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Dr. Niyikiza's Biography

Dr. Clet Niyikiza
Founder & Chairman


Dr. Clet Niyikiza is the Founder of L.E.A.F. Pharmaceuticals LLC (L.E.A.F.) after serving as the Executive Vice President of Development at Merrimack Pharmaceuticals, Inc. from 2009 until 2014 where he was involved in the development and approval of ONIVYDE®, for the treatment of advanced pancreatic cancer.


In October 2016, Dr. Niyikiza and his team at L.E.A.F. received the 2016 Health Care Innovator Award in recognition of the company's leadership and innovation in the fight against cancer. The award honors the people and companies who are disrupting the health care and biotechnology industries and solidifying Greater Philadelphia's reputation as a center for innovation.

Dr. Niyikiza also served from 2005 to 2009 as a Vice President and Medicine Development Leader at GlaxoSmithKline where he oversaw global anti-cancer assets medicine development strategy. Prior to that, Dr. Niyikiza joined the pharmaceutical industry in January 1991 with Syntex Corporation (since acquired by Roche Holding AG), in Palo Alto, California, working on the discovery and development of the pain medication, ALEVE®. He then held multiple high level positions at  Eli Lilly from 1993 to 2005. At Lilly, Dr. Niyikiza was credited for groundbreaking research in the field of antifolates. He developed, over those years, a strong international network of investigators and regulatory authority policy makers that resulted in effective development and efficient registration of 10 New Drug Application indications on many of Lilly medicines, including EVISTA® and the two popular anticancer drugs GEMZAR® and ALIMTA®. Dr. Niyikiza’s landmark scientific achievements that led to the successful development of ALIMTA® were the subject of a front page Wall Street Journal article on April 21, 2004.

Since 2005, Dr. Niyikiza has been a member of President George H. W. Bush’s C-Change national forum dedicated to the advancement of cancer research, treatment and prevention.  He is a member of the American Association for Cancer Research and the American Society of Clinical Oncology. A native of Rwanda and father of three children, Dr. Niyikiza holds a doctorate in Mathematics from Indiana University-Bloomington, Indiana, U.S.A.


In addition to his passion for cancer research, Dr. Niyikiza’s other interests are designing and building homes for his family, and empowering and developing young scientists through research and collaborative initiatives.

Dr. Hoover's Biography


   Ms. Friday's Biography

Dr. Kenley Hoover 
Outside Intellectual Property Counsel

Dr. Hoover is a partner in the law firm of Nixon & Vanderhye, P.C., based in Arlington, Virginia. With over 20 years of experience representing pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, Dr. Hoover provides L.E.A.F. with the benefit of his deep knowledge and insight as an intellectual property attorney. His experience includes all aspects of IP law, including patent prosecution, litigation, opinions, interferences, oppositions, licensing and complex technology driven transactions.

As a thought leader in the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and life science industries, Dr. Hoover provides in-depth strategic counseling and support on all matters relating to the development, transfer, and strategic management of patents and other intellectual property assets for biopharmaceutical companies in all stages – from nascent start-ups to multi-billion dollar international conglomerates. Dr. Hoover also regularly provides counsel on IP matters relating to all phases and aspects of drug development, from early research and development, through clinical trials, and commercialization.

Dr. Hoover has extensive patent prosecution experience having directed the preparation and prosecution of more than 10,000 domestic and international patent applications and he has prosecuted more than 1,000 drug-based U.S. patents to issuance. He also regularly advises on intellectual due diligence, infringement and validity issues.

Dr. Hoover’s in-house experience extends from a tenure of more than a decade at Human Genome Sciences Inc. (now part of GlaxoSmithKline), during which he led the IP Group and oversaw all aspects of HGSI’s intellectual property including IP strategy, prosecution, inter partes matters, and technology transfer. In this capacity, he served as intellectual property strategist, business tactician, and technical expert for assessing intellectual property, implementing portfolio management strategies, structuring technology driven agreements, and evaluating freedom to operate and risk management. Dr. Hoover held positions including Associate General Counsel, Intellectual Property; Executive Director of Technology Assessment and Licensing; and Executive Director of Scientific Assessment. Kenley was an integral member of HGSI’s cross-departmental teams responsible for characterizing the company’s lead targets and he contributed to the preclinical and clinical development of over 30 therapeutics including the approved drugs raxibacumab and BENLYSTA™ (belimumab).


Dr. Hoover received a B.S. from Duke University, an M.S. in cell biology from the University of Michigan, a Ph.D. in Development Biology from The Johns Hopkins University, and a J.D. from the University of Maryland School of Law.

   Ms. Friday's Biography

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