Published: June 2023
George D. Yancopoulos, M.D., Ph.D., has built and managed Regeneron alongside Leonard S. Schleifer, M.D., Ph.D., since 1989. He is currently board co-chair, president and chief scientific officer.
Early Life and Inspiration
George D. Yancopoulos, M.D., Ph.D., is a life-long New Yorker and the son of Greek immigrants. He attended New York City public schools and graduated as valedictorian of the Bronx High School of Science. At Bronx Science, he was a top winner of the nation's premier high school science competition, then known as the Westinghouse Science Talent Search, and now known as the Regeneron Science Talent Search. After high school, George attended and became valedictorian of Columbia College, subsequently earning his M.D. from Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons and his Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics from Columbia University's Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. He launched his career as an academic scientist with Frederick W. Alt at Columbia, publishing seminal papers in molecular immunology.
In 1989, George left academia to become co-founder and chief scientific officer of Regeneron, alongside Leonard S. Schleifer, M.D., Ph.D., the company’s president and chief executive officer. Under their leadership, Regeneron has become one of the most admired and innovative companies in biotech, with numerous FDA-approved medicines and a pipeline of investigational products — almost all homegrown in the company's own laboratories. In the last 20 years, fewer than 100 biotech companies have invented and successfully obtained FDA approval for even one drug, and only a handful have done this four or more times.
George takes an unusually hands-on approach to drug discovery, serving as lead inventor and developer of Regeneron’s medicines, including Eylea® and Dupixent®, which have collectively helped millions of people around the world. He and his team have also delivered additional important medicines such as Praluent®, Libtayo®, and the first antibody cocktail treatments for Ebola and COVID-19 in rapid response to emerging public health threats. George has also worked with his team to develop underlying technologies to support and expedite drug discovery, such as the VelociGene® “knockout” platform, the VelocImmune® human antibody mouse, and the Veloci-Bi® bispecific antibody creation platform.
During his career, George has been among the most highly cited scientists in the world, with landmark publications pertaining to the cloning and biology of numerous growth factors and their receptors (from the neurotrophins, angiopoietins, and ephrins to the CNTF receptor and the agrin receptor MuSK), the elucidation of the mechanism of action of the cytokine class of receptors, and other findings leading to the development of Regeneron's medicines and technologies. His team continues to pursue cutting-edge research, such as through the Regeneron Genetics Center, a world-leading effort that has sequenced the exomes of nearly one million people and paired this information with de-identified medical records in the quest to identify new and improved treatment options.
George is committed to supporting the next generation of young scientists and plays an active role in Regeneron’s STEM education and mentorship programs, including a $100 million commitment to the Regeneron Science Talent Search. He lends his name to Young Scientists Awards given at the Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair (Regeneron ISEF) and the Westchester Science & Engineering Fair (WESEF) for student researchers whose passion for science may lead to the development of novel technologies or biological insights.
Regeneron’s focus on STEM is part of its overall Corporate Responsibility strategy, which uses its unique knowledge and expertise for the benefit of society, the economy and the environment.
Awards & Recognition
George was inducted into the National Academy of Sciences in 2004 and into the Biotech Hall of Fame in 2014. He and Len were named Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneurs of the Year in 2016. In 2020, George was named by Fortune as one of the World’s 25 Greatest Leaders: Heroes Of The Pandemic. George’s leadership of company culture has also been recognized, with Regeneron routinely listed as a top employer by Science, Fortune, Forbes, Fast Company and others. In 2022, Regeneron was awarded the prestigious Prix Galien USA Best Biotechnology Product for Inmazeb®.
- Co-Founder, President and Chief Scientific Officer, Regeneron, Tarrytown, NY (1989-Present)
- Professor, Department of Microbiology, Columbia University (1996-Present)
- Professor, Department of Microbiology, New York Medical College (1992-Present)
- Board Co-Chair (2023-Present)
- Doctor of Philosophy in Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics at Columbia University
- Doctor of Medicine in Biochemistry at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons
- Bachelor of Arts in Biochemistry at Columbia College
Highlights of Honors & Awards
- Prix Galien USA Best Biotechnology Product (2022)
- Prix Galien Roy Vagelos Pro Bono Humanum Award (2021)
- Fortune’s World’s 25 Greatest Leaders: Heroes of the Pandemic (2020)
- Forbes America’s 100 Most Innovative Leaders (2019)
- Legends in Leadership Award, Yale School of Management, CEO Institute (2017)
- Ernst & Young Life Sciences Entrepreneurs of the Year National Award (2016)
- Biotech Hall of Fame, Biotech Meeting at Laguna Niguel (2016)