2023 Health Care Power 50: N – Z (updated)

NJBIZ STAFF//March 27, 2023//

2023 Health Care Power 50: N – Z (updated)

NJBIZ STAFF//March 27, 2023//

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Dean Paranicas

Since 2011, Paranicas has served as president and CEO of the HealthCare Institute of New Jersey, the trade association for the leading re-search-based biopharmaceutical and medical technology companies here in the Garden State. “New Jersey has by my count nine top-10 rankings across various categories in the country in terms of standing relative to peer states,” he told NJBIZ last year. “That’s why companies want to come to New Jersey, because they have that concentration here.” Paranicas is a respected and influential voice in the health care, manufacturing and innovation sectors, and more throughout the state, who regularly serves as a news source and often pens op-eds on top issues of the moment. An example of a recent op-ed was for Rare Disease Day in February. “So why invest in rare disease research, development, and commercialization? Be-cause it is the life science’s industry’s ongoing noble mission to improve human health regardless of the size of the affected patient population,” he wrote. “Another benefit is that research can build on itself – a breakthrough on one disease can lead to progress on others.”

Donald Parker

“I’m usually on the ‘Who’s He’ list,” Parker, the president of behavioral health care transformation services for Hackensack Meridian Health and CEO of HMH Carrier Clinic, said as he took to the stage to accept his NJBIZ Healthcare Heroes Lifetime Achievement Award this past summer. And though he may profess not to realize it, with more than four decades of visionary leadership in the field, Parker is definitely a who’s who. His work puts him at the head of the largest nonprofit behavioral health system in the state. A network that HMH is growing, as evidenced most recently by the expansion of the Carrier Clinic brand to Raritan Bay Medical Center in Perth Amboy. As part of that growth, HMH is investing $35 million in the new, state-of-the-art Carrier Behavioral Health at Raritan Bay Medical Center, which will expand from 24 beds to 81. With expectations to be fully open to the public this summer, Parker called the combination an “incredible partnership for the needs of our patients.” Throughout his career, his accomplishments include helping to develop new treatment strategies for behavioral health, including acoustical stimulation to reduce aggressive behavior; wearable devices to predict patient relapses in advance; and equine and healing art therapy strategies. All experience that will continue to be put to good use as HMH expands its behavioral health strategy and services in Middlesex County and beyond.

Stuart Peltz

Peltz founded South Plainfield-based PTC Therapeutics in 1998 and has been at the helm as CEO since its inception. The company is set to mark a major milestone this year. PTC is a science-driven, global biopharmaceutical company focused on the discovery, development and commercialization of clinically differentiated medicines that provide benefits to patients with rare disorders. Peltz said in February that “2023 will be a very exciting year at PTC, including a celebration of our 25th anniversary. Together our marketed products grew 30% in revenue in 2022 despite significant foreign exchange headwinds. We expect our revenue growth to accelerate further in 2023, potentially reaching $1 billion in total revenue. We are also advancing a broad and deep pipeline of new therapies that we expect to provide substantial growth in the coming years.” Peltz is an accomplished and respected leader in RNA biology with more than 30 years of research and over 100 publications. Under his leadership, PTC has grown from a research organization based in the expertise of RNA processes and control to a company publicly traded on NASDAQ. He has received a number of honors and awards for his work, including the prestigious 2014 Dr. Sol J. Barer Award for Vision Innovation and Leadership. Peltz also serves on BioNJ’s board of trustees. On March 24, the company announced Peltz’s retirement.

