not only is he a steadfast leader, he's been instrumental in developing Spark's gene therapy pipeline and has a deep understanding of Spark's unique culture,” Jeff said. “I am incredibly proud of what we've built at Spark: from my first meetings in 2011, when the company was merely an idea, to now as the gene therapy center of excellence at one of the largest healthcare companies in the world. I've had the remarkable privilege to be part of an incredible team and work on cutting-edge science that has the potential to change people's lives. Under Ron's leadership, I know that Spark is well-positioned to deliver on the full promise of gene therapy.”
As co-founder and CEO of Spark, Jeff created a fully integrated, commercial gene therapy company that successfully delivered to patients the world's first gene therapy approved by both the FDA and EMA, while also discovering and developing potential treatments and cures for inherited retinal disease and rare bleeding and neuromuscular disorders. Over the course of a decade, he led Spark's transition from a research center within the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia to a private, venture-backed start-up and a publicly traded biotechnology company, and, most recently, an independent operating unit within Roche — a multinational healthcare company. Jeff successfully grew the company to more than 800 employees; established an urban research and manufacturing campus of nearly 1 million square feet; raised more than $1 billion in capital, including as part of a successful $161 million initial public offering in 2015; and orchestrated the $4.8 billion sale and subsequent integration of the company into Roche. Most recently, Spark announced a long-term commitment to its hometown of Philadelphia with plans to build a 500,000-square-foot Gene Therapy Innovation Center in the city's University City neighborhood.
“It has been a real pleasure working with Jeff Marrazzo. As one of Spark's co-founders, he has led the company to the success it is today: championing patients and redefining the frontiers of science, with an impressive portfolio of potential gene therapies, as well as an on-market treatment for inherited retinal disease,” said Severin Schwan, CEO of Roche. “I am extremely pleased to see Ron Philip succeed Jeff as Spark's new CEO. Ron has led significant achievements at Spark, and he brings decades of operational, development and strategy experience from biopharma companies and management consulting. I'm looking forward to Spark's continued success under Ron's leadership.”
As Spark's COO, Ron led the oversight and delivery of research, development, manufacturing and commercial efforts on the company's pipeline assets. Most notably, he directed the development and commercial launch of Spark's first approved gene therapy, LUXTURNA® (voretigene neparvovec-rzyl). He also played an important role in Spark's acquisition by Roche, assisting in the merger and acquisition evaluation and antitrust review in the U.S. and U.K. Over the course of his impressive 30-year career, Ron held various roles of increasing responsibility at Wyeth, Merck, Deloitte and Pfizer, last serving in senior leadership roles at Pfizer in regional commercial operations and global business unit strategy.
“I am humbled and honored to lead Spark's talented team as we continue our important work — developing gene therapies with the potential to dramatically and positively change the lives of the patient communities we serve,” Ron said. “It's an exciting time at Spark. Not only are we growing physically, we're continuing to expand the science surrounding gene therapy and the possibilities it may offer to people living with rare diseases. It's those possibilities that fuel us daily and unite our team on the path ahead.”
Ron added, “I wish Jeff all the best as he begins the next chapter in his career, and I am grateful to have worked alongside him over the last 5 years as we built Spark into the company it is today. Jeff's pioneering spirit is part of Spark's DNA, and it will serve us well into the future.”
About Spark Therapeutics
Spark Therapeutics is a fully integrated, commercial company committed to discovering, developing and delivering gene therapies. Founded in 2013, Spark Therapeutics is the first company in the U.S. to receive FDA approval of a gene therapy for a genetic disease.
Today, as a member of the Roche Group, Spark is focused on breaking barriers for people and families affected by genetic diseases, including blindness, hemophilia, lysosomal storage disorders and neurodegenerative disease, and currently has four programs in clinical trials. At Spark, the vision is a world where no life is limited by a genetic disease.
A best place to work headquartered in Philadelphia, Spark is fueled by a diverse, experienced team united in a collective goal: challenging the inevitability of genetic diseases.
For more information, visit www.sparktx.com, and follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn.