Our Team

The Apjohn Group teamThe Apjohn Group has combined, more than 250 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry, covering all phases of the drug development process from discovery to commercialization. Further, we have extensive global networks of contacts and additional resources to enhance our capabilities. Our approach is to choose from this constellation of capabilities the most appropriate expertise for each project. We value highly the ability to work collaboratively, with each other and with innovators, to bring ideas from vision to reality.

Donald R. Parfet
Managing Director

Don received his BA degree in economics from the University of Arizona in 1975 and his M.B.A. degree in finance from the University of Michigan in 1977. Don is a retired executive from Pharmacia having worked for many years with two legacy companies: The Upjohn Company and Pharmacia & Upjohn. In addition to his duties with the Apjohn Group and Apjohn Ventures, Don serves as a Board Member of Kelly Services, Inc. (KELYA), Masco Corp. (MAS), Rockwell Automation (ROK) and until recently Sierra Oncology, Inc (SRRA).Don is a trustee and Chairman of the Board of the W. E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, trustee and past Chairman of the Board of Bronson Healthcare Group and trustee and past Board Chair of the Kalamazoo College.

Eli L. Thomssen
Associate Director

Eli Thomssen was a founding principal of the Apjohn Group and has been involved in varying degrees with all the companies the Apjohn Group has started. Eli was the founding CEO of Armune BioScience, Inc. and lead Armune through the development of prostate cancer diagnostic assay. Eli stepped aside when the new CEO was hired to commercialize the assay. Prior to forming Armune BioScience, Eli was a co-founder of Azenic Dental, and prior to forming Azenic, Eli was a co-founder and Chief Business Officer of Afmedica, Inc. until this company was sold to Angiotech Pharmaceuticals. Eli has also held board positions with numerous companies and organizations including Armune, ProNAi, Azenic Dental, Vestaron and the Michigan Maritime Museum. Eli spent most of his career in the pharmaceutical industry before becoming a founding principal of the Apjohn Group. His last position was at Pharmacy & Upjohn Animal Health where he as the Vice President, Business Development, and Strategic Planning. While at Pharmacy & Upjohn Animal Health, Eli held a variety of marketing and administrative positions including sales management, product management, productions planning, distribution, and customer services. The business development position at Pharmacy & Upjohn encompassed worldwide merger and acquisition and technology licensing. Eli lead each team that was responsible for identifying opportunities, valuing the business, conducting due diligence, finalizing all agreements and organizing the integration teams. This responsibility including acquiring and selling businesses, and both in-licensing and out-licensing of technology.

Eli has a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Nebraska and an MBA from Western Michigan University.

Phillip C. Carra
General Partner

Phil's career spans 34 years in the pharmaceutical industry, primarily in the area of corporate affairs and public relations, that includes government relations, media relations, policy analysis, company communications and community relations programs on a global basis. His most recent position before joining the Apjohn Group in 2004 was as Vice President, Public Affairs and Kalamazoo Site Executive at Pfizer. During his career, Phil has held a number of board positions with industry and professional associations in Europe and the U.S., including the National Association of Manufacturers, the Public Affairs Council, and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation's Life Sciences Steering Committee. He is currently a managing director at the Southwest Michigan Innovation Center

David Esposito
General Partner

David is a seasoned healthcare executive and combat veteran who has built and scaled multiple healthcare companies resulting in successful exits to strategic buyers.  Most recently, David served as CEO of Armune Biosciences, an early commercial stage cancer diagnostics company.  After the successful introduction of the only cancer specific non-PSA blood test available in the world to assess the risk of prostate cancer, growing demand to over 15,000 tests, and making progress on a pipeline of products, Armune gained the interest of numerous strategic buyers and closed a deal with Exact Sciences in December of 2017 to acquire the core assets of the business.

Prior to leading Armune, David served as President of Phadia US Inc., a division of Phadia AB, a premier global specialty diagnostics company.  He lead several initiatives to accelerate growth which culminated in the sale to Thermo Fisher Scientific for $3.5 B in 2011.

Before joining Phadia, David spent 16 years at Merck & Co, Inc., starting his career in sales and progressing through leadership roles in sales, Marketing and commercial strategy.

David has a B.S in Civil Engineering from the United States Military Academy at West Point and an MBA from Syracuse University

M. Holly Folk, CPA
General Partner

Holly has 35 years of financial experience in the pharmaceutical industry, encompassing both large pharmaceutical and small biotech perspectives. Holly began her career in the public accounting sector with Peat, Marwick & Mitchell Certified Public Accountants. She 25 years in large pharma (Upjohn, Pharmacia, Pfizer), focusing on project valuation and business development, developing financial structures and negotiating financial terms of more than one hundred business development agreement. She provided financial oversight to the prioritization and integration of the Upjohn, Pharmacia, and Searle R&D development pipelines.

