CEO Check-In Series: Francois Nader, M.D., MBA

Where are they now?


Dr. Francois Nader knows all about time management. When we last talked to him in 2016, he was the Board Chair of Acceleron Pharma Inc., a position he continues to hold. Since then, Dr. Nader has additionally become the Board Chair of Prevail Therapeutics Inc., and Talaris Therapeutics, as well as a Board Director of Alexion Pharmaceuticals Inc.

Four years ago, Dr. Nader was dividing his time between New Jersey, Miami and Montreal, which he also continues to do. “Dividing my time is the story of my life,” he says.

Dr. Nader catches Ashton Tweed up on how he juggles responsibilities at multiple organizations and what he considered his biggest accomplishments:

Acceleron has had a busy few years. How have you guided Acceleron through its biggest challenges?

My role as chair of Acceleron was to ensure a smooth transition between the founder, who retired, and the new CEO, and to support management in evolving the company from a research focus to clinical development to commercial. Meanwhile, the board and I continued to build the management team and transition the board from investors to independents.

How do you balance your roles on the boards of multiple companies?

I think it requires being very organized. But it’s also important to have some commonalities among the companies, while avoiding conflicts and overlaps. My area of expertise for the last 13 or 14 years has been rare diseases, which is the focus of all of the companies I’m associated with. There are a lot of commonalities in the rare disease space when it comes to clinical development, regulatory pathways and commercial readiness and deployment—not identical but certainly similar. However, each of the companies I’m associated with have their own unique platform or niche.

The three companies also have similarities when it comes to management—Talaris, Prevail and Acceleron all have first-time CEOs. It’s a matter of giving my undivided attention to each company when needed.

Which of your accomplishments in the last four years have been the most rewarding?

The common denominator in everything that I’ve done is mentoring, coaching and supporting entrepreneurs and first-time CEOs, whether through the three companies I chair or through my role as advisor to the New York University Stern School of Business’ entrepreneur program.

Frankly, it’s very fulfilling to see the progression of science driven by these brilliant individuals. When a new therapeutic breakthrough gets in the hands of patients it is often because of the hard work by these young leaders and their teams. In our business, that is the ultimate reward.


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