Jeffrey Leiden, M.D., Ph.D.
Dr. Leiden is the Executive Chairman of Vertex Pharmaceuticals. He received his B.A., M.D. and Ph.D. degrees with honors from the University of Chicago. He is a physician and scientist who, for the last 40 years, has dedicated his career to improving the lives of people with serious diseases. His experience spans all aspects of the biotech and pharmaceutical industries.
He began his career in academia as a molecular biologist and practicing cardiologist. From 1987 to 2000, Dr. Leiden held several academic and hospital appointments, including roles as Chief of Cardiology, the Rawson Professor of Medicine and Pathology, and an Attending Physician at the University of Chicago; the Elkan R. Blout Professor of Biological Sciences at the Harvard School of Public Health; and Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Leiden was named a Crain’s Chicago Business 40 Under 40 in 1994, and served as a member of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Board of Scientific Counselors from 1994 to 1999. During his academic career, he was also involved in starting several biotechnology companies including Vical and Cardiogene.
"Innovation is discovering transformative medicines - that target the underlying causes of disease, not just symptoms."
From 2000 to 2006, he served as President and Chief Operating Officer and Chief Scientific Officer at Abbott Laboratories where he had responsibility for running Abbott’s global pharmaceuticals business. While at Abbott, Dr. Leiden led the development and launch of multiple breakthrough medicines, including HUMIRA® (adalimumab) for rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune diseases and KALETRA® (lopinavir/ritonavir) for HIV infection.
He also held a number of industry board positions, including as a director of Abbott Laboratories and TAP, non-executive Vice Chairman of Shire Pharmaceuticals Plc and director of Millennium Pharmaceuticals, Inc. From 2006 to 2011, he was a Managing Director of Clarus Ventures, a life sciences venture capital firm. There he was dedicated to developing new treatments through the creation of innovative biotech companies.
Dr. Leiden has served as a member of Vertex’s board of directors since 2009 and was President and CEO from 2012 to 2020. Under his leadership, Vertex delivered the first and only precision medicines to treat the underlying cause of cystic fibrosis (CF). It is his mission and the basis of the company’s research priorities to bring transformative medicines to people with CF and other serious diseases. Dr. Leiden also cares deeply about inspiring and equipping under-resourced students and young women to become the next generation of scientific leaders. He established a signature program at Vertex to enhance science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM) education among students in our local communities, including an on-site Learning Lab, mentorship programs, internships and college scholarships. In 2017, Vertex announced a sustained corporate giving commitment of $500 million over the next 10 years, of which $50 million is focused on STEAM education.
In addition to his responsibilities at Vertex, Dr. Leiden is currently a director of the Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company, chair of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Brigham and Women’s Hospital and a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of Boston Children’s Hospital. Dr. Leiden is also Vice Chairman of the Massachusetts Competitive Partnership and serves on the board of directors of the Boston Private Industry Council, the board of fellows of Harvard Medical School, and as co-chair of Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker’s STEM Advisory Council and Digital Health Council. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine, the American Society of Clinical Investigation and the American Association of Physicians.
Since joining Vertex, Dr. Leiden has received a number of distinguished honors and awards for his contributions to the biomedical innovation ecosystem, STEAM education and Vertex’s advances in CF research, including:
- MVP Award, Boomer Esiason Foundation (2014)
- Uncork the Cure Award, Massachusetts Cystic Fibrosis Foundation (2015)
- IMPACT Award, New England Venture Capital Association (2017)
- EY Entrepreneur of the Year®, New England Region (2017)
- Boston Business Journal’s Power 50 Honoree (2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2018)
- Service to Science Pharmaceutical Industry Leadership Award, National Disease Research Interchange (2018)
- Henri A. Termeer Innovative Leadership Award, Massachusetts Biotechnology Council (2018)
- STEM Corporate Leader of the Year Award, United Way Foundation (2018)
- Boston Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in Boston (2018, 2020)
- Academy of Distinguished Bostonians, Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce (2018)
- Hope Award, Biomedical Science Careers Program (2018)
- New Englander of the Year, New England Council (2018)
- Biopharma CEO of the Year, STAT News (2018)
- Star of STEM, Museum of Science (2019)
- Public Company of the Year, National Association of Corporate Directors, New England Division (2019)
- America’s Most Innovative Leaders, Forbes (2019)
- Forbes Lifetime Achievement in BioPharma Award (2020)