2018 HUMANITARIAN AWARD
Dr. Michael J. Sofia
Chief Scientific Officer
Dr. Michael J. Sofia is Chief Scientific Officer and co-founder of Arbutus Biopharma, Inc. a company dedicated to the discovery and development of therapies to treat and cure hepatitis B. He also holds a professorship at the Baruch S. Blumberg Institute and an Adjunct Professorship at the Drexel University School of Medicine. Dr. Sofia has spent his career in the search for therapies to treat and cure debilitating diseases.
He has been Sr. Vice President of Discovery Chemistry at Gilead Sciences and Pharmasset Inc. and has held research leadership positions at Bristol-Myers Squibb, Transcell Technologies and Eli Lilly. His discovery of the drug Sofosbuvir has led to the cure of millions of individuals suffering from hepatitis C (HCV) worldwide.
Dr. Sofia grew up in Baltimore, MD. He did his undergraduate studies at Cornell University and received his Ph.D. from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. He then went onto study at Columbia University as an NIH Postdoctoral Fellow.
Dr. Sofia is a Trustee of the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia and a Board member of the Baruch Blumberg Institute – Hepatitis B Foundation.Dr. Sofia has introduced numerous drugs into clinical development, has published extensively in the area of drug discovery and holds numerous patents in the field. His work has been recognized with a number of awards including the 2015 Economist Magazine Innovation Award, the ACS Heroes of Chemistry Award and the 2016 Lasker-Debakey Award in Clinical Medical Research, and in 2017 he was inducted into the American Chemical Society Medicinal Chemistry Hall of Fame.
His maternal grandmother (Nella Gonnella Dell’Uomo) was raised in Barga, Italy and his maternal grandfather (Maurizio Dell’Uomo) was raised in Alatri, Italy. Both came to the United States in the early part of the 1900s. They settled in the Little Italy section of Baltimore where his mother (Giovanna Dell’Uomo Sofia) was raised. His paternal grandfather (Giovanni Sofia) and grandmother (Carmela Pipito Sofia) were born and lived in Castroreale/Bafia, Sicily and came to the United States in the early 1900s. His father (Michele Sofia) was born in the Little Italy section of Baltimore, but his family returned to Sicily when he was an infant, and he did not return to the United States until he was 18.