Baltimore, MD, April 1, 2021: The Global Virus Network, the world’s leading coalition of virologists combatting current and emerging pandemic viral threats and viral causes of disease through international collaborative research response, mourns the passing of its good friend and fellow GVN Board of Directors member, John Martin, PhD. Dr. Martin was an outstanding clinical scientist, astute businessman and global leader. His leadership in drug development, particularly for HIV and hepatitis B and C, along with his generous philanthropy, saved many lives.
“John Martin is irreplaceable and his passing is a devastating loss to many,” said Robert C. Gallo, MD, GVN Co-Founder and International Scientific Advisor and The Homer & Martha Gudelsky Distinguished Professor in Medicine, Co-Founder and Director, Institute of Human Virology (IHV) at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, a GVN Center of Excellence. “The fields of medicine and science have many notable leaders who contribute to public health. But it is John’s leadership at Gilead Sciences that stands out and resulted in the successful development of antiviral therapeutics for the treatment of HIV, hepatitis B and C, and influenza. Further, the global public health response to HIV/AIDS was immensely facilitated by John, which is unique among the global pharmaceutical industry. His humanitarian leadership resulted in more than 10 million HIV infected persons receiving lifesaving therapies with the best drugs available. His life’s work lives on in those he mentored and in The John C. Martin Foundation, among many others. We extend our deepest sympathies to John’s family, especially his life partner, Lillian Lou. Our very close friend will be greatly missed.”
Dr. Martin was an exceptional individual whose towering leadership of Gilead Sciences led to a profound impact on human viral diseases worldwide. His leadership resulted in the successful development of antiviral therapeutics for the treatment of HIV, hepatitis B and C, and influenza. More importantly, Dr. Martin recognized the importance of making these critical therapeutic advancements available not just to the wealthy nations of the world, but worldwide, to include even those infected persons in the most impoverished regions of the globe. He developed a sustainable system that is treating an accelerating number of persons in low income countries, thus producing a program that has measurable results and demonstrates enormous impact on global health.
“John Martin’s contribution in virology and also as a member of GVN’s Board was immense, particularly in bringing us together with the pharmaceutical industry,” said Christian Bréchot, MD, PhD, President of the GVN, Associate Vice President for International Partnerships and Innovation at University of South Florida (USF), and Professor, Division of Infectious Disease, Department of Internal Medicine at the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine, the GVN Southeast U.S. Regional Headquarters. “He was an extraordinary example of what academic science can offer when it is associated with an entrepreneurial mindset. We will deeply miss his guidance and expertise and GVN will work to honor his legacy in all that we do.”
“I am deeply saddened by John Martin’s sudden passing,” said Tomas Cihlar, PhD, GVN Board of Directors Member, Vice President, Virology, Gilead Sciences, Inc. “His scientific knowledge and business vision combined with genuine passion to bring much needed treatment for devastating viral infections not only to the privileged, but equally so to the underserved communities was truly unparalleled in our society. We all will miss John sorely.”
Dr. John Martin joined Gilead Sciences in 1990 and was Executive Chairman from March 2016 through March 2019. He served as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer from June 2008 through March 2016, and President and Chief Executive Officer from 1996 through May 2008. Prior to joining Gilead, Dr. Martin held several leadership positions at Bristol-Myers Squibb and Syntex Corporation. He invented ganciclovir in 1982 and contributed to the research, development and commercialization of a number of antiviral drugs active against HIV, cytomegalovirus, influenza, and hepatitis B and C.
In addition to the GVN, Dr. Martin served on the Board of Directors of Kronos Bio and The Scripps Research Institute. He previously served as President of the International Society for Antiviral Research, Chairman of the Board of Directors of BayBio, and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the California Healthcare Institute (CHI). He served on the National Institute of Allergy & Infectious Diseases Council, the Board of Directors of the Biotechnology Industry Organization, the Board of Directors for CHI, the Board of Trustees of the University of Chicago, the Board of Trustees of Golden Gate University and the External Scientific Advisory Board of the University of California School of Global Health. Additionally, Dr. Martin served on the Centers for Disease Control/Health Resources and Services Administration’s Advisory Committee on HIV and STD Prevention and Treatment and was a member of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS.
Dr. Martin holds a PhD in organic chemistry from the University of Chicago, an MBA from Golden Gate University and a BS degree in chemical engineering from Purdue University. He received the Isbell Award from the American Chemical Society and the Gertrude B. Elion Award for Scientific Excellence from the International Society for Antiviral Research. In 2008, he was inducted into the National Academy of Engineering of the National Academies. In 2014, Dr. Martin received the IHV Lifetime Achievement Award for Public Service. In 2019, he received the National Academy of Sciences Award for Chemistry in Service to Society.
About the Global Virus Network (GVN)
The Global Virus Network (GVN) is essential and critical in the preparedness, defense and first research response to emerging, existing and unidentified viruses that pose a clear and present threat to public health, working in close coordination with established national and international institutions. It is a coalition comprised of eminent human and animal virologists from 62 Centers of Excellence and 11 Affiliates in 34 countries worldwide, working collaboratively to train the next generation, advance knowledge about how to identify and diagnose pandemic viruses, mitigate and control how such viruses spread and make us sick, as well as develop drugs, vaccines and treatments to combat them. No single institution in the world has expertise in all viral areas other than the GVN, which brings together the finest medical virologists to leverage their individual expertise and coalesce global teams of specialists on the scientific challenges, issues and problems posed by pandemic viruses. The GVN is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization. For more information, please visit www.gvn.org. Follow us on Twitter @GlobalVirusNews
Nora Samaranayake, GVN