Dr. Francesco Bellini , Chair

Dr. Francesco Bellini is Chairman of BELLUS Health. Presently, Dr. Bellini is also Chairman of Picchio International and Executive Chairman of Klox Technologies; and until March 2009, he was Chairman of ViroChem Pharma – all life science companies.

From 1968 to 1984, Dr. Bellini had a fruitful career as a researcher at the Canadian subsidiary of a multinational pharmaceutical company. In 1984, he left to establish the biochemicals division of the Institut Armand-Frappier at the Université du Québec, from which, in 1986 he co-founded BioChem Pharma. He served as Chairman and CEO of Biochem Pharma, an innovative biopharmaceutical company focused in infectious diseases and cancer, until it was sold in 2001.

Born in 1947 in Ascoli Piceno, Italy, Francesco Bellini, CM, came to Canada in 1967. He received a Bachelor of Science degree from Concordia University in 1972, and a Doctorate in organic chemistry from the University of New Brunswick in 1977. Over the course of his career, Dr. Bellini authored or co-authored more than 30 patents and published numerous articles and papers based on his research.

In recognition of his contributions in the fields of entrepreneurship, research and development, Dr. Bellini has received the title of Cavaliere del Lavoro in 2005, the most prestigious honor granted by the Italian government to a non-resident. For his contribution to Canada and Quebec, he was named an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2000 and an Officer of the National Order of Quebec in 2004.

Dr. Bellini is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Montreal Heart Institute Foundation and the Italian Chamber of Commerce.

Roberto Bellini

Roberto Bellini has served as President and CEO of BELLUS Health since January 1, 2010.

Mr. Bellini previously oversaw the licensing and partnering activities of BELLUS Health Inc. His experience includes responsibility for the investment and operational activities of Picchio Pharma Inc., a joint venture healthcare investment firm owned by FMRC Family Trust and Power Technology Investment Corporation.

Mr. Bellini has broad ties in the community and has served on numerous fundraising committees for the following institutions: l’Institut du cancer de Montréal, the Sarah Cook Fund for the Cedars Cancer Institute, l’Institut de Gériatrie, le Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal and la Fondation Quebec Jeunes.

Mr. Bellini holds a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry from McGill University.

Dr. Youssef L. Bennani

Dr. Youssef L. Bennani joined the Board of BELLUS Health in May 2017.

Dr. Bennani is a pharmaceutical executive and is currently Chairman of the Board of Directors of Domain Therapeutics in France and Canada. From 2013 to 2017, Dr. Bennani was Site Head and Vice-President of R&D at Vertex Pharmaceuticals Canada Inc., a research and development company. From 2011 to 2013, Dr. Bennani was Vice-President R&D at Vertex Canada. He held various positions of increasing responsibility in pharmaceutical R&D for nearly 25 years, in the USA and Canada (namely working for Ligand Pharmaceuticals, Abbott Laboratories (now Abbvie), Athersys and Vertex Pharmaceuticals). Over this span, he worked in the fields of oncology, neurology, immunology and infection. In 2011 he received an honorary degree from the Université de Montréal for his contribution to Society.

His education consists of a Doctorate degree (PhD, ‘91) in chemistry from Université de Montréal and post-doctoral studies at The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California, as well as an Executive-MBA (2000) from LFGSM, in Chicago, Illinois. He is an accredited Director from the Institute of Corporate Directors (ICD.D) from McGill-Rotman Schools of Business.

Franklin M. Berger

Franklin M. Berger joined the Board of BELLUS Health in May 2010 bringing over 25 years of experience in capital markets and financial analysis.

Mr. Berger worked at Sectoral Asset Management as a senior portfolio manager on the buy-side and founder of the small-cap focused NEMO Fund from 2007 through June 2008. Mr. Berger was Managing Director, Equity Research and Senior Biotechnology Analyst for J. P. Morgan Securities from 1998 to 2003. During his years at J.P. Morgan he was involved with the issuance of over $12 billion in biotechnology company equity or equity-linked securities, including the Genentech initial public offering, the largest biotechnology financing to date. From 1997 to 1998, he served as a Director, Equity Research and Senior Biotechnology Analyst for Salomon Smith Barney. From 1991 to 1997, he served as a sell-side analyst for Josephthal & Co. The Wall Street Journal selected Mr. Berger as the No. 1 ranked biotechnology analyst in its All-Star Analyst Survey in 1997 and No. 2 ranked in the WSJ's 2000 Survey.

In 2002, Institutional Investor Magazine ranked him on J. P. Morgan's 3rd-placed All-Star Research Team.

Mr. Berger also serves on the Board of Directors of Five Prime Therapeutics, Immune Design Corp., ESSA Pharma and Proteostasis Therapeutics.

Mr. Berger received a B.A. in International Relations, an M.A. in International Economics from Johns Hopkins University and an M.B.A. from Harvard University. He is a Founding Fellow of the Biotechnology Study Center at New York University School of Medicine.

Dr. Clarissa Desjardins

Dr. Clarissa Desjardins joined the Board of BELLUS Health in September 2017.

Dr. Clarissa Desjardins founded Clementia Pharmaceuticals Inc. in 2011 and has served as the company’s chief executive officer since then. Prior to Clementia, she was CEO at the Centre d’excellence en médecine personnalisée (CEPMED), a Montreal-based federally and privately funded non-profit enterprise created to promote personalized medicine.

