Joan Lau is Chief Executive Officer of Spirovant Sciences, a Philadelphia gene therapy company focused on treatments and cures of respiratory diseases. She 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 her leadership, Spirovant gained the prestigious scientific support of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, received the Philadelphia Alliance for Capital and Technologies’ Healthcare startup of the year award and was acquired twice in one year, most recently as part of a $3 billion transaction with 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, Lau co-founded and served as Managing Partner of Militia Hill Ventures, focused on building and growing high quality life sciences companies. Lau also has served as President and CEO of Azelon Pharmaceuticals a clinical stage biotech; President and CEO of Locus Pharmaceuticals, a computational chemistry discovery company; COO of Immunome (IMNM), an antibody discovery company; and in various leadership roles at Merck, including R&D drug development and business development. Tirabrutinib (VELEXBRU®) was discovered, developed and licensed by Locus under her leadership.
Dr. Lau is an adjunct instructor at the University of Pennsylvania and has significant non-profit fiduciary board experience in entrepreneurship, STEM/biotech, and social justice organizations. She serves on several boards including the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Social Policy and Practice; the Roy & Diana Vagelos Program in Life Sciences Management; and the Temple University Masters in Biotechnology Program Advisory Board. Previously, she served as President of The Alliance for Women Entrepreneurs (PA); the National Board Chair of the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, an LGBTQ advocacy organization; and 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 BSE in Bioengineering from the University of Pennsylvania.