ONL Therapeutics Strengthens Leadership with Addition to Board of Directors and Expansion of Operations Team
Company Names New Board Member, Continues to Build Out Operations Team Through Appointment and Promotions
ANN ARBOR, MI – March 28, 2017 –
ONL Therapeutics, Inc., a biopharmaceutical company developing novel therapies for preserving sight in a range of retinal diseases, today announced new appointments and promotions involving the company’s board of directors and management team. The company has appointed Christine (Chris) Gibbons as a new, independent member of its board of directors, replacing departing board member, William F. Brinkerhoff. Additionally, ONL has strengthened its operational team, appointing Jana van de Goor, Ph.D., as vice president of project operations, while promoting Linda Johnson to senior vice president of operational excellence and Andrew Kocab, Ph.D., to manager of research operations. Collectively, these changes are designed to further supplement ONL’s leadership as it continues to advance its innovative retinal cell protection technology.
“Chris is a valuable addition to our board based on her extensive experience in supporting early-stage medical and technology companies in areas ranging from fundraising to operations. While we look forward to her guidance as we continue to grow and mature as a company, we also want to thank Bill Brinkerhoff for his years of service as a member of our board and wish him well in his future endeavors,” said John Freshley, chief executive officer of ONL Therapeutics. “The expansion of our internal operations team with the addition of Jana and promotions of Linda and Andrew will serve to support our near-term efforts aimed at ramping up our development of ONL1204. Following recent developments including receipt of an NEI grant and closing of a round of interim financing, this strategic expansion of our leadership team further signals the progress we are making in our efforts to develop products that can change the lives of patients with ocular diseases.”
Ms. Gibbons has more than thirty years of financial management, fundraising and operating experience. For the past twenty years, she has been deeply involved with early-stage emerging technology companies, both as an investor and a member of entrepreneurial management teams. Together with other founders, she has raised over $80 million in start-up capital to launch and support fourteen new ventures. Ms. Gibbons currently serves as co-founder and chief operating officer of HistoSonics, Inc., a medical device company developing a non-invasive, image- guided, highly precise tissue ablation technology for cost effective treatments of significant cancers and diseases.
Prior to HistoSonics, she has held various leadership roles in entrepreneurial ventures including Executive in Residence (EIR) for Venture Investors, LLC, chief financial officer for Sensicore, a company with lab-on-a-chip sensor products (acquired by a division of GE), vice president of finance for Ardesta, an investor in “small-tech” opportunities and partner and chief financial officer of Seaflower Ventures, a venture capital firm focused on early-stage biomedical opportunities. Ms. Gibbons also serves as an advisor to Apjohn Ventures Fund LP, is a member of the University of Michigan’s Venture Center Council and is an advisory board member of Michigan State University’s Center for Venture Capital, Private Equity and Entrepreneurial Finance.
Dr. van de Goor joins ONL following more than 15 years at Genentech, where she held a range of research and development positions of increasing responsibility. Most recently, she served as a global project team leader for KADCYLA ® , a first-in- class antibody drug conjugate for the treatment of HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer, and several other oncology clinical candidates. As a leader of these cross-functional teams, she was responsible for the development of clinical candidates from pre-IND phase through clinical development and launch. Earlier in her career with Genentech, Dr. van de Goor led research efforts into the molecular mechanism of cell death and contributed to the development of novel cell lines expressing apoptosis inhibitors to prolong cell viability. She will leverage her expertise on cell death in her new role with ONL, where she will be responsible for leading the company’s ongoing development efforts for ONL1204. Dr. van de Goor has served as a consultant to ONL since 2014.
Ms. Johnson, who joined ONL in late 2014 as senior vice president of operations, will now serve as the company’s senior vice president of operational excellence. In this new role, she will be responsible for overseeing efforts to scale the company’s operational processes and entrepreneurial culture to align with the ongoing advancement of the ONL1204 program. Ms. Johnson has over 20 years of pharmaceutical industry experience with responsibilities ranging from principal research scientist through development team leader. Prior to joining ONL, she served as an executive director for Pfizer Worldwide Development. In that role, she led global, multi-disciplinary teams in the development of more than 30 clinical candidates across a wide range of therapeutic areas and through all phases of drug development. During her final two years with Pfizer, Linda served as a global leader, overseeing the development and clinical activities for a therapeutic portfolio of 10 – 15 candidates.
Since joining ONL in 2015, Dr. Kocab has played a key role supporting senior leadership in a range of efforts spanning both corporate and research activities. Importantly, he recently spearheaded the development and submission of grant applications to the National Institutes of Health and Orphan Drug applications to the United States Food and Drug Administration. Dr. Kocab’s research background involves cell signaling pathways related to cell death and inflammation. Specifically, he has undertaken research into the signaling from receptors closely related to Fas, as well as the effector proteins involved in regulating these processes. This expertise will be particularly relevant in his new role as he continues to build ONL’s fundamental understanding of how Fas inhibitors may protect key retinal cells, including photoreceptors, from cell death that occurs in a range of retinal diseases and conditions.
ONL1204 is a novel, first-in- class small molecule Fas inhibitor designed to protect key retinal cells, including photoreceptors, from cell death that occurs in a range of retinal diseases and conditions. Death of these retinal cells, both direct and via inflammatory signaling, is the root cause of vision loss and the leading cause of blindness. The company is initially developing ONL1204 for the treatment of retinal detachment, a condition for which the compound has been granted orphan drug designation by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). While initial development efforts are focused on retinal detachment, preclinical in vivo data along with a growing body of literature support potential application in several additional ocular diseases including age related macular degeneration (AMD).
About ONL Therapeutics
ONL Therapeutics (ONL) is a biopharmaceutical company committed to protecting and improving the vision of patients with retinal disease. By advancing a novel breakthrough technology designed to protect key retinal cells from Fas-mediated cell death, ONL is pioneering an entirely new approach to preserving sight. The death of key retinal cells is the root cause of vision loss and leading cause of blindness, and is implicated in a wide range of retinal diseases, including retinal detachment and both the wet and dry forms of age related macular degeneration (AMD).
For more information about ONL Therapeutics, please visit www.onltherapeutics.com.
ONL Therapeutics, Inc.
John Freshley, President and Chief Executive Officer
Vida Strategic Partners (On behalf of ONL)
Stephanie Diaz (investors)
Tim Brons (media)