Board of Directors

Gil Van Bokkelen Ph.D.

Chairman and CEO


Gil Van Bokkelen

Dr. Van Bokkelen has served as our Chief Executive Officer and Chairman since August 2000. Dr. Van Bokkelen co-founded Athersys in 1995 and has served as Chief Executive Officer and Director since the Company’s founding. Prior to May 2006, he also served as the Company’s President. Dr. Van Bokkelen is also the Chairman of the Board of Governors for the National Center for Regenerative Medicine.  He served as the Chairman of the Alliance for Regenerative Medicine from 2010 through 2012, a Washington D.C. based consortium of companies, patient advocacy groups, disease foundations, and clinical and research institutions that are committed to the advancement of the field of regenerative medicine, and served ex officio from 2013 to 2014. He has served on a number of other boards, including the Biotechnology Industry Organization’s ECS board of directors (from 2001 to 2004, and from 2008 to present). He received his Ph.D. in Genetics from Stanford University School of Medicine, his B.A. in Economics from the University of California at Berkeley, and his B.A. in Molecular Biology from the University of California at Berkeley.

Dr. Van Bokkelen brings to the Board leadership, extensive business, operating, financial and scientific experience, and tremendous knowledge of our Company and the biotechnology industry. Dr. Van Bokkelen also brings his broad strategic vision for our Company to the Board of Directors and his service as the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Athersys creates a critical link between management and the Board, enabling the Board to perform its oversight function with the benefit of management’s perspectives on the business. In addition, having the Chief Executive Officer, and Dr. Van Bokkelen, in particular, on our Board of Directors provides our Company with ethical, decisive and effective leadership.



Lee Babiss Ph.D.


Elected 2010

Dr. Babiss has served as Lead Director since October 2013 and a Director since August 2010. Dr. Babiss is currently Chief Executive Officer of X-Rx, Inc., a majority-owned subsidiary of PPD, Inc., a biotechnology company focused on the rapid and cost-effective discover and development of small molecule medicines, where he has served since 2012.  Prior to his appointment at X-Rx, Dr. Babiss was the Chief Scientific Officer and Executive Vice President of Discovery Innovation of PPD, Inc., a clinical research organization, where he served from February 2010 to 2016.  Dr. Babiss was formerly President and Director of Global Pharmaceutical Research at Roche, a pharmaceutical company, from 1998 until his appointment at PPD, Inc. Prior to Roche, Dr. Babiss spent seven years with Glaxo, Inc., now GlaxoSmithKline, a pharmaceutical company, where he held senior positions, including Vice President of Biological Sciences and Genetics. Dr. Babiss received his doctorate in Microbiology from Columbia University and completed his postdoctoral fellowship at the Rockefeller University, where he served as an assistant and associate professor. Dr. Babiss has received numerous fellowship awards and grants and serves on several scientific advisory committees and boards. Dr. Babiss has published over 60 peer-reviewed scientific papers. 

Dr. Babiss’ brings over 20 years of experience developing and leading research and development programs. His strategic leadership and product development knowledge provide a valuable perspective to the Board.



Independent Director  Lead Independent Director

John Harrington Ph.D.

Executive Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer


John Harrington

Dr. Harrington co-founded Athersys in 1995 and has served as our Chief Scientific Officer, Executive Vice President and Director since our founding. Dr. Harrington led the development of the RAGE® technology, as well as its application for gene discovery, drug discovery and commercial protein production applications. He is a listed inventor on over 20 issued or pending United States patents, has authored numerous scientific publications, and has received numerous awards for his work, including being named one of the top international young scientists by MIT Technology Review in 2002. Dr. Harrington has overseen the therapeutic product development programs at Athersys since their inception, and is also focused on the clinical development and manufacturing of MultiStem®.  During his career, he has also held positions at Amgen and Scripps Clinic. He received his B.A. in Biochemistry and Cell Biology from the University of California at San Diego and his Ph.D. in Cancer Biology from Stanford University.

