Variation Biotechnologies Inc. today announced the appointment of Jeff Baxter as chief executive officer. Baxter will be based at the company’s new U.S. headquarters in Cambridge, MA.
Baxter, 48, replaces Francisco Diaz-Mitoma, M.D., Ph.D., a founder of the company who will remain a Board member and transition to chief scientific officer and president of Canadian operations. With a track record of more than two decades of outstanding success in the biotechnology and pharmaceuticals industries, Baxter has experience ranging from management operations to finance and business development and venture capital. Baxter will also join the company’s board of directors.
“Jeff’s extensive Big Pharma experience combined with his expertise in founding and operating early stage biotechnology companies make him an ideal leader of the Variation senior management team as we advance our two novel vaccine platforms into clinical development,” said Diaz-Mitoma.
Baxter added: “I look forward to leading a highly distinguished team that is on track to begin clinical development with three vaccines in the next 12 months. I am particularly excited about the company’s proprietary oral vaccine platform, which has demonstrated proof of concept with several different antigens in multiple preclinical models.”
Prior to joining Variation, Baxter was a managing partner of venture capital firm The Column Group, which has to date founded six platform and pipeline-based biotechnology companies. Notably, he played a pivotal role in the creation of Immune Design Corp., a vaccine company based on the Lentiviral vector platform and TLR adjuvant technologies.
Prior to The Column Group, Baxter held a variety of executive positions with GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), including senior vice president, R&D finance and operations; vice president of competitive excellence, office of the CEO; and head of finance, worldwide manufacturing and supply. His most recent position in R&D included responsibility for finance, pipeline resource planning and allocation, business development deal structuring and SROne (GSK’s in house $125 million venture capital fund). He also chaired GSK’s R&D operating board. Prior to GSK, Baxter worked at Unilever and British American Tobacco.
Baxter was educated at Thames Valley University, University of Bradford Management School and London Business School and is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (FCMA).
Variation Biotechnologies Inc. (VBI) is a leader in the discovery and development of novel vaccines to fight infectious diseases, including seasonal and pandemic influenza, hepatitis and HIV. The company utilizes its proprietary Variosite™ technology to design vaccines with broad immunity and is also developing a proprietary technology to enable convenient oral administration. VBI’s lead candidates include a multi-season parenteral vaccine to fight influenza and an orally delivered vaccine to address hepatiti A.