Forma Therapeutics nabs new R&D execs as it plots late-stage sickle cell test next year

Fitzroy Dawkins, M.D., Forma Therapeutics' new VP of clinical development (Forma Therapeutics)

Heading into a pivotal year in 2021, Forma Therapeutics has hired two veterans out of Takeda and Incyte to help run its R&D programs.

The biotech, helmed by Genentech veteran Frank Lee, has been working on its transition from an early discovery and development company to one knocking on the door of approvals and commercialization.

Next year, it is plotting a phase 2/3 trial of FT-4202, a potentially disease-modifying therapy for people living with sickle cell disease, and will hope for a success and approval further down the road.

To help with its next few years of pivotal R&D work, it has hired two life science veterans—Fitzroy Dawkins, M.D., as vice president of clinical development, and Ruth du Moulin, Ph.D., as vice president of medical affairs—to help with its vision for the future.

Dawkins, a hematologist and oncologist, brings more than 12 years of experience in academia and more than 14 years in drug development, and was most recently executive director of oncology drug development at Incyte.

Du Moulin, meanwhile, joins Forma from Takeda’s oncology unit where she served as vice president for medical affairs and head of global oncology medical communications.

FT-4202 could become a therapy that changes the course of sickle cell disease rather than addressing symptoms such as infection, inflammation and anemia.

The drug activates the enzyme pyruvate kinase-R, which combats the sickling of red blood cells and helps hemaglobin bind to and release oxygen more efficiently. Though sickle cell is its first indication, Forma may test it in other diseases.

It is also working on olutasidenib, an IDH1 inhibitor that’s in pivotal studies for relapsed or refractory acute myeloid leukemia, although it has described this as a “non-core asset.”

“Fitzroy will be integral to the implementation and execution of our global pivotal phase 2/3 trial of FT-4202, a potentially foundational, disease-modifying therapy for people living with sickle cell disease expected to initiate in the first half of 2021, as well as in leading our development team evaluating Forma’s CBP/p300 inhibitor for the treatment of metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer. Ruth is an essential hire for Forma as well,” Lee said.

“Her comprehensive skillset and broad therapeutic experience position her well to lead a medical affairs team focused on strategic engagement with the medical community, delivering impactful medical communications and ensuring our real-world evidence-generation plans address the needs of our target patient groups.”

In December, Forma got off a $100 million series D round before pulling off a major upsized $278 million IPO in the summer amid a rush of biotechs going public.