Leonard Dragone



Leonard Dragone

Leonard Dragone

VP, Head of Early Clinical Development, Infectious Diseases


Why I'm a JPAL

I value the bridge between discovery and clinical development and I see JPAL as a way to share my passion and experience.


Effective January 7, 2019, Leonard L. Dragone, M.D., Ph.D., joined as the Vice President and Head of Early Clinical Development, Infectious Diseases and Vaccines at our South San Francisco (SSF), CA site.

Lenny leads the early clinical development team with a focus on the advancement of both small and large molecules through early clinical studies.

Lenny received his MD, PhD from the University of Rochester. He then completed his Pediatric residency and Pediatric Rheumatology Fellowship training at University of California San Francisco (UCSF), and a research fellowship in the ubiquitin regulation of lymphocyte signaling in the laboratory of Arthur Weiss at UCSF. Prior to working in the biotech industry, Lenny advanced up the academic ranks to Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Immunology at the University of Colorado and National Jewish Health in Denver Colorado. He saw patients in pediatric rheumatology clinic and had an NIH funded laboratory publishing over 30 peer-reviewed publications. Lenny transitioned to the biotech industry in 2013 as a Medical Director in early clinical development at Genentech. He led and coordinated multiple cross-functional project teams with emphasis on IND filing and achieving proof-of-concept through Ph.2b for indications including multiple sclerosis, psoriasis, influenza, rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. He mentored and supervised physicians, clinical scientists and research fellows. He developed a Phase 2b program entitled "A Study of the Safety and Efficacy of GDC-0853 in participants with Moderate to Severe Active Systemic Lupus Erythematosus” which is ongoing and recently fully enrolled with results expected in 2019. Lenny also created and ran an integrated clinical informatics team that worked at the interface of research, biomarker discovery and clinical investigation. Within a year of establishing the group, it generated 6 abstracts, one peer reviewed publication and 3 oral presentations at international conferences.

Lenny was then recruited in 2017 to Merck research laboratories (MRL) SSF as Senior Director of Experimental Medicine and Translational Pharmacology. He was the clinical site lead and the therapeutic area lead for Autoimmunity, Inflammation and Ophthalmology (AIO). In that capacity, Lenny was responsible for early clinical development of the AIO pipeline through Phase 2a, contributing to pipeline strategy and prioritization. He also engaged in the review of greater than 100 business development opportunity. Lenny coached, supervised and mentored numerous physicians, clinical and discovery scientists. He also created a new experimental medicine clinical trials group for use across the Merck network. In 18 months, the team vetted over 30 projects and developed 8 experimental medicine studies across cardiovascular, metabolic, autoimmunity and inflammation indications. Furthermore, Lenny represented Merck on multiple industrial and academic collaborations/consortia and he was a member of senior leadership involved in pipeline prioritization, promotions and talent reviews. Lenny continues to stay clinically active, seeing patients as a volunteer faculty at the UCSF Pediatric Rheumatology Fellows clinic. He works with the American College of Rheumatology and Rheumatology Research Foundation serving on both the communications and innovative grant reviewer committees.


"With great power comes great responsibility."


Fun fact:

I studied opera for 7 years and attended the University of Rochester and Eastman School of Music -I choose science.