The Illinois Biotechnology Innovation Organization (iBIO), the trade association that represents the 91,000 jobs in Illinois’ life sciences sector, today announced the addition of two new members to its board of directors: Eric Messner, Chief Executive Officer at Emalex Biosciences and Senior Vice President at Paragon Biosciences; and Jim Sullivan, Ph.D., Co-Founder and Chief Executive Office at Vanqua Bio and Venture Partner at Orbimed.

“We are excited to add industry leaders from two of the most exciting life sciences companies in our community,” said John Conrad, iBIO president and CEO. “Eric and Jim bring unique perspectives to our advocacy and community building initiatives. I look forward to working together as we foster more industry growth in Illinois.”

Eric Messner is Chief ExecutiveOfficer at EmalexBiosciences, which is is in late-stage development of a new class of drug for patients with Tourette syndrome and other conditions that have limited treatment options. He is also Senior Vice President of Business Development at Paragon Biosciences, a global life science leader that creates, builds and funds innovative biology-based companies. Mr. Messner identifies opportunities, completes due diligence and integrates new products and companies into the Paragon portfolio.

Mr. Messner has an extensive, successful career in the biopharmaceutical industry. Formerly, Mr. Messner was CEO of Anagin, and also served as General Manager and Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing for OPKO Health. Earlier in his career, he was a founder and Vice President of Marketing and Commercial Operations of Proventiv Therapeutics, which was acquired by Cytochroma. At Cytochroma, he was Vice President of Commercial Operations, later Chief Operating Officer and helped lead the sale of Cytochroma to OPKO Health. Mr. Messner also previously held senior marketing roles at Bone Care International and Abbott Laboratories. Mr. Messner earned his MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management and his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Miami University.

Dr. Sullivan is co-founder and CEO of Vanqua. In addition, he has been a Venture Partner with Orbimed since January 2019. Previously, he was the Vice President of Research at Abbvie where he was responsible for the company’s research efforts in a variety of therapeutic/disease areas including oncology, immunology, neurology, hepatitis C and cystic fibrosis. Jim has advanced more than 100 compounds into clinical development across a number of disease states and technology platforms. These include products on the market for HCV (Mavyret and Viekira), the first-in-class Bcl2 selective inhibitor, Venclexta, for hematological cancers, a new oral agent for patients with rheumatoid arthritis, RINVOQ, and multiple compounds currently in Phase II or III clinical trials. He has authored/co-authored more than 130 scientific publications and is an inventor on 11 patents.

Jim is an adjunct faculty member at Northwestern University and serves on the board of several companies and foundations including Regis Technologies, Genomics Medicine Ireland, Genuity Science, MATTER Healthcare Incubator, Chicago Biotechnology Accelerator and the Pistoia Alliance. He earned his bachelor’s degree and Ph.D. in biochemistry from Trinity College Dublin and conducted post-doctoral research in neurobiology at Northwestern University.

With the addition of Eric Messner and Jim Sullivan, the iBIO board of directors has 24 members. Last December, iBIO announced the addition of Dr. Kenneth Johnson, Senior Vice President, Clinical Development, Regulatory, Quality Assurance and Medical Affairs at Xeris Biopharma.


About iBIO

The Illinois Biotechnology Innovation Organization (iBIO) is a life sciences industry association that represents the 91,000 life sciences employees in Illinois. iBIO promotes the industry’s value to the public and policymakers; connects innovators to investment and talent; stimulates collaboration and fosters the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs to transform patient lives through groundbreaking research and works to grow the Illinois economy. To learn more about iBIO and its programs, visit [](