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John Monahan Director Cellix.jpg



An experienced CEO-level executive of biotech companies focused on gene medicine and pharmaceutical companies with biotechnology research departments, John also currently sits on the boards of a number of private biotech companies.

In 1992, John founded Avigen, a biotech company that pioneered the development of gene medicines based on AAV vectors, which he spearheaded to become an industry standard. Over a 12 year period as CEO of Avigen, he took the company public, raised over $235 million, and led the company through a number of gene medicine Investigational New Drug applications.

Born and raised in County Kildare, John was scientifically inclined from an early age, winning Ireland’s first ever Young Scientist Exhibition in 1965, and later earning a B.S. from University College Dublin before emigrating to Canada for his Ph.D. and later the U.S. where he would spend his career in the biotech industry.

Prior to Avigen, John directed numerous biotech and pharmaceutical research, preclinical and clinical programs at various institutions: 

  • VP R&D at Somatix Therapy Corp., Alameda, CA (now Cell Genesys) for 3 years.  Cell Genesys merged with BioSante in 2009 in a deal worth $38M.

  • Director of Molecular and Cell Biology at Triton Biosciences Inc., Alameda, CA (now Berlex Laboratories) for 4 years.  Berlex was acquired by Bayer in 2006.

  • Research Group Chief, Department of Molecular Genetics, Roche.

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