Liftstream is an executive search recruitment company in the life sciences sector
The UK has been seriously tackling the issue of diversity in the senior ranks of British business. The Davies Review, led by the charismatic but challenging Lord Mervyn Davies, pushed UK boards to get 25% of women on the boards of FTSE 100 companies. This triggered concerted action on the part of the nominated companies because they would be publicly measured, and reported.
Flagship Pioneering today announced the appointment of industry veteran David Epstein to serve in the newly created role of Executive Partner. Epstein will join as a strategic resource to the firm that systematically conceives, creates, resources and grows first-in-category ventures to transform human health and sustainability. The appointment follows Flagship’s recent additions of industry leaders Dr. Michael Rosenblatt (formerly of Merck) as Chief Medical Officer and Jim Gilbert (formerly of Boston Scientific and Bain) as Senior Partner, and supports the firm’s goal of driving accelerated value growth within its portfolio companies.
“David is a leader and long-time pioneer within the pharma industry, having developed dozens of new medicines benefiting millions of patients around the world,” said Noubar Afeyan, Ph.D., founder and CEO of Flagship. “His progressive approach to science and business acumen gleaned over his tenured career in the pharmaceutical industry complements Flagship’s culture and team. We will apply his expertise broadly as we continue making and realizing the maximum potential of disruptive innovations that yield unprecedented therapies.”
Mr. Epstein’s first significant involvement within the Flagship portfolio will be as Chairman of the Board of Rubius Therapeutics, a venture founded and launched by the Flagship VentureLabs® innovation foundry to exploit the potential medical impact of endowing red blood cells with therapeutic properties. The company’s disruptive platform provides off-the-shelf, enucleated cell-based therapies that promise to treat a wide array of ailments including cancer and autoimmune, metabolic, and hematologic diseases.
“Flagship Pioneering is breaking boundaries and exploring new frontiers that, I believe, could dramatically improve the quality of human life,” said Epstein. “Joining Flagship’s disruptive innovation engine is an opportunity of a lifetime, and I welcome the opportunity to bring my passion for medicine, deep knowledge and ties to industry, and commitment to solving some of the world’s greatest health challenges to bear. In particular, I am tremendously excited by the promise of Rubius’ Red-Cell Therapeutics™ platform, as it portends the broad impact of off-the-shelf, precision cell therapies.”
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Editas Medicine, a genome editing company based in Cambridge, Mass, has appointed John D. Mendlein to its board of directors. Mendlein has served as CEO of aTyr Pharma since 2011, as well as executive chairman for the company from July 2010 to January 2016.
Following the publication of our research studies into gender diversity in the biotechnology industry (Diversifying the Outlook – The X&Y of Biotechnology Leadership, Investing in Biotechnology Management), we decided to take the findings of this research and engage with leaders throughout the biotech sector in positive gender-inclusive dialogue. This led to a successful event; Prioritizing Gender Equity, which we constructed collaboratively with partner organisations; Women in Bio and growBOLD. This was a great success with over 100 leaders from across the San Francisco and Bay Area biotech cluster cramming into Genentech’s HQ office to hear some of our top-line data, and even more importantly some great insights from a range of industry leaders.
BOSTON & CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts – Vertex Pharmaceuticals Incorporated and CRISPR Therapeutics have announced that the two companies have entered into a strategic research collaboration focused on the use of CRISPR’s gene editing technology, known as CRISPR-Cas9, to discover and develop potential new treatments aimed at the underlying genetic causes of human disease. The collaboration will evaluate the use of CRISPR-Cas9 across multiple diseases where targets have been validated through human genetics. Vertex and CRISPR will focus their initial gene editing research on discovering treatments to address the mutations and genes known to cause and contribute to cystic fibrosis and sickle cell disease. Vertex and CRISPR will also evaluate a specified number of other genetic targets as part of the collaboration. Vertex will have exclusive rights to license up to six new CRISPR-Cas9-based treatments that emerge from the collaboration. As part of the collaboration, Vertex made an up-front commitment of $105 million to CRISPR, including $75 million in cash and a $30 million equity investment. CRISPR is also eligible to receive future development, regulatory and sales milestones and royalty payments on future sales.
Third Rock Ventures portfolio company, Voyager Therapeutics, a gene therapy player in the field of CNS based out of Cambridge, Mass. have appointed Michael Higgins to the Board of Directors. Mr. Higgins is an experienced biotechnology executive and is currently an entrepreneur-in-residence at Polaris Partners. Previously, he served as chief operating officer and chief financial officer at Ironwood Pharmaceuticals, Inc. from 2003 through 2014. In 2014, Mr. Higgins was named the Boston Business Journal’s CFO of the Year. Mr. Higgins worked at Genzyme Corporation, with which Voyager Therapeutics now has a partnership, from 1997 through 2003 in a variety of leadership roles, including vice president of corporate finance and vice president of business development. While at Genzyme, he was involved with multiple business units, including Cell Therapy, Gene Therapy and Orphan Diseases.