Exit of Avidity CMO on cusp of first clinical trial sparks stock rout

Investors are taking the departure of Avidity Biosciences’ chief medical officer badly. After learning Jae Kim had left for personal reasons, just days after giving his notice and on the day Avidity posted details of its first study to ClinicalTrials.gov, investors drove the stock down 19%.

The drop took the stock down to $18.48, close to the lowest closing price in Avidity’s 14 months on public markets. Exactly why investors reacted so strongly to Kim’s departure is unclear. Avidity has maintained Kim is leaving for personal reasons, suggesting his sudden exit is an isolated event that is unrelated to the management of the biotech or the prospects of its programs.  

Here’s what we know: Kim joined Avidity as CMO in July 2020 on the back of a four-year stint at Alnylam, where he worked as vice president of clinical development. Aug. 26, Kim told Avidity he planned to resign effective Aug. 30 for personal reasons. 

The departure comes as Avidity prepares to start its first clinical trial. Details of the study, which is set to start enrolling subjects next month, were added to ClinicalTrials.gov Aug. 30. Kim has been the face of the study, talking investors through its design and objectives on a conference call last month after the FDA cleared Avidity to start the rare disease clinical trial.

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Kim’s departure comes on the heels of a change to the board of directors at Avidity. Roderick Wong resigned from the board effective Aug. 25. Wong said his resignation was not the result of a disagreement with the company, its management or any matter relating to its operations, policies or practices. Avidity immediately replaced Wong with Eric Mosbrooker. 

Avidity is yet to comment on how it will fill the gap created by Kim's departure, either temporarily or permanently. The roster of remaining Avidity employees includes multiple people with experience of overseeing clinical trials, including a VP of clinical operations who joined the company in February. Enrollment of myotonic dystrophy type 1 patients in a phase 1/2 clinical trial of the siRNA AOC 1001 is set to start next month.