Leadership Team

A vision for growth, shaped by experience.

It takes a village to bring an asset to market. At Arbutus, our village includes professionals with deep scientific, clinical, operational, and financial expertise. Our leadership team knows the path to market well, having played pivotal roles in the discovery, development, and commercialization of multiple approved antivirals. Here are their stories.

Experienced Leadership Team

Michael J. McElhaugh

Interim President & Chief Executive Officer

Mr. McElhaugh currently serves as interim President and Chief Executive Officer and a member of the Board of Directors. He has previously served in multiple leadership roles at Arbutus including Chief Operating Officer, Chief Business Officer and Senior Vice President of Business Development and Commercial Strategy. Mr. McElhaugh has more than 20 years of scientific, strategic, transactional and commercial experience spanning various operating roles within the pharmaceutical and biotech industries. Mr. McElhaugh joined Arbutus when it merged with OnCore Biopharma where he was a co-founder and served as its Chief Operating Officer. Prior to OnCore, Mr. McElhaugh was the Director, Hepatitis C Worldwide Commercialization at Bristol-Myers Squibb. Prior to Bristol-Myers Squibb, Mr. McElhaugh was the Director, Business Development and Market Analytics at Pharmasset, Inc. and remained in that role following the acquisition by Gilead Sciences Inc. Mr. McElhaugh also previously held various positions at Viropharma, Inc. and at Merck and Co., Inc. Mr. McElhaugh received a B.S. degree from St. Joseph’s University, an M.S. degree from Thomas Jefferson University and an M.B.A. degree from the Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University.

Michael Mcelhaugh Headshot Meet Michael

Michael J. McElhaugh

Interim President & Chief Executive Officer

Co-founder with extensive scientific, strategic, transactional, and commercial experience with antiviral and infectious disease companies.

 

Michael J. Sofia PhD

Chief Scientific Officer

Dr. Sofia joined Arbutus in 2015 and serves as the Company’s Chief Scientific Officer. Dr. Sofia has over 30 years of research and development experience with several biotech and pharmaceutical companies, including Pharmasset, Inc. where he was responsible for the discovery of sofosbuvir, an approved drug which cures hepatitis C virus infection (HCV) and which ultimately resulted in the acquisition of Pharmasset by Gilead for $11 billion. Dr. Sofia has won numerous awards for his work in the field of antiviral therapy including the Lasker-Debakey Clinical Medical Research Award for his outstanding discovery, contribution, and achievement in the field of medicine, the prestigious Cameron Prize for Therapeutics from the University of Edinburg in recognition for his discovery of sofosbuvir and the Economist’s 2015 Innovation Award in the Bioscience category for developing a rapid cure for HCV. Prior to joining Arbutus, Dr. Sofia was one of OnCore’s co-founders and served as its Chief Scientific Officer and Head of Research and Development. He previously held the positions of Senior Vice-President, Chemistry at Gilead Sciences, Inc., Senior Vice-President, Chemistry at Pharmasset, Inc., Group Director, New Leads Chemistry at Bristol-Myers Squibb, and Vice President of Research at Transcell Technologies where he established and directed the research programs. Dr. Sofia received his B.A. degree from Cornell University, his Ph.D. degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and was an NIH postdoctoral fellow at Columbia University.

Michael Sofia Headshot Meet Michael

Michael J. Sofia PhD

Chief Scientific Officer

Co-founder, globally recognized antiviral drug discovery and development scientist and inventor of sofosbuvir, an approved drug which is the backbone curative therapy for hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection.

 

Karen Headshot Sqr

Karen Sims, MD, PhD

Chief Medical Officer

Dr. Karen Sims joined Arbutus in April 2017 and held positions of increasing seniority, including most recently as Vice President, Clinical Development, before being promoted to Chief Medical Officer. Dr. Sims is a board-certified infectious disease physician with more than 12 years of industry experience in conducting and overseeing early stage through global Phase 2 clinical trials. Prior to joining Arbutus, Dr. Sims held multiple positions during her seven-year tenure at Bristol-Myers Squibb (NYSE: BMY). Most recently she served as Medical Director in the Virology and Immunoscience therapeutic areas where she oversaw Phase 1 and 2 studies in the HCV direct-acting antiviral program and several HIV discovery programs, as well as support for HIV marketed products. Prior to joining BMS, Karen was an Attending Physician and Instructor in Medicine at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, with a focus on solid organ transplant infectious disease, HIV clinical care and translational research in lung transplantation. Dr. Sims obtained her BS in Biological Psychology at Bates College, her PhD in Neuroscience from the University of Pennsylvania, and received her MD from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. Karen completed her Internal Medicine and Infectious Diseases training at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.

Karen Headshot Sqr Meet

Karen Sims, MD, PhD

Chief Medical Officer

Highly accredited medical professional and board-certified infectious disease physician, with extensive experience leading clinical trials in the virology therapeutic area.

