Kewalramani Takes Helm at Vertex

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In the spring of 2020, nephrologist Reshma Kewalramani, MD, FASN, will assume the mantle of president and CEO of Vertex (Boston), a biotechnology company with revenues of $3.04 billion for fiscal year 2018. She will move up from her current position as executive vice president for global medicines development and medical affairs and chief medical officer at the company.

Kewalramani will follow Jeffrey Leiden, MD, PhD, who served in these roles for seven years and who oversaw hearty growth. According to, Vertex’s share price rose 360% and its sales doubled to just over $3 billion annually in fiscal year 2018. Revenues for 2018 increased 40% compared with fiscal year 2017.

Pharma and biotechnology reporters, including those at the Boston Globe, Medpage Today, and BioPharmaDive, issued headlines that noted Kewalramani is the first woman to head a top biotechnology company. She is also a founding member of the Kidney Health Initiative, a joint partnership between ASN and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Kewalramani received her MD from Boston University and trained at Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston.

Leiden will stay on in the role of executive chairman through the first quarter of 2023, the company reported, working closely with Kewalramani as projects develop.

While Leiden presided over the expansion of cystic fibrosis treatments, Kewalramani will continue to oversee expansion into the biology of rare diseases, including:

  • ■ Focal segmental glomerulosclerosis,

  • ■ Alpha-1 antitrypsin (AAT) deficiency (’s rare diseases site notes that 5% to 29% of people with the AAT deficiency have nephrotic syndrome and/or cirrhosis),

  • ■ Sickle cell disease and β-thalassemia, and

  • ■ Pain.