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From Law to Biotech: Joseph La Barge on Starting a Company and the Future of Gene Therapy

Headshot of Joseph La Barge

In this month’s episode of Trends from the Trenches, host Stan Gloss speaks with Joseph La Barge. La Barge trained as an attorney but has spent most of his career building biotech businesses and securing funding. He shepherded Spark Therapeutics through its acquisition by Roche and has since joined Apertura Gene Therapy as CEO. He and Stan talk about the entrepreneurship journey, gene expression and capsid engineering, and Apertura’s future goals and projects.

Joseph La Barge, CEO, Apertura Gene Therapy
Joseph La Barge is CEO and serves on the Board of Managers of Apertura Gene Therapy. Previously, Mr. La Barge was an executive at Spark Therapeutics, Inc., serving as Chief Business Officer from 2019 to 2021 and as Chief Legal Officer from 2013 to 2019. In these roles, he oversaw many areas of company growth, including business development, patient advocacy, quality assurance, legal affairs, compliance, finance, public policy and global pricing and reimbursement, growing the company to 830 employees over eight years. He led the negotiation of Spark’s acquisition by Roche, raised more than $1 billion in capital from private and public financings and oversaw the in-license of numerous product candidates and platform technologies. Mr. La Barge also managed the acquisition and construction of Spark’s initial 180,000 square feet office and laboratory space, including GMP suites, to manufacture the global supply of Luxturna. Prior to Spark, Mr. La Barge served as Vice President, General Counsel & Secretary, Chief Compliance Officer at Tengion, Inc., where he was responsible for managing legal affairs, compliance and quality assurance. Mr. La Barge has served as a Member of the American Society of Gene & Cell Therapy Government Affairs Committee. He earned his BA in Education and Psychology at Bucknell University and his JD at Temple University James E. Beasley School of Law.

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