Reaction Biology Announces Closing of Growth Investment from Cobepa and Chief Executive Officer Transition

  • John H. Johnson Appointed to Chief Executive Officer and Board Director of Reaction Biology
  • Reaction Biology Well Positioned to Expand Upon Global Drug Discovery Capabilities

MALVERN, Pa., March 16, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- Reaction Biology ("Reaction" or the "Company"), an industry- leading provider of drug discovery services, today announced the closing of a significant investment from Cobepa, an international private equity firm, to fuel the Company's continued growth and service line expansion.

The Company also announced the appointment of John H. Johnson to Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Board Director of Reaction Biology, effective immediately. Reaction's Board of Directors and Matthew Oristano, former President and CEO, believe that now is the right time to transition the leadership of the Company.

"Reaction Biology has a decades-long history of delivering excellent science and driving customer-centric innovation," said Peter Connolly, Managing Director and Head of Cobepa North America. "With John's deep experience growing life sciences companies, we believe this partnership will bring significant benefit to Reaction's customers, employees, and investors alike."

John H. Johnson, CEO and Board Director of Reaction Biology, said, "I look forward to working closely with the leadership and scientific teams – along with the entire organization – to fully realize the Company's potential in drug discovery services. This investment by Cobepa provides additional capital and resources that will enable us to grow our capabilities, expand our footprint, and cultivate key talent to support our long-term growth plans. The partnership also further enhances our ability to meet the evolving needs of our biopharmaceutical customers – and importantly the provider and patient communities that they ultimately serve."

"With its unmatched depth in biochemical kinase and epigenetic, cell-based, and related assays, Reaction Biology exemplifies the attributes that we prioritize in our investments – demonstrated value to customers, sustainable market leadership, and attractive avenues for growth," said Edward Sohn, Principal of Cobepa North America. "We are thrilled to partner with John and the team at Reaction Biology for the Company's next phase of evolution."

John H. Johnson is a recognized leader in the biopharmaceutical industry with more than three decades of experience. He was most recently the CEO of Strongbridge Biopharma plc prior to its acquisition by Xeris Biopharma Holdings. Mr. Johnson has held executive management roles at leading global corporations, including Johnson & Johnson, where he spent the majority of his career. He served as the Company Group Chairman of Biopharmaceuticals within Johnson & Johnson, where he was responsible for the Johnson & Johnson Biotechnology, Immunology and Oncology commercial businesses. Mr. Johnson also served as President of Eli Lilly & Company's Worldwide Oncology Unit, following the company's 2008 acquisition of ImClone Systems, Inc., where he served as CEO and a member of ImClone's Board of Directors. John is also an experienced Director having served on numerous boards across industry, biotech, and biopharmaceutical services companies. Mr. Johnson is currently Chairman of Autolus Therapeutics (AUTL), and a Director of Xeris Biopharma Holdings, Inc. (XERS), Axogen (AXGN), and Verastem Oncology (VSTM).

Mr. Oristano commented, "Over the last several years, Reaction Biology has experienced outstanding growth expanding its portfolio of assays and geographic footprint worldwide. I am confident that under John Johnson's leadership, the Company will continue to build upon its capabilities as a world leader in drug discovery."

Messrs. Johnson, Connolly, and Sohn added, "On behalf of the Board, we would like to thank Matt for his leadership and numerous contributions to the Company over the past 18 years."

The investment in Reaction Biology continues Cobepa's history of close partnerships with biopharmaceutical service providers, most recently as the majority shareholder of BioAgilytix, a global CRO offering integrated bioanalytical solutions with a focus on large molecules, before its majority recapitalization by Cinven in December 2021. Mr. Johnson was a Board member of BioAgilytix during Cobepa's investment period.

Golub Capital provided financing for the transaction. William Blair & Co. acted as exclusive financial advisor to Reaction Biology, and Piper Sandler acted as exclusive financial advisor to Cobepa. White & Case LLP acted as legal advisor to Cobepa on the transaction.

About Reaction Biology
Founded in 2001, Reaction is a contract research organization (CRO) that provides a full suite of drug discovery services to over 1,800 biopharmaceutical customers worldwide. Reaction's capabilities include functional biochemical assays, compound screening, a wide range of mechanistic and biophysical studies, and an extensive array of cell-based assays. Reaction maintains one of the largest panels of kinase assays in the world with over 750 unique assays. The Company performs over 5,000 client projects annually with its over 2,000 validated assays. The Company has lab facilities in Malvern, PA, and Freiburg, Germany, with approximately 130 employees.

About Cobepa
With offices in New York, Brussels, and Munich, Cobepa S.A. ("Cobepa") is a privately held investment company backed by entrepreneurial European families. Cobepa manages a diverse portfolio of private equity investments representing over $4.5 billion of capital. Cobepa invests in leading companies with superior business models, sustainable market positions and leading management teams. Cobepa North America is primarily focused on investments in the healthcare, business services, and tech-enabled services sectors, in companies that can benefit from having a nimble financial sponsor. For more information, visit

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