Executive Chairman of the Board of Directors
Mr. Stewart has served as Achieve’s Chairman and as a director since Achieve was founded in May 2015. Mr. Stewart is also a founder and a director of Ricanto Limited, a pharmaceutical asset optimization company, since 2009. Mr. Stewart has been Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Renown Pharma Limited, a central nervous system company focused on Parkinson’s disease, since 2016. Prior to Achieve, Mr. Stewart was Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Huxley Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a single-purpose central nervous system company, during 2009, prior to Huxley Pharmaceuticals, Inc.’s acquisition by BioMarin Pharmaceutical Inc.
Mr. Stewart was Chief Executive Officer of Brabant Pharma Limited, a single-purpose central nervous system company, from 2013 to 2014 prior to Brabant Pharma’s acquisition by Zogenix Inc. He was a co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Amarin Corporation plc, a central nervous system company focused on Parkinson’s disease and Huntington’s disease, from 2000 to 2007. Mr. Stewart was a co-founder and Chief Financial Officer, and later Chief Business Officer, of SkyePharma plc, a drug delivery company specializing in controlled release formulations, and held such positions from 1995 to 1998. Mr. Stewart holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from the University of Bath.
Chief Executive Officer
Mr. John Bencich is an experienced financial executive who has spent over 20 years guiding financial and corporate strategy in the life sciences and technology industries. Before his appointment to Chief Executive Officer in 2020, Mr. Bencich served as Achieve Life Sciences Chief Financial and Operating Officer. Prior to joining Achieve Life Sciences in 2017, John served as CFO of OncoGenex Pharmaceuticals, a publicly traded biotechnology company. Before joining OncoGenex in 2014, John served as CFO of Integrated Diagnostics and Allozyne, both private VC-backed companies. Earlier he served as the CFO and Treasurer of Trubion Pharmaceuticals, a publicly traded biotechnology company where he helped complete the successful sale of the company to Emergent BioSolutions. Prior to his role at Trubion, he led the global financial operations for Onyx Software Corporation, a publicly traded software company through its sale to Battery Ventures. John started his career at Ernst & Young LLP. He graduated from the University of San Diego with a BA in Accounting, earned his MBA from Seattle University and was a Certified Public Accountant in the state of Washington for 17 years.
Cindy Jacobs, Ph.D., M.D.
President and Chief Medical Officer
Dr. Jacobs is an experienced executive in drug development with expertise in several indications and over 30 years’ experience in Biotechnology/Pharmaceutical industry. Dr. Jacobs has achieved regulatory success in several product approvals. Dr. Jacobs currently serves on the Board of Directors of Achieve Life Sciences, Inc., Pacylex Pharmaceuticals Inc., and HiberCell Inc. Prior to joining Achieve Life Sciences as Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer in 2017, Dr. Jacobs served as OncoGenex’s Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer since August 2008, and had been Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer of OncoGenex Technologies Inc. from September 2005 to August 2008. From 1999 to July 2005, Dr. Jacobs served as Chief Medical Officer and Senior Vice President, Clinical Development of Corixa Corporation. Prior to 1999, Dr. Jacobs held Vice President, Clinical Research positions at two other biopharmaceutical companies. Dr. Jacobs received her Bachelor’s degree in Microbiology from Montana State University, her Master’s degree and Ph.D. degree in Veterinary Pathology/Microbiology from Washington State University and an M.D. degree from the University of Washington Medical School. She has in-depth biotechnology experience in preclinical development, pharmacokinetic/drug metabolism studies, toxicology studies, clinical operations, Phase 1-4 trials in a variety of therapeutic areas, regulatory affairs, biostatistics, data management, medical information and quality assurance. Based on her preclinical work at Immunex Corporation, she is one of two inventors on the patent for Enbrel.
Bridget Martell, M.A., M.D.
Dr. Martell is a high impact, results-oriented scientific biotech executive with breadth and depth in clinical development, medical affairs, and business development across a range of therapeutic areas from first in human to approval and commercialization. Dr. Martell brings extensive scientific acumen to her leadership roles and has been a pivotal leader or major contributor in the success of six marketed products: Kadcyla®, Elelyso®, Intermezzo®, the trastuzumab biosimilars Ogiviri®, as well as secondary indications for Pradaxa® and Sutent®. Dr. Martell is currently President and CEO of Artizan Biosciences, Inc. and an independent Director for Aligos Therapeutics. She has held leadership and C-suite executive roles at companies including Kura Oncology, Juniper Pharmaceuticals. She started her pharma career at Pfizer, where she had roles of increasing responsibility that included Clinical Team Leader for Sutent® GU solid tumors in the Oncology Business Unit and ultimately Biosimilars Medical Head. She began her clinical investigation career at Yale with a Career Development Award where she led a therapeutic cocaine vaccine trial and in the Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholar Program. She was a practicing physician at Yale for 20 years and remains active as an Entrepreneur in Residence at the Office of Cooperative Research. Dr. Martell holds a B.Sc. in Microbiology from Cornell University, an M.A. in Molecular Immunology from Boston University, and an M.D. from The Chicago Medical School. She is board certified in both Internal and Addiction Medicine.
