M. Nixon "Nick" Ellis, PhD, MBA Bio:

Our first speaker, Dr. Nick Ellis, is an experienced medical virologist. He received his MS, and PhD from the Department of Medical Microbiology in the School of Veterinary Medicine at The University of Georgia. While in graduate school Dr. Ellis was a Research Assistant in the Department of Avian Medicine, and worked extensively with the Avian Coronavirus, known as Infectious Bronchitis Virus (IBV). In chickens IBV causes an acute bronchitis, and is a major cause of upper respiratory problems in broiler chickens. For many years, chickens have been protected from IBV by vaccination.


Upon receiving his PhD in 1980, Ellis joined The Wellcome Research Labs as a Post-Doctoral Fellow in the laboratory of Infectious Diseases. He was a key part of the team that developed the anti-herpes drug, Acyclovir, and was also involved with the discovery and development of AZT. In 1992 Ellis decided upon a career move, leaving the lab to earn an MBA from The Kenan Flagler School of Business at UNC. While still at Wellcome, Ellis worked in business development, and marketing  at their headquarters in London.


After Glaxo took over The Wellcome Foundation in 1995, Ellis along with several former Wellcome scientists founded Triangle Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (TPI), and took it public in 1996. Gilead Sciences, Inc. the developers of the anti-COVID19 drug, Remdesivir, bought TPI in 2003. Since the sale of TPI, Ellis has been the CEO of several venture-backed start-ups developing peptide anti-virals. The COVID19 outbreak represents Ellis’s first experience as a spectator in a fight with a virus- for the others he was in the ring !

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