Trevena lands ex-Wyeth R&D head for its board of directors

Thanks to the concentration of pharmaceutical companies and medical research here, the Philadelphia region creates new life-sciences companies all the time.

Every start-up or spin-off starts full of promise and expectations for its technology. What distinguishes some is the amount of capital they raise or the management and scientific talent they attract.

One King of Prussia biotechnology firm yesterday added a “rock star.” Trevena Inc. named Robert R. Ruffolo Jr., the retired president of R&D at Collegeville-based Wyeth Pharmaceuticals to its seven-member board of directors.

Trevena, which raised $24 million in venture capital 13 months ago, is working on treatments for cardiovascular and central nervous systems disorders.

Its technology is licensed from Duke University Medical Center and based on research from the labs of Robert J. Lefkowitz and Howard A. Rockman.

In a statement, Ruffolo called the work underway at Trevena “tremendously exciting” and praised the management team as “first rate.” Trevena CEO Maxine Gowen had been the former head of GlaxoSmithKline’s Center of Excellence for External Drug Discovery.

Trevena currently has 21 employees, said company spokesman Alastair Southwell.

Ruffolo, who confessed in a 2005 profile in the Inquirer to playing in a garage band, also said Trevena was the first biotech board seat he’s accepted since retiring from Wyeth less than a year ago.


At first I was disappointed that I was not returning to Blank Rome, a firm I cherish and helped build. But we all close and open chapters in our lives every day and I look forward to starting my next chapter with Cozen O’Connor.

- David Girard-diCarlo, the former U.S. Ambassador to Austria, in a statement about returning to join the Philadelphia law firm of Cozen O’Connor rather than the firm he ran for more than 20 years.