20-year GSK veteran takes up CSO role at metabolic startup HemoShear

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HemoShear Therapeutics is working on metabolic disorders as well as collaborative R&D in fatty liver disease. (Perspectum Diagnostics)

After spending more than two decades at GlaxoSmithKline and helping develop one of the most widely used HIV drugs in the world, Brian Johns, Ph.D., is stepping into the biotech world.

Johns co-created antiviral Tivicay (dolutegravir), and worked most recently at GSK-owned HIV specialist unit ViiV Healthcare. He was also heavily involved in the discovery and work on the next-gen HIV hopeful cabotegravir (now under FDA review).

At ViiV, he was focused on grabbing external collaborations to help bolster the company’s work in infectious disease. Now, he’s taking a different track, working as chief scientific officer at a much smaller outfit with a focus on rare metabolic diseases and, via recent research pacts with the likes of Takeda and Horizon, fatty liver disease.

Johns said: “I joined HemoShear's team because of their mission to address a significant unmet need, deep dedication to understand diseases, and passion for their work and cause.  Coming from a very rewarding experience in HIV, I was looking to be involved in a field where I could make a big difference again.

“Discovering and developing treatments for pediatric rare metabolic diseases where no therapeutic options exist is a noble cause and one I look forward to committing my experience, scientific know-how and energy.”

Jim Powers, chairman and CEO of HemoShear Therapeutics, added: “We are honored to have such an accomplished scientific leader join us. Brian's experience with multiple treatment modalities, coupled with his extensive experience shepherding drugs into the clinic, will be invaluable as we advance our pipeline of pediatric rare disease therapies.”