Achillion lures Zelenkofske from uniQure to fill CMO seat

Steven Zelenkofske (uniQure)

Achillion Pharmaceuticals has named Steven Zelenkofske as executive vice president and chief medical officer. The appointment ends Zelenkofske’s brief time as CMO of uniQure, the company he joined last summer from AstraZeneca.

Connecticut-based Achillion has been without a CMO since the turn of the year, when David Apelian, M.D., Ph.D., left to take up a position at Eiger BioPharmaceuticals. Achillion’s hunt for a replacement led it to Zelenkofske.

Zelenkofske joined uniQure in June 2017 to head up the development of its gene therapy pipeline. But he has now decided to walk away from the company for a chance to marshal Achillion’s lead oral factor D inhibitor through phase 2 C3 glomerulopathy and paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria trials and into registrational studies. 

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In doing so, Zelenkofske will draw on experience accrued during a 17-year career that features stints at AstraZeneca, Novartis and Sanofi. Achillion thinks Zelenkofske’s background is a good fit for its needs.

“Steve has an exceptional clinical development track record, highlighted by the regulatory acceptance of multiple fast track development plans and regulatory approvals under his management. His strategic and operational leadership will greatly benefit Achillion as we accelerate our global phase 2 clinical programs and prepare for registrational trials and commercialization,” Achillion CEO Joseph Truitt said in a statement.

Achillion unveiled the appointment of Zelenkofske alongside news of two other new hires. Laura Barrow has come on board as VP of clinical operations and head of project management, and Marc Uknis, M.D., has taken up the positions of  VP of clinical development and head of nephrology therapeutics.

The trio form a new-look clinical team at Achillion, which has been through other managerial changes this year. Truitt took over as CEO from Milind Deshpande, Ph.D., in May.