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Remembering Gilead’s John Martin, whose therapies saved ‘millions’

Friends, colleagues and peers pay tribute to John Martin

Friends, colleagues and peers pay tribute to John Martin as they recall his lasting impact on Gilead, the biopharma industry and patients around the world.

Apr 1, 2021 | 2:59 AM GMT

John Martin, the visionary leader who transformed Gilead from a fledgling antisense company into an antiviral company whose drugs turned HIV into a manageable condition and cured HCV, passed away Tuesday. He was 69.

“He is absolutely a giant of our space,” said Stelios Papadopoulos, chairman of Biogen Inc. (NASDAQ:BIIB). “He taught us how to tackle HIV. It was all of his vision. His thinking has led to where we are today, where we’ve transformed HIV AIDS from a sentence to death to a manageable chronic condition.”

A week before Martin’s passing, Franklin “Pitch” Johnson, the legendary VC and first investor in Amgen Inc. (NASDAQ:AMGN), invited him — along with Kleiner Perkins’ Brook Byers, who formed the first venture capital life sciences group in 1984, and former CV Therapeutics Chairman, CEO and CSO Lou Lange  to his backyard for wine, cheese and memory-lane conversation about the evolution of the biotech industry, Byers told BioCentury.

Byers reminisced that evening about the roots of Gilead Sciences Corp. (NASDAQ:GILD), which Martin joined in 1990 as VP of R&D to work on antisense therapies,

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