For more than 30 years, I have gained extensive global experience working across the pharmaceutical, biotech, and medical device sectors. During that time, I’ve held C-suite roles and other senior leadership positions in several therapeutic areas, including cardiovascular, metabolism, thrombosis, respiratory, allergy, inflammation, arthritis, multiple sclerosis, nephrology, and orthopaedic surgery. My experience covers all stages of the product life-cycle: I enjoy a big challenge. I love to hear someone say to me ‘you’ll never do that’ – those are all the words I need to motivate me.

I became involved in the pharmaceuticals sector after graduating from Liverpool John Moores University in 1987, with a BSc in sport science. I went on to work for various large pharmaceutical and medical device companies, and was later the President and CEO of a publicly traded pharmaceutical company that I took on to the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) through an IPO. I was responsible for all aspects of building and growing the company, including strategy, operations, product development, manufacturing and regulatory compliance.

I enjoy a big challenge. I love to hear someone say to me 'you’ll never do that' – those are all the words I need to motivate me.

John Houghton Global Franchise Head, Roxadustat

I joined AstraZeneca as Global Medicine Leader in 2015, and was excited by the opportunity the role presented. It was a new challenge after working in the renal sector for almost a decade – and coming back to a large company was intriguing, having headed up several smaller companies.

I’m responsible for the strategic leadership of the cross-functional Global Product Team, the aim of which is to ensure the successful development and commercialization of a molecule in late-stage trials to ensure we have an optimised global clinical programme and a path forward for, hopefully, reaching patients.

Taking one of my previous companies public on the NYSE was a standout achievement for me. It’s quite an experience ringing the closing bell on Wall Street!

John Houghton Global Franchise Head, Roxadustat

I really enjoy working with the people at AstraZeneca and relish the challenge of collaborating in this role. It’s great to be part of a team with diversity of cultures and of people. I also enjoy the cross-company structure, with groups in Sweden, China, the US and UK all working together. It’s very satisfying to see those people developing – and to help them to develop. They’re also great fun to work with.


Global Franchise Head, Roxadustat

Working on first-in-class medicine, to bring a new option to patients.

We have recently successfully completed a 9,000-patient, Phase III clinical programme in the US and EU for a drug to treat anaemia – the largest programme of its kind – with our partners FibroGen and Astellas.

Together with our partner FibroGen, achieved regulatory approval for a new therapy in China first, ahead of US, Europe and Japan. We believe this was a first for the industry.