The physician Jeff Aronin was meeting with had a critical decision to make: treat a child’s seizures with a complex surgical procedure or use a medicine. In that moment, the physician elected to try a medication first, sparing the child a surgery and ultimately helping to fundamentally improve the child’s condition with medicine.
That interaction helped to further fuel a passion for patients that Jeff Aronin has had his entire career. Helping people live better lives is the core belief that drives Aronin and his team to research, develop and successfully commercialize medicines for people with unmet medical needs.
After graduating from Northern Illinois University with a bachelor’s degree and an MBA from DePaul University, Jeff Aronin worked in healthcare before making his first major move and becoming the founder and CEO of Ovation Pharmaceuticals LLC. Ovation was created in 2000 because Aronin felt he could do more for patients with unmet medical needs, especially those who had rare or neglected diseases. By creating a focused company that was addressing one specific need, Aronin was able to put all of his resources toward one common goal. This focus — on patients and on drug development — differentiated his companies from others in the biotech and pharma space that were more interested in finding the next blockbuster than in addressing smaller diseases.
By 2009, Lundbeck, a Danish healthcare company, was offered to buy Ovation. The startup that Jeff Aronin started from scratch eventually turned into a company purchased for $900 million. Lundbeck decided to keep Aronin on as CEO, helping the transition and allowing the company to not miss a beat (Bloomberg). The company continues to be successful thanks to Aronin’s contribution.
The emergence of Paragon Biosciences
This track record of success also drives Aronin to be a leading investor and incubator of innovative biotech companies. Paragon focuses on identifying unmet medical needs, novel science, and then builds companies with world-class talent to bring medications to market.
Among the companies, Paragon has helped build are Castle Creek Pharmaceuticals and Harmony Biosciences. Castle Creek is focused on rare genetic dermatology conditions like epidermolysis bullosa simplex. Harmony Biosciences is focused on central nervous system disorders like narcolepsy and cataplexy. With novel science and deep expertise, both companies are advancing their compounds forward in the hopes that they will one-way help patients overcome serious illnesses.
Jeff Aronin’s success attracts investors, biotech talent, and companies looking for a strong partner to bring their potential medicines to reality. With important science at its companies and regular engagement across the life science spectrum, Paragon is well positioned to develop leading biotech companies and deliver on the promise of science for patients in need.
Creating a community of entrepreneurs
Jeff Aronin, along with Paragon Biosciences, supports the community in a number of ways. Specifically, those in the city of Chicago involved in healthcare. Aronin is on the board of directors of World Business Chicago, a partnership between the city and private companies/founders focusing on continued job growth. He was appointed to the board by the current mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel. Aronin is also a member of the board of directors of Discover Financial Services. He has also been significantly involved with ChicagoNEXT, the Museum of Science and Industry, and many other local causes.
The Aronin Family Foundation supports patient advocacy and research for some of the world’s most overlooked conditions and diseases. Hospitals and clinics around Chicago, and internationally, have benefitted from the Foundation’s commitment and generosity.
In addition, Jeff Aronin has helped build a culture of innovation in Chicago through founding MATTER, a healthcare incubator that has more than 200 companies in various stages of development, but all focused on doing more to advance healthcare in the area and worldwide (https://www.weizmann-usa.org/get-involved/attend-an-event/2017-midwest-gala-dinner-honoring-jeffrey-aronin).