Allergan exec Sanjiv Patel becomes new CEO at upstart Relay

The biotech is looking to create a next-generation "3D movie platform" for drug discovery.

Third Rock startup Relay Therapeutics has poached Allergan’s EVP and chief strategy officer Sanjiv Patel, M.D., as its new president and CEO.

The 10-year Allergan vet, who was trained in the U.K. and had a career as a surgeon in the country’s state-run health service, succeeds the biotech’s interim CEO Alexis Borisy, a partner at Third Rock Ventures, who now becomes its chair.

The company, which got off a $57 million Series A round last September, is looking to create a next-generation “3D movie platform” for drug discovery.

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The Cambridge, Massachusetts-based biotech is using the dynamic structural changes undergone by protein molecules within the body to design a new platform for drug discovery that it believes will become the new and accepted way of finding new meds in the future. Its focus initially will be on cancer.

It had 25 staffers as of late last year and had been in stealth mode for about a year until last September, and under the Third Rock program for two years before uncloaking.

Relay plans to use its platform to create its own compounds, notably in oncology and genomic targets that have not been druggable before. Specific targets have not yet been released, but rare diseases, inflammation and other areas are on the cards.

Borisy said: “We are thrilled to welcome Sanjiv as the CEO of Relay Therapeutics. Sanjiv’s strategic acumen and business experience coupled with his deep commitment to patients will help fulfill the transformational potential of Relay.

“This is a rare opportunity to join a team that is fully dedicated to treating diseases where today, no truly effective therapy exists,” added Patel. 

“Relay is uniquely positioned to design innovative drugs by visualizing protein motion through integrating emerging computational and experimental methods. I look forward to working with the team to build a pipeline of ground-breaking therapies with an initial focus in oncology.”

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