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Leonard S. Schleifer

Leonard S. Schleifer's profile picture

Leonard Schleifer is the CEO of Regeneron

Noticing that the biotechnology company Genentech was conducting state-of-the-art research but not on diseases of the nervous system, Schleifer was determined to get into the biotechnology business.Choosing not to accept Gilman's efforts to recruit him as an academic, he found a sponsor in George Sing, a venture capitalist at Merrill Lynch, and obtained $1 million in seed capital. 

He also recruited George Yancopoulos, a 28-year-old scientist, to be his partner, and in 1988 they founded Regeneron Pharmaceuticals. After several years of trying to recruit research doctors many of whom preferred to work in academia or for large corporations, they developed their first drug to treat Lou Gehrig’s disease. It was a failure as was their second drug to treat obesity. Thereafter, they invited the former Merck & Co. CEO Roy Vagelos to be the chairman of their company and to help to turn the company around. He implemented two strategic changes; only invest in drugs in which the biology of the disorder is fully understood; and do not underestimate the importance of human testing to ensure that what works in the laboratory will also work in the real world.

Early Life

Leonard S. Schleifer born 1953 raised in a Jewish family, the son of Florence and Charles Baker Schleifer, in Queens, New York. His father was a sweater manufacturer and World War II codebreaker. He graduated with a B.S. from Cornell University and a MD-PhD from the University of Virginia where he studied under future Nobel Laureate, Alfred G. Gilman. He then worked at New York Hospital where he trained to become a neurologist and also served as a junior faculty member                             


  • graduated with a B.S. from Cornell University -
  • MD-PhD from the University of Virginia -


  • Regeneron Pharmaceuticals - CEO