SAN DIEGO, April 29, 2013 -- Afraxis, Inc. today announced that it has appointed Carmine Stengone as the company's president and chief executive officer. The company has also appointed Christopher Rex , Ph.D. as chief scientific officer.
In his previous role as vice president of corporate development for Afraxis Holdings, Mr. Stengone led and executed a $187.5 million license agreement with Roche's subsidiary, Genentech. After the transaction, Mr. Stengone helped establish Afraxis, Inc. as a spin-out from Afraxis Holdings. Afraxis, Inc. is a start-up company focusing on its novel Enhanced Spine Platform (ESP) Technology which assesses complex neural networks to evaluate preclinical efficacy and safety of drug candidates in central nervous system (CNS) disorders.
"Carmine is a rising young star in the life science industry with an impressive track record in negotiating and executing on licensing deals and alliances with major pharma partners, and using his experience, he will generate a pipeline of lucrative collaborations with companies that want to capitalize on Afraxis' ESP technology platform for their own drug discovery efforts." said Jay Lichter , Ph.D., chairman of Afraxis, and managing partner of Avalon Ventures. "Chris led the development of the ESP technology, and his expertise in central nervous system biology will be integral to further expanding the platform as a premiere preclinical drug discovery tool for companies interested in developing treatments for CNS disorders."
Mr. Stengone, 37, has more than 14 years of experience in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries, including positions in finance, strategic planning, corporate development, licensing, alliance management and venture funding. In addition to his role as CEO of Afraxis, Inc., Mr. Stengone also serves as chief business officer for Avelas Biosciences, an Avalon Ventures Portfolio VIII company. Prior to joining Afraxis, he was with Phenomix Corporation from 2006 to 2010, where he was responsible for strategic collaborations and licensing agreements. He was also a member of the Phenomix executive management team as the senior director of business development. Mr. Stengone served as senior manager of business development and strategic marketing for Anadys Pharmaceuticals, Inc. from 2004 to 2006. Prior to that, Mr. Stengone held a variety of positions at Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical Research and Development.
Dr. Rex, 34, currently leads scientific operations at Afraxis Inc. and oversees the development of the ESP platform and other technologies. Prior to his appointment as chief scientific officer, he was a principle investigator and director of R&D strategy for Afraxis Holdings from 2010-2013 during which time he developed the foundations of the ESP program to rapidly evaluate drug impact on the hallmark dendritic spine abnormalities in the Fmr1-knockout mouse model of Fragile-X Syndrome. Dr. Rex trained in the neurobiology of learning and memory at University of California, Irvine, where he contributed over 20 scientific publications in top-tier neuroscience journals. Dr. Rex combines his diverse aptitudes ranging from biophotonics to cognitive enhancement to software design for virtual environments to inject innovations into CNS drug discovery and development. Dr. Rex has received distinguished honors including selection as a NIH Earl Stadtman Investigator Finalist and a Kauffman Foundation Entrepreneurial Fellow.
About Afraxis, Inc.
Afraxis, Inc. is a San Diego-based drug discovery platform company recently spun-out of Afraxis Holdings. The company is part of a growing wave of innovative neuroscience that applies cutting-edge technical and computational approaches to fundamental issues in brain science that promise to generate new insights into CNS diseases. Afraxis develops and uses high-content central nervous system (CNS) pharmaceutical screening technologies to evaluate pre-clinical efficacy for potential treatments for neurological and psychiatric disorders. Afraxis developed the Enhanced Spine Platform (ESP) Technology platform, which quantifies the morphology and maturity of synaptic dendritic spines which are fundamental to information processing by neural synapses in the brain. Abnormal dendritic spine quantity and morphology have been associated with numerous CNS disorders, including schizophrenia, Alzheimer's disease, Fragile X syndrome and autism. Afraxis has a strategic alliance with PsychoGenics to offer its ESP Technology as part of PsychoGenics' comprehensive testing capabilities and drug discovery science.