• Flanders Investment & Trade
  • Team Vesalius

Dr. Marianne De Backer has been a trusted strategic advisor, scientist, business leader, deal maker and corporate investor in the healthcare industry for more than two decades. Due to her deep subject expertise and experience with leadership and partnerships, she is responsible for more than 200 strategic alliances in healthcare, some of which have led to newly approved medicines – like Olysio, Odefsey and Symtuza – being made available to patients. 

Marianne De Backer


EVP, Head of Strategy, Business Development and Licensing

Bayer AG Pharmaceuticals

Member of the Executive Committee

From J&J to Bayer

De Backer holds an MS in molecular biology from the Vrije Universiteit Brussels and received her MSc in engineering biochemistry and PhD in biotechnology from the University of Ghent (UGent). She obtained an MBA from the Rotterdam School of Management in the Netherlands.

In 2019, De Backer joined Bayer from Johnson & Johnson, where she last held global business and corporate development roles, including the position of vice president of M&A Operations and Divestitures globally for the Pharmaceuticals group, which is based out of Silicon Valley. 

Leading across functions, sectors and cultures

At J&J, De Backer started as a scientist and scientific group leader in both Europe and the United States, during which time her work resulted in multiple patents. She progressed through executive positions internationally, including leading a sales and marketing business unit responsible for several product lines.

Where is she now?

Currently, Marianne De Backer is executive vice president, head of Pharmaceuticals Strategy and Business Development & Licensing, and a member of the executive committee at Bayer, where she spearheads the external growth agenda, resulting in 25 new alliances and the acquisitions of Asklepios Biopharmaceutical and KaNDy Therapeutics in 2020. She is a non-executive member of the board of directors of Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals (ARWR), Kronos Bio (KRON) and Gladstone Foundation. 

A woman of influence

An exceptional woman in life sciences, De Backer received worldwide recognition for her professional achievements. In 2018, she was named ‘Women of Influence’ by the Silicon Valley Business Journal and the San Francisco Business Times celebrated her as one of the ‘Most Influential Women in Bay Area Business’ in 2020.

Team Vesalius visionaries

Flanders’ life sciences industry: the perfect combo of biotech, medtech, pharma and healthcare

Defining Flanders’ life sciences industry as diverse is an understatement. From young start-ups to established local firms and multinationals: the entire value chain – from research and discovery to development and commercialization – is represented in Belgium’s northern region. Thanks to fertile cross-pollination between biotech, medtech, pharmaceuticals and healthcare, Flanders offers a unique life sciences ecosystem that is underpinned by a robust financing landscape and a supportive government. Will your company claim its place in this dynamic hub?