Taiwan boasts a booming life sciences sector and is striving to innovate through collaboration. Here we present five of the key executives and stakeholders who are aiming to drive the island’s life sciences sector forward.
Dr Johnsee Lee holds a number of positions in the Taiwanese biotech space and has played a key leadership role in the development of Taiwan’s biotech industry.
While the government still has a strong role to play, investors and the private sector are the key drivers of innovation in Taiwan.
Dr Johnsee Lee currently serves as chairman of the Taiwan Bio Industry Organization, Taiwan’s main biotech association and as organizer of BioAsia, a conference that promotes collaboration as the key to innovation. In an interview with PharmaBoardroom, Dr Lee highlighted that “while the government still has a strong role to play, investors and the private sector are key drivers of innovation in Taiwan. Innovation does not need to come from grassroots domestic sources either, it can come from international collaboration as well.”
Dr Lee is also the founder, CEO, and president of Personal Genomics, Inc. and its sister company Quark Biosciences. Personal Genomics Inc. focuses on the development and manufacturing of a gene sequencing system, and Quark Biosciences focuses on developing precision cancer, disease diagnosis, and fertility treatment solutions. Both companies utilise their proprietary optoelectronic single-molecule sequencing technology (OES).
Prior to his current positions, Dr Lee served as president of the Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI), after becoming the founder and first director of ITRI’s Biomedical Engineering Lab. Before joining ITRI, Dr. Lee held various technical and managerial positions at Argonne National Laboratory and at Johnson Matthey Inc. in the USA.
Tsung-Tsong Wu serves as a Minister Without Portfolio of the Taiwanese Executive Yuan and is the Deputy Convenor of the Board of Science and Technology (BOST).
Taiwan has the second highest number of biomedical researchers and third highest number of life science-related graduates in the world
Tsung-Tsong Wu coordinates cross-ministry collaborations to drive the growth of Taiwan’s biotech industry through the Biomedical Industry Innovation Program. The program’s aim is to attract biomedical researchers to the biotech industry. Dr Wu states that, “Taiwan has the second-highest number of biomedical researchers and third highest number of life science-related graduates in the world. Over the past three years, we have been trying to link the researchers to the industry. Our aim is to encourage the movement of researchers across the historical gap to the industry.”
Dr Wu also serves as a Distinguished Professor at the Institute of Applied Mechanics at National Taiwan University, where he has taught since 1987. His educational background includes a PhD and a Master of Science in Theoretical & Applied Mechanics from Cornell University, and a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from National Taiwan University.
Rongjin Lin is the chairman of Center Laboratories and a biotechnology entrepreneurship and investment expert.
When considering how to build Center’s investment portfolio I consider what Taiwan’s needs are
Rongjin Lin’s experience is in enterprise positioning and restructuring, business strategy and organisation, and international resource integration. Mr Lin made his first investment in PharmaEngine, which several years later became a success story. Additionally, he invested in ten other corporations including Mycenax Biotech, Brim Biotechnology, and Eusol, most of which are IPOed today. Mr Lin was formerly the chairman and general manager at TTY Biopharm Company Limited, which he restructured and helped raise out of bankruptcy into a thriving organisation. When asked about investment strategy, Lin explained that “when considering how to build Center’s investment portfolio I consider what Taiwan’s needs are. I identified a gap in drug development, so I invested in PharmaEngine. This was the same when it came to medical devices when I invested in Medeon. The strategy of Center is to create synergies and build an ecosystem within Taiwan.”
Mr Lin studied at Taipei Medical University and holds an Honorary Doctorate from the College of Medicine and a Bachelor of Science from the College of Pharmacy.
BoonHuey Ee is the General Manager of Merck Taiwan, a position she took on in 2018, and counts over 15 years with the company.
Merck has a very established brand which is ranked number ten globally in biopharma and has consistent positive performance here in Taiwan
Ee started as the head of sales and marketing and took on increasing responsibility across the Asia Pacific region. In 2016, BoonHuey broke through barriers to become the first woman to be managing director for Merck Malaysia. She now heads Merck’s affiliate in Taiwan, overseeing its growth, emphasizing to PharmaBoardroom that “Taiwan is an important business contributor not only in terms of market size but also our portfolio. Our local growth is being driven heavily by oncology, the biggest therapeutic area in this market. Merck has a very established brand which is ranked number ten globally in biopharma and has consistent positive performance here in Taiwan.”
Prior to working for Merck, Ee was employed at Bayer as a sales representative, which gave her an overall understanding of the industry, after which she moved into marketing and brand management at GlaxoSmithKline.
In addition to her role at Merck Taiwan, Ee currently sits on the board of the International Research-Based Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association (IRPMA) in addition to being a co-chair of the Healthcare Enhancement Committee in Taiwan’s European Chamber of Commerce. Both organisations represent the healthcare industry and partner with government stakeholders to sustain the country’s healthcare system.
James C. Liao – President & Dean, Academia Sinica
Dr James Liao is the president of the Institute of Biological Chemistry at Academia Sinica.
We have established three objectives for the development of hospitality in the next five to ten years, namely, “achieving the world’s top research”, “to fulfil social responsibilities on key issues” and “to recruit and nurture outstanding talents”
Dr Liao is a leader in metabolic and synthetic biology, especially in the field of microbial synthesis of fuels and chemicals. He also developed Network Component Analysis (NCA) and Ensemble Modeling for analyzing transcription regulatory networks and designed synthetic (artificial) gene-metabolic regulatory circuits, which set the foundation for metabolic synthetic biology. Dr Liao serves as the President and Dean of Academia Sinica, where he states in a letter to his colleagues that “we have established three objectives for the development of hospitality in the next five to ten years, namely, ‘achieving the world’s top research, ‘to fulfil the social responsibilities on key issues’ and ‘to recruit and nurture outstanding talents’.”
Dr Liao has held numerous chair and vice-chair positions in the University of California Los Angeles’ departments of biomolecular engineering and chemistry. He is also a member of the National Academy of Sciences and a fellow at the National Academy of Inventors. In addition, Dr Liao reports directly to the president of the country and is responsible for managing one of the biggest government investments into a brand new National Biotech Research Park.
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