Dr. Harrington’s scientific experience and deep understanding of our Company, combined with his drive for innovation and excellence, position him well to serve on the Board of Directors.



Ismail Kola Ph.D.


Elected 2010

Dr. Kola has served as a Director since October 2010. Dr. Kola is currently Executive Vice President of UCB S.A. in Belgium, a biopharmaceutical company dedicated to the development of innovative medicines focused on the fields of central nervous system and immunology disorders, and President and Chief Scientific Officer of UCB New Medicines, UCB’s discovery research through to proof-of-concept in man organization, since November 2009. Dr. Kola was formerly Senior Vice President, Discovery Research and Early Clinical Research & Experimental Medicine at Schering-Plough Research Institute, the pharmaceutical research arm of Schering-Plough Corporation, a pharmaceutical company, and Chief Scientific Officer at Schering-Plough Corporation, from March 2007 until his appointment at UCB. Prior to Schering-Plough, Dr. Kola held senior positions from January 2003 to March 2007 at Merck, a pharmaceutical company, where he was Senior Vice President and Site Head, Basic Research. From 2000 to 2003, Dr. Kola was Vice President, Research, and Global Head, Genomics Science and Biotechnology, at Pharmacia Corporation, a pharmaceutical company. Prior to his position with Pharmacia, Dr. Kola spent 15 years as Professor of Human Molecular Genetics and was Director of the Centre for Functional Genomics and Human Disease at Monash Medical School in Australia. Dr. Kola received his Ph.D. in Medicine from the University of Cape Town, South Africa, his B.Sc. from the University of South Africa, and his B.Pharm. from Rhodes University, South Africa. Dr. Kola currently serves on the board of directors of Biotie Therapies, Inc. (NASDAQ: BITI) (and previously Synosia who merged with Biotie) since February 2011, where he serves on the compensation committee.  Dr. Kola served on the board of directors of Astex Therapeutics (NASDAQ: ASTX) since May 2010 until its sale to Otsuka Pharmaceuticals in October 2013, Ondek Pty Ltd from 2009 to 2011, and Promega Corporation from 2003 to 2007. Dr. Kola has authored 159 technical publications in scientific and medical journals and is the named inventor on at least a dozen patents. Dr. Kola holds Adjunct Professorships of Medicine at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, and Monash University Medical School; a Foreign Adjunct Professorship at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden; and was elected William Pitt Fellow at Pembroke College, Cambridge University, UK in 2008. Dr. Kola has also been appointed a Visiting Professor at Oxford University, Nuffield School of Medicine, Oxford UK, since September 2012. 

Dr. Kola has led numerous teams that have brought a large number of medicines successfully to the market. Dr. Kola’s experience and leadership in taking numerous drugs from the research stage to market or late stage development brings a unique and valuable perspective to our Board.



Independent Director   Independent Director

Lorin J Randall


Elected 2007

Mr. Randall has served as a Director since September 2007. Mr. Randall is an independent financial consultant and previously was Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Eximias Pharmaceutical Corporation, a development-stage drug development company, from 2004 to 2006. From 2002 to 2004, Mr. Randall served as Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of i-STAT Corporation, a publicly-traded manufacturer of medical diagnostic devices that was acquired by Abbott Laboratories in 2004. From 1995 to 2001, Mr. Randall was Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of CFM Technologies, Inc., a publicly-traded manufacturer of semiconductor manufacturing equipment. Mr. Randall currently serves on the boards of directors of Acorda Therapeutics, Inc. (NASDAQ: ACOR) since 2006, where he serves on the audit committee and is a member of the compliance and nominations and governance committees, and Nanosphere, Inc. (NASDAQ: NSPH) since 2008, where he serves as chairman of the board and as chair of the audit committee. He previously served on the boards of directors of Tengion, Inc. (OTCQB: TNGN) from 2008 to 2014, where he served as chairman of the audit committee and a member of the compensation committee, and Opexa Therapeutics, Inc. (NASDAQ: OPXA) from 2007 to 2009, where he served as chair of the audit committee. Mr. Randall received a B.S. in accounting from The Pennsylvania State University and an M.B.A. from Northeastern University.

