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The Celimmune executive team is comprised of Co-Founder, CEO, and Chief Medical Officer, Francisco Leon, M.D., Ph.D., and Co-Founder, Executive Chairman, Ashleigh Palmer.
Dr. Leon co-founded Celimmune as Chief Executive Officer and Chief Medical Officer, bringing in a breadth of experience from his industry and academic career in the fields of autoimmunity and celiac disease. Prior to founding Celimmune, Dr. Leon served as Vice President and Head of Translational Medicine at Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen Pharmaceuticals (formerly Centocor), where he led early-stage clinical development in immunology. Before joining Janssen in 2010, Dr. Leon served as Chief Medical Officer at Alba Therapeutics, Director of Clinical Development, Inflammation & Respiratory at Medimmune/AstraZeneca, and Director of Clinical Discovery, Immunology & Oncology at Bristol-Myers Squibb.
Prior to joining the biopharma industry, Dr. Leon served as a Research Fellow at the National Institutes for Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). In 2011, he became an Adjunct Research Associate Professor of Medicine at Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia, where he continues to contribute to the clinical research efforts of the Department of Gastroenterology.
Dr. Leon is a trained translational immunologist who received his M.D. and Ph.D. from Autónoma University in Madrid, Spain. In his 20 years of experience in translational immunology, Dr. Leon has authored or co-authored more than 75 peer-reviewed articles, book chapters and patents.
Mr. Palmer co-founded Celimmune as Executive Chairman, bringing 30 years of experience in corporate strategy formulation and clinical drug development. Mr. Palmer also serves as the President of Creative BioVentures™ Corp. (CBV), a strategic advisory firm serving the biopharma industry. Since founding CBV in 2002, Mr. Palmer has advised numerous clients regarding corporate positioning and strategy, fund raising, M&A transactions, clinical development and commercialization, and has undertaken a number of CEO and board level transformational leadership and turnaround assignments for both public and private biopharma companies.
Prior to founding CBV, Mr. Palmer was Vice President, Business Development for British Oxygen’s Ohmeda, Inc., where he was instrumental in its sale to a Baxter-led consortium by spinning out the company’s inhaled nitric oxide assets as INO Therapeutics, Inc. (now Ikaria). Under his leadership, as founding President and CEO, INO Therapeutics developed and commercialized the world’s first selective pulmonary vasodilator, INOmax®, establishing a time-based pricing, orphan drug franchise, subsequently acquired by Madison Dearborn. Earlier in his career, Mr. Palmer held positions of increasing responsibility in sales and marketing management at Reckitt Benckiser.
Educated in the UK, Mr. Palmer received his MBA from the University of Bradford and his BSc. honors in Biochemistry and Applied Molecular Biology from the University of Manchester.