Strategic Funding and Joint-Development
Board of Directors
Robert DeBenedetto
President & CEO

Robert DeBenedetto, CPA has over 25 years of global pharmaceutical / life sciences experience. Robert founded SFJ Pharmaceuticals® in January of 2009 on a premise that there was a better way to fund and conduct clinical trials globally. This premise is now a reality with SFJ Pharmaceuticals® as the premier global funding partner for many of the world’s largest pharma companies, with SFJ Pharmaceuticals® now having a proven track record of drug approvals with many more drugs with trials successfully completed and in regulatory submission. Prior to joining SFJ Pharmaceuticals®, Robert was Vice President of Global Business Development at Quintiles Transnational’s, pharmaceuticals investment unit. Preceding that Robert was Executive Committee Member, CFO, V.P. of Corporate Development, and V.P. of Corporate Marketing for Boston Scientific’s Japan subsidiary with 800 employees and sales exceeding $600 million. Robert spent the first 9 years of his professional career as a CPA with E&Y, advising some of the world’s largest companies. To date Robert has been involved in approximately 100 acquisitions, mergers, licensing and partnering arrangements valued at over $10 billion. Robert has a Master’s Degree from Bentley University and presently a Senior Adviser at Blackstone Life Sciences.

Ken Haas

Ken Haas, a partner in Abingworth’s Menlo Park office, has spent 25 years in the management of both early-stage and public high technology and biotechnology companies.

  • He was part of the founding management team at IntelliGenetics, one of the world’s first bioinformatics companies and, from 1992 to 2001
  • He was CEO of IntelliCorp, a publicly-traded enterprise software company
  • He practiced as an attorney in the business and technology group of Heller, Ehrman, White & McAuliffe, and has been Co-Chair of the Advisory Council to the Neuroscience Institute at Stanford
  • Ken’s current and past directorships include Gynesonics, Intellikine and eFFECTOR
  • He received his BA from Harvard College, an MA from the University of Sussex, a JD from Harvard Law School and attended the Advanced Management Program at Harvard Business School
Emmett Cunningham, Jr.
Blackstone Life Sciences

Emmett Cunningham is a Senior Managing Director in the Blackstone Life Sciences group, having joined Blackstone as part of its acquisition of Clarus in December of 2018. Dr. Cunningham joined Clarus in 2006 as a Principal.

Dr. Cunningham has led investments in the medical technology, and biotechnology space including partnerships with pharmaceutical companies. Prior to joining Clarus, Dr. Cunningham was the Senior Vice President, Medical Strategy at Eyetech Pharmaceuticals, Inc. where he led the team that developed Macugen, a first-in-class product for the treatment of age-related macular degeneration. Prior to Eyetech, Dr. Cunningham was at Pfizer, Inc (NYSE: PFE). Dr. Cunningham is an internationally recognized specialist in infectious and inflammatory eye disease with over 350 publications.

Dr. Cunningham is a member of the Board of Directors of Annexon Biosciences, Galera Therapeutics, Graybug Vision, Lumos Pharma, and SFJ Pharmaceuticals Group, and serves on the Scientific Advisory Board of Aerie Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: AERI). Dr. Cunningham is the founder and chairman of the Ophthalmology Innovation Summit (OIS) symposium held in conjunction with the annual meetings of the American Academy of Ophthalmology and the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery.

Dr. Cunningham received an MD and MPH in epidemiology and statistics from Johns Hopkins University and a PhD in neuroscience from the University of California at San Diego (UCSD) for work done at The Salk Institute.

Shelley Chu

Shelley Chu, a Partner at Abingworth, has more than 15 years of operating and investment experience in the biopharmaceuticals industry. Formerly at Gilead, she led R&D Strategy and Business Development in Oncology, Immunotherapy and Hepatitis B. Previously Shelley invested and co-founded biotechnology companies at Frazier Healthcare Ventures. Earlier in her career she was an investment professional at Flagship Ventures and a management consultant to healthcare and biotech companies at McKinsey. Shelley holds an MD and PhD in Biochemistry and Biophysics from UCSF, and received her BA in Molecular Biology from Princeton University. She is a first author of publications in Science and other prominent journals and a Co-Chair of the Princeton Alumni School Committee.

