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New leadership team provides biotechnology expertise to the Ontario Genomics Institute


Toronto, ON – Joseph Rotman, outgoing chair of the Ontario Genomics Institute (OGI) board of directors, has announced three appointments to the board. Mark Lievonen, previously an OGI director, has been appointed as the incoming chair of the board. Don Lenz, also a long-standing OGI director, has been appointed as vice-chair. Dr Christian Burks has been appointed as president & chief executive officer, and member of the board of directors.

OGI is building on Ontario’s excellence in the life sciences to create a globally competitive industry based on genomics and proteomics research, development and commercialization.

“We are extremely fortunate to have a leadership team that includes three exceptional members of the life sciences industry”, says Mr Rotman, who will remain as a member of the OGI board. “Their combined experience and accomplishments in life sciences R&D, the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries, and investment sector will contribute powerfully to meeting the needs of our partners and stakeholders in moving the province’s genomics industry forward.”

Mr Lievonen is president of Aventis Pasteur, Canada’s largest vaccine company and home to the largest number of scientists dedicated to vaccine research and development in Canada. He has been with the company since 1983. Prior to his appointment as president, Mr Lievonen was senior vice-president and general manager of the company’s oncology business unit. In 2004, he was appointed to the board of directors of Oncolytics Biotech in Calgary and to the Ontario Cancer Research Network in Toronto. He is a member of the board of directors of BIOTECanada and served as chair from 2000 to 2003. Mr Lievonen has been a member of the Ontario Genomics Institute board of directors since 2003.

Mr Lenz is managing director at Newport Partners in Toronto. He is also vice-chair of the Ontario Research and Development Challenge Fund and is a board member of DataMirror Corporation, Mad Catz Interactive, Cancer Care Ontario, and the Laidlaw Foundation.

Prior to joining OGI, Dr Christian Burks was a founder and principal of Scienega, which provided consulting services for life sciences start-up companies. He was previously chief scientific officer with Affinium Pharmaceuticals in Toronto. Dr Burks has also served as vice-president and chief informatics officer with Exelixis, a biotechnology company in South San Francisco. Prior to that, at Los Alamos National Laboratory, he led GenBank (the global database for DNA sequences, including the human genome), and was group leader for the theoretical biology & biophysics group, as well as serving as laboratory-wide program leader for computational biology.

Dr Burks has co-authored numerous publications and served on a number of national and international editorial, review, and advisory boards, including most recently the scientific advisory board of Cognia in New York and the advisory board for ITI Life Sciences in Scotland. He received his PhD in molecular biophysics and biochemistry from Yale University.