Healthcare Industry News: RNAi therapeutics
News Release - October 1, 2008
Alnylam Appoints Industry Leader John Schmidt as Chief Scientific OfficerStrengthens Management Team with Promotion of Key Leaders, Including Appointment of Victor Kotelianski to New Role of Senior Vice President and Alnylam Distinguished Fellow
CAMBRIDGE, Mass.--(HSMN NewsFeed)--Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Nasdaq: ALNY ), a leading RNAi therapeutics company, today announced that it has appointed John A. Schmidt, Jr., M.D. to the position of Chief Scientific Officer. In this role, Dr. Schmidt will play a critical role in leading Alnylam's research and drug discovery activities, and will report to John Maraganore, Alnylam’s Chief Executive Officer.
“We are thrilled that Jack is joining Alnylam at such an exciting time in the growth of our company,” said John Maraganore, Chief Executive Officer of Alnylam. “Jack brings over two decades of experience leading drug discovery, and will be an invaluable member of our team as we continue to advance our therapeutic programs into development and clinical trials. His depth of knowledge and commitment to innovative medicines will be a tremendous asset as we continue to build a top-tier biopharmaceutical company founded on RNAi.”
“Alnylam has made tremendous advancements in translating RNAi into an entirely new class of medicines, and I am very excited to be joining the company in advancing its efforts,” said John A. Schmidt, Jr., M.D. “I have been following the science of RNAi for some time, and believe that it is the next big step in the biotherapeutics revolution. Through RNAi, we have the potential to develop novel therapeutics targeting a broad range of disease targets, most of which are undruggable with today’s medicines. Alnylam’s progress to date, both in the business and scientific arenas, is unparalleled in this industry and I am looking forward to working with the outstanding team in place to help bring these innovative medicines to patients.”
Before joining Alnylam, Dr. Schmidt was Vice President and US member of the Sanofi-Aventis Global Discovery Leadership Team where he was also responsible for biotherapeutics, external innovation, and discovery initiatives in China. At legacy Aventis, he was Vice President and Head of the Respiratory and Rheumatoid Arthritis Disease Group where he worked closely with Aventis colleagues and collaboration partners at Millennium Pharmaceuticals and Coley Pharmaceutical Group to advance more than 15 NCEs into preclinical development. Dr. Schmidt had previously served as Senior Director of Immunology and Rheumatology at Merck Research Laboratories where his group conducted fundamental work on interleukin 1 beta, particularly its cognate processing enzyme, caspase 1.
Dr. Schmidt received his undergraduate degree from St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia before completing his MD, internship, and residency in Internal Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. He trained as a postdoctoral fellow in the Laboratory of Immunology and the Laboratory of Biochemistry at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda. He is author or co-author of more than sixty scientific papers, book chapters, or meeting proceedings.
In addition, Alnylam has promoted Victor Kotelianski, M.D., Ph.D., to the role of Senior Vice President and Distinguished Alnylam Fellow. In this newly created position, Dr. Kotelianski will continue to report to the Chief Executive Officer as he plays a key role in leading Alnylam’s research efforts while driving execution of the company’s key goals. He will also provide continued support on evaluation and management of external initiatives, including delivery technologies, academic and corporate collaborations, and future spin-out opportunities.
Alnylam has also expanded its management team with the promotion of three individuals to key positions in the organization. The company promoted Antonin de Fougerolles, Ph.D. to the position of Vice President, Research, Immunology, Metabolic, and Viral Disease; Susanna High to the position of Vice President, Business Planning and Program Management; and Dinah Sah, Ph.D. to the position of Vice President, Research, CNS, and Oncology. Drs. de Fougerolles and Sah will report to the Chief Scientific Officer; Ms. High will continue to report to Barry Greene, Alnylam’s President and Chief Operating Officer.
“It gives me great pride to recognize the growth of these outstanding individuals, each of whom has played an integral role in strengthening this organization,” said John Maraganore, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer. “With their vast experience and proven track record of success in the industry, Victor, Tony, Susanna and Dinah, are invaluable to Alnylam as we continue to lead the translation of the science of RNAi into a robust drug discovery capability and build a significant pipeline of novel medicines.”
