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Northwest Biotherapeutics Strengthens Board Capability

Northwest Biotherapeutics (NW Bio), a biotechnology company developing personalised immunotherapy products based in Bethesda, Maryland, has appointed Susan Bayh and Cofer Black as independent directors.

Bayh brings 25 years of experience relating to the pharmaceutical and biotech industries, including immunotherapies for cancer.  She began serving on corporate boards in 1994 and has since served on the boards of 14 corporations, including the insurance, pharmaceutical, and food processing industries. From 2004 to 2013, she served on the Boards of Wellpoint, a Fortune 30 health insurance company.

Black brings to NW Bio extensive experience in cybersecurity, counterintelligence, and investigations and related matters. He served a 28-year career in the CIA, including as Director of the Counterterrorist Center. Subsequently, in the private sector, Black has served as Vice President for Global Operations at Raytheon Blackbird since 2009, advising the U.S. Government on security matters and equipment.  He also serves as a Senior Advisor to the Razor’s Edge Investment Fund, focusing on cutting edge technologies and equipment for the intelligence communities.

Liftstream believes that cyber-risk poses an increasingly prevalent type of risk for many boards to think about and few boards are adequately informed (here). According to PwC’s Annual Corporate Directors Survey 2015, 33% of directors find board expertise in cyber security to be very important and there are many discussions about whether Boards of Directors should now have dedicated Risk Committees to deal with this, and other types of emerging risks.

Northwest Biotherapeutics has been experiencing some challenging times, with investors critical of the governance and management of the company. These appointments seemingly are a response, in part, to the investor scrutiny.

With eight full-time employees, NW Bio relies upon the contract manufacturing organization Cognate Bioservices for services supporting manufacture of product for clinical trials. NW Bio has a broad platform technology for DCVax dendritic cell-based vaccines.  The company’s lead program is a 348-patient Phase III trial in newly diagnosed Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), which is on a partial clinical hold in regard to new screening of patients.  The company is under way with a Phase I/II trial with DCVax-Direct for all types of inoperable solid tumour cancers.

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