Feature Story

A Promising Prescription

July 30, 2014 – by Cole Hatcher

John F. Milligan, Ph.D.

“We’ve never had so many things going forward as we do today, and we’ve never felt more confident,” John F. Milligan told reporters in a recent Wall Street Journal article about the prospects of the company for which he serves as president.

Milligan, a 1983 Ohio Wesleyan graduate, holds the position of president and chief operating officer of Foster City, California-based Gilead Sciences, Inc., a biopharmaceutical company that discovers, develops, and commercializes therapeutics in areas of unmet medical need.

One of its newest therapeutics is sofosbuvir, also known as Sovaldi®, a prescription medicine used with other medicines to treat chronic hepatitis C, a contagious disease that can lead to serious problems including cirrhosis (scarring of the liver) or liver cancer. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 3.2 million people in the United States have chronic hepatitis C.

Another emerging therapeutic from Gilead Sciences is idelalisib, also known as Zydelig®, the company’s first cancer drug. The medication earned FDA approval earlier this month as a treatment for the blood cancers chronic lymphocytic leukemia, follicular B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and small lymphocytic lymphoma.

Gilead Sciences was founded in 1987 and worked initially to develop HIV/AIDS medications. Since that time, it also has developed medicines for influenza, chronic hepatitis B, and several other serious medical conditions. The company’s mission is to “advance the care of patients suffering from life-threatening diseases worldwide.”

At Ohio Wesleyan, Milligan majored in chemistry. He later earned his doctorate in biochemistry from the University of Illinois and served as an American Cancer Society postdoctoral fellow at the University of California at San Francisco.

In May, Milligan and his wife, Kathryn Bradford Milligan, also a 1983 Ohio Wesleyan graduate, contributed $5 million to Ohio Wesleyan to create an endowed fund to support continued advancement of the university’s curricular program The OWU Connection, which combines liberal arts education with global experience connecting theory to practice. Read more about their gift.