Victor Kotelianski, M.D., Ph.D.
Senior Vice President, Distinguished Alnylam Fellow
Victor Kotelianski joined Alnylam in April 2003 as Vice President, Research and was promoted to Senior Vice President, Distinguished Alnylam Fellow in August 2008. Dr. Kotelianski is a key member of Alnylam’s management team and serves as the liaison with the company’s Scientific Advisory Board. He has been instrumental in the formation of the company and in his role as leader of Alnylam’s biology department, and he has played an important role in the pre-clinical advancement of the company’s novel pipeline of RNAi therapeutics, including ALN-RSV01, ALN-VSP, and ALN-PCS. Dr. Kotelianski was formerly Distinguished Investigator, Director of Biological Research at Biogen, Inc., where he worked since 1994. At Biogen, he played a leadership role in the development of the pre-clinical pipeline. In his prior experience, he served as Director of Research, Institut National de la Sante et de la Reserche Medicale (INSERM) in Paris, France. Dr. Kotelianski received his Doctor of Science degree from the National Cardiology Research Center, Academy of Medical Science in Moscow, where he served as Professor of Cell Biology. He was a senior scientist at the Institute of Protein Research, National Academy of Science in Poustchino (Moscow Region). Dr. Kotelianski received his Ph.D. in molecular biology from National Academy of Sciences in Moscow and his M.D. from Uzhgorod University Medical School; he is also an author on over 150 scientific publications in leading peer-reviewed journals.
Antonin de Fougerolles, Ph.D.
Vice President, Research, Immunology, Metabolic, and Viral Disease
Tony de Fougerolles joined Alnylam in 2003 as Director of Research, and in January 2006 was promoted to Senior Director. He has played a leadership role in the development of several research programs, including our Alnylam BioDefense initiative. He also has been a key contributor in many of our collaborative efforts, including Novartis and Roche. Prior to joining Alnylam, Dr. de Fougerolles served as a Principal Scientist at Biogen, where he worked since 1998. At Biogen, he worked on several immunology/inflammation-based programs and led research teams working on developing therapeutics against alpha1beta1 collagen receptor (VLA-1), novel B7 costimulatory molecules, and monocyte-derived chemoattractant protein 1 (MCP1). Dr. de Fougerolles earned his Ph.D. in Immunology from Harvard University, and was a Research Fellow at the Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, England.
Vice President, Business Planning and Program Management
Susanna High joined Alnylam in February 2007 as Senior Director, Business Planning and Program Management and has been critical in strengthening the business planning and alliance management capabilities. In addition, she has provided exceptional leadership with ongoing alliances including Roche and Novartis, and will continue to play a key role as Alnylam develops new relationships. Ms. High joined Alnylam from Millennium Pharmaceuticals, where she most recently was Director of Corporate Strategy and prior to that Director of Business Operations. From 1996 to 2001 she held a leadership role as a management consultant with Accenture in their Strategy Pharmaceutical Practice. Ms. High has more than 15 years of operations, strategic and financial management experience, locally and internationally. She holds a degree in Economics and Business from Universita’ Bocconi, Milan, Italy and a Masters in Business Administration from MIT.
Dinah Sah, Ph.D.
Vice President, Research, CNS, and Oncology
Dinah Sah joined Alnylam in April of 2005 as Senior Director, Research, after having served as Associate Director, Research, at Biogen Idec, where she led neurobiology research since 1999. At Alnylam, she established and helped build the CNS and Oncology efforts, including ALN-VSP, and leads the Huntington’s program in collaboration with Medtronic, as well as the JCV program in collaboration with Biogen Idec. While at Biogen, Dr. Sah led research efforts in neuroscience and strategic planning for the neurobiology focus area, and was project leader of several research programs, including pain and spinal cord injury. From 1993 to 1999, Dr. Sah was a Scientist and then Associate Director of Neurobiology at Signal Pharmaceuticals in San Diego where she was project leader for neuroscience collaborations with Roche and Nippon Kayaku. She completed her post-doctoral training at Harvard Medical School and received her Ph.D. in Neurobiology from Harvard University.
