Randal J. Kirk

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Randal J. Kirk
Born (1954-03-01) March 1, 1954 (age 64)[1]
Pleasanton, California, U.S.
Residence West Palm Beach, Florida, U.S.[2]
Alma mater Radford University (BA, 1976)[3]
University of Virginia School of Law (JD, 1979)[4]
Occupation Biotech investor; CEO of Intrexon Corporation; founder and senior managing director of Third Security, LLC
Known for Biotech investing[5]
Home town Dublin, Virginia[6]
Net worth US $ 3.3 billion
(est. in January 2017)[4]
Political party Independent[6]
Board member of
  • Intrexon Corporation (since 2008)
  • Halozyme Therapeutics (since 2007)
  • ZIOPHARM Oncology (since 2011)
Children 4[7]

Randal J. Kirk (born March 1, 1954) is an American businessman and investor in pharmaceuticals and biotechnology. Kirk is the chairman and chief executive officer of Intrexon (NYSE: XON), a biotechnology company. Kirk started as a lawyer, but is best known for his investments in pharmaceutical and biotech companies. In addition to high-profile sales of New River Pharmaceuticals, Inc., and Clinical Data, Inc, Kirk also founded investment firm Third Security, LLC, and has held board seats with biotech companies, such as Scios, Inc., and ZIOPHARM Oncology. He is a billionaire and is listed on the Forbes 400.

Early life and education[edit]

Randal J. Kirk was born in Pleasanton, California.[8] The son of a U.S. Air Force master sergeant,[9] Kirk and his family moved from California to Texas before settling in Virginia.[8] Kirk graduated from Pulaski High School in Pulaski County, Virginia.[6] Following high school, Kirk worked selling cars and motorcycles, and enrolled part-time at Radford University to study business.[6] He earned a bachelor's degree in Economics at Radford in 1976, followed by a Juris Doctor at the University of Virginia in 1979.[7]


Kirk was admitted to the bar in 1980, becoming the only attorney in Bland, Virginia, and began a practice he ran until 1990.[2][8][3] In 1983, he partnered with Bland County pharmacist John Gregory to found the next-day pharmaceutical distributor General Injectables and Vaccines. Kirk and his partners would go on to sell the business to Henry Schein, Inc. for $65 million in 1998.[9][10][11]

In 1996, Kirk founded New River Pharmaceuticals, where he served as chairman and CEO and took the company public in 2004.[12][13] The developer of attention-deficit drug Vyvanse, New River would prove to be Kirk's single biggest payoff when he sold the company to Shire in 2007 for $2.6 billion, making over a $1 billion for Kirk himself.[2][14]

In 1999, Kirk founded the life-sciences investment firm Third Security, LLC, where he is senior managing director, CEO and chairman.[15][16] From 2000 to 2002, Kirk served as a member of the board of directors for Scios, Inc., a maker of heart disease medication that later sold to Johnson & Johnson for $2.4 billion.[17][18] Kirk also became the majority stock holder and chairman of Newton, Massachusetts-based pharmaceutical company Clinical Data, Inc. In 2011, shortly after Clinical Data's drug Viibryd received regulatory approval, Forest Laboratories bought Clinical Data for $1.2 billion.[19]

Kirk became involved with biotechnology company Intrexon in the 2000s. He was named chairman of its board in 2008 and became CEO in 2009.[20] Kirk took Intrexon public in 2013, taking the company's market cap to $2.5 billion with the IPO.[21]

Kirk is involved in a number of companies advocating the approval of genetically-altered animals, including salmon (through AquaBounty),[22] disease-resistant mosquitoes (through Oxitec),[23] and an apple which resists browning (through Okanagan Specialty Fruits).[24] Other projects of Kirk's companies include creating cancer treatments, gasoline substitutes, crop protection, and improving bovine genetics.[2][25][26]


Kirk has been profiled by SynBioBeta and Forbes.[27][28] In 2008, Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine named Kirk Virginia’s Outstanding Industrialist for the Year.[29] He has spoken at the SynBioBeta Conference,[27] BioFlorida,[30] Klick Ideas Exchange[31] and was a Borlaug Dialogue Speaker at the World Food Prize.[32]

Philanthropy and other roles[edit]

Following the sale of General Injectables and Vaccines, Kirk donated $1 million to Radford University, creating the Zylphia Shu-En Kirk Endowment[6] named after his daughter.[3] Kirk has served on the board of directors of the Radford University Foundation and the school's board of visitors.[6] Kirk was a member of University of Virginia's board of visitors from 2009 to 2012.[33]

Kirk has also donated substantially to political causes. He considers himself a political independent, and has supported both Republicans and Democrats.[34] He has been especially involved in Virginia politics, donating $1.8 million to candidates for state office, including $200,000 to Terry McAuliffe's 2009 Virginia gubernatorial election.[35] [36] Since 1994 he has donated $183,250 in federal elections.[37]

Personal life[edit]

Kirk lives in West Palm Beach, Florida and has four children.[2] According to Forbes, Kirk is worth $3.3 billion and ranks No. 174 on its Forbes 400 list.[4] Kirk's hobbies include falconry.[38]


