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Dr. Joan Lau

Joan Lau is Chief Executive Officer of Spirovant, responsible for the strategic direction and growth of the gene therapy company. She delivers more than 20 years of biopharma leadership experience, including as CEO for several venture-capital-backed biotech companies. Dr. Lau co-founded Spirovant (then called Talee Bio), envisioning the potential for advanced gene therapy to treat cystic fibrosis and other patients in need. Within a few years under Dr. Lau’s leadership, Spirovant gained the prestigious scientific support of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and was acquired twice (in one year), most recently by Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma. As CEO of Spirovant, she has been selected to receive the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2020 Award in Greater Philadelphia and was named a Woman of Distinction by the Philadelphia Business Journal.

Previously, Dr. Lau co-founded and served as Managing Partner of Militia Hill Ventures, focused on building and growing high quality life sciences companies. Dr. Lau also has served as President and CEO of Azelon Pharmaceuticals, a venture-backed clinical stage company; President and CEO of Locus Pharmaceuticals, a computational chemistry discovery company; and in various leadership roles at Merck, including roles in R&D drug development and business development.

In addition, Dr. Lau is an adjunct instructor at the University of Pennsylvania. She also serves on several boards including the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Social Policy and Practice and the Roy & Diana Vagelos Program in Life Sciences Management, and she co-founded the nonprofit PhillyBio, an organization focused on fostering relationships across Philadelphia-based biopharma. 

Dr. Lau earned her MBA from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, her PhD in Neuroscience from the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, and her BS in Bioengineering from the University of Pennsylvania.

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