Dr. Clarissa Desjardins joined the Board of BELLUS Health in September 2017.
Dr. Clarissa Desjardins founded Clementia Pharmaceuticals Inc. in 2011 and served as the company’s Chief Executive Officer (NASDAQ:CMTA) until it was acquired by Ipsen in 2019.
Dr. Desjardins is an award-winning entrepreneur with more than 20 years in biotechnology. She has founded three successful biotech companies, leading all aspects of company creation including conception and financing. In addition to Clementia, she founded Advanced Bioconcept, a research reagent and diagnostics company sold to NEN Life Sciences (Perkin Elmer) in 1998 and co-founded Caprion Pharmaceuticals, a biotechnology company focused on proteomic biomarker discovery and drug development, where she was executive vice-president of Corporate Development.
Dr. Desjardins is the recipient of the 2018 Bloom Burton Award for her contribution to Canada’s innovative healthcare industry and the BRIO award for outstanding contributions to the biotechnology industry from the Quebec Biotechnology Association. She has been a board member of numerous companies, including the scientific advisory council of the Canadian Academy of Sciences, and currently serves on the Board of Directors of Insmed (NASDAQ:INSM).
Dr. Desjardins earned a doctorate in Neurology and Neurosurgery from McGill University’s Faculty of Medicine and was a Medical Research Council postdoctoral fellow at the Douglas Hospital Research Centre.
Francesco Bellini, PhD
Dr. Francesco Bellini serves as Chairman of BELLUS Health.
In 1998, Dr. Bellini founded Picchio International ― a family- and privately-owned company investing mainly in healthcare, where he serves as Chairman. In 2008, Dr. Bellini founded Klox Technologies ― a private regenerative medicine company developing therapeutic solutions for use in dermatology, wound care and animal health, where he continues to serve as Chairman. In 2015, Dr. Bellini co-founded FB Vision ― an Italian-based ophthalmology company developing state-of-the-art products for eye health, where he serves as Chairman. Until March 2009, Dr. Bellini was Chairman of ViroChem Pharma ― a privately held company with two investigational HCV polymerase inhibitors in clinical development, which was acquired by Vertex Pharmaceuticals.
From 1968 to 1984, Dr. Bellini had a fruitful career as a researcher at the Canadian subsidiary of a multinational pharmaceutical company. In 1984, he left to establish the biochemicals division of the Institut Armand-Frappier at the Université du Québec, from which, in 1986 he co-founded BioChem Pharma ― an innovative biopharmaceutical company focused on infectious diseases and cancer. In 1996, BioChem discovered the antiviral drug Epivir (3TC), which to this day is the cornerstone for AIDS therapy. Dr. Bellini served as Chairman and CEO of BioChem until it was sold in 2001.
Born in 1947 in Ascoli Piceno, Italy, Dr. Bellini, arrived in Canada in 1967. He received a Bachelor of Science degree from Concordia University in 1972, and a Doctorate in organic chemistry from the University of New Brunswick in 1977. Over the course of his career, Dr. Bellini has authored and co-authored over 100 patents and published numerous articles and papers based on his research.
In recognition of his contributions in the fields of entrepreneurship, research and development, Dr. Bellini received the title of Cavaliere del Lavoro in 2005, the most prestigious honor granted by the Italian government to a non-resident. For his contribution to Canada and Quebec, he was named an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2000 and an Officer of the National Order of Quebec in 2004.
Dr. Bellini is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Montreal Heart Institute Foundation and the Italian Chamber of Commerce.
Youssef L. Bennani, PhD
Dr. Youssef L. Bennani joined the Board of BELLUS Health in May 2017.
Dr. Bennani is a pharmaceutical executive and currently serves as Managing Partner at CTI Life Sciences, a Venture Capital firm; Chief Executive Officer of Find Therapeutics, and Neurasic Therapeutics; as well Chief Scientific Officer of adMare BioInnovations, the sole member of the Neomed Institute.
Dr. Bennani was Vice-President of R&D at Vertex Canada. Prior, to that he was VP-Drug Innovation at Vertex Pharmaceuticals in Boston. Over the past 25 years, he held various positions of increasing responsibility in pharmaceutical R&D for nearly 25 years in the USA and Canada (Ligand Pharmaceuticals, Abbott Laboratories (now Abbvie), and Athersys). Over this span, he worked in the fields of oncology, neurology, immunology and infection. In 2011 he received an honorary degree from the Université de Montréal for his contribution to Society.
He received a Doctorate degree (Ph.D., ‘91) in chemistry from Université de Montréal, a post-doctoral studies at The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California, as well as an Executive-MBA (2000) from LFGSM in Chicago, Illinois. In addition, he is an accredited Director from the Institute of Corporate Directors (ICD.D) from McGill-Rotman Schools of Business.
William Mezzanotte, MD
Dr. William Mezzanotte joined the Board of BELLUS Health in March 2021.
Dr. Mezzanotte is the Global Head of Research and Development and Chief Medical Officer at CSL Behring where he is responsible for developing and executing the Research & Development strategy and portfolio, including the identification and development of all R&D platforms, skills and expertise necessary for success.