Vaughn B. Himes, Ph.D.
Vaughn B. Himes, Ph.D. served as Chief Technical Officer at Seagen, Inc. from August 2016 to December 2023. Dr. Himes joined Seagen as Executive Vice President, Technical Operations in April 2009 and served as Executive Vice President, Technical Operations and Process Science from July 2012 until August 2016. Previously, Dr. Himes was with ZymoGenetics, Inc. from November 2005 to March 2009, most recently as Senior Vice President, Technical Operations where his responsibilities included commercial and clinical manufacturing, supply chain and logistics, quality control and process development. From March 2003 to October 2005, he was Vice President, Manufacturing at Corixa, Inc. Prior to that, he held Vice President positions in manufacturing and development at Targeted Genetics and Genovo, Inc. Dr. Himes received a B.A. in Chemistry from Pomona College in California and a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Minnesota.
Mr. Stuart Duty is an experienced financial executive with over 30 years in finance and investment banking building leading healthcare teams on multiple platforms with a history of substantial growth in both revenue and personnel. Mr. Duty has focused primarily on biotechnology and specialty pharmaceuticals clients for much of his career, advising senior executives and boards on a range of financing activities and strategic transactions. His advisory activities spanned a global client base including significant in-country and cross-border transactions in the US, Japan, China, Canada and many European countries. Mr. Duty was a Senior Managing Director at Guggenheim Securities, LLC from 2012 to 2023. Previously, he held senior roles at Piper Jaffray and Montgomery Securities. Mr. Duty also held operating roles at Oracle Partners as Chief Operating Officer and at Curative Technologies as Director, Business Development. He began his career at Kidder Peabody. Mr. Duty holds a B.A. in Biochemistry from Occidental College and an M.B.A from Harvard Business School.
Mr. Thomas King has served as an independent biotechnology consultant and advisor since August 2016. Mr. King served as a member of the board of directors of VIVUS, Inc., a publicly traded pharmaceutical company, from May 2017 to December 2020, serving as interim Chief Executive Officer from December 2017 to April 2018 and interim President from April 2018 to May 2018. Previously, Mr. King served as President, Chief Executive Officer and a member of the board of directors of Alexza Pharmaceuticals, Inc. from June 2003 until it was acquired by Grupo Ferrer in August 2016. From October 2015 to August 2016, Mr. King also served as Chief Financial Officer and Chief Accounting Officer of Alexza Pharmaceuticals, Inc. From September 2002 to April 2003, Mr. King served as President, Chief Executive Officer and a member of the board of directors of Cognetix, Inc., a biopharmaceutical development stage company. From January 1994 to February 2001, Mr. King held various senior executive positions at Anesta Corporation, including President and Chief Operating Officer from January 1995 to January 1997 and President and Chief Executive Officer from January 1997 to October 2000, and was a member of the board of directors from January 1995 until it was acquired by Cephalon, Inc., Mr. King currently serves on the board of directors of TFF Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a publicly-traded biopharmaceutical company and Kinaset Therapeutics, Inc. and Concentric Analgesics, Inc., both privately-held biopharmaceutical companies. Mr. King received a B.A. in chemistry from McPherson College and an M.B.A. from the University of Kansas Graduate School of Business.
Mr. Tom Sellig brings more than 30 years of global experience in the life sciences and pharmaceutical services industries. He is currently CEO of Adare Pharma Solutions, a global technology-driven Contract Development and Manufacturing Organization specializing in oral solid dosage forms. From 2019 to 2021 Tom served as Chief Executive Officer of LabConnect, a clinical trial laboratory services organization. Prior to LabConnect, Tom was Chief Commercial Officer at ConnectiveRx, where he was responsible for all commercial and customer-facing activity at the patient support and patient access company. Earlier, Tom was Senior Vice President of Global Sales at Patheon, where he played an integral role in the company’s sale to and integration with Thermo Fisher. Previously, he served as the Global Vice President of Sales and Client Services at Covance. Early in his career, Tom had a variety of sales and marketing leadership roles at Procter & Gamble, American Home Products, and Ascent Pediatrics. Tom received his bachelor’s degree in Economics from Vanderbilt University and an MBA from New York University.