In 2003 Holly assumed the position of CFO of Afmedica, Inc., a biotech start-up co-founded by the Apjohn Group, which was subsequently purchased by Angiotech Pharmaceuticals. Holly currently provides financial consulting on product in-licensing and out-licensing to numerous start-up pharmaceutical companies and holds several board and officer positions in biotech and pharmaceutical services companies.

Charles M. Hall, Ph.D.
General Partner

Charles has more than 30 years of experience in all phases of drug discovery, development and registration at Pharmacia Corporation and its predecessor companies Pharmacia & Upjohn and The Upjohn Company. During his career at these companies, he held management positions of increasing responsibility in drug discovery and development. Most recently he served as Vice President, Product Development for CNS and Infectious Disease products with accountability for the worldwide development and registration of products in these therapeutic areas. He led the multidisciplinary team that was accountable for the successful worldwide registration of Zyvox (linezolid), the first truly novel antibiotic in over 30 years.

Charles received his undergraduate degree in chemistry from The University of the South in Sewanee, TN and a Ph.D. in organic chemistry at the University of Minnesota. He was a Public Health Service Postdoctoral Fellow at the Institute für Organische Chemie in Munich, Germany.

Douglas R. Morton, Jr., Ph.D.
General Partner 

Doug holds an A.B. degree from Kenyon College (Chemistry) and a Ph.D. degree in Organic Chemistry from Columbia University.  He completed postdoctoral studies in organic synthesis at Stanford University. He has 43 years’ experience in the pharmaceutical industry, including large and smaller companies.  He joined the Upjohn Company as a research scientist in 1973, remaining through mergers with Pharmacia AB, Monsanto and Pfizer where he held multiple positions in management including the Pharmacia Corporation’s Group Vice President, Technology Acquisitions & Operations for Discovery Research. Doug previously served on the Board of Directors of TissueInformatics, Icoria (formerly Paradigm Genetics), TCH Pharma, NanoMed Pharmaceuticals, NephRx Corporation, and Tolera Therapeutics. He is currently a board member of Renovo Neural and Tetra Discovery and is a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of Cirius Therapeutics. Doug has also served as a member of the Scientific Advisory Board and Management Committee of the Southwest Michigan First Life Science Fund as well as chairman of the Scientific Advisory Board of Metabolic Solutions Development Company. Doug currently serves as chair of Hopen Life Science Venture’s Scientific and Medical Advisory Board and is also a member of the Fund’s Investment Committee.

David P. Marra
General Partner

David is an independent life science consultant.  He brings over 35 years of marketing and commercial experience in pharmaceutical therapeutics and diagnostics across the human and animal health arenas.  During his career with Upjohn, Pharmacia, GE Healthcare, Shionogi USA, Pfizer Animal Health and Radius Health, Inc., he has led numerous marketing, sales and commercial business initiatives ranging in size from $450 - $750 million with new product launches, strategic planning, business development and lifecycle management across multiple phases the product development pathway.   

Additionally, he has broad experience across therapeutic areas in critical care, asthma and inflammation, central nervous system disorders, cardiovascular disease, migraine, pediatrics and women’s health.  At GE Healthcare, as Vice President and Global Head of Marketing, he oversaw the marketing of in-line diagnostic contrast media products and the management of upstream diagnostic compounds in the areas of pulmonary embolism and deep vein thrombosis, COPD, liver fibrosis, endometriosis and other inflammatory indications.  Subsequently, as Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Shionogi USA, he directed the construct and implementation of a commercial organization for the company’s start-up U.S. office.  Most recently he contributed to R&D efforts in the growth of a start-up Biotech Company as Program Lead and Director, Market Development for a phase II Women’s Health clinical program.

He is a graduate of Loyola Marymount University at Los Angeles, CA, with a B.Sc. degree in Biology and Pre-medicine.

Jack R. Luderer, M.D.
Founding Partner

Dr. Luderer has extensive experience in both the pharmaceutical industry and higher education. While in the pharmaceutical industry he held a series of executive positions at The Upjohn Company and Pharmacia. He has a global experience involving all phases of clinical research and pharmaceutical product development encompassing multiple IND and NDA filings. He served as Vice-President for Clinical Development and Vice-President for U.S. Medical Affairs during his last positions at Pharmacia. He also has a decade of experience with pharmaceutical startups including serving as founder and Executive Director of the Biosciences Research & Commercialization Center, which provides venture investing to start-up pharmaceutical and medical device companies. He has held interim management positions and board level positions in several pharmaceutical startups and is a Founding Partner of The Apjohn Group.

