Graham Defries is a partner in the firm’s Life Sciences group. Mr. Defries advises biotech companies, pharmaceutical companies and investors in the life science sector on private equity and venture capital investments/exits, M&A, IPOs and collaboration/licensing transactions.

Mr. Defries has been ranked in the 2019 edition of IFLR1000 and for life sciences in Chambers UK, 2020, where he was described as “an excellent legal scholar and also a very good negotiator.” In the 2018 edition of Chambers UK, clients said he was “outstanding” and “helps keep the focus on the relevant details.” He was described as “very pragmatic, business savvy and detail oriented” in Chambers UK, 2017. Mr. Defries was recommended for life sciences, healthcare by The Legal 500 UK in 2021. Mr. Defries was recommended for M&A and noted for pharmaceuticals, biotechnology and private equity work in The Legal 500 UK, 2016. In 2016, The Legal 500 UK acknowledged Mr. Defries as a “consummate legal adviser” who “protects your interests with panache.” He has been recommended for life sciences in Chambers UK, 2016 and 2015, with a client describing him as “practical, decisive and not one to flap.” He has also been praised for “his co-ordination of a deal” and that he “did an excellent job in aligning all the parties.” In The Legal 500 UK, 2015, he was cited as “brilliant,” a “strong negotiator” and “gets the deal done” with respect to M&A and private equity work and was mentioned for his work in pharmaceuticals and biotechnology. He was also recognised in Chambers UK, 2014 and The Legal 500 UK, 2014 and 2013. In Chambers UK, 2013, Mr. Defries was described as “an M&A lawyer first and foremost” who has “a great deal of experience within the life sciences industry and a strong focus on licensing agreements and collaborations.” Chambers UK, 2012 praised him as “a highly skilled cross-border M&A lawyer with an increasingly active profile in the life sciences sector. Clients say he is smart, business-savvy and a top negotiator.” He has also been mentioned in The Legal 500 EMEA for telecommunications work and in The Legal 500 UK, 2011.

Prior to joining Goodwin in 2018, Mr. Defries was the head of the London life sciences practice at Dechert LLP.

