Scripps Research mourns the loss of board member and global health leader John C. Martin

Martin, former CEO and executive chairman of Gilead Sciences, made pivotal impacts on global public health over the course of an impressive career spanning science and business.

April 01, 2021

John Martin headshot

LA JOLLA, CA—Scripps Research mourns the unexpected loss of Board member John C. Martin, a scientist, visionary businessman, global health pioneer, and friend of the institute. He was 69 years old.

Martin, who led the biotechnology company Gilead Sciences for more than two decades, made pivotal contributions to the development of antiviral medicines that saved millions of lives around the world—and worked tirelessly to ensure those treatments were available equitably to all patients in need.

“I am saddened by the death of John, an advisor and a great friend who leaves an enormous scientific and humanitarian legacy,” says Peter Schultz, PhD, president and CEO of Scripps Research. “There are few people who have made such an impact on lives worldwide. He was and continues to be one of my heroes.”

As the CEO of Gilead, a position he held for 20 years, Martin led the development of HIV and hepatitis treatments, overseeing the expansion of the company’s drug portfolio to 24 marketed products, including remdesivir. Through the Gilead Access Program, he led the distribution of medicines for HIV/AIDS, viral hepatitis and visceral leishmaniasis, a parasitic disease, to developing countries.

He also previously served on the Centers for Disease Control’s Advisory Committee on HIV and STD Prevention and Treatment and was a member of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS. In 2008, he was inducted into the National Academy of Engineering. He earned many other key honors in his lifetime, most recently receiving the National Academy of Sciences’ Award for Chemistry in Service to Society. In 2015, John was named “best chief executive” in the annual rating by investment firm Morningstar Inc.

Martin joined the Scripps Research Board of Directors in 2018 and his many contributions helped shape the institute’s drug programs and research initiatives. “Scripps Research has been very fortunate to have John contribute to our board for the past three years,” Schultz says. “Those of us at Scripps Research will always appreciate John’s passion for science and humanity and will miss his wisdom, wit and humility.”

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