 

David C. Hastings

Chief Financial Officer

Mr. Hastings joined Arbutus in June 2018 and serves as the Company’s Chief Financial Officer. Mr. Hastings has more than 25 years of executive finance and operational experience with biotech and pharma companies in various stages of development, including commercial. Mr. Hastings spent the majority of his career at Incyte Corporation where he served as Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President. During his tenure, Mr. Hastings oversaw all financial aspects as Incyte transitioned from research and development to commercialization, following the launch of Jakafi® (ruxolitinib). Mr. Hastings also previously served as Vice President, Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer of ArQule Inc., where he played an important role in ArQule’s transition into a drug discovery and development organization, and its two strategic acquisitions, including the purchase of Cyclis Pharmaceuticals Inc. Mr. Hastings held prior executive and senior level financial positions at Sepracor, Inc. and Unilife Corporation (a medical device company). Mr. Hastings is a Board member and Chair of the Audit Committees of Scynexis, Inc., and VBL Therapeutics. Mr. Hastings received his BA from the University of Vermont.

David Hastings Headshot Meet David

David C. Hastings

Chief Financial Officer

Financially savvy life-sciences senior executive with companies spanning various stages of research, development, and commercialization.

 

Chris Headshot Sqr

Christopher Naftzger

General Counsel and Chief Compliance Officer

Mr. Naftzger joins Arbutus with more than 25 years of legal experience, including over a decade of experience serving as senior in-house counsel with life science companies. Most recently he served as Interim-CEO, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary of Nabriva Therapeutics (Nasdaq: NBRV), a commercial-stage antibiotic company, where over the course of 5 years he has held various roles including Vice President, Deputy General Counsel and Assistant Secretary. Mr. Naftzger has also served as General Counsel and Corporate Secretary of Krystal Biotech (Nasdaq: KRYS), an emerging-stage, gene therapy company and Vice President, General Counsel, Chief Compliance Officer, and Secretary of Unilife Medical Solutions, a developer and manufacturer of innovative drug delivery systems. He has held senior in-house counsel positions with Chesapeake Corporation and Koch Industries and was a corporate partner with Blank Rome LLP in Washington, DC. Mr. Naftzger obtained his undergraduate degree from Hampden-Sydney College and his law degree from the Willamette University College of Law.

Chris Headshot Sqr Meet Chris

Christopher Naftzger

General Counsel and Chief Compliance Officer

Lawyer with considerable experience successfully representing biotech and pharmaceutical companies for over two decades.

 

Lisa Caperelli

Vice President, Investor Relations

Ms. Caperelli joined Arbutus in September 2021 as Vice President Investor Relations. Ms. Caperelli has more than 20 years of demonstrated experience in leading investor communication strategies for publicly traded biotechnology companies. Prior to joining Arbutus, Lisa oversaw investor relations at Harmony Biosciences, where she assisted the company in its IPO and prepared the investment community for the companies launch of its first FDA approved product. Throughout her career, Ms. Caperelli held roles of increased responsibility in investor relations and corporate communications with several small- to mid-cap biotech companies at various stages of development including Marinus Pharmaceuticals, Advaxis, Inc., PolyMedix and Windtree Therapeutics, Inc. (formerly Discovery Labs). In these roles, Ms. Caperelli has been instrumental in providing strategic guidance, securing capital through various types of financings, and concisely communicating the company’s strategy, growth opportunities and business initiatives to key stakeholders. Ms. Caperelli holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Delaware Valley University. She is a board member of NIRI: The Association for Investor Relations and Advisors, immediate past president of the NIRI Philadelphia Chapter and a member of the Delaware Valley University President’s Advisory Council.

Lisa Caperelli Headshot Meet Lisa

Lisa Caperelli

Vice President, Investor Relations

Tenured communications leader with a strong track record guiding investor communications strategy for publicly traded biotechnology companies.

 

Shannon Briscoe, SPHR, SHRM-SCP

Vice President, Human Resources

Ms. Briscoe joined Arbutus in July 2021 and serves as Vice President, Human Resources.  Ms. Briscoe has more than 15 years of Human Resources generalist experience with the last 6 years spent in the life sciences industry. Throughout her career, she has focused on compensation & benefits, performance management, employee relations, training and development, recruitment, workers compensation, human resources information systems, diversity, equity and inclusion efforts, and ESG initiatives.  Prior to Arbutus, Ms. Briscoe was a member of the Human Resources team at Lannett Company, a leading manufacturer of pharmaceutical products, where she implemented and oversaw employee benefits and compensation for more than 1000 employees.  Additionally, her career has included HR roles of increasing responsibility with privately owned manufacturing and wholesale companies, and one of the largest school districts in Pennsylvania.  Ms. Briscoe holds a B.A. from University of Delaware, a Senior Professional in Human Resources Certificate, as well as a SHRM (Society for Human Resources) Senior Certified Professional Certificate.

Shannon Headshot Meet Shannon

Shannon Briscoe, SPHR, SHRM-SCP

Vice President, Human Resources

Experienced human resources professional with a strong history in the pharmaceutical industry.

 
Meet Our Board

Board

Get to know the impressive members of our Board of Directors.

Meet our Board of Directors

Meet Our Scientific Advisors

Scientific Advisors

Discover the scientists providing us their guidance and advisory.

Meet our Advisory board