Senior Managing Partner & CEO, Flagship Pioneering


President and Chief Executive Officer

Robert Connelly has 30+ years of experience starting, financing, building and leading companies in the life sciences sector. 

Mr. Connelly joined Axcella as CEO in June 2013.  He is the former CEO of Domantis, Pulmatrix, and WikiCell Designs, and has served as Chairman of the Board for Aero Designs (now merged with WikiCell to form Incredible Foods) and as a Director for Pulmatrix. He has raised over $250 million in private financing for his companies and led numerous transactions including licensing, platform, drug discovery, co-development, government and foundation, and M&A and has launched many innovative products during his career. Mr. Connelly is a Venture Partner with Flagship Pioneering, and serves as a Director for their portfolio companies Kaleido and VL45.
Mr. Connelly began his career with the Medical Diagnostics Division of Abbott Laboratories, spending over 11 years in sales, marketing and management positions of increasing responsibility. In 1994, he joined Bioveris (formerly IGEN International; acquired by Roche for $1.6 billion) in the roles of Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing and General Manager of IGEN’s Life Sciences unit. Mr. Connelly led IGEN’s efforts to develop, market and license novel detection technologies utilized in medical diagnostics and drug discovery. During his tenure, he had a central role in IGEN’s financing activities that raised more than $150 million in public financing.
In 2001, he became the founding CEO and first employee of Domantis, a private UK-based biotechnology company. Domantis created a novel therapeutic modality based on fully-human antibody fragments (domain antibodies-DABs), building an organization with operations in the UK and USA, novel therapeutic programs in cancer, respiratory and autoimmune indications, and seven therapeutic partnerships before being acquired by Glaxo SmithKline in 2007 for $454 million in cash, the largest all-cash valuation paid for a preclinical biotechnology company.
In 2007, Mr. Connelly was appointed CEO of Pulmatrix (NASDAQ:PLUM), a pharmaceutical company developing inhaled drugs for respiratory diseases including chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD) and cystic fibrosis (CF). During his tenure, Pulmatrix moved several lead candidates into clinical trials in patients with asthma, CF and COPD and developed a next generation platform for formulating drugs for inhaled delivery (iSPERSE). In 2012, Mr. Connelly co-founded WikiCell Designs with Pulmatrix Founder David Edwards to utilize biotechnology tools to develop sustainable, edible forms of packaging for health and nutrition products.