Biotech Leaders Top List of Ernst & Young 2018 Entrepreneur of the Year Candidates


Every year for the last 32 years, Ernst & Young has awarded entrepreneurs in various categories, including Life Science, Consumer Products and Retail, Distribution and Manufacturing and other categories. The awards are given in June. The finalists have been announced. Here’s a look at some of the finalists and semi-finalists.

Martin Lehr, co-founder and chief executive officer of Context Therapeutics, a clinical-stage biopharma company focused on cancers, is a semifinalist for this year’s award for the Greater Philadelphia region. He is the director of Philly BioBreak, a biopharmaceutical executive peer networking group in the Great Philadelphia area, as well as heading Context. He serves on numerous boards, including Integral Molecular, the Vagelos Life Science Management Program at the University of Pennsylvania, and the Science Center’s QED Program.

“It is a privilege and honor to receive this recognition from EY that acknowledges the growth of Context Therapeutics,” Lehr said in a statement. “This award reflects the entrepreneurial drive of every Context Therapeutics team member and our tireless pursuit of developing and delivering novel therapeutics to breast, prostate, and ovarian cancer patients.”

Ajay Singh, founder and chief executive officer of Slayback Pharma , in Princeton, New Jersey, was named as one of the finalists for this year’s award in the New Jersey region. Prior to Slayback, Singh was the vice president of Strategy, Portfolio and Business Development at Dr. Reddy's Laboratories for the North American Generics Division. He began at Dr Reddy’s in 20008 and worked there until he founded Slayback in July 2012. The company focuses on conceptualizing and developing complex generic and specialty drugs.

Last year’s overall winners and Life Sciences winners were Lonnie Moulder, chief executive officer and co-founder and Mary Lynne Hedley, president, chief operating officer and co-founder of Tesaro Biopharmaceuticals, located in Waltham, Massachusetts. The company focuses on oncology. Most recently, on April 24, Tesaro announced positive results from its QUADRA clinical trial of Zejula in patients with ovarian cancer.

The two met when Moulder was chief executive officer of MGI Pharma and Hedley was chief executive officer of her start-up Zycos. MGI shortly afterward acquired Zycos and the two have worked together since, including at Eisai, which acquired MGI Pharma, and then at Abraxis. In 2010, they co-founded and self-funded Tesaro.

“We recognize the cancer patient as a whole person and want to give them a therapy that not only makes them better,” Hedley said in a statement, but lets them enjoy their life.

“Mary Lynne and I have very different backgrounds,” Moulder said in a statement, “but our strengths complement each other, and we are aligned along our values of how to run and lead a company.”

There are 21 regions in the U.S. eligible for the award. Last year’s finalists in Life Sciences included Stan Crooke, chairman and chief executive officer of Ionis Pharmaceuticals, in Carlsbad, California, Rami Eighandour, president and chief executive officer of Nevro Corp, in Redwood City, California, and Jeffrey Leiden, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Vertex Pharmaceuticals in Boston.

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