Roland is an accomplished investigator and science leader in the field of immunology and inflammation, with a passion to discover molecular mechanisms underlying the pathology of chronic respiratory and autoimmune diseases.

As the Vice President of the RIA research therapeutic area, he leads a team of scientists responsible for the discovery of new targets and protein-based therapies for treatment of these disorders. Roland is also Associate Professor (part-time) at McMaster University, Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine.

Roland’s pursuit of science began nearly 30 years ago at the Max-Planck Institute for Neurobiology in Munich, Germany, where he received his PhD, completed a postdoctoral fellowship, and investigated the role of neurotrophic factors during nervous system development.

Soon after, he joined Cambridge, MA-based Millennium Pharmaceuticals Inc., where he spent 7 years in roles with increasing responsibilities. During his tenure at Millennium, Roland was responsible for research collaborations, and the management and identification of novel targets for small molecule drug discovery to treat chronic inflammatory diseases. He then joined Peptimmune Inc—also Cambridge, MA-based—as the Director of Autoimmune Therapies. Here, Roland provided scientific and strategic leadership for the advancement of the co-polymer program for the treatment of RR-MS, and the design and implementation of toxicology studies, as well regulatory and business development leadership activities.

In 2007, Roland joined MedImmune as Director, RIA Research. In his current role as VP, RIA, R&D, he oversees multiple projects, each with a strong emphasis on the importance of clinical biomarkers to inform drug activity, identification of appropriate patient segments, and target discovery in key RIA disease areas. During his tenure, Roland has provided scientific oversight and leadership for the advancement of over 30 drug discovery programs – from target discovery through early stages of clinical development.


Most recently notable is Roland’s scientific leadership in the development of benralizumab—a humanized monoclonal antibody targeting the IL-5Rα on eosinophils and basophils for patients with severe, uncontrolled asthma—from preclinical to successful phase III and BLA submission.

BLA submission of benralizumab, MedImmune’s first respiratory biologic

Licensing of 5 clinical stage programs in partnership with Amgen

Oversight and leadership for more than 30 drug discovery programs for the treatment of chronic inflammatory diseases

Featured publications

Monoclonal antibody therapy for the treatment of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease with eosinophilic inflammation.

Nixon J, Newbold P, Mustelin T, Anderson GP, Kolbeck R. (2016)
Pharmacol Ther. 2016 Oct 20. pii: S0163-7258(16)30195-4.

Inflammatory triggers associated with COPD exacerbations orchestrate ILC2 plasticity in the lung.

Silver J, Kearley J, Sanden C , Mori M , Copenhaver A , Yu L , Harms Pritchard G , Berlin A , Hunter C , Bowler R , Erjefalt J , Kolbeck R and Humbles AA (2016)

Nat Immunol. 2016, 17(6):626-35.

Self-reactive IgE exacerbates interferon responses associated with autoimmunity.

Henault J, Riggs JM, Karnell JL, Liarski VM, Li J, Shirinian L, Xu L, Casey KA, Smith MA, Khatry DB, Izhak L, Clarke L, Herbst R, Ettinger R, Petri M, Clark MR, Mustelin T, Sanjuan MA and Kolbeck R (2016)

Nat Immunol. 2016, 17(2): 196-203

Cigarette smoke silences innate lymphoid cell function in the lung, facilitating an interleukin-33-dependent, exacerbated type I response to infection.

Kearley J, Silver J, Sanden C, Liu Z, Berlin AA, White N, Mori M, Pham TH, Ward CK, Criner GJ, Marchetti N, Mustelin T, Erjefalt JS, Kolbeck R and Humbles AA (2015)

Immunity. 2015, 42(3):566-79

Benralizumab, an anti-interleukin 5 receptor α monoclonal antibody, versus placebo for uncontrolled eosinophilic asthma: a phase 2b randomised dose-ranging study.

Lancet Respir Med. 2014 Oct 8.

Opposing roles of membrane and soluble forms of the Receptor for Advanced Glycation End products (RAGE) in primary RSV infection.

Miller AL, Sims GP, Brewah YA, Rebelatto MC, Kearley J, Benjamin E, Keller AE, Brohawn P, Herbst R, Coyle A.J., Humbles AA and Kolbeck R (2012)

JID, 205(8): 1311-20.

MEDI-563, a humanized anti-IL-5 receptor a mAb with enhanced antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity function.

Kolbeck R, Kozhich A, Koike M, Peng L, Andersson CK, Damschroder MM, Reed JL, Woods R, Dall’Acqua WW, Stephens GL, Erjefalt JS, Bjermer L, Humbles AA, Gossage D, Wu H, Kiener PA, Spitalny GL, Mackay CR, Molfino NA and Coyle AJ (2010)

J Allergy Clin Immunol., 125(6):1344-1353.

The chemokine receptor CCR8 defines a subset of peripheral blood memory T-cells preferentially expressing Th2 cytokines.

Soler D, Chapman T, Poisson L, Wang L, Villeval J-L, Ryan M, Hodge MR, Coyle AJ and Kolbeck R (2006)

J. Immunol. 177, 6940-51.

Brain-derived neurotrophic factor levels in the nervous system of wild-type and neurotrophin gene mutant mice.

Kolbeck R, Bartke I, Eberle W and Barde Y-A (1999)

J. Neurochem. 72, 1930-1938.

Characterisation of neurotrophin dimers and monomers.

Kolbeck R, Jungbluth S and Barde Y-A (1994)

Eur. J. Biochem. 225, 995-1003.

Neurotrophin-3 enhances sprouting of corticospinal tract during development and after adult spinal cord lesion.

Schnell L, Schneider R, Kolbeck R, Barde Y-A and Schwab ME (1994)

Nature 367, 170-173.

Brain-derived neurotrophic factor prevents the death of motoneurons in newborn rats after nerve section.

Sendtner M, Holtmann B, Kolbeck R, Thoenen H and Barde Y-A (1992)

Nature 360, 757-758.

Awards and honors


AZ Global Excellence Award for Scientific Publication


AZ Global Excellence Award for Inspirational Leadership


AZ Global Excellence Award for “Scientific Breakthrough of the Year”


AZ CEO Awards Winner for Exceptional Delivery


Research & Development Award of Excellence

I have a passion to develop medicines that help patients who don’t otherwise have options. This is very rewarding and motivating for me, and keeps me focused on seeking the evidence, and collaborating with other investigators who share a similar vision to pursue the science that benefits all of mankind.

Roland Kolbeck, PhD VP, R&D Respiratory, Inflammation and Autoimmunity (RIA)

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