Updated AskBio Leadership Structure Reflects Strategic Focus
- Newly created Chief Business Officer, Chief Strategy Officer, Chief Product Supply Officer, and Head of People and Culture roles highlight company’s increased focus on gene therapy delivery.
Research Triangle Park, N.C., October 13, 2023. Asklepios BioPharmaceutical, Inc. (AskBio or the company), a gene therapy company wholly owned and independently operated as a subsidiary of Bayer AG, today announced its updated Executive Leadership Team (ELT) structure, which includes four newly created roles designed to improve the company’s ability to efficiently bring its clinical-stage gene therapies to patients. The addition of these new roles aligns AskBio’s leadership structure with its increased scope and capabilities as an end-to-end gene therapy company active from the earliest stages of discovery through to research; development; and, with the expertise and support of Bayer, eventually delivery.
“I am pleased to share that we have added four critical roles to our ELT—Chief Business Officer, Chief Strategy Officer, Chief Product Supply Officer, and Head of People and Culture,” said Gustavo Pesquin, CEO, AskBio. “This move ensures that we have the leadership required to build on our more than 20 years of groundbreaking discovery experience and become a high-performing delivery organization. These new leadership positions increase our focus on all that it takes to meet the needs of the tens of millions of people around the world living with debilitating diseases that we hope to one day treat. Our expanded team will usher in a new era of productivity and can dramatically increase our ability to transform lives.”
Tracy Dowling has been named Chief Business Officer and General Counsel. Dowling joined AskBio in 2021 from Spark Therapeutics and now oversees Business Development, Alliance Management, Legal, Compliance, Communications, and a newly created Chief of Staff role. She will further develop key partnerships that will enhance AskBio’s technological and clinical portfolio and advance the field. This will be done by creating in-licensing, out-licensing, and other collaboration opportunities, which will grow the company’s capabilities and share its technologies with others.
Ralph Herbst serves as Chief Strategy Officer. Herbst joined the AskBio ELT from Bayer. He leads Corporate Development and Portfolio Management, and he will play a key role in optimizing the AskBio-Bayer partnership. Herbst brings a strong track record of building and expanding cell and gene therapy pipelines and capabilities, which includes his work with Bayer’s Cell & Gene Therapy Platform and his critical involvement in Bayer’s acquisitions of BlueRock Therapeutics LP in 2019 and AskBio in 2020.
Jason Krentz takes on the role of Chief Product Supply Officer. Overseeing programs that transition clinical development to commercial operations, he leads Product Supply operations, Facilities, and Information Technology. Krentz joined AskBio in 2022 from Tmunity Therapeutics, where, as Chief Technology Officer, he led the company’s Chemistry, Manufacturing, and Controls (CMC) operations. He brings over 20 years of technical operations and manufacturing experience to AskBio.
Melissa Murrell has been appointed Senior Vice President, Head of People and Culture, and oversees all areas of Human Resources with a focus on culture and employee empowerment. Murrell joined AskBio in 2021 from Spark Therapeutics and has played key roles in the company’s efforts to create the structure and systems required to support its rapid growth to over 900 employees in five countries. In her new position, she will be responsible for enhancing an environment that attracts high-performing industry and academic talent and that enables all employees to excel.
Rounding out AskBio’s expanded ELT are:
- R. Jude Samulski, who will continue to serve as Chief Scientific Officer, providing scientific strategy and oversight
- Canwen Jiang, who continues as Chief Development Officer and Chief Medical Officer, leading Therapeutics functions, progressing clinical programs, and providing strategic input across all products
- Josh Grieger, who remains Chief Technical Officer, focusing on new product and platform development, product candidate manufacturing feasibility, and CMC from development through to Phase 1
- Ken Macnamara, who continues to serve as UK Scientific and Site Head, where he helps bridge technology platforms into products with a focus on early portfolio product development, working closely with Research & Development (R&D) and Therapeutics
- Sherif Gabriel, who joins the ELT and serves as Senior Vice President, Head of R&D, where his strategic insights and operational expertise will be instrumental in driving the company’s research and discovery initiatives
- Candace Summerford, who continues as Chief Patent Officer, where she develops and implements strategies to grow and protect AskBio’s intellectual property
- Jimmy Vanhove, who continues to serve as CEO of AskBio’s wholly owned and independently operated Contract Development and Manufacturing Organization (CDMO) subsidiary, Viralgen
- Guru Ramamurthy, who continues to serve as Chief Financial Officer through October 2023
Effective November 1, Cristina Gude will succeed Ramamurthy and serve as Senior Vice President, Head of Finance. Cristina will join AskBio from Bayer Pharmaceuticals, where she currently serves as Global Finance Lead for the Oncology Strategic Business Unit.
