Mr. Johnson is a biopharmaceutical business leader with more than 25 years of experience in drug development and most recently served as Chief Executive Officer at VelosBio, a clinical-stage oncology company that developed novel antibody-drug-conjugates and bispecific antibodies, and which was acquired by Merck in late 2020.
Prior to founding VelosBio, Mr. Johnson was the Chief Executive Officer at Acerta Pharma, an oncology-focused pharmaceutical company, where he led the Company through a critical phase of growth from approximately 40 to over 150 employees and from a signal-seeking, first-in-human trial to more than 20 active clinical studies. Under his leadership, Acerta designed and launched three registration-directed trials, including two global Phase 3 trials for acalabrutinib, an irreversible oral Bruton’s tyrosine kinase (BTK) inhibitor initially focused on hematological malignancies. Mr. Johnson and his leadership team ultimately led the acquisition of Acerta by AstraZeneca in a deal valued at up to $7 billion.
Before Acerta, Mr. Johnson held roles with increasing responsibility within commercial, pipeline development, medical affairs, and clinical development organizations at various healthcare companies including Hoffman-La Roche, Immunex (acquired by Amgen), Millennium (acquired by Takeda), Favrille, Gloucester (acquired by Celgene), and Calistoga (acquired by Gilead). He has made significant contributions to drugs ultimately garnering regulatory approvals, including bortezomib (Velcade®), romidepsin (Istodax®), idelalisib (Zydelig®), and acalabrutinib (Calquence®). In addition to Aura’s Board, Mr. Johnson serves on the Board of Directors of Zentalis Pharmaceuticals, a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on discovering and developing small molecule therapeutics targeting fundame