Michael Pape is a serial entrepreneur on a quest to develop a new generation of disease-fighting drugs. In 1998 Pape cofounded Esperion Therapeutics, which eventually sold to Pfizer for $1.3 billion. It was only the beginning of his entrepreneurial journey. Pape went on to cofound Orchard Venture Partners, a venture capital firm with several companies in the field of drug development. One of them—Ann Arbor, Michigan–based Nymirum, that Pape heads as CEO—aims to develop drugs to treat diseases caused by dysfunctional human RNA.
Acting on an early fascination with biochemistry, Pape earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan and a PhD from Purdue. He began his career as a research biochemist at The Upjohn Company, then moved to Warner-Lambert/Parke-Davis in 1991, where he worked on the blockbuster cholesterol-fighting drug Lipitor.
It wasn’t until the sale of Esperion in 2004 that he enrolled at Chicago Booth for a “what-next” check. At Booth, he learned the language of business and the fundamentals of financing start-ups while also meeting his future Orchard partner J.P. Fairbank. But Michael Pape isn’t all business. He also teaches at the University of Michigan and helps lead Collegiate Church Network, which ministers to college students.