News Releases

Astellas Announces Key Leadership Promotions and New Hire in Legal, IP and Immuno-Oncology

NORTHBROOK, Ill., Feb. 28, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Astellas today announced the promotions of James Kellerman to senior vice president and head of Intellectual Property (IP) Legal, reporting to Linda Friedman, executive vice president and Astellas General Counsel; and Dr. Peter Sandor to senior vice president Primary Focus Lead Immuno-Oncology, reporting to Naoki Okamura, chief strategy officer in Tokyo, Japan. Additionally, Michael Rafa has been appointed to senior vice president, head of IP Innovation and New Technologies. Rafa will also report to Okamura. These new appointments will be effective April 1, 2019. 

(PRNewsfoto/Astellas Pharma Inc.)

Kellerman and Rafa will transform the current IP organization into two new teams: IP Legal and IP Innovation & New Technologies, respectively. The IP Legal Team will oversee IP assets from Development through commercialization and further enhance a globalized approach to enforcing and protecting Astellas' intellectual property. The IP Innovation & New Technologies team will focus on pre-clinical and early stage research such as cell therapy, gene therapy, regenerative medicine and other new therapies and platforms.  

"The two team structure of IP Legal and IP Innovation & New Technologies (INT) is consistent with best practices in other pharmaceutical companies," said Friedman. "This new structure will enable us to further leverage and facilitate operational efficiencies, while also expanding our work to better serve Astellas' growing pipeline."

Kellerman joined Astellas in 2014, and has nearly 30 years of broad IP and industry experience in the pharmaceutical industry as well as experience in other roles early in his career. Prior to Astellas, Kellerman worked at GlaxoSmithKline in the IP department in the US, as well as in China. Previously, he was the corporate intellectual property counsel for Sepracor Inc. Kellerman received his B.S. in Pharmacy from the University of Cincinnati, College of Pharmacy and his law degree from the Franklin Pierce Law Center in Concord, New Hampshire.

Michael Rafa rejoins Astellas from Haug Partners, LLP in New York where he was a Partner for two years. Prior to this role, he served as Vice President and Chief Patent Counsel at Ophthotech Corporation. Rafa has nearly 30 years of experience in developing and executing IP strategies for pharmaceutical and biotech companies. He previously worked at Astellas from April 2012-2014 as Vice President and Chief Patent Counsel, and prior to Astellas was part of Astellas' acquisition of OSI Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Rafa holds a B.S. in Chemical and Biomedical Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University and earned his law degree from the University of San Francisco.

In Immuno-Oncology, Dr. Sandor will be responsible for developing and executing the roadmap for Astellas' Immuno-Oncology strategy.

"Peter's experience in strategy and portfolio management coupled with his vast knowledge of the field of Oncology will help Astellas prioritize the investment of our research and development resources on the most appealing and promising programs," stated Okamura.

Sandor joined Astellas in 2015 as vice president, head of oncology therapeutic area in Marketing Strategy at Astellas.  Prior to Astellas, Sandor held the position of vice president, Global Marketing Therapeutic Area Head Oncology at Amgen. He was also vice president, Strategy and Portfolio Management, Specialized Medicine at Bayer.

Sandor earned his master's degree in business administration from Middlesex University, United Kingdom and Economy School of Pecs Hungary. He holds a M.D. from the University of PECS in Hungary.

About Astellas 

Astellas Pharma Inc., based in Tokyo, Japan, is a company dedicated to improving the health of people around the world through the provision of innovative and reliable pharmaceutical products. For more information, please visit our website at


SOURCE Astellas Pharma US, Inc.

For further information: Maribeth Landwehr, 847-962-6507,
Stay Connected

Get only the email alerts you want.


Media Contacts


For media inquiries and reporter requests, please click here to fill out a request form.

Our communications team will respond to verified media requests within 24-48 hours as appropriate.

If you are not a reporter and need assistance, please visit our contact us page that includes information for patients, healthcare providers and researchers.


Astellas on Twitter
Download Fact Sheet
Explore U.S. Products