Michael Ehlers is Executive Vice President for Research & Development at Biogen, one of the largest and most successful biotechnology companies in the world. Dr. Ehlers grew up rural Nebraska and earned his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Caltech. He holds M.D. and Ph.D. degrees from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
Prior to joining Biogen in 2016, Dr. Ehlers was Senior Vice President for BioTherapeutics and Chief Scientific Officer for Neuroscience at Pfizer where he led the transformation of the Neuroscience and Rare Disease portfolios at Pfizer successfully bringing 22 compounds into the clinic, as well as directing global activities in biologics design, synthesis, and production, and steering a network of academic collaborations focused on immunology and oncology. Before entering his industry career in 2010, Dr. Ehlers was the George Barth Geller Professor of Neurobiology and an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at Duke University Medical Center, where he pioneered studies on neuronal organelles and the trafficking of neurotransmitter receptors. Dr. Ehlers’ current research focuses on the interface between neuronal cell biology, the plasticity of neural circuits, and neurological disease.
At Biogen, Dr. Ehlers directs global research and development including discovery sciences, drug design, translational medicine, and clinical development, with a focus on neurological diseases. He has advanced 18 novel clinical candidate compounds and oversaw the approval of SPINRAZA (nusinersin), the first drug approved for spinal muscular atrophy. He is the recipient of numerous awards including the 2003 Eppendorf & Science Prize in Neurobiology, the 2007 John J. Abel Award in Pharmacology, the 2007 Society for Neuroscience Young Investigator Award, an NIMH MERIT Award, and the 2009 National Alliance for Schizophrenia and Depression Distinguished Investigator Award. He received the 2008 Breakthrough Research Award of the North Carolina Biotechnology Center given to a single scientist in North Carolina, and the 2016 Biomedical Research Award of the Massachusetts Medical Society given to a single business leader in New England. In 2013 he became the 11th recipient of the Thudichum Medal of the Biochemical Society of the United Kingdom an award inaugurated in 1974 to honor eminent scientists who have made outstanding contributions to neurochemistry and related subjects, whose recipients include two Nobel laureates.
Dr. Ehlers has authored over 100 scientific papers, has served on the Editorial Boards of Annual Reviews in Medicine, Annual Reviews in Pharmacology and Toxicology, the Journal of Neuroscience, the Journal of Biological Chemistry, and Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience, and sat on advisory committees of the National
Institutes of Health. He is a member of the American Society for Cell Biology Governing Council, the Janelia Research Institute Advisory Committee, and the McKnight Endowment Fund for Neuroscience Board of Directors. He serves on the advisory boards of several private foundations, and advises major pharmaceutical, venture, academic, government, and biotech organizations.