Steven Gillis, Ph.D., Managing Director of ARCH Venture Partners, Named Chairman of the Board; Michael Steinmetz, Ph.D., of Clarus Ventures to Join Board
ANN ARBOR, Mich. – February 15, 2012 – Lycera Corp., a biopharmaceutical company pioneering innovative approaches to developing novel oral medicines to treat autoimmune diseases, today announced that Steven Gillis, Ph.D., managing director of ARCH Venture Partners, has been appointed chairman of the board of directors, replacing Jeffrey Leiden, M.D., Ph.D., of Clarus Ventures, who has stepped down from the board. The company also announced that Michael Steinmetz, Ph.D., managing director of Clarus Ventures, has joined the board of directors.
“Dr. Gillis directed the development of multiple marketed products including Enbrel®, and brings extensive industry and management expertise to Lycera’s board,” said Kathleen M. Metters, Ph.D., president and chief executive officer of Lycera. “His immunology background as well as his depth of experience in the biotechnology sector will be of great value as we continue to develop our pipeline programs and move our lead compound toward the clinic. We want to thank Dr. Leiden, who left to become chief executive officer at Vertex Pharmaceuticals, for his many contributions and guidance, and we wish him well in his new position. We also want to welcome Dr. Steinmetz who brings extensive development and investment experience to the team. We look forward to working closely with both Drs. Gillis and Steinmetz as we advance our strategy to discover and develop novel oral medicines for treating autoimmune diseases.”
Dr. Gillis has more than 30 years of experience in the life sciences industry and has served as an observer on Lycera’s board of directors since 2009. He is focused on the evaluation of new life science technologies and also on the development and growth of ARCH’s biotechnology portfolio companies. In addition to serving as chairman of the board for Lycera, he serves as a director or chairman of multiple ARCH biotechnology portfolio companies. Dr. Gillis was a founder and director of Corixa Corp. and served as the company’s chief executive officer from its inception and as its chairman from 1999 until its acquisition in 2005 by GlaxoSmithKline. Prior to Corixa, he held numerous positions at Immunex Corp., including founder and director. Dr. Gillis is a trained immunologist with over 300 peer-reviewed publications in the areas of molecular and tumor immunology.
“Lycera has made great strides in achieving the first milestone in its RORγt collaboration with Merck and furthering the ATPase program, the leading candidate from the bioenergetics program,” said Dr. Gillis. “I am very excited to work with Lycera to help them realize their vision of developing oral drugs with efficacy and safety profiles that change the treatment paradigm for patients with autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis and psoriasis.”
Dr. Steinmetz has been managing director of Clarus Ventures since the firm’s inception in 2005. Prior to Clarus, Dr. Steinmetz was a general partner at MPM Capital, a healthcare venture capital firm. He has more than 25 years of direct industry and investment experience within the healthcare sector. From 1986 to 1997, Dr. Steinmetz was an executive at Hoffmann-LaRoche where he held various positions including vice president of preclinical research and development, and global head of biotechnology. Dr. Steinmetz also represents Clarus Ventures on the board of directors of Heptares, Oxford Immunotec, TetraLogic and Variation Biotechnologies. In addition, he is a member of the board of directors of Allozyne, Macrogenics and TaiGen.
About Autoimmune Diseases
Serious autoimmune diseases are a major and growing public health problem. An autoimmune disorder is a condition that occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys healthy body tissue. There are more than 80 different types of autoimmune disorders1, and approximately 50 million Americans, or one in five people, suffer from autoimmune diseases2.
Lycera Corp. is focused on the discovery and development of oral small-molecule immunomodulators for the treatment of patients with autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis and inflammatory bowel disease. Lycera is developing drug candidates that target novel therapeutic pathways and that have the potential to be first-in-class with oral efficacy without the adverse effects of current standard-of-care antiproliferative and immunosuppressive agents. Lycera has leading expertise in the emerging area of cellular bioenergetics to selectively target and silence pathologically activated cells. The company also has a program targeting the Th17 pathway through the inhibition of RORγt. Lycera’s leadership team and advisors are thought leaders in immunology, inflammation and bioenergetics. The company has core capabilities in medicinal chemistry, discovery research and early stage development. Visit www.lycera.com for more information.
1 Medline Plus, http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000816.htm.
2 American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association, http://www.aarda.org/q_and_a.php.