After Bristol Myers buyout, MyoKardia's clinical ops lead jumps ship to Esker Therapeutics

Former research staffers often leave after a major buyout deal, and we might just be starting to see that with MyoKardia after its $13.1 billion merger with Bristol Myers Squibb last year as Jeff Douglas moves to Esker Therapeutics.

Douglas had been running clinical operations at MyoKardia, which garnered the interest of the Big Pharma for its myosin inhibitor mavacamten in obstructive hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a disease that can lead to cardiac dysfunction.

Douglas has led the switchover of development operations to the new parent. With that done, he’s moving on, taking on the same role he had at the biotech at Esker Therapeutics, where he will focus on earlier efforts aimed at autoimmune disorders.

RELATED: Bristol Myers strikes $13B MyoKardia buyout to gain heart drug

He has a strong pedigree, having previously been the program director of Genentech’s cancer work, probably one of the biggest jobs in biotech R&D. He moves to a much earlier entity than his previous two employers: Esker got off $70 million series A financing from Foresite Capital just this May.

The biotech's pipeline is led by ESK-001, a highly selective TYK2 inhibitor that is in phase 1 tests for psoriasis, with preclinical assets much further back.

“We are thrilled to welcome Jeff to Esker as we work to advance our lead program, as well as additional pipeline programs focused on delivering precision medicines for patients with autoimmune diseases,” said June Lee, M.D., president and chief of Esker.

“I have been impressed by what June and the team have built in a short amount of time and am excited to partner with them to advance a precision approach for autoimmune disease that could significantly impact future treatment for patients,” added Douglas.

The biotech said that in addition to bringing on Douglas, it has also opened operations at a new, 14,000-square-foot office space in South San Francisco.