The biotech world loses one of its preeminent titans of business development this year with the retirement of Chris Yochim. Variously dubbed “the face of AstraZeneca”, “Mr. Conference”, and other monikers as colorful as his dress shirts, Chris concludes a career spanning 35 years in the pharmaceutical industry. Trained as a pharmacologist, he contributed to the identification of several candidate compounds that are marketed drugs today, but more than anything else, Chris is known as AstraZeneca’s liaison to academia and biotech industry for the last two decades.
Many of us in biotech first met Chris Yochim at the H&Q conference (that’s JP Morgan for you young’uns) in 1995, when he was high on his new job, tasked with spreading the word that AstraZeneca sought to do business with the biotech industry. Armed with a fresh expense account, he was looking for any excuse to share a bottle of pink champagne with a new friend. Back then, very few in Big Pharma were prescient enough to realize how important Biotech would be to their future pipeline. There were no big Pharma BD teams as we know them today and no speed-dating frenzied biopartnering meetings.
Chris set out as a pioneer in forging relationships to bridge the pharmaceutical and biotech industries. His gift for gab, legendary attention to detail, flawlessly run conferences, and his unique ability to make everyone feel comfortable and valued, propelled him to build a network of contacts unmatched in either industry. An untiring ambassador, Chris has championed the cause of AZ becoming the best possible partner to biotech companies. He set the gold standard for external relations to which other Pharma companies aspired. Today, partnering events around the globe host over 70,000 one-on-one meetings, teeming with business development professionals from every major Pharma company, and the BIO community recognizes Chris Yochim as their prototype.
In addition to his role at AstraZeneca, Chris is a founding member and Chairman of the Board of the Delaware Bioscience Association. He is a former member of the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees of the Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM), and served as Vice President for Eastern US Region (2006-2007). As an active volunteer in AUTM, Chris founded and has chaired the AUTM Sponsorship Committee for the past 10 years. In 2014, Chris was honored as the first life science industry recipient of theAUTM President’s Award. Chris has also served for 8 years on the Board of Directors of PA BIO and the Japan America Society of Greater Philadelphia.
Now, Chris will have more time on his Lancaster County farm to dote on his plethora of cats, glorious horses, Jack Russell terriers, lovely Amish neighbors, beloved Daryl and goat named Oreo, but presumably will have fewer occasions to don his velvet evening jackets. We wish you all the best in your next chapter, Chris!