Celgene has announced the appointment of Julia Haller, M.D, to the Board of Directors. The appointment means Celgene now has three females on the board and reaches a 33% ratio of women non-executive board directors, a critical mass that is likely to drive a significant advantage for the way in which Celgene is governed and also contribute to a sustainable level of diversity. With strong advocates for gender diversity on its board, such as Michael Bonney and Richard Barker, Celgene is showing that it is very much possible to create a gender diverse board of directors in biotechnology.
Julia Haller comes to the board with exceptional experience. Dr. Haller is Ophthalmologist-in-Chief of the Wills Eye Hospital in Philadelphia, PA where she holds the William Tasman, M.D. Endowed Chair. She serves as Professor and Chair of the Department of Ophthalmology at Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University and Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals, and is Co-Director of the Wills Vision Research Center at Jefferson.
In 1986, Dr. Haller served as the first female Chief Resident at the Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins and later joined the Johns Hopkins faculty. She was named the inaugural Katharine Graham Professor of Ophthalmology in 2002, and the inaugural Robert Bond Welch, M.D. Professor of Ophthalmology in 2006. In 2007, Dr. Haller assumed leadership of Wills Eye Hospital.
Dr. Haller, one of the world’s most renowned retina surgeons and clinician-scientists, has received numerous academic and professional honors and awards and has published over 300 scientific articles and book chapters. Dr. Haller, who has been closely involved in the early stage development of many new vision therapies and surgical procedures, received her A.B. from Princeton University magna cum laude and her M.D. from Harvard Medical School. She is a member of numerous international scientific advisory boards and data and safety monitoring committees, is a past member of the Board of Trustees of Princeton University and has served as a consultant to Walter Reed Army Medical Center and The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
The appointment demonstrates the way in which pharma and biotech companies can appoint to the board of directors by introducing experience and knowledge which is incredibly valuable to them as they navigate the myriad of challenges associated with developing and giving patients access to new therapies. To see a company such as Celgene taking a lead on appointing women to the board should perhaps send a signal to others in the market that they too need to begin to take this seriously.