Kung-Yee Liang, PH.D. was elected as the chairman of OBI Pharma, Inc.

OBI Pharma, Inc. (4174.TWO) held a board meeting today (29th) and unanimously elected Kung-Yee Liang PH.D., the new legal representative, former president of the National Health Research Institutes (NHRI), and president of Yang-Ming University, as the new chairman, effective from now on.

Michael Chang, the founder of OBI, died suddenly of a heart attack on December 29 last year and was succeeded by Dr. Yan Yun. At that time, it was stated that the term would be for one year. On the 20th of this month, Yen Yun resigned because the term had expired. Dr. Liang was appointed as the representative by Sheng Cheng Investment Co., Ltd. on December 21, and took over as chairman after this board election.

Kung-Yee Liang is a world-renowned biostatistician. The “Generalized Estimating Equations (GEE)” he published has significantly changed the statistical practices for analyzing data of clinical trials and is now widely used in cancer, cardiovascular,  genetic diseases, mental disease and social science fields, and has won many international awards. After retiring as the president of the NHRI last December, he was appointed as the Chunyu Chair Professor at Feng Chia University. In addition to going to Taichung every other week to help promote holistic education, he has settled in Taitung, hoping to be surrounded by mountains and seas, and live the pastoral life he longed for. Unexpectedly, after Yen Yun’s resignation, Sheng Cheng Investment Company, a subsidiary of Ruentex Group, invited him to serve as the director representative of OBI, which brought an unexpected turn to his career.

Kung-Yee Liang emphasized that when he was the president of National Yang-Ming University and the president of the NHRI, Samuel Yin donated billions to the development of national biotechnology, higher education, and people’s well being; now that Yin seeks his help, it’s hard to say no. However, Kung-Yee Liang asked first to talk with OBI’s CEO, Dr. Heidi Wang. As it turned out, they have already met in person once at a Biostatistics forum in Taipei in 2023. It was at that forum, Dr. Liang found out that the first thing Heidi did after joining OBI was to establish a Biostatistics Department. Dr. Liang felt that this showed how much Heidi understood the importance of biostatistics in drug development. After they had a chance to talk further via video, Dr. Liang was deeply impressed by Heidi’s humility, integrity, and professionalism and felt she could be a good person to collaborate with. Positive opinions of Heidi were obtained after consultations with senior leaders from biotechnology industry and in academics. In addition, these advisors encouraged Dr. Liang to branch out and work in the biotechnology industry.  Consequently, Dr. Liang agreed to accept the request to become the Chairman of OBI Board.

Kung-Yee Liang said that he has a long history of working with colleagues from drug industry. During his 2 tenures at the helm of the NHRI, he encountered 2 separate public health challenges – (1) an avian influenza outbreak and (2) a COVID-19 pandemic. Under Dr. Liang’s leadership, NHRI identified the “influenza-killing” process in 18 days and provided treatment for 1.5 million people in a short time. During the COVID-19 pandemic, NHRI successfully synthesized gram quantities of remdesivir, a drug to treat COVID-19 infection. NHRI also developed COVID-19 antigen rapid screening kits and COVID-19 vaccines. In fact, NHRI was ahead of the industry by strategically investing their Research group while working closely with drug industry to further develop and manufacture the much-needed kits and vaccines for patients. This strong and successful collaboration was due to Dr. Liang’s deep understanding of how the drug industry operated. The difference now as Dr. Liang takes on this challenge as the Chairman of OBI Board is that he will be working on the other side and be a part of the biotechnology industry. Dr. Liang has always invested 100% of efforts and energy in everything he does. In this instance, Dr. Liang commented that, fortunately, he has Heidi as the CEO and “The chairman only needs to be a cheerleader.”