Under the direction of Gustavo Pesquin, this newly defined leadership team reflects AskBio’s company-wide commitment to operational excellence and will lead the company through the next phase of its development.
Asklepios BioPharmaceutical, Inc. (AskBio), a wholly owned and independently operated subsidiary of Bayer AG, is a fully integrated gene therapy company dedicated to developing life-saving medicines and changing lives. The company maintains a portfolio of clinical programs across a range of neuromuscular, central nervous system, cardiovascular and metabolic disease indications with a clinical-stage pipeline that includes therapeutics for congestive heart failure, Huntington’s disease, limb-girdle muscular dystrophy, multiple system atrophy, Parkinson’s disease, and Pompe disease. AskBio’s gene therapy platform includes Pro10™, an industry-leading proprietary cell line manufacturing process, and an extensive capsid and promoter library. With global headquarters in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, and European headquarters in Edinburgh, Scotland, the company has generated hundreds of proprietary capsids and promoters, several of which have entered clinical testing. An early innovator in the gene therapy field, with over 900 employees in five countries, the company holds more than 800 patents and patent applications in areas such as AAV production and chimeric and self-complementary capsids. Learn more at www.askbio.com or follow us on LinkedIn.
Bayer is a global enterprise with core competencies in the life science fields of health care and nutrition. Its products and services are designed to help people and the planet thrive, by supporting efforts to master the major challenges presented by a growing and aging global population. Bayer is committed to driving sustainable development and generating a positive impact with its businesses. At the same time, the Group aims to increase its earning power and create value through innovation and growth. The Bayer brand stands for trust, reliability, and quality throughout the world. In fiscal 2022, the Group employed around 101,000 people and had sales of 50.7 billion euros. R&D expenses before special items amounted to 6.2 billion euros. For more information, go to www.bayer.com.
Viralgen is an independently operated CDMO founded in 2017 and exists as an independently operated subsidiary of AskBio, which is wholly owned and independently operated as a subsidiary of Bayer AG. As a leading manufacturer of cGMP certified AAV, Viralgen offers the Pro10™ based suspension manufacturing platform, a technology licensed from AskBio and developed by Chief Technical Officer Josh Grieger, PhD, co-founder R. Jude Samulski, PhD, at University of North Carolina. It has been demonstrated that Pro10™ increases scalability, performance, and yield of AAV therapies1 at Viralgen and previous AskBio partners. Located in Spain, in the Gipuzkoa Science and Technology Park, Viralgen produces AAV gene therapy treatments for pharmaceutical and biotech companies with the aim of accelerating the delivery of new treatments that can improve patients’ lives.
The company’s clinical facilities have four cGMP manufacturing suites, with 250-liter and 500-liter bioreactors. In 2020, Viralgen expanded within the Scientific Park by constructing a new building for large-scale commercial manufacturing. The new state-of-the-art space includes three additional cGMP suites with a manufacturing capacity of >2,000 liters each, as well as a suite dedicated to fully automated fill and finish operations. The new facility has received the cGMP certification by the Spanish Agency for Medicines and Medical Devices (AEMPS) as part of the EMA network. For more information, visit viralgenvc.com.
AskBio Forward-Looking Statements
This press release contains “forward-looking statements.” Any statements contained in this press release that are not statements of historical fact may be deemed to be forward-looking statements. Words such as “believes,” “anticipates,” “plans,” “expects,” “will,” “intends,” “potential,” “possible” and similar expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements include without limitation statements regarding AskBio’s clinical trials. These forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties, many of which are beyond AskBio’s control. Known risks include, among others: AskBio may not be able to execute on its business plans and goals, including meeting its expected or planned clinical and regulatory milestones and timelines, its reliance on third-parties, clinical development plans, manufacturing processes and plans, and bringing its product candidates to market, due to a variety of reasons, including possible limitations of company financial and other resources, manufacturing limitations that may not be anticipated or resolved in a timely manner, potential disagreements or other issues with our third-party collaborators and partners, and regulatory, court or agency feedback or decisions, such as feedback and decisions from the United States Food and Drug Administration or the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Any of the foregoing risks could materially and adversely affect AskBio’s business and results of operations. You should not place undue reliance on the forward-looking statements contained in this press release. AskBio does not undertake any obligation to publicly update its forward-looking statements based on events or circumstances after the date hereof.
1 Mol Ther. 2016 Feb;24(2):287-297. doi: 10.1038/mt.2015.187. Epub 2015 Oct 6.
Vice President, Corporate Communications, AskBio
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