David Perlin

Perlin, who has led Hackensack Meridian’s Center for Discovery and Innovation since its inception in 2019, was honored in February with BioNJ’s prestigious 2023 Dr. Sol J. Barer Award for Vision, Innovation and Leadership. In honoring Perlin, BioNJ noted his contributions throughout the pandemic and, more broadly, for making innovative science actionable for patients in real time to deliver on solutions for unmet medical needs. In just three-plus year, CDI has evolved to include 26 primary investigators, more than 170 employees, and along with 57 NIH grants, more than $165 million in research commitments. “Driven and passionate, Dr. Perlin is changing the lives of patients around the world … tackling the unimaginable,” said BioNJ President and CEO Debbie Hart. “He is New Jersey’s own innovation superhero.” In accepting the honor, Perlin said, “We have an opportunity to make New Jersey, or to continue to have New Jersey to be a centerpiece, for this new paradigm in academic science entrepreneurship that seamlessly engages clinical commercial partners, biotech, pharma, device manufacturers, diagnostic companies, health care systems to drive innovative solutions. So, let’s create broad value for all of our partners, and in turn, improve the health of the region, the nation, and the world.” Robert Garrett, Hackensack Meridian’s CEO said “Dr. Perlin is an exceptional leader whose expertise and dedication elevates and advances our health net-work mission to transform health care and serve as a leader of positive change.”

Gary St. Hilaire

St. Hilaire is president and CEO of Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey, a post he’s held since 2020. And this year he’s leading the health insurer through a redefining makeover. Following approval in the latter part of 2022, Horizon is reorganizing its corporate structure to become a mutual holding company. According to the insurer, the move will allow it to make investments in technology and services that were restricted by its previous not-for-profit health services corporation structure. Horizon predicts that change will produce $4.16 billion in additional economic output, nearly 2,000 new jobs and $62 million in added state revenue. The deal, which is in motion under legislation from 2020 that laid the course for the conversion, is not without controversy. Filed at the end of 2022, a lawsuit seeks to halt the transformation on the grounds it’s not in the best inter-est of the insurer’s 3.6 million participants. A case that St. Hilaire might need to make. But Horizon is no stranger to making its case. The state’s big-gest health insurer, a recent report from ELEC revealed that Horizon is also one of New Jersey’s biggest spenders when it comes to lobbying. Over the past two decades, the insurer was No. 4 among the state’s top 25 special interest spenders, with a total $16.3 million. In the fall, St. Hilaire and Horizon received positive feedback on several efforts in the interest of its customers when the company was ranked tops for customer satisfaction among commercial health plans in the state for the third straight year. Three years, it begs mentioning, that included the onset and worst of the COVID-19 pandemic. At the start of 2023, St. Hilaire and the company he leads also received another endorsement when the State of New Jersey extended its contract with the insurer for another year. Rising costs for the state plan have made headlines, moving forward in 2023 Horizon, with St. Hilaire at the helm, is definitely a space worth watching.

Wardell Sanders

As president of the New Jersey Association of Health Plans – a post he’s held since October 2006 – Sanders leads the state trade association that represents all six of the major health plans in the Garden State, including three Medicaid health plans. Previously, he directed the two agencies regulating individual and small group health benefits markets, the New Jersey Individual Health Coverage Program Board and the New Jersey Small Employer Health Benefits Program Board, which together cover a million New Jerseyans. Sanders was also one of the stakeholders named to Gov. Phil Murphy’s Health Care Affordability Advisory Group in March 2021 and tasked with making recommendations on how New Jersey can lower care costs.

Gary Small

Small is chairman of Hackensack University Medical Center’s Department of Psychiatry and serves as physician-in-chief for Behavioral Health at Hackensack Meridian. He is also the inaugural H. Hovnanian Family Foundation Endowed Chair in Behavioral Health at Hackensack Meridian Health. Small joined HMH in November 2020 and oversees educational programs and training, is responsible for his department’s clinical operations, develops and expands research and academic programs, and develops and maintains quality initiatives. He also leads recruiting efforts for physicians within the behavioral health field. Small has written more than 500 scientific publications and a dozen popular books, including the best seller, The Memory Bible. His numerous awards and honors include the Jack Weinberg Award from the American Psychiatric Association and the Research Award in Geriatric Psychiatry from the American College of Psychiatrists.