Dr. Desjardins is an award-winning entrepreneur with more than 18 years of biotechnology experience. She has founded three successful biotech companies, leading all aspects of company creation including conception and financing. She founded Advanced Bioconcept, a research reagent and diagnostics company sold to NEN Life Sciences (Perkin Elmer) in 1998. Dr. Desjardins also co-founded Caprion Pharmaceuticals, a biotechnology company focused on proteomic biomarker discovery and drug development, where she was executive vice-president of Corporate Development.

Dr. Desjardins is the recipient of the 2018 Bloom Burton Award for her contribution to Canada’s innovative healthcare industry, the BRIO award for outstanding contributions to the biotechnology industry from the Quebec Biotechnology Association and was named one of the top young Canadians likely to influence the future by the Globe and Mail. She has been a board member of numerous companies including the scientific advisory council of the Canadian Academy of Sciences.

Dr. Desjardins earned a doctorate in Neurology and Neurosurgery from McGill University’s Faculty of Medicine and was a Medical Research Council postdoctoral fellow at the Douglas Hospital Research Centre.

Chau Q. Khuong

Chau Q. Khuong joined the Board of BELLUS Health in December 2018.

Mr. Khuong is a Partner on the private equity team of OrbiMed. Over his venture capital career, Mr. Khuong has invested in drugs and therapeutic devices across a range of disease areas from oncology to infectious diseases to ophthalmology.  Prior to OrbiMed, he developed skills in start-up operations and business development at Veritas Medicine, Inc. and in basic immunology research at the Yale School of Medicine and Massachusetts General Hospital. 

Mr. Khuong holds a Bachelor of Science in molecular, cellular and developmental biology and Master of Public Health (MPH) with concentration in infectious disease, both from Yale University.

Pierre Larochelle

Pierre Larochelle has served as a Director of BELLUS Health since June 2009. Mr. Larochelle joined Power Corporation of Canada in March 2009 as Vice-President, Investments.

Prior to joining Power Corporation of Canada, Mr. Larochelle was President and Chief Executive Officer at Adaltis, a position he held between November 2003 and February 2009. Previously, he also held the positions of Vice-President, Business Development at Picchio Pharma Inc. and Vice-President, Mergers and Acquisitions for Credit Suisse First Boston in London, England. Mr. Larochelle started his career as a lawyer, at the Montreal offices of Ogilvy Renault.

Mr. Larochelle serves on the Board of Directors of Sagard Capital, Sagard SAS, Victoria Square Ventures and Lumenpulse Inc.

He holds a law degree from Université de Montréal, a masters degree in international business law from McGill University and a MBA degree from INSEAD in Fontainebleau, France.

Joseph Rus

Joseph Rus has served as a Director of BELLUS Health since June 2009.

Joseph Rus joined Shire Pharmaceuticals in 1999, following 25 years of experience with two major pharmaceutical companies in both Canadian and Global assignments. Working out of the Shire United Kingdom offices he was charged with establishing Shire’s European foothold. This was accomplished in 2000, with the acquisition of profitable companies in Germany, Italy, France and Spain. After the acquisition of Roberts Pharmaceuticals, he returned to Canada to manage the Canadian Operation. Subsequent to the Biochem acquisition, Mr. Rus moved to Montreal as President and CEO of Shire-Biochem in 2001. In the year 2002, Mr. Rus returned to the U.K. as Head of Shire’s International Operations (all countries except USA). Since that time, Mr. Rus also serves on Shire’s Executive Committee as well as the Portfolio Review Committee. In 2006 Mr. Rus was charged with the responsibility of establishing affiliates in the increasingly important Emerging Markets, and by 2009 affiliates were open in Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Russia, Australia and Japan. Additionally, the management of the Royalty Revenue Investment Portfolio and Intellectual Property Transition were managed out of Shire’s Dublin, Ireland Offices, under Mr. Rus’ leadership. During his tenure at Roche, Mr. Rus was responsible for the Canadian Pharmaceutical business (1994-1998), prior to this, between 1985 -1994 he assumed positions of increasing responsibility including Country Management from the Roche Headquarters in Basel, Switzerland. Germany, Italy, Greece, Portugal and later Canada delivered significant profitability levels to Roche on a revenue of $1.5 billion. In 1972, Mr. Rus began his career in Canada with Warner Lambert. Over the years, he acquired broad experience in the Pharmaceutical Industry, rising rapidly in positions of Sales Management, Marketing, Operations, Clinical Research and Business Development.

Mr. Rus is a Canadian Citizen, received his education in Romania, and is a Graduate of the Executive Marketing Program at the University of Western Ontario (Canada), as well as the International Program at the Institute of Management and Development of the University of Lausanne, Switzerland.

Mr. Rus is multi-lingual, speaking English, Romanian and Hungarian with a practical knowledge of French, Italian and German.

Previously, Mr. Rus was a member of the following Boards: Merus Labs International, ViroChem, Adaltis, United Way (Montreal), Shire Acquisition, Glaxo-Smith-Kline-Shire Canada Inc., Shire Italia S.P., Shire Pharmaceuticals Mexico SAdeCV, 3829359 Canada Inc. and Tanaud International BV.

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