LA JOLLA, CA—Eric Zwisler, former President and Chairman of Cardinal Health China, has been elected Chairman of the Board of Directors of La Jolla Institute for Immunology. He will assume his role effective May 31, 2019.
“I am deeply moved by the confidence put in me by Institute colleagues on the Board to be named the fifth chair of LJI’s Board of Directors,” says Zwisler. “La Jolla Institute is one of the elite immunology focused research organizations in the world and I am honored to serve in this role at this important time in the Institute’s history.”
“As we celebrate our thirtieth anniversary, we have already made many critical breakthroughs such as enabling research on a vaccine to prevent heart disease, identifying multiple ways to activate cancer fighting immune cells within the body, and finding vaccines that will bestow lifetime immunity against global threats,” added Zwisler. “And I believe with the robust pipeline of further discoveries under investigation by LJI’s twenty-three faculty members, LJI is well positioned to bring even more groundbreaking ideas forward as we move further toward our mission of a creating a Life Without Disease.”
Zwisler succeeds John Major, who had served as chairman of the board since 2010 and guided the expansion of the Board of Directors as well as the board’s responsibilities to include increasing La Jolla Institute’s mission.
Under Major’s leadership, the Institute’s number of laboratories, number of employees and organizational revenue all grew by over 40 percent and several drug candidates entered clinical trials. While strengthening its relationship with long-term corporate partner Kyowa Kirin research, LJI greatly expanded its commercial sponsored research agreements with other pharmaceutical companies, attracted its first multimillion-dollar philanthropic gifts, and developed a new and deeper alliance with UC San Diego. Through these efforts, La Jolla Institute cemented its standing as one of the top-ranked immunology institutes worldwide. Major will stay on as Chairman Emeritus.
After joining the Institute’s board of directors in 2014, Zwisler quickly became deeply involved with the Institute and previously chaired the compensation committee, served on the executive, audit and finance committees and led the Institute’s strategic planning initiative.
“We are thrilled and extremely fortunate to have Eric agree to serve as Chair of the Board,” says Mitchell Kronenberg, Ph.D., President and Chief Scientific Officer. “Eric has been a determined and a widely respected leader within the health care industry, who broke new ground in Asia. He brings that same passion and determination to La Jolla Institute and we are looking forward to breaking new ground together as we move more of our discoveries into clinical development and ultimately to patients.”
Zwisler was involved in healthcare businesses in Asia and particularly China for over 30 years. In 1994, he established the China business for Zuellig Pharma Asia Pacific, a groundbreaking healthcare distribution company, and rose to CEO of Zuellig Pharma Asia Pacific, leading a multibillion-dollar company with 8,000 employees in 15 Asian countries.
In 2010, Zwisler sold Zuellig Pharma China to Cardinal Health and agreed to serve as President of the combined company, now a China-based integrated life sciences distribution and services company handling product value of over $7 billion annually.
Most recently Zwisler was Chairman of Cardinal Health China, a subsidiary of Cardinal Health (CAH), a US Fortune 15 healthcare distribution company. In 2017, Zwisler participated in the sale of Cardinal Health China, and retired from Cardinal Health a year later. He now spends his time serving on various corporate and non-profit boards including the advisory board of UC San Diego’s School of International Relations and Pacific Studies.
Zwisler, who speaks fluent Mandarin, has been recognized for his contributions to business and society in China, including the Friendship Medal (2008), the highest national level award bestowed on foreigners in China. He is also an Honorary Citizen of Shanghai (2004), silver and gold Magnolia Medal honoree, and one of the first foreigners given permanent residence in China in 2005.
About La Jolla Institute for Immunology
The La Jolla Institute for Immunology is dedicated to understanding the intricacies and power of the immune system so that we may apply that knowledge to promote human health and prevent a wide range of diseases. Since its founding in 1988 as an independent, nonprofit research organization, the Institute has made numerous advances leading toward its goal: life without disease.