Ziopharm snaps up new CEO from Kuur Therapeutics

Ziopharm Oncology is refreshing its CEO post with a new leader, nabbing former Kuur Therapeutics CEO Kevin S. Boyle for the top spot.

The cell and gene therapies biotech also promoted Chief Medical Officer Raffaele Baffa, M.D., Ph.D., who will as well take on the post of head of research and development. Adam Levy, Ph.D., meanwhile, saw a promotion to executive vice president of corporate development and investor relations.

Boyle is stepping into a biotech with a phase 2 asset in multiple solid tumors, sponsored by the National Cancer Institute, and a phase 1 leukemia/lymphoma treatment in partnership with Eden BioCell. Ziopharm also has several preclinical programs.

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Boyle led the $185 million exit of Kuur Therapeutics to Athenex in May as CEO of the CAR natural killer T-cell immunotherapies biotech.

The company rebranded from Cell Medica in March 2020 and attracted Athenex's acquiring eyes with two phase 1 programs, one in high-risk neuroblastoma patients and another in patients with relapsed/refractory CD19 positive malignancies including B cell lymphomas, acute lymphoblastic leukemia and chronic lymphocytic leukemia. 

Prior to Kuur, Boyle held the chief financial officer duties at FloWorks International, Sigma3, RecoverCare and other companies. 

RELATED: Cell Medica rebrands as Kuur, raises cash for CAR-NKT trials

Ziopharm hired Boyle from a search process that began in February, when former CEO Laurence Cooper, M.D., Ph.D., stepped down from the post and also his seat on the board. The former MD Anderson Cancer Center professor is now a director with CellChorus, a startup that uses artificial intelligence for single-cell analysis.