About RNA Interference (RNAi)
RNAi (RNA interference) is a revolution in biology, representing a breakthrough in understanding how genes are turned on and off in cells, and a completely new approach to drug discovery and development. Its discovery has been heralded as “a major scientific breakthrough that happens once every decade or so,” and represents one of the most promising and rapidly advancing frontiers in biology and drug discovery today which was awarded the 2006 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine. RNAi is a natural process of gene silencing that occurs in organisms ranging from plants to mammals. By harnessing the natural biological process of RNAi occurring in our cells, the creation of a major new class of medicines, known as RNAi therapeutics, is on the horizon. RNAi therapeutics target the cause of diseases by potently silencing specific messenger RNAs (mRNAs), thereby preventing disease-causing proteins from being made. RNAi therapeutics have the potential to treat disease and help patients in a fundamentally new way.
About Alnylam Pharmaceuticals
Alnylam is a biopharmaceutical company developing novel therapeutics based on RNA interference, or RNAi. The company is applying its therapeutic expertise in RNAi to address significant medical needs, many of which cannot effectively be addressed with small molecules or antibodies, the current major classes of drugs. Alnylam is leading the translation of RNAi as a new class of innovative medicines with peer-reviewed research efforts published in the world’s top scientific journals including Nature, Nature Medicine, and Cell. The company is leveraging these capabilities to build a broad pipeline of RNAi therapeutics; its most advanced program is in Phase II human clinical trials for the treatment of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infection. In addition, the company is developing RNAi therapeutics for the treatment of a wide range of disease areas, including liver cancers, hypercholesterolemia, and Huntington’s disease. The company’s leadership position in fundamental patents, technology, and know-how relating to RNAi has enabled it to form major alliances with leading companies including Medtronic, Novartis, Biogen Idec, Roche, Takeda, and Kyowa Hakko Kogyo. To reflect its outlook for key scientific, clinical, and business initiatives, Alnylam has established “RNAi 2010” which includes the company’s plan to significantly expand the scope of delivery solutions for RNAi therapeutics, have four or more programs in clinical development, and to form four or more new major business collaborations, all by the end of 2010. Alnylam is a joint owner of Regulus Therapeutics LLC, a joint venture focused on the discovery, development, and commercialization of microRNA therapeutics. Founded in 2002, Alnylam maintains headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts. For more information, visit www.alnylam.com.
Alnylam Forward-Looking Statements
Various statements in this release concerning Alnylam’s future expectations, plans and prospects, constitute forward-looking statements for the purposes of the safe harbor provisions under The Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Actual results may differ materially from those indicated by these forward-looking statements as a result of various important factors, including risks related to: Alnylam’s approach to discover and develop novel drugs, which is unproven and may never lead to marketable products; obtaining, maintaining and protecting intellectual property; Alnylam’s ability to enforce its patents against infringers and to defend its patent portfolio against challenges from third parties; Alnylam’s ability to obtain additional funding to support its business activities; Alnylam's ability to realize future milestones and royalties as well as co-development and co-commercialization opportunities; Alnylam’s dependence on third parties for development, manufacture, marketing, sales and distribution of products; obtaining regulatory approval for products; competition from others using technology similar to Alnylam’s and others developing products for similar uses; Alnylam’s dependence on collaborators; and Alnylam’s short operating history; as well as those risks more fully discussed in the “Risk Factors” section of its most recent quarterly report on Form 10-Q on file with the Securities and Exchange Commission. In addition, any forward-looking statements represent Alnylam’s views only as of today and should not be relied upon as representing its views as of any subsequent date. Alnylam does not assume any obligation to update any forward-looking statements.
Source: Alnylam Pharmaceuticals
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