Benjamin Looker – Trillium Therapeutics Inc.

A GC at the next frontier of oncology

Benjamin Looker wants to improve outcomes for cancer patients.

And while he’s not a scientist or a doctor, he’s spent his career contributing to the cause. As the new and first general counsel for Trillium Therapeutics Inc., he’s helping the company as it starts new and expanded clinical trials.

Benjamin Looker | General Counsel |Trillium Therapeutics Inc.

Benjamin Looker | General Counsel | Trillium Therapeutics Inc.

Taking the job in April, he says he feels fortunate to be with the biotech company as it makes advancements in oncology.

“We all know someone who’s had cancer, so to be a part of solving that, even in a legal role, is rewarding,” Looker says. “We’re committed to making sick people better, and it’s inspiring to come to work every day.”

Therapeutic breakthrough

Trillium Therapeutics Inc., which has operations in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Ontario, Canada, is an immuno-oncology company. It focuses on therapies targeting CD-47, a signal cancer cells use to evade the immune system.

The signal essentially tricks the immune system into ignoring it, earning it the nickname of “the ‘don’t eat me’ signal.” Trillium’s drug candidates silence CD-47 to make cancer cells visible, so the immune system can fight them.

According to Trillium’s president and CEO, Dr. Jan Skvarka, “We are literally at the next frontier in oncology. For so long it’s only been chemotherapy.”

Benjamin Looker | General Counsel |Trillium Therapeutics Inc.

Trillium has two investigational products targeting CD-47 and is starting nine new clinical studies in cancers that affect the blood, bone marrow, and lymph nodes, as well as solid tumors. As a result, Skvarka plans to double the number of employees by the end of 2021 and scale manufacturing and clinical operations. Because of this, he says the company decided to hire in-house counsel.

Looker oversees all legal matters including the company’s public reporting obligations. He supports the clinical trial operations and manufacturing organizations, as well as the executive team.

According to Skvarka, biotechnology is “a very litigious industry that invites a lot of class action lawsuits,” so Looker will be involved in guiding the company to “avoid any missteps.”

“My day-to-day involves an interesting mix of strategic and tactical legal work,” Looker says. “It’s really exciting to be in a role that supports all aspects of our business.”

Taking the lead

Prior to being hired at Trillium, Looker was head of U.S. legal at MorphoSys, a global biopharmaceutical company based in Germany also focused on developing cancer treatments.

In 2019, he helped open its first U.S. office in Boston, where he led U.S. legal operations as the company prepared its first product approval. The approval in the summer of 2020 marked a significant milestone for MorphoSys as it became a fully integrated biopharma company, meaning it could conduct research, development, drug making and sales.

“It was a great experience because I was in the first wave of employees, so I was involved in and supported all activities as we built out the U.S. business,” he says, explaining he was the sole member of the U.S. legal team.

While the companies have much in common, Trillium is at a much earlier stage in its development, which Looker says he enjoys. Being so passionate about developing cancer treatments, he says it’s fulfilling to work with a small team.

Building a connection

While Looker considers himself fortunate to have found a legal career in oncology, his career didn’t start in either law or cancer. After studying finance in college, he worked in the field for a couple years before earning his law degree and working at a firm. It was there, at Goodwin Procter LLP, that Looker found a mentor who introduced him to life sciences.

He soon developed an interest, which has since developed into a passion, for immuno-oncology and finding treatments for patients. Prior to working at MorphoSys, he worked at EMD Serono, Inc., the U.S.-based healthcare business sector of Merck KGaA, a science and technology company in Germany.

Benjamin Looker | General Counsel |Trillium Therapeutics Inc.

Now that he’s at Trillium Therapeutics, he’s looking forward to helping the company grow. While his first few months with the company have been remote, the company is looking for a new office so work can resume in person. Looker is helping with the search and will oversee lease negotiations.

“I’m excited to get together and meet everyone in person,” he says. “This work is so personal to all of us, so I’m eager to get to know everyone better and create a stronger connection.”

View this feature in the Vanguard Summer IV 2021 Edition here.

Published on: August 17, 2021



Showcase your feature on your website with a custom “As Featured in Vanguard” badge that links directly to your article!

Copy and paste this script into your page coding (ideally right before the closing tag) where you want to display our review banner.


It was a great honor to be featured in Vanguard Law. Working with every member of the team, from the initial interview with Erin Clark, through production with Victor Martins, writing the article with Taryn Plumb and creating the final content with Dave Gushee, was a true pleasure. Everyone was very professional, enthusiastic and supportive, and their creative approach and positive attitude clearly came through in the final product.
– Kevin C. Rakowski, Senior Vice President, Deputy General Counsel, Compliance with Radian Group Inc.
I was honored to be the subject of an article. I enjoy reading Vanguard articles and seeing how other attorneys got to their positions and see their jobs. It's also interesting to see how different law firms partner with the subjects of the articles.
– Henry Marquard, in-house counsel, Stanley Consultants Inc.
The piece highlighting my company, Bob Baker Enterprises, Inc., came out fabulous. Our company is in the new and used car sales and service industry. Everyone was great to work with and extremely professional. They produced a high-quality product and have provided expert assistance and guidance post-production of the article.
– Wade Poulson, General Counsel, Bob Baker Enterprises Inc.
As promised in advance, my feature in Vanguard has increased my visibility within the profession and prompted more than a few people I have not communicated with recently to reconnect. One of the Italian law firms I have used in the past is now in the process of interviewing me for an article on their website and tweeting out the feature story. Activity and the number of people connecting with me on LinkedIn has soared, which is great. The Vanguard writers and editorial staff were great to work with—highly professional and made the effort to make the experience both fun and rewarding (they were also respectful of the time pressures and demands all lawyers face). I was very pleased with the experience and the final outcome. Needless to say, I have been very pleased. All in all working with Vanguard has been a very positive experience which generated good publicity for both Shawcor and myself. My sincere thanks.
– Tim Hutzul, General Counsel, ShawCor Ltd.


Summer I 2024



  • * We’ll never share your email or info with anyone.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.