Skip to content

Industry Leader Bolsters Flagship’s Team to Catalyze First-in-Kind Life Science Ventures

Cambridge, Mass., January 4, 2017 – Flagship Pioneering today announced the appointment of industry veteran David Epstein to serve in the newly created role of Executive Partner. Epstein will join as a strategic resource to the firm that systematically conceives, creates, resources and grows first-in-category ventures to transform human health and sustainability. The appointment follows Flagship’s recent additions of industry leaders Dr. Michael Rosenblatt (formerly of Merck) as Chief Medical Officer and Jim Gilbert (formerly of Boston Scientific and Bain) as Senior Partner, and supports the firm’s goal of driving accelerated value growth within its portfolio companies.

“David is a leader and long-time pioneer within the pharma industry, having developed dozens of new medicines benefiting millions of patients around the world,” said Noubar Afeyan, Ph.D., founder and CEO of Flagship. “His progressive approach to science and business acumen gleaned over his tenured career in the pharmaceutical industry complements Flagship’s culture and team. We will apply his expertise broadly as we continue making and realizing the maximum potential of disruptive innovations that yield unprecedented therapies.”

Mr. Epstein’s first significant involvement within the Flagship portfolio will be as Chairman of the Board of Rubius Therapeutics, a venture founded and launched by the Flagship VentureLabs® innovation foundry to exploit the potential medical impact of endowing red blood cells with therapeutic properties. The company’s disruptive platform provides off-the-shelf, enucleated cell-based therapies that promise to treat a wide array of ailments including cancer and autoimmune, metabolic, and hematologic diseases.

“Flagship Pioneering is breaking boundaries and exploring new frontiers that, I believe, could dramatically improve the quality of human life,” said Epstein. “Joining Flagship’s disruptive innovation engine is an opportunity of a lifetime, and I welcome the opportunity to bring my passion for medicine, deep knowledge and ties to industry, and commitment to solving some of the world’s greatest health challenges to bear. In particular, I am tremendously excited by the promise of Rubius’ Red-Cell TherapeuticsTM platform, as it portends the broad impact of off-the-shelf, precision cell therapies.”

About David Epstein

David R. Epstein is Executive Partner at Flagship Pioneering and Chairman of Flagship-founded Rubius Therapeutics. Most recently he served as Chief Executive Officer of Novartis Pharmaceuticals, a Division of Novartis AG, from 2010 to mid-2016. Previously, Mr. Epstein started up and led Novartis' Oncology and Molecular Diagnostic units. Under his leadership, the Oncology business grew to number two in the world. He has more than 25 years of extensive drug development, deal making, commercialization and people leadership experience on a global scale. Over the course of his career he led the development and commercialization of over 30 new molecular entities, including major breakthroughs such as Glivec, Tasigna, Gilenya, Cosentyx and Entresto. Early in his career, Mr. Epstein was an Associate in the Strategy Practice of consulting firm Booz, Allen and Hamilton.

He has been an Independent Director of International Flavors & Fragrances Inc. since January 1, 2016. David was recently named by Fierce Biotech to be among "The 25 most influential in biopharma."

Mr. Epstein holds a B.S. Degree in Pharmacy with high honors from Rutgers University College of Pharmacy (1984) and an M.B.A. in Finance and Marketing from the Columbia University Graduate School of Business (1987).

About Flagship Pioneering

Flagship Pioneering conceives, creates, resources and develops first-in-category life sciences companies. Its institutional innovation foundry, Flagship VentureLabs®, is where Flagship’s team of scientific entrepreneurs systematically evolve enterprising ideas into new fields, or previously undiscovered areas of science into real-world inventions and ventures. Since its launch in 2000, the firm has applied its hypothesis-driven innovation process to originate and foster nearly 75 scientific ventures, resulting in $19 billion in aggregate value, 500+ issued patents and more than 50 clinical trials for novel therapeutic agents. Since inception, Flagship has capitalized its growing portfolio with nearly $1 billion coming from the $1.75 billion of aggregate investor capital committed across five funds. The firm’s current portfolio includes pioneering ventures that are transforming human health and sustainability, including: Agios Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: AGIO), Seres Therapeutics (NASDAQ: MCRB), Editas Medicine (NASDAQ: EDIT) and Syros Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: SYRS), as well as private companies including Moderna Therapeutics, Indigo Agriculture and Axcella Health. Flagship has ongoing corporate innovation alliances with several market leaders, including: AstraZeneca, Bayer Crop Science and Nestlé Health Science. To learn more about Flagship Pioneering, please visit our new website