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BY Abu Mubarik, 10:02am March 22, 2024,

How Dr. Ted Love, a cardiologist turned biotech executive, sold his sickle cell company to Pfizer for $5.4B

Dr. Ted Love, former CEO of GBT. Photo: Linkedin/Ted Love

Get to know Dr. Ted Love, a cardiologist turned biotech executive. A decade ago, he set out to find a cure for sickle cell disease, an inherited blood disorder that affects more than 100,000 people in the U.S. and more than 19 million people worldwide.

He led a team of scientists and researchers at Global Blood Therapeutics, Inc. (GBT) to bring the sickle cell disease drug Oxbryta into the market. According to Forbes, Dr. Love did not plan to have a career in biotechnology, or pharmaceuticals. He studied molecular biology at Haverford College, trained as a physician at Yale Medical School and completed residency and a cardiology fellowship at Massachusetts General Hospital.

He ventured into biotech after one of his mentors was recruited from Head of Cardiology at Harvard to be Head of R&D at Bristol Myers Squibb. By 1992, Dr. Love had started his career in biotech at Genentech.

“I basically decided that Genentech was…the Harvard of biotechnology, it was the place with the most sophisticated science. [Of course] I knew nothing about getting drugs approved, or designing clinical studies. But I thought, you know, I can learn all that stuff.”

He was soon promoted to head of all drug development at Genentech after one of his mentors, Dr. David Stump, helped him acquire the skills needed in the art and science of drug development After six years, Dr. Love was recruited by Roy Vagelos, former CEO of Merck, who called Dr. Love “the best drug developer west of the Mississippi River!”

He later joined Theravance as Senior Vice President of Development and helped to grow the company, supporting its first drug through FDA approval.

He was subsequently recruited to join biopharmaceutical company Nuvelo, Inc. (Nuvelo) as CEO in 2001. He would learn “how to run a company…how to lead people, how to motivate people [and] how to inspire people” in his new role. Not only that, he played a key role in taking Nuvelo public and also merging it with ARCA biopharma, Inc. in 2009.

While on retirement in 2014, Dr. Love was called to join GBT as president and CEO, and would soon successfully lead a team to develop an FDA-approved drug to cure sickle cell disease called Oxbryta®. The drug was brought to the market in 2019 and in 2022, GBT created GBT021601 (GBT601), which Dr. Love claimed was 15 times better than Oxbryta®.

Soon, investors became interested in Dr. Love’s GBT and several offers started rolling in, including offers from Johnson & Johnson. However, it was Pfizer that acquired GBT for $5.4 billion in all cash in August 2022, according to Forbes.

After the acquisition of GBT, Dr. Love exited the firm and retired. Nonetheless, he remains active in the sickle cell community while serving on the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO), Royalty Pharma and Structure Therapeutics boards.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: March 22, 2024


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