William Young
Blackstone Life Sciences

William Young is a Senior Advisor to the Blackstone Life Sciences group.

Mr. Young became a Venture Partner with Clarus in 2010.  Mr. Young previously served as CEO of Monogram Biosciences, a leader in personalized medicine, from 1999 through to the sale of the company to LabCorp in 2009. Mr. Young currently serves on the Board of Directors of Vertex (NASDAQ: VRTX) and is the lead director at Theravance (NASDAQ:TBPH). Previously he was Chairman of the Board of Biogen (NASDAQ: BIIB). Prior to Monogram he was at Genentech since 1980 at positions of increasing responsibility, including COO, responsible for all of the biotechnology company’s development, operations and commercial functions. Prior to Genentech Mr. Young was at Eli Lilly and Company for fourteen years.

Mr. Young received his Bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Purdue University, his MBA from Indiana University and an honorary doctorate in engineering from Purdue University. In 1993 he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering for his leadership in research, development and manufacturing of recombinant proteins using recombinant DNA technology. Mr. Young represents Blackstone on the Board of Directors of Praxis Medicine and is the Chairman of the Board of Annexon Biosciences and Nanostring (NASDAQ: NSTG).

David Lilley

David graduated with an Honors Degree in Medicinal Chemistry at the University of London in the UK, David joined Johnson & Johnson as a medical sales representative and over the subsequent seven years held a number of marketing and sales positions with that company.

  • In 1987 he joined Innovex and was appointed to the Board of that company in 1989. At that time under David’s leadership, Innovex moved into the clinical research arena initially providing CRA’s and monitors on a contract basis before becoming a full service CRO in 1991.
  • In 1992 David left the UK to set up Innovex’s first overseas subsidiary in Germany. In 1995 he returned to lead Innovex in the home market in the UK.
  • In 1996 Innovex, was acquired by Quintiles Transnational a Global CRO.
  • In 1999 he transferred to Quintiles’ Corporate Headquarters in North Carolina to establish a Global Business development structure for the company.
  • In 2003 he was appointed as the Global President of Innovex. This involved responsibility for over 7000 contract sales representatives in 17 countries.
  • David was asked to lead the Commercial arm of NovaQuest in 2005 – which is the investment arm of Quintiles Transnational – managing deals providing services “at risk” around the launch and subsequent support of products on a global basis. This also involved the coordination of multiple sales and marketing services not just associated with Innovex but across the whole company through the Quintiles’ Alliance Management function which also reported to Lilley.
  • In June 2008, after 21 years service with Innovex and Quintiles, David opted to leave the company to search for new challenges. In the following November he joined Campbell Alliance as an Executive Vice-President and will work closely with the Executive Team and Consulting Practice heads to help expand the client base of the company. In December 2011 he left Campbell to concentrate on his work at SFJ and other Independanrt ventures.
Jorge Puente

Jorge has had an extensive career in many areas of the pharmaceutical industry since joining 25 years ago. He served most recently as President of the Asia and Canada regions for Pfizer’s oncology unit and was simultaneously the head of Oncology Clinical Development for China. Given his unique research and regulatory expertise, Jorge achieved many “firsts” including approvals of Pfizer’s key oncology agents in record time in both Japan and China, leading to a 500% increase in revenues in the region during his tenure.

  • He served most recently as President of the Asia and Canada regions for Pfizer’s oncology unit and was simultaneously the head of Oncology Clinical Development for China.
  • He was selected as one of the 3 role models studied as part of the leadership training given to Pfizer’stop 700 executives. In his prior positions, Jorge undertook leadership roles in the development of manyof Pfizer’s blockbusters.
  • He has led development programs in the US, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Latin America and Asia.
  • He served as medical head in China and in Japan. Prior to joining Pfizer he had an academic career atMount Sinai Medical Center in New York City, where he was the youngest faculty to receive theSalomon Berson Award for Excellence in Medical Teaching.