Leighton is an American serial entrepreneur and venture investor with a long track record of building companies that have commercialised important medicines and life-science technologies. From 2000 – 2008 he was a managing director of Alloy Ventures, an early-stage firm investing in life science and technology companies and he continues to look after his remaining portfolio companies as a Venture Partner including Alexza, AnaptysBio, Genomatica and Siluria.
He is also Venture Partner at Brandon Capital, one of Australia’s leading life science venture capital firms. Brandon Capital manages the Medical Reaearch Commercialization Fund including three funds raised since 2008, totaling more than AU$300 million.
Previously, he founded Affymax NV (with Alejandro Zaffaroni) where he served as Managing Director and President of the Pharma Division, sold to Glaxo SmithKline and spun out Affymetrix and Maxygen. He was the founding investor, Chairman and CEO of Aviron which developed FluMist™, the intranasal influenza vaccine acquired by MedImmune. Leighton has been a director of companies ranging from biotechnology, medical devices, materials science, energy and software.
Leighton received a B.S. from Rice University in Houston in Psychology and Biology, an MD from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, and completed internal medicine training at Duke and the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital, where he held appointments at the Harvard Medical School and School of Public Health. His research dealt with applications of decision theory in medicine and policy regarding medical innovation. He produced a successful interactive game in 1984 to promote healthy lifestyles and carried this interest to his current role as Co-founder of Seriosity and co-authored (with Byron Reeves) Total Engagement: Using Games and Virtual Worlds to Change the Way People Work and Businesses Compete.
Leighton serves as a trustee or director of The BeneTech Initiative, BioVentures for Global Health, The UC Berkeley Foundation and School of Public Health Council, and is Vice Chairman of the Santa Fe Institute. His awards include several as co-inventor of technology underlying the Affymetrix GeneChip™ and Ernst & Young's Northern California Life Science Entrepreneur of the Year.