New leaders join VCU Engineering’s Medicines for All Institute

From left: From left: Marianne Vermeer, M.B.A.; Kai Donsbach, Ph.D.; Rajappa Vaidyanathan, Ph.D.
From left: From left: Marianne Vermeer, M.B.A.; Kai Donsbach, Ph.D.; Rajappa Vaidyanathan, Ph.D.

The Medicines for All Institute (M4ALL), based in the Virginia Commonwealth University College of Engineering, is expanding its efforts to improve access to health care across two divisions — one for global health and one for domestic initiatives — and has hired new executives to lead each.

The institute’s global health division is moving ahead with its technology transfer process in Africa.

To lead these efforts, Rajappa Vaidyanathan, Ph.D., who led Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Chemical Development and Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient (API) Supply group in India since 2012, has recently joined as chief operating officer of M4ALL’s global health division.

Vaidyanathan’s 20 years of experience in diverse facets of drug development include a postdoctoral fellowship at Eli Lilly and a position leading interdisciplinary teams in the Chemical Research and Development group at Pfizer. There, he worked to develop innovative and sustainable processes for new chemical entities, including three that were commercialized as approved drugs.

As M4ALL’s global reach continues to grow, the institute is also part of a major domestic initiative. It is partnering with Richmond-based Phlow Corp. to manufacture active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) for critical and short-supply medications in the U.S.

Kai Donsbach, Ph.D., who has led the global research and development organization of PharmaZell in Raubling, Germany, since 2015, will soon be joining M4ALL as chief operating officer of the federal division. Donsbach, who worked at the Boehringer Ingelheim plant in Petersburg, Virginia, as a development manager and production director from 2003 to 2008, brings more than 20 years of experience in research, development and production for active pharmaceutical ingredients and pharmaceutical formulations.

In addition to his experience at Boehringer Ingelheim, which included launching a new diabetes drug worldwide, he served as managing director for DSM Pharma Chemicals based in Linz, Austria, where he also oversaw sites in Venlo, the Netherlands, and in Regensburg, Germany.

In July, Marianne Vermeer, M.B.A., joined as chief financial and administrative officer for the organization.

Vermeer’s professional background includes investment and operational experience in the U.S., South Asia and East Africa. At the senior executive level, she has worked in a variety of sectors such as pharmaceutical research and development, health care, higher education, education technology, economic development and international children’s welfare.

Vermeer has also served as a consultant for community development financial institutions and health care companies in advisory and interim operational roles.

“We are pleased to have Kai, Vaidy and Marianne join the M4ALL team. They bring expertise and global connections that expand M4ALL’s capacity to improve access to critical medicines,” said B. Frank Gupton, Ph.D., CEO of the institute. “We look forward to having them help M4ALL create new opportunities to grow our impact.”

New executives at M4ALL

Rajappa Vaidyanathan, Ph.D.
M4ALL Chief Operating Officer, Global Health Division

Education: Ph.D. from University of California, Irvine

Industry experience: More than 20 years of experience including with Pfizer and Bristol-Myers Squibb, where he headed the chemical development and active pharmaceutical ingredient supply group.

Kai Donsbach, Ph.D.
M4ALL Chief Operating Officer, Federal Division

Education: Ph.D. from Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, Germany

Industry experience: More than 20 years, including as chief technology officer at PharmaZell GmbH, Germany.

Marianne Vermeer, M.B.A.
M4ALL Chief Financial and Administrative Officer

Education: M.B.A. from Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania

Industry experience: Investment and operational experience in the U.S., South Asia and East Africa; consultant and adviser for Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) and health care companies.