Areas of Practice
Domaines D’Expertise





  • Advising Centessa Pharmaceuticals Limited on:
    • its initial public offering on NASDAQ which totalled $379.5 million
    • the completion of its $250 million financing round in parallel with the simultaneous acquisition by Centessa of 10 private biotech companies across 4 jurisdictions
  • Advising Enterprise Therapeutics Ltd on the demerger and subsequent acquisition of its TMEM16A potentiator portfolio by Roche for an upfront consideration of £75 million and significant potential milestone payments. 
  • Advising Inflazome Limited and its shareholders on the sale of 100% of its equity share capital to Roche for total initial consideration of €380 million.
  • Advising KaNDy Therapeutics on its sale to Bayer for $425 million upfront with up to $450 million in development milestone payments and triple digit millions in commercial milestones
  • Advising Symprove Holdings Limited and its shareholders, on the sale of 100% of its share capital, to bd-capital for a total initial consideration of approximately £40 million. 
  • Advising NodThera Limited on its $55 million Series B equity financing
  • Advising Y Combinator’s Continuity growth fund as lead investor on a Series F investment of £113 million ($144 million) into Monzo Bank Limited.
  • Advising Bicycle Therapeutics plc in its IPO on Nasdaq in the U.S.
  • Representing the lead investor LSP Health Economics Fund 2 (advised by Life Science Partners) on the $28 million series C equity financing round of Lumeon Limited.
  • Advising Exscientia Limited (an AI-driven drug discovery company) on its $26 million series B equity financing round. The Investors were Celgene Corporation, GT Healthcare Capital Partners and Evotec AG. 
  • Staten Biotechnology B.V. on its strategic collaboration with Novo Nordisk A/S to develop novel therapeutics for the treatment of triglyceride dyslipidemia, by way of an option to acquire structure.
  • Advising Gadeta on its strategic collaboration with Kite (a Gilead company) to develop novel gamma delta TCR therapies for the treatment of various cancers, by way of an option to acquire structure.
  • Representing the new investors BioDiscovery 5 PFCI (advised by Andera Partners) and LSP 6 Cooperatief UA (Life Science Partners) on the £65 million Series B equity financing round of Artios Pharma Limited
  • Prexton Therapeutics B.V. and its selling shareholders, including M Ventures, in its sale to global pharmaceutical company H. Lundbeck A/S for up to €905 million.*
  • Biocon Limited, Asia’s premier biopharmaceutical company, in the negotiation of an exclusive global collaboration agreement with Sandoz, a Novartis division, to develop, manufacture and commercialize multiple biosimilars in immunology and oncology for patients worldwide.*
  • The shareholders on the sale of Stat-Dx, a privately owned Spanish diagnostics company, to QIAGEN N.V., for $191 million (including milestones).*
  • Bicycle Therapeutics Limited on its £40 million Series B equity financing round, led by Vertex Global Fund I alongside Cambridge Innovation Capital and Longwood Fund, with existing investors including Novartis Venture Fund, SR One and SVLS also participating in the round.*
  • The selling shareholders in Ziarco Group Limited in connection with the sale of the company to Novartis.*
  • Cellnovo, an innovative biotechnology company, on its IPO in compartment C of the Euronext regulated market in Paris, raising €31.56 million through capital increase, with a market capitalization of €113.6 million.*
  • Egalet, a fully integrated specialty pharmaceutical company, on its IPO on NASDAQ, which raised $54.8 million.*
  • The shareholders of AM-Pharma B.V. on the sale of a minority interest in the company to Pfizer Inc. and the grant of an exclusive option to Pfizer to acquire the remaining equity in the company, exercisable upon completion of a Phase II trial of recAP in the treatment of acute kidney injury related to sepsis, for an upfront payment of $87.5 million and additional potential payments of up to $512.5 million upon option exercise and potential launch of any product by Pfizer.XO1 Limited on its sale to Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc. ( an affiliate of Johnson & Johnson).*
  • XO1 is a UK-based company developing Ichorcumab, a novel anticoagulant to treat Thrombosis, in its sale to Janssen Pharmaceuticals.*
  • The shareholders of biopharmaceutical company Covagen AG in relation to the sale of Covagen to the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson.*
  • ProFibrix B.V. in connection with its sale (by way of an option agreement) to Nasdaq-listed The Medicines Company.*
  • UK-based life sciences company Funxional Therapeutics Ltd. on the sale to Boehringer Ingelheim, the German pharmaceuticals company, of the global rights to its FX125L compound and somatotaxin programme, used to treat a broad range of inflammatory diseases.*
  • Cellzome, Inc. the leading proteomics technologies R&D company with laboratories in the UK and Germany, in connection with its $99 million sale to GlaxoSmithKline plc.*
  • PanGenetics BV and its selling shareholders in connection with the sale for $190 million of a chronic pain compound (PG110) to Abbott Laboratories pursuant to a Dutch/ UK demerger process.*
  • Biocon, India’s leading biotechnology company, in its strategic global agreement with Pfizer, Inc. for the worldwide commercialization of Biocon’s biosimilar versions of insulin and insulin analog products, for an up-front fee of $200 million and milestone payments of $150 million.*
  • A consortium led by Edmond de Rothschild Investment Partners in a £30 million Series B financing round for Cellnovo Limited, the developer of the first mobile diabetes management system.*

* Denotes experience prior to joining Goodwin.

Professional Experience

Mr. Defries serves on the London committee of the Cornwall Community Foundation, a charity which aims to alleviate social deprivation in Cornwall. He is a past chair of the London Advisory Board of Maggie’s Centres, a UK charity which builds and runs centres which offer psychological and emotional support, as well as practical advice, to cancer sufferers.


Mr. Defries was recognized by Chambers 2021 UK for his work in Life Sciences: Transactional.

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College of Law, Guildford
B.A., 1990
Oxford Brookes University



Solicitor of the Senior Courts of England and Wales
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