Dr. Wilkins to lead advancement of Lycera’s clinical programs, including first clinical trial anticipated to begin in 2Q 2015
NEW YORK and ANN ARBOR, Mich., Mar. 9, 2015 – Lycera Corp., a biopharmaceutical company developing breakthrough medicines to treat cancer and autoimmune disease, today announced that H. Jeffrey Wilkins, M.D., has been appointed to the newly created position of Chief Medical Officer. Dr. Wilkins will lead the advancement of Lycera’s development pipeline of first-in-class immune modulators. Lycera’s most advanced product candidate, an ATPase modulator being developed to treat inflammatory bowel disease, is anticipated to enter clinical testing in the second quarter of 2015. A second product candidate, an RORgamma agonist for immuno-oncology applications, is expected to enter clinical testing by the end of 2015. Dr. Wilkins will report to President and CEO Paul Sekhri, and his appointment is effective immediately.
“We are delighted to welcome Jeff at an important time for the Company, as we plan to advance multiple product candidates into the clinic in the near term,” stated Mr. Sekhri. “With over 15 years of clinical research experience, Jeff possesses significant expertise and experience in developing and designing clinical trials in all stages of drug development through market launch. He will no doubt play a pivotal role in the progress and success of our product candidate programs.”
Most recently, Dr. Wilkins served as Clinical Lead and Partner of NeXeption, LLC, a biopharmaceutical management company. Prior to this, he was Chief Medical Officer and Head of Medical Affairs at Ceptaris Therapeutics, Inc., where he was the lead clinician on the successful NDA for VALCHLOR® gel, approved for the treatment of cutaneous T-cell lymphoma. The approval was a key element in the acquisition of Ceptaris by Actelion Pharmaceuticals. Previously, Dr. Wilkins served as Vice President, Worldwide Clinical Research, Inflammation/Oncology at Cephalon Inc., where he led clinical development, medical affairs and business development efforts in both therapy areas. Prior to this, he was Senior Vice President of Clinical Development with Ception Therapeutics, where he headed a successful program in eosinophilic asthma, leading to the company’s acquisition by Cephalon. Dr. Wilkins entered the pharmaceutical industry joining GlaxoSmithKline, where he rose to become Vice President of Discovery Medicine for GSK’s center of Excellence in External Drug Discovery. He also served as Group Director of GSK’s urology franchise, responsible for Levitra® and the launch of VESIcare®. Previously, Dr. Wilkins was Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of TriValley Primary Care, a large multi-center primary group in Pennsylvania. He earned his M.D. from Temple University and his B.S. from Bucknell University.
Dr. Wilkins commented, “Lycera has made remarkable advances in discovery and research of oral immune modulators, It is exciting to be a part of the efforts to advance these novel molecules into the clinic across diverse indications, including the very promising area of immune-oncology. It is also a tremendous opportunity to join such an extraordinary team and help further their excellent work.”
Lycera is a biopharmaceutical company advancing novel treatments for cancer and autoimmune diseases based on a proprietary portfolio of small molecules designed primarily to either suppress or activate the immune response. The Company’s world-class expertise in distinct, yet complementary, areas of research – immune metabolism, cell signaling and immune cell differentiation – has generated four wholly owned programs, including a lead product candidate to treat inflammatory bowel disease (LYC-30937) expected to enter clinical testing in the first half of 2015. In addition, Lycera has established two collaborations with partner Merck to discover, develop and commercialize small molecule therapies for autoimmune disorders. The Lycera leadership team possesses deep experience from drug discovery and development through commercialization and has established close relationships with renowned thought leaders and clinical researchers worldwide. Lead investors in Lycera include InterWest Partners, ARCH Venture Partners, Clarus Ventures and EDF Ventures.