Dr. Luderer has also held academic appointments in the Departments of Medicine and Pharmacology at the Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine and the clinical faculty at The Michigan State University College of Medicine. In the last decade, he has held several positions at Western Michigan University. Most recently, he has been actively involved in the formation of the Western Michigan University School of Medicine where he served as Interim Dean and the first employee of the school. Following the hiring of a Founding Dean he now serves as the Associate Dean for Research at the School of Medicine. Prior to that, he served as Vice-President for Research for the University.

Dr. Luderer received his medical degree from Northwestern University School of Medicine. He also holds a Masters Degree in Chemistry and is Board Certified in both Internal Medicine and Clinical Pharmacology.

Peter R. Seaver
Founding Partner

Pete is a pharmaceutical industry consultant. He recently was President of the Health Care Group at Kaleidoscope Television, a cable channel and healthcare information company devoted to health, wellness and ability programming and information. Pete's 30-year business career with Pharmacia & Upjohn began soon after his discharge as First Lieutenant from the U.S. Army Medical Service Crops following completion of a tour of duty in Vietnam. Pete joined The Upjohn Company as a pharmaceutical salesman and progressed through sales and sales management positions. He has held positions as Executive Director of Domestic Pharmaceutical Marketing and Vice President of Pharmaceutical Marketing Operations. He was appointed a Corporate Officer and Vice President of Worldwide Pharmaceutical Marketing in January 1989 and in June of 1992 was appointed Corporate Vice President of Worldwide Strategic Marketing.

Pete joined the Board of Directors of the National Pharmaceutical Council in 1987 and served as Chairman in 1993. In addition, he serves on the University of Arizona Pharmacy School National Advisory Board, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores Advisory Board, the Board of Directors of Barr Laboratories, as well as the Board of Nelson Information Systems. He is a member of the Board of Fellows of the Harvard School of Dental Medicine.

Pete is a graduate of Bowdoin College, Brunswick, Maine, with a BA Degree in Biology.

Joseph T. Sobota, M.D.
Founding Partner

For the past 15 years, Joe has been involved in entrepreneurial activities with startup companies as a founder, board member, executive and consultant. In that time period, Joe served as CEO of Rubicon Genomics, President & COO of Biopure and Executive VP and COO of Chugai-Upjohn. Coupled with his startup background is his 25-year career at the Upjohn Company, a large pharmaceutical corporation, where he had responsibilities in R & D and general management, covering all major aspects of the pharmaceutical business from compound discovery, clinical development to product launch. His passion is the identification and conversion of world-class innovations and discoveries to commercial reality.

Joe received an A. B. in chemistry from Drew University and an M.D. from Georgetown. Post M.D. residencies were served at Tulane and NIH. He is board certified in anatomic and clinical pathology and has held faculty appointments as Visiting Professor of Pathology at Dartmouth Medical School and as Adjunct Professor of Medicine at Northwestern University School of Medicine.

Robert Forgey
General Partner

Bob is a seasoned pharmaceutical development executive and entrepreneur who has founded therapeutics companies resulting in one case an IPO. Most recently, Bob is the Vice President Operations for ONL Therapeutics, a clinical stage ocular neuroprotection company housed in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Previously, Bob was co-founder, president and COO of ProNAi therapeutics an oncology therapeutics company, now traded as Sierra Oncology on the NASDAQ.

Prior to ONL, Bob lead corporate engagement at the University of Chicago. There he successfully doubled corporate engagement on the campus. This growth came as a mix of increased philanthropy and dramatically increased sponsored research.

Bob has a M.S in Biology from the University of North Dakota and an MBA from Olin School of Business at Washington University in St. Louis.

Sheri St. Clair, R.Ph.
General Partner

Sheri's responsibilities at the Apjohn Group include overseeing the evaluation and diligence processes associated with the review of early-stage life science opportunities. She has 30 years of multidisciplinary experience in the pharmaceutical industry, including the areas of quality assurance, pharmacovigilance, regulatory affairs and project management. Most recently, Sheri managed the worldwide development of new chemical entities and product line extensions, assuring that their successful development and registration aligned with corporate strategies and agreed timelines. She also led multiple-disciplinary teams that performed due diligence evaluations of in-licensing candidates.

Sheri holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Pharmacy from the University of Nebraska.

Wendy Van Peenan

Wendy has served as the Controller of the Apjohn Group since its inception.  She has more than 30 years of financial experience and has been involved in the accounting set-up for all of the Apjohn Group portfolio companies.

Wendy is a graduate of Duke University with a BA degree in Economics.  Wendy has served as Chair of the YWCA of Kalamazoo and is a member of the Development Committee; she is also on the Finance Committee of Aacorn.





Apjohn Group • 350 E. Michigan Ave., Suite 500 • Kalamazoo, Michigan 49007 • 269-349-8999