  1. ^ "The World's Billionaires". Forbes. March 2013. Archived from the original on 24 April 2013. Retrieved 24 April 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Pollack, Andrew (5 March 2016). "A biotech evangelist". The New York Times. Retrieved 20 January 2017. 
  3. ^ a b c "R.J. Kirk". RU Magazine. Radford University. May 1999. Retrieved 20 January 2017. 
  4. ^ a b c "Forbes 400: #174 Randal Kirk". Forbes 400. Forbes. Retrieved 20 January 2017. 
  5. ^ Langreth, Robert; Herper, Matthew (22 February 2011). "The Next Big Move For The Smartest Biotech Investor". Forbes. Retrieved 25 April 2013. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f Manese-Lee, Angela (20 February 2007). "Meet Randal J. Kirk, Southwest Virginia's first billionaire". The Roanoke Times. Retrieved 20 January 2017. 
  7. ^ a b "Randal Kirk". Forbes. Archived from the original on 25 April 2013. Retrieved 24 April 2013. 
  8. ^ a b c Greenberg, Duncan (22 September 2007). "Flying solo". Forbes. Retrieved 20 January 2017. 
  9. ^ a b "The 400 Richest Americans". Forbes 400. Forbes. 17 September 2008. Retrieved 20 January 2017. 
  10. ^ "Following the smart money: The small cap biotech investments of Randal J. Kirk". Seeking Alpha. 11 March 2014. Retrieved 23 January 2017. 
  11. ^ "Henry Schein To Acquire VA-Based Marketer Of Injectables And Vaccines". Pharmaceutical Online. 5 January 1999. Retrieved 24 April 2013. 
  12. ^ "Randal Kirk". Reuters. Retrieved 23 January 2017. 
  13. ^ "New River closes $30mm IPO". 1 August 2004. Retrieved 25 April 2013. 
  14. ^ "Randal "RJ" Kirk". FierceBiotech. Retrieved 31 January 2017. 
  15. ^ Mintz, Cliff (9 June 2011). "Through the eyes of a billionaire life sciences investor". Life Science Leader. Retrieved 23 January 2017. 
  16. ^ "Our people". Third Security, LLC. Retrieved 23 January 2017. 
  17. ^ Sturgeon, Jeff (18 December 2004). "R.J. Kirk's prescription for success: Staying busy". The Roanoke Times. Retrieved 23 January 2017. 
  18. ^ Hensley, Scott; Sidel, Robin (11 February 2003). "Johnson & Johnson agrees to buy Scios for $2.4 billion". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 23 January 2017. 
  19. ^ Clarke, Toni (22 February 2011). "Forest Labs to acquire Clinical Data for $1.2 billion". Reuters. Retrieved 23 January 2017. 
  20. ^ "Board of directors: Randal J. Kirk". Intrexon. Retrieved 23 January 2017. 
  21. ^ Solomon, Brian (9 August 2013). "Biotech billionaire Randal Kirk nets $1.5 billion windfall on Intrexon IPO". Forbes. Retrieved 23 January 2017. 
  22. ^ Pollack, Andrew (19 November 2015). "Genetically engineered salmon approved for consumption". The New York Times. Retrieved 23 January 2017. 
  23. ^ "Press Release: Intrexon to acquire Oxitec, pioneer of innovative insect control solutions addressing global challenges". Oxitec. 10 August 2015. Retrieved 16 March 2017. 
  24. ^ Rebecca Randall (4 March 2015). "Synbio firm Intrexon snaps up Okanagan, developers of new GM Arctic Apple". Genetic Literacy Project. Retrieved 16 March 2017. 
  25. ^ Kunzig, Robert (16 October 2014). "Cloning cows from steaks (and other ways of building better cattle)". National Geographic. Retrieved 31 January 2017. 
  26. ^ Maxx Chatsko (6 September 2016). "Intrexon investors are neglecting this technology platform". The Motley Fool. Retrieved 31 January 2017. 
  27. ^ a b Christopher Harrison (28 October 2015). "From BIOtech to bioTECH: Meet Serial Entrepreneur Randal Kirk, CEO of Intrexon". SynBioBeta. Retrieved 23 January 2017. 
  28. ^ Herper, Matthew (22 February 2011). "Is Randal J. Kirk biotech's best investor?". Forbes. Retrieved 23 January 2017. 
  29. ^ "The Virginia 100". The Virginia 100. VirginiaBusiness.com. 1 June 2008. Retrieved 23 January 2017. 
  30. ^ Manning, Margie (17 September 2013). "Biotech entrepreneur says industry falls short of potential". Tampa Bay Business Journal. Retrieved 23 January 2017. 
  31. ^ "Drs. Eric Topol, Daniel Kraft & Ezekiel Emanuel, Biotech's Martine Rothblatt, Craig Venter & RJ Kirk, business gurus Gary Hamel & Tom Peters, along with other visionaries to speak at Klick Ideas Exchange". Klick Ideas Exchange. 10 June 2015. Retrieved 23 January 2017. 
  32. ^ "2016 Borlaug Dialogue Speakers". The World Food Prize. Retrieved 23 January 2017. 
  33. ^ "Randal J. Kirk resigns from UVa board". The Associated Press. 6 October 2012. Retrieved 23 January 2017. 
  34. ^ Manese-Lee, Angela; Paul Dellinger (February 20, 2007). "Meet Randal J. Kirk, Southwest Virginia's first billionaire". Roanoke Times. Retrieved March 16, 2017. 
  35. ^ Meola, Olympia; Tyler Whitley (April 17, 2009). "Bill Clinton, Trump among McAuliffe's donors". Richmond Times Dispatch. Richmond, Virginia. Retrieved March 16, 2017. 
  36. ^ "Money Out (Contributions): Randal J Kirk". Virginia Public Access Project. Retrieved 2009-04-22. 
  37. ^ "OpenSecrets - Donor Lookup: Find Individual and Soft Money Contributors". Center for Responsive Politics. Retrieved 2009-04-22. 
  38. ^ Milligan, Jack (June 2006). "The 2006 Virginia 100 - Feathering his nest - Randal J. Kirk builds companies and fortunes". Virginia Business Magazine. Archived from the original on April 7, 2009. Retrieved 2009-04-22.