Mr. Randall’s strong financial and human resources background and his service on the audit and compensation committees of other companies provides expertise to the Board, including an understanding of financial statements, compensation policies and practices, corporate finance, developing and maintaining effective internal controls, accounting, employee benefits, investments and capital markets. These qualities also formed the basis for the Board’s decision to appoint Mr. Randall as chairman of the Audit Committee and the Compensation Committee.



Independent Director   Independent Director

Jack L Wyszomierski


Elected 2010

Mr. Wyszomierski has served as a Director since June 2010. From 2004 until his retirement in June 2009, Mr. Wyszomierski served as the Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of VWR International, LLC, a supplier and distributor of laboratory supplies, equipment and supply chain solutions to the global research laboratory industry. From 1982 to 2004, Mr. Wyszomierski held positions of increasing responsibility within the finance group at Schering-Plough Corporation, a pharmaceutical company, culminating with his appointment as Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer in 1996. Prior to joining Schering-Plough, he was responsible for capitalization planning at Joy Manufacturing Company, a producer of mining equipment, and was a management consultant at Data Resources, Inc., a distributor of economic data. Mr. Wyszomierski currently serves on the board of directors of Solenis, Inc., a privately held chemicals company since 2014, where he serves as Chair of the Audit Committee and a member of the Compensation Committee, Xoma Corporation (NASDAQ: XOMA) since 2010, where he also serves as chairman of the compensation committee and as a member of the audit committee, and Exelixis, Inc. (NASDAQ: EXEL) since 2004, where he serves as chairman of the audit committee.  Mr. Wyszomierski was also a member of the board of directors and chairman of the audit committee at Unigene Laboratories, Inc. (OTC: UGNE) from 2012 to 2013. Mr. Wyszomierski holds a M.S. in Industrial Administration and a B.S. in Administration, Management Science and Economics from Carnegie Mellon University.

Mr. Wyszomierski’s extensive financial reporting, accounting and finance experience and his service on the audit committees of other public companies, as well as his experience in the healthcare and life sciences industries, provides financial expertise to the Board, including an understanding of financial statements, corporate finance, developing and maintaining effective internal controls, accounting, investments and capital markets.



Independent Director   Independent Director

Jordan S. Davis


Mr. Davis previously served as our Director from June 2007 until June 2010.   Mr. Davis is a Managing Partner of Radius, a health and life sciences venture capital firm, which he co-founded in 1997.  Mr. Davis was a co-founder of Cambridge Heart, Inc., a medical technology company that developed and commercialized a device to non-invasively identify patients at risk of sudden cardiac death, and Voxware, Inc., a speech technology company and early entrant in the VoIP market, both of which completed initial public offerings in 1996.  Mr. Davis currently serves on the board of directors of several Radius portfolio companies, including Endogastric Solutions, Inc., where he is chairman of the audit committee and a member of the compliance committee, Healthsense, Inc., where he is a member of the audit committee, and Tactile Medical, Inc., where he serves on the compensation, compliance, and nominating and corporate governance committees.  He is also a member of the board of directors and chairman of the audit committee of HealthCorps, a charitable organization engaged in educating youth on nutrition, exercise and mental resilience.  Mr. Davis earned an M.B.A. from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and a B.A. in Economics from The State University of New York at Binghamton. 

The Board of Directors has concluded that Mr. Davis should be nominated to serve as a Director of the Company due to his deep understanding of our Company as a long-term stockholder, knowledge of the industry and experience as a director, and he serves as the Radius Designee.



Independent Director   Independent Director


Committee Chair Chair    Committee Member Member    Independent Director Independent Director