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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Prabhavathi Fernandes, Ph.D.

National Preparedness and Response Science Board Member

Dr. Prabhavathi Fernandes has a wealth of experience in drug discovery and development. She did her undergraduate training in India, worked at the University of Ghent, Belgium in Immunochemistry and then received her doctor of microbiology from The Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia. After her Ph.D, and post-doctoral fellowships, she chose a career focused on anti-infectives, first in clinical microbiology and infectious diseases and then in pharmaceutical discovery and development. She has more than 35 years of pharmaceutical discovery, development and management experience. In January 2006, she founded Cempra, Inc. and served as President and Chief Executive Officer and a Member of the Board of Directors and after a decade as its leading executive and scientist, took retirement in 2016. In 2012, she led the initial public offering and listing on Nasdaq for Cempra, and has successfully raised over half a billion dollars to date for the company, and taking its first antibacterial product candidate, solithromycin, from the bench to submission of the NDA with the plan to launch the product in the U.S. and Europe. She has a broad international network of scientists and licensed solithromycin in Japan to Photograph of Dr. Prabhavathi Fernandes
Toyama/Fujifilm. In addition, she obtained funding from BARDA, the biodefense arm of Health and Human Services in the U.S. and NIAID for the development of solithromycin for use in biodefense and other infections. Prior to Cempra, Dr. Fernandes held executive leadership positions at pharmaceutical corporations including Bristol-Myers Squibb Pharmaceutical Research Institute where she was a vice-president in Drug Discovery, Abbott Laboratories, where she was the leader of Antiinfective Discovery and The Squibb Institute for Medical Research, where she conducted key research on the first monobactam antibiotic, aztreonam. During these years she was directly involved in the development of antibiotics, four of which have been approved with one, clarithromycin, achieving sales over a billion dollars. After leaving Bristol-Myers Squibb in 1997, she founded and led three biotechnology and CRO companies and was President and Chief Executive Officer of DarPharma, Ricerca and Small Molecule Therapeutics. Dr. Fernandes has served on the U.S. Congressional Panel for Assessment of Impact of Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria and on the American Society for Microbiology Advisory Panel for Antibiotic Resistance. She has worked on policy matters to help in combating antibiotic resistance with IDSA and the Anti-infective Working Group. She serves on the editorial board of several journals, was a member of the Product Development working group for Biodefense for the NIAID, and was an Advisory Board Member of Optimer Pharmaceuticals, Inc. as well as the Supervisory Board of GPC Biotech. At Optimer she was involved with the development of fidaxomicin. She is currently on the Supervisory Board of Curetis a European based, publically traded, molecular diagnostic company. She has authored over 250 publications and several reviews and book chapters.

National Preparedness and Response Science Board

For further questions or comments on the National Biodefense Science Board, please contact us via the National Preparedness and Response Science Board Contact Form.

  • This page last reviewed: January 23, 2017