Monday, March 3, 2014

Two Ex-Merck Science/Tech Guys Joining Pfizer/Novartis/J&J-Backed Celladon's Board

Well, this is interesting. Fascinating, in fact. Not one, but two -- back together again! A pair of ex-Merck science/tech/logistics executives -- long ago separated -- are joining the board of the newly-IPO'ed San Diego wunderkind Celladon (though it still puzzlingly uses a ".net" extension -- despite clearly being a for-profit public company). In any event, Celladon is looking at novel less-invasive clinical candidates -- in cardiac care, and diabetes -- using biologics -- specifically, calcium up-regulators-driven approaches.

If memory serves, Merck had been active (at one point, at MRL) in that area, in the not-too distant past. Immediately prior to the IPO in January 2014, Pfizer held over 13 per cent of Celladon; and Novartis-related entities held nearly as much. Lundbeck-related entities held a similar amount. Holding slightly less, overall, was a J&J-related entity. VenRock looked to be the biggest traditional venture capital holder. So, this is a company with quite a pedigree.

Doctors Peter Honig and Patrick Yang -- two excellent ex-Merckies -- are now feeding insights to Celladon, via their board seats. That's got to be a boon to this well-heeled, and now newly publicly-traded venture. Here's the press release:

. . . .Celladon Corporation, a clinical-stage biotechnology company focused on developing novel therapies by applying its leadership position in the field of SERCA enzymes, today announced it has appointed Dr. Peter K. Honig and Dr. Patrick Y. Yang to its Board of Directors. . . .

"We believe the knowledge, insight and years of industry experience that Dr. Honig and Dr. Yang will bring to our board will be invaluable in successfully guiding the company over the next several years," said Krisztina Zsebo Ph.D., President and CEO of Celladon Corporation. . . .

Dr. Peter K. Honig currently serves as the Head of Global Regulatory Affairs at AstraZeneca, Inc., a global innovation-driven biopharmaceutical company specializing in the discovery, development, manufacturing and marketing of prescription medicines. Prior to this position, Dr. Honig served as Senior Vice President, Worldwide Regulatory Affairs and Product Safety at Merck & Company. Dr. Honig was Merck's Vice President, Worldwide Product Safety and Quality Assurance. Prior to Merck, Dr. Honig held various positions at the FDA including Director of the Office of Drug Safety in the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. Dr. Honig received his B.A. in History from Columbia College of Columbia University, his M.D. from the Columbia College of Physicians & Surgeons and his M.P.H from Columbia University School of Public Health. Dr. Honig also serves as a director of Orexigen Therapeutics, Inc., a biopharmaceutical company focused on the treatment of obesity.

Dr. Patrick Yang recently retired from F. Hoffman-La Roche AG, a leading global pharmaceutical and diagnostics company, where he served as Global Head of Pharmaceutical Technical Operations based in Switzerland. In this role, Dr. Yang was responsible for Roche's pharmaceutical and biotech manufacturing operations, process development, quality, regulatory, supply management, distribution, and procurement functions. Previously, Dr. Yang worked for Genentech, a leading biotechnology company, where his most recent position was Executive Vice President of Product Operations, responsible for Genentech's manufacturing, engineering, process development, regulatory, quality, compliance, and supply chain management functions. Prior to Genentech, Dr. Yang held several leadership roles at Merck, including Vice President of Asia/Pacific Operations and Vice President of Supply Chain Management. He also previously worked at General Electric Co. and Life Systems, Inc. in research, development, and manufacturing operations.

Dr. Yang currently serves on the board of directors of Tesoro Corporation, an independent refiner and marketer of petroleum products, and on the board of directors of Codexis, Inc., a company in the development and production of custom industrial enzymes for use in the pharmaceutical, chemical and biofuel production. . . .

[I should also mention, to complete the record, that even prior to the IPO, Celldon had Daniel R. Omstead, Ph.D. -- another ex-Merckified science guy -- on its board. So, this makes three.] We will, of course, keep an eye on this one. Do stay safe -- out there, in the weather.

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