Top 16 Highest-Paid Women CEOs in the Biopharma Industry

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The number of women graduating with a medical, biomedical or biological degree at least equals that of men. However, less than 10% of biopharma chief executive officers (CEOs) are women. What is the reason for this disparity? The contributing factors are complex and may include both covert gender bias and challenges combining professional and family responsibilities.

Female leaders in the biopharma industry may further promote diversity and inclusion at the workplace and serve as role models for young female professionals. Here is a list of 16 of the highest-paid female CEOs in biopharma.

  1. Martine Rothblatt. Rothblatt is the founder, chairwoman and CEO of United Therapeutics. Her pay package for 2019 reached $ 45.65 million. Rothblatt founded United Therapeutics in 1996 and has led the company to the development of several FDA-approved drugs for the treatment of pulmonary arterial hypertension. United Therapeutics is also developing technologies to address the challenges associated with organ transplantation. Rothblatt is a lawyer and an M.B.A. graduate.
  1. Elizabeth (Liz) Barrett. Barrett is the president and CEO of UroGen Pharma. Her compensation for 2019 was $ 25.90 million. Prior to her current role, Barrett held leadership positions at Novartis, Pfizer, Cephalon and Johnson & Johnson. Her undergraduate degree is in science, and she is an M.B.A. graduate.
  1. Deborah Dunsire. Dunsire has served as the president and CEO of Lundbeck since 2018. Her compensation for 2019 was $ 21.2 million. Previously, she was the president and CEO of XTuit Pharmaceuticals, FORUM Pharmaceuticals and Millennium Pharmaceuticals. Dunsire is an M.D.
  1. Heather Bresch. Bresch was the CEO of Mylan between 2012 and 2020. Her pay package for 2019 was $ 18.51 million. Bresch was the first female CEO of a Fortune 500 pharmaceutical company. In 2020, she stepped back from her post after the merger between Mylan and Pfizer’s Upjohn division.
  1. Jacqualyn Fouse. Fouse is the director and CEO of Agios Pharmaceuticals. Her compensation for 2019 was $16.6 million. Fouse previously served as the president and COO of Celgene and the CFO of Bunge Limited. She holds a Ph.D. in finance.
  1. Cynthia Collins. Collins is CEO of Editas Medicine. Her compensation for 2019 was $14.49 million. Collins previously served as the CEO of Human Longevity, Cell Therapy and Lab Business of General Electric’s Healthcare Life Sciences, Clarient Diagnostics, GenVec and Sequoia Pharmaceuticals. Her undergraduate training was in the field of microbiology, and she is an M.B.A. graduate.
  1. Emma Walmsley. Walmsley has served as the CEO of GlaxoSmithKline since 2017. Her total compensation for 2019 reached £ 8.37 million (approximately $ 10.7 million). Walmsley joined GlaxoSmithKline in 2010 after working for L’Oreal for 17 years. In 2020, she was appointed Dame (DBE) for her “services to the pharmaceutical industry and business”.
  1. Alexandria Forbes. Forbes is the president and CEO of MeiraGTx. Her compensation for 2019 was $ 8.48 million. Prior to her current role, Forbes worked for Kadmon Holdings, Meadowvale Asset Management, and Sivik Global Healthcare. She graduated from Oxford University with a Ph.D. in molecular genetics.
  1. Emily Leproust. Leproust is the CEO of Twist Bioscience. Her compensation for 2019 was $ 8.13 million. Prior to joining Twist Bioscience, Leproust worked for Agilent Technologies. She holds a Ph.D. in organic chemistry.
  1. Reshma Kewalramani. Kewalramani is the CEO and president of Vertex Pharmaceuticals. Her pay package for 2019 was $ 6.82 million. Kewalramani joined Vertex Pharmaceuticals in 2017 and has consecutively served as the senior vice president of late development, CMO, and, as of April 2020, CEO. She previously worked at Amgen for 12 years. Kewalramani is an M.D. and graduated from the General Management Program of Harvard Business School.
  1. Sheila Gujrathi. Gujrathi is the co-founder, president and CEO of Gossamer Bio. Her compensation for 2019 was $ 6.25 million. Prior to co-founding Gossamer Bio, Gujrathi served as the CMO of Receptos and vice president of the Global Clinical Development Group in Immunology at Bristol Myers Squibb. She is an M.D.
  1. Sharon Mates. Mates is the co-founder, chairwoman of the board of directors, president, and CEO of Intra-Cellular Therapies. Her pay package for 2019 was $ 4.72 million. Prior to her current role, Mates co-founded Functional Genetics and was the president and a board member of North American Vaccine Inc. She graduated with a Ph.D. from the University of Washington.
  1. Maria Fardis. Fardis has served as the CEO and president of Iovance Biotherapeutics since 2016. Her total compensation for 2019 was $ 4.11 million. Fardis previously served as the COO of Acerta Pharma and worked for Pharmacyclics and Gilead Science. She holds a Ph.D. in organic chemistry and an M.B.A. degree.
  1. Nancy Simonian. Simonian is the president and founding CEO of Syros Pharmaceuticals. Her pay package for 2019 was $ 3.61 million. She previously held leadership positions at Millennium Pharmaceuticals and Biogen. Simonian is an M.D. and started her academic and clinical career at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital.
  1. Rachel King. King is co-founder and CEO of GlycoMimetics. Her compensation for 2019 was $ 2.69 million. King previously served as an executive in residence at New Enterprise Associates and senior vice president of Novartis Corporation and was key in the development of Genetic Therapy, Inc. She holds an M.B.A. degree from Harvard Business School.
  1. Vinita D. Gupta. Gupta has been the CEO and chairperson of Lupin Ltd. since 2013. Her compensation for 2019 was 128.28 million INR (approximately $ 1.8 million). Gupta is a pharmacy and M.B.A. graduate.

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