In April 2017, Dr. Mezzanotte joined CSL Behring as Head of Clinical Development, responsible for clinical science, statistics and clinical operations across the portfolio. Most recently, he served as Senior Vice President and Head of Development, where he oversaw regulatory, project management, clinical science & operations, plasma, recombinant protein and gene therapy pharmaceutical development activities worldwide.
Prior to CSL, he was Senior Vice President and Therapeutic Area Head, Respiratory for Boehringer Ingelheim and spent 16 years with AstraZeneca in research and development, assuming roles of increasing leadership and management responsibility across multiple therapeutic areas. Most recently at AstraZeneca, he was Senior Vice President and Head of the Respiratory and Inflammation Therapeutic Area.
Dr. Mezzanotte’s career has been notable for his adaptability and success in different settings. He has been directly involved with 30 successful global approvals across 15 different products in 10 distinct therapeutic disease areas. Across a number of companies, he has established, grown and managed top performing, multinational teams and developed numerous senior leaders.
In 2020, Dr. Mezzanotte was named to the Board of Directors of the Philadelphia-based University City Science Center.
He holds an undergraduate degree from Villanova University, obtained his M.D. at the University of Pennsylvania and a Master of Public Health degree from Johns Hopkins University.
Dr. Mezzanotte is board certified in internal medicine, pulmonary medicine, critical care medicine and sleep medicine.
Franklin M. Berger
Franklin M. Berger joined the Board of BELLUS Health in May 2010, bringing over 25 years of experience in capital markets and financial analysis.
He also serves on the Board of Directors of ESSA Pharma, Kezar Life Sciences, Atreca, Rain Therapeutics and Atea Pharmaceuticals.
Mr. Berger served as a senior portfolio manager at Sectoral Asset Management; additionally he was co-founder, co-PM on the small-cap focused NEMO Fund at Sectoral, from 2007 through June 2008. Previously, he was Managing Director, Equity Research and Senior Biotechnology Analyst for J. P. Morgan Securities from 1998 to 2003. During his time at J.P. Morgan, he was involved with the issuance of over $12 billion in biotechnology company equity or equity-linked securities, including the Genentech initial public offering, the largest biotechnology financing to date. From 1997 to 1998, he served as a Director, Equity Research and Senior Biotechnology Analyst for Salomon Smith Barney and from 1991 to 1997, he served as a sell-side analyst for Josephthal & Co.
The Wall Street Journal selected Mr. Berger as the No. 1 ranked biotechnology analyst in its All-Star Analyst Survey in 1997 and was ranked No. 2 in the WSJ’s 2000 Survey. In 2002, Institutional Investor Magazine ranked him on J. P. Morgan’s 3rd-placed All-Star Research Team.
Mr. Berger received a B.A. in International Relations, an M.A. in International Economics from Johns Hopkins University and an M.B.A. from Harvard University. He is a Founding Fellow of the Biotechnology Study Center at New York University School of Medicine.
Pierre Larochelle has served as a Director of BELLUS Health since June 2009. Mr. Pierre Larochelle has been an investor and financial advisor for the last 25 years. Mr. Larochelle is currently the Co-Managing Partner of Idealist Capital, a private equity growth fund investing with entrepreneurs to drive climate change. Mr. Larochelle was up until in 2021, Co-Managing Partner of Power Sustainable Renewable Infrastructure fund, a $1.0bn renewable energy infrastructure fund. Previously, Mr. Larochelle was President and CEO of Power Energy, a subsidiary of Power Corporation of Canada, focused on the renewable energy and sustainable sector. Mr. Larochelle focused for the last decade on climate impact investments in the renewable energy and storage sector, energy efficiency and electrification of transportation. Mr. Larochelle is the Chairman of the Board of Lion Electric and Lumenpulse Group, and was previously Chairman and director of Potentia Renewables, Nautilus Solar and Eagle Creek Renewable Energy. Mr. Larochelle has also been an active private investor in early-stage tech and cleantech companies, including in Taiga Motors, amongst others.
Prior to joining Power Corporation of Canada, Mr. Larochelle was President and CEO at Adaltis Inc. He also held the positions of Vice-President, Business Development at Picchio Pharma Inc, an healthcare private equity investment company, and Vice-President, M&A for CSFB in London, England. Mr. Larochelle holds a law degree from Université de Montréal, a masters degree in international business law from McGill University and an MBA degree from INSEAD in Fontainebleau.
Chief Executive Officer
Roberto Bellini has served as President and CEO of BELLUS Health since January 1, 2010.
Mr. Bellini previously oversaw the licensing and partnering activities of BELLUS Health Inc. His experience includes several roles and responsibilities at Picchio Pharma Inc., a joint venture healthcare investment firm owned by the Bellini Family Trust and Power Corporation of Canada, and its investee companies.
Mr. Bellini holds a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry from McGill University.
Joseph Rus has served as a Director of BELLUS Health since June 2009.