Brian Strom

As the inaugural chancellor of Rutgers School of Biomedical and Health Sciences, Strom has brought tremendous growth to the program over the past decade. His achievements include forming Rutgers Health to unite all the university’s clinical care programs as a single entity and establishing a new affiliation with RWJBarnabas Health to create one of New Jersey’s largest and most comprehensive academic health systems. Construction is also set to begin this spring on the first of three buildings in the New Jersey Health + Life Science Exchange, or HELIX, a public-private $732 million development planned in New Brunswick that will be home to Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and translational research facility. Planning began several years ago when Gov. Phil Murphy first proposed a hub to invigorate the economy and the need for continued groundbreaking health and medical research was only reinforced by the pandemic. Of the project, Strom has said it enable stakeholders to “bring together higher education institutions, health systems and the life sciences industry to revolutionize clinical and translational research – turning our groundbreaking research into care and cures.” Additionally, he said, moving the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School “into one state-of-the-art campus will im-prove medical students’ experience through holistic medical education and opportunities for clinical experiences in all four years of medical school.”

Sarah Trent

A well-known cannabis advocate, attorney and founder and chief executive officer of Raritan-based Valley Wellness, one of the state’s few dispensaries not run by a multistate operator, Trent is helping serve patients who are seeking relief from a range of ailments from anxiety to insomnia to Crohn’s disease. While the number of patients enrolled in New Jersey’s medicinal marijuana registry has steadily declined since the official launch of legalized adult-use sales in April 2022, Trent remains a champion for the program for a number of reasons – the biggest being a lower cost since there is no state tax on cannabis for medical patients. But, as the cannabis landscape continues to evolve, Trent’s dispensary is among the many local canna-businesses that must adapt and is seeking state approval to offer recreational sales as a way to capture the emerging market. However, even with an expansion into adult-use cannabis, Trent says medical patients will always be priority at Valley. As part of her continuing commitment to educate about responsible cannabis use and create an educated workforce for the space, Trent founded NJ Cannabis Certified, a 15-hour certificate program taught in conjunction with community colleges that has educated more than 1,000 students on laws, regulations, cultivation techniques, manufacturing processes and operations since March 2020.

Carolyn Welsh

After more than two decades with NJ Sharing Network, Welsh took the helm as CEO of the state’s federally designated nonprofit responsible for the recovery of donated organs and tissue at the start of 2023. And that new year started off with good news from the new leader: In 2022, NJ Sharing Network reached all-time highs for both the number of organ donors (283) and the number of organs transplanted in a single year (670). The achievements marked the fourth consecutive year of record-setting for the number of donors, and Welsh is just getting started. The leader is eager to continue breaking records, and thus saving and enhancing lives across the state, with a goal to reach 300 organ donors and 700 transplants in a single year by 2024. “We have developed strategic plans for growth that includes adding talent, resources, and programs to facilitate the donor process, support donor families, and increase our robust multicultural outreach and education efforts,” Welsh said when the 2022 milestones were announced, laying the groundwork for plenty of continued growth.

Dennis Wilson

Wilson has served as president and CEO of Delta Dental of New Jersey and Connecticut since September 2013. His holistic view on the link between oral health and overall well-being is helping to lead Delta Dental through an era of renewed oral health care leadership, transformation and enterprise modernization, while continuing the organization’s 50-year legacy of serving families, businesses, dental professionals and the community. Wilson serves as immediate past chair of the Community Foundation of New Jersey, which educates and engages New Jerseyans on the power charitable giving has on positively effecting change in our communities. In July 2019, he was appointed to the board of managers of Paradigm Oral Surgery, a subsidiary of private equity firm InTandem Capital Partners, which works to revolutionize and reinvent implant surgery through ongoing technology and digital advancements. He serves as an investor and strategic advisor. His corporate and community board memberships include Delta Dental Plans Association, DeltaUSA, Encara Inc., Healthentic Inc., Delta Dental of New Jersey Foundation, the Community Foundation of New Jersey, Atlantic Health System and the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce. Before joining Delta, Wilson served as president of Aetna’s Coventry Health Care, where he managed five states that represented the highest total contribution to earnings among all Coventry regions nationwide.

Editor’s note: This story was updated at 2:41 p.m. ET on April 3, 2023, to reflect that Dennis Wilson is an immediate past chair, not current chair,of the Community Foundation of New Jersey.