On a roll, small cap Sorrento snaps up ex-Celgene CMO


Sorrento Therapeutics ($SRNE) has had a busy summer. It raised $150 million, an impressive feat given that its market cap is just around $450 million. And it did a couple of deals—a CAR-T development joint venture with 3SBio and a partnership with Servier to develop a preclinical anti-PD-1 monoclonal antibody.

Now, Sorrento has brought on a former Celgene ($CELG) Chief Medical Officer Dr. Jerome Zeldis as CMO and President of Clinical Development. He was with the biopharma for almost 20 years, most recently under the joint title of CEO of Celgene Global Health and CMO.

"Sorrento has an impressive portfolio of unique assets that I believe will clearly differentiate themselves in addressing unmet medical needs in a multitude of markets,” Zeldis said in a statement. “I greatly look forward to joining the team that is growing Sorrento into a leading biopharmaceutical company and using my experience to build a world-class clinical and regulatory organization for the efficient, high-quality clinical development of Sorrento's cutting-edge immunotherapies."

At Celgene, he oversaw clinical trial development of Celgene molecules. He was the Associate Director of Clinical Research at Sandoz Research Institute and the Director of Medical Development at Janssen Pharmaceutical Research Institute prior to his position with Celgene.

Zeldis was already quite active amongst smaller biopharmas; he is the board chairman at Alliqua, Semorex, and Trek Therapeutics, as well as vice chairman at MetaStat. He also serves on the boards of Kalytera Therapeutics, BioSig Technologies, IR Biosciences Holdings, PTC Therapeutics, and Soligenix.

"His expertise and track record in highly successful drug development will be invaluable to progress the clinical development of our program pipeline towards FDA approval and commercialization,” said Sorrento President and CEO Dr. Henry Ji.

He continued, “Jerry's appointment highlights our focus on investing in clinical development and our steadfast commitment to Sorrento shareholders following the recent $150 million private placement led by Ally Bridge Group completed in June of this year."

In May, Sorrento had been subject to criticism from activist investor Wildcat Capital Management for its prolific creations of subsidiaries and joint ventures—which the investor was concerned is resulting in significant expenditures without offering returns.

Wall Street seemed pleased with the addition of Zeldis, sending Sorrento shares up 5% in early trading after the news.

- here is the release

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