Following 25 years of experience with two major pharmaceutical companies in both Canadian and Global assignments, Joseph Rus joined Shire Pharmaceuticals in 1999. Working out of the Shire United Kingdom offices, he was charged with establishing Shire’s European foothold. This was accomplished in 2000 with the acquisition of profitable companies in Germany, Italy, France and Spain. Subsequent to the Biochem acquisition, Mr. Rus moved to Montreal as President and CEO of Shire-Biochem in 2001. In the year 2002, Mr. Rus returned to the U.K. as Head of Shire’s International Operations (all countries except USA). Since that time, Mr. Rus also serves on Shire’s Executive Committee as well as the Portfolio Review Committee. In 2006 Mr. Rus was charged with the responsibility of establishing affiliates in the increasingly important Emerging Markets, and by 2009 affiliates were open in Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Russia, Australia and Japan. Additionally, the management of the Royalty Revenue Investment Portfolio and Intellectual Property Transition were managed out of Shire’s Dublin, Ireland Offices, under Mr. Rus’ leadership.
During his tenure at Roche, Mr. Rus was responsible for the Canadian Pharmaceutical business (1994-1998). Prior to this, between 1985 -1994, he assumed positions of increasing responsibility, including Country Management from the Roche Headquarters in Basel, Switzerland. In 1972, Mr. Rus began his career in Canada with Warner Lambert.
Over the years, he acquired broad experience in the Pharmaceutical Industry, rising rapidly in positions of Sales Management, Marketing, Operations, Clinical Research and Business Development.
Mr. Rus is a Canadian Citizen, received his education in Romania, and is a Graduate of the Executive Marketing Program at the University of Western Ontario (Canada), as well as the International Program at the Institute of Management and Development of the University of Lausanne, Switzerland.
Mr. Rus is multi-lingual, speaking English, Romanian and Hungarian with a practical knowledge of French, Italian and German.
Alan Goldsobel, MD
Dr. Alan Goldsobel is a practising allergist and immunologist, a Clinical Professor of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco and an Adjunct Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at Stanford University Medical School. He is also a Fellow of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology and past president of the California Society of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. Dr. Goldsobel is co-director of the Allergy and Asthma Clinical Research Center in San Jose, CA where he has served as principal investigator for clinical trials of many of the new therapeutic agents for chronic refractory cough. He has published numerous scientific articles and book chapters in allergy and asthma and his area of interest, cough.
Alyn Morice, MD
Dr. Alyn Morice is a Professor of Respiratory Medicine, Head of Medicine, Hull York Medical School, University of Hull in the United Kingdom. He specialises in the diagnosis and treatment of cough and runs the Hull Cough Clinic, the first UK Cough Clinic which he established in 1989 and which has become the largest centre within Europe with an international pattern of referral. Professor Morice has led the European Respiratory Society and British Thoracic Society Taskforces on Cough. He also runs the Hull Respiratory Clinical Trials Unit specialising in the treatment of the airways diseases associated with cough.
Jacky Smith, MB, ChB, FRCP, PhD
Dr. Jacky Smith is a Professor of Respiratory Medicine at the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom and an Honorary Consultant at the University Hospital of South Manchester NHS Foundation Trust. She leads a multi-disciplinary research team whose focus is on understanding mechanisms underlying pathological cough and runs a regional clinical service for patients with refractory chronic cough. Dr. Smith is also the Director of the NIHR Manchester Clinical Research Facility. In collaboration with Mr. Kevin McGuinness (Clinical engineer), she has developed a novel method for automated cough detection.
James Hull, BSc, MBBS, FRCP, PhD, FACSM
Dr. James Hull is a consultant respiratory physician based at Royal Brompton Hospital. Recently he was awarded the fellowship status of the American College of Sports Medicine. He is also president of the Association for Respiratory Technology and Physiology (ARTP). His areas of expertise include chronic debilitating cough, persistent throat symptoms, unexplained shortness of breath, reasons for breathing problems during exercise. He is the clinical lead for the unexplained breathlessness service and the cough / upper airway / vocal cord dysfunction service at the Royal Brompton Hospital. He also has specialist expertise in helping athletes with respiratory symptoms and is currently working with the English Institute of Sport, as a respiratory expert.
Lorcan McGarvey, MD, FRCP
Dr. Lorcan McGarvey is a Consultant Respiratory Physician and Professor of Respiratory Medicine at Queen’s University of Belfast, Northern Ireland. His main programme of research has focused on the clinical and scientific aspects of acute and chronic cough. Dr. McGarvey has been a core contributor to the British Thoracic Society and European Respiratory Society cough guidelines and serves on the American College of Chest Physicians Cough Guidelines Expert Committee.
Mandel Sher, MD
Dr. Mandel Sher is a community-based clinician of pediatric and adult allergy, University of South Florida’s Clinical Professor and former Interim Division Chief of Allergy and Immunology of University of South Florida located at Johns Hopkins/All Children’s Hospital. With a unique sub-specialty in Refractory/ Recalcitrant/Idiopathic chronic cough, Dr. Sher established the Center for Cough in Florida in 2009, which combines existing evidence-based approaches with innovative therapeutic modalities to improve chronic cough patients’ clinical outcomes.