Former Merck exec joins Kallyope as president, soon-to-be CEO

Kallyope has been relatively quiