BioMarin Pharmaceutical’s top scientist is expanding his purview—CSO Lon Cardon, Ph.D., is now the rare disease specialist’s chief scientific strategy officer, taking charge of the company’s product portfolio, as well as its research.
With a clutch of approved treatments for diseases such as phenylketonuria (PKU) and multiple forms of mucopolysaccharidosis (MPS), BioMarin is looking to its pipeline for growth. Its most advanced clinical programs—treatments for achondroplasia, or short-limbed dwarfism, and hemophilia A—are in phase 3. It also has a program in Sanfilippo syndrome, a type of MPS, in phase 2 and a gene therapy for PKU that’s in preclinical studies.
In his newly minted role, Cardon will lead “cross-functional activities” to drive long-term growth through this pipeline, BioMarin said in a statement.
“Lon will support our company's growth by identifying the right balance of resources within BioMarin to move the most promising molecules through our pipeline," said BioMarin CEO Jean-Jacques Bienaimé in the statement. "Lon has done an outstanding job of building our research capabilities positioning BioMarin for future success and brings his knowledge in genetics and drug discovery generally and specifically in BioMarin's scientific expertise to this role."
Before joining BioMarin, Cardon spent nine years at GlaxoSmithKline, most recently heading up target sciences, as well as alternative discovery and development. He also chaired the Big Pharma’s discovery board, which oversaw the growth of all of its programs, from those in the preclinical stage through those in phase 2.
"I have worked closely with Lon over the past two years and have the utmost confidence in his abilities to oversee a critical part of our business that drives our future growth," said Hank Fuchs, M.D., BioMarin’s president of worldwide R&D. "He is uniquely qualified to champion science at BioMarin that has the potential to change the practice of medicine and to bring together cross-functional teams that will deliver potentially life-changing medicine to patients with rare diseases."
Cardon’s promotion comes a year-and-a-half after BioMarin logged its latest FDA approval, for the PKU drug Palynziq, and two months after it dropped a lower dose of its hemophilia A gene therapy from clinical development. The company plans to file the blood disorder treatment valoctocogene roxaparvovec by the end of the year. If all goes well, it will be the first gene therapy product to be reviewed in any hemophilia indication.