Healthcare Industry News:  Theravance 

Biopharmaceuticals Personnel

 News Release - January 6, 2006

Sapphire Therapeutics, Inc. Builds Drug Development Team Through New Hires and Promotion

BRIDGEWATER, N.J.--(HSMN NewsFeed)--Jan. 6, 2006--Sapphire Therapeutics, Inc., a private biopharmaceuticals company focused on cancer and metabolic disorders, today announced two recent hires and an internal promotion that strengthen the company's team of pharmaceutical development experts to advance the clinical and preclinical development of Sapphire's growing therapeutic pipeline.

Karen M. Kumor, MD, has joined Sapphire as vice president, clinical research, with responsibility for directing clinical research projects. A board-certified pediatrician and clinical pharmacologist with more than 13 years of drug development experience, Dr. Kumor held senior clinical development positions at Alexion Pharmaceuticals, where she managed several antibody product development programs, and Bayer Corporation, where she led international, multidisciplinary teams developing small molecule therapeutics for oncology and rheumatology indications, with experience in regulatory submissions to the EMEA (EU) and Japanese regulatory environments. Dr. Kumor's research career includes a medical degree from Johns Hopkins University and faculty positions at the University of Texas, the University of Pennsylvania and Yale University, plus a section chief position at NIDA/NIH (National Institute on Drug Abuse/National Institutes of Health).

Abraham Varghese, PhD, recently joined Sapphire as vice president, regulatory affairs, from Akros Pharma Inc., where he managed regulatory affairs for US and European projects. At Sapphire, he is responsible for the formulation and implementation of regulatory strategies, regulatory agency liaison and submission activities for domestic and international programs. His 20 years of academic and industry experience include senior clinical research and regulatory affairs positions at Boots Pharmaceuticals and PPD Development in multiple therapeutic areas. Dr. Varghese's academic career included faculty positions at Baylor College of Medicine and the University of Houston in clinical pharmacology. His education includes an MS in chemistry from Jiwaji University in Gwailor, India, as well as an MS in pharmaceutics and a PhD in pharmacology from the University of Houston.

William J. Polvino, MD, formerly Sapphire's senior vice president of development, has been promoted to executive vice president, with an increase in responsibility for not only the company's clinical development programs but also for non-clinical operations. Dr. Polvino's 15 years of pharmaceutical industry experience include senior clinical development positions at Theravance, Wyeth and Merck, where he played a key role managing clinical trials that led to the approval of Fosamax® and other Merck products. While at Merck, he co-chaired the growth hormone secretagogue project team with Sapphire founder Dr. Roy G. Smith. With an MD from UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and a BS from Boston College, Dr. Polvino trained in internal medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital and was a fellow in clinical pharmacology at the NIH.

"Sapphire's competitive edge lies in our ability to leverage our senior management team to tackle development problems, solve them, and keep multiple programs on track," said Gary C. Cupit, PharmD, president and chief executive officer. "Since I joined the company, we've increased the team with people from Merck, Aventis, Knoll and Novartis; a group with diverse backgrounds and a firm understanding of global pharmaceutical development. We are further leveraging our expertise to in-license more compounds, and partner our existing compounds. For 2006, our goal is to have at least three compounds in clinical development."

About Sapphire Therapeutics

Sapphire is a private biopharmaceutical company that in-licenses and develops promising small-molecule drug candidates, to treat metabolic and oncologic diseases for which existing therapies are limited or marginally effective. The company's first investigational drug candidates are a series of orally active and parenterally deliverable small molecules with therapeutic potential in metabolic and oncologic diseases that were in-licensed as preclinical compounds from Novo Nordisk in May 2001. The furthest advanced of this series is RC-1291, currently in Phase II development in cancer patients with anorexia/cachexia syndrome, a common, life-threatening complication of underlying malignant disease. The second drug, RC-8800, a small molecule that acts on the vitamin D (calcitriol) metabolic pathway, is being developed as a treatment for various cancers, and is currently in Phase I development for prostate cancer. The company is advancing several additional molecules through preclinical development while actively seeking more drug candidates.

Source: Sapphire Therapeutics

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