Press Release

Van W. Ellis Joins Morrison & Foerster's Washington, D.C. Office, Continuing Expansion of Global Life Sciences Platform

06 Feb 2012

Washington, D.C. (February 6, 2012) – Morrison & Foerster is pleased to announce that Van W. Ellis, a leading life sciences lawyer who specializes in technology-based collaborations, joint ventures and licensing arrangements, has joined the firm's Washington, D.C. office as a partner. Mr. Ellis is a former Associate General Counsel of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, one of the nation's largest non-profit biomedical research organizations.

Mr. Ellis has extensive experience negotiating and structuring licensing agreements for leading life sciences companies and research institutes. He also handles research and development agreements, pre-clinical and clinical trial agreements, M&A and joint venture transactions, compliance and risk management issues, and dispute resolution.

"During the past several years, Morrison & Foerster has built a strong pharmaceutical and biotech practice providing counsel to some of the most notable life sciences companies in the world," said Michael Jacobs, chair of the firm's Life Sciences Practice Group. "Van's addition strengthens our biopharma corporate partnering and licensing expertise. His deep experience will prove invaluable in advising clients from concept through commercialization."

At the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Mr. Ellis negotiated scientific collaborations and intellectual property agreements with life sciences companies, and advised on a wide range of operations and legal matters, including policies governing clinical trials. His capabilities complement those of other recent additions to the firm's expanding corporate life sciences platform, Michael O'Donnell and David Lipkin, who joined the Palo Alto office as transactional partners last year.

"I look forward to working with a first-rate group of lawyers who understand the complexities of life sciences transactions," Mr. Ellis said.  "Companies in the life sciences sector need broad corporate, IP and technology-based transactional capabilities – a rare combination in most law firms. I am excited to be joining a firm that brings that breadth, and much more, to its clients every day."

Before joining the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Mr. Ellis was a partner in the Washington, D.C. office of Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering (now WilmerHale). He earned his J.D., with high honors, from Duke University School of Law, where he was Order of the Coif and notes editor of the Duke Law Journal. Following law school, Mr. Ellis clerked for Judge John D. Butzner, Jr. of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. He graduated summa cum laude from Duke with an A.B. in economics and history.

With capabilities extending across offices in the U.S., Europe and Asia, Morrison & Foerster's global life sciences practice handles a wide range of matters for leading companies throughout the sector. Representative matters and accolades are:

  • Advising Novartis in negotiations to enter an exclusive collaboration, option and license agreement with Camurus, a Swedish research-based pharmaceutical company.
  • Representing Terumo Corporation in its $2.6 billion acquisition of U.S. medical device company CaridianBCT, a leading global provider of technology, products and services in the blood banking, transfusion medicine and cell therapy industries.
  • Representing Astellas Pharma in exercising its buy-out option for $76 million to acquire all of the ownership interest of Maxygen, Inc. in Perseid Therapeutics LLC, a protein joint venture between Maxygen and Astellas.
  • Ranked as a leading law firm in Chambers Global and U.S. News & World Report / Best Lawyers.



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