Posted: June 12, 2009

'64 B.S., '68 M.S. Ag Economics

Peter Tombros

Peter Tombros

As a newly appointed Penn State professor and distinguished executive-in-residence, Peter Tombros donates his time and expertise to train honors students in the Science B.S./MBA program in the Eberly College of Science.

In this latest role, he mentors and advises students on their careers and recruits prominent guest speakers. "We talk about how things work in the real world," he says, "everything from ethics to etiquette." Tombros draws on his nearly 40 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry in teaching and inspiring students.

Long before there was a Science B.S./MBA program, Tombros created his own. Tombros says he was always very science oriented, but after earning his B.S. in agricultural sciences and industry, he accepted a fellowship to pursue a master's in agricultural economics. He furthered his growing interest in business with an MBA from The Wharton School of Business of the University of Pennsylvania in 1968.

His first job out of business school was at Pfizer, Inc., as a product manager. Tombros rose steadily through the Pfizer Marketing Organization in the 1970s, helping to build Pfizer's pharmaceutical business. In 1980, he was named senior vice president and general manager of the Roerig Pharmaceutical Division, and in 1986 he became executive vice president of Pfizer Pharmaceuticals.

In 1990, he was elected vice president for corporate strategic planning. In that role, Peter helped Pfizer narrow its focus on health care and oversaw the divestiture of non-health-care businesses.

Tombros left Pfizer in 1994 to become CEO of Enzon, Inc., a biopharmaceutical company developing therapeutics for life-threatening diseases such as severe combined immunodeficiency disease, better known as "Bubble Boy Disease"; acute lymphoblastic leukemia; and hepatitis C. In his eight years as CEO, Tombros built Enzon's market capitalization from $44 million to more than $3 billion, making it one of the top 20 biotech firms in the United States. After retiring from Enzon in 2001, Tombros "took a few months off" before becoming chairman and CEO of VivoQuest, Inc., a private drug discovery company. He retired again when XTL Biosciences acquired VivoQuest last fall. Tombros currently serves on five public company boards: Alpharma, Inc. (where he was recently elected chairman of the oard), Cambrex, Dendrite International, Inc., NPS Pharmaceuticals, and Protalex, Inc.

Tombros has also contributed substantial time and resources to many nonprofit organizations. While at Pfizer, he sat on the boards of Fisk University in Nashville and Dominican College in Orangeburg, New York. He served on Cancer Care and The National Cancer Care Foundation Board of Trustees and the Central Park Conservancy and represented Pfizer in the restoration of historic Brooklyn Borough Hall. From 1998 to 2001, Tombros was chairman of the New Jersey Technology Council, the state's largest technology trade association.

In 2001, Tombros and his wife, Ann, established the Tombros Foundation, which supports a broad range of institutions, including higher education, health care, and social service organizations. At Penn State, the Tombros's have supported the University Libraries, athletics, and the sciences. Tombros has also served on the Ag Constituent Society Board, the advisory panel for the Eberly College of Science B.S./MBA Program, and the University Libraries' committee for the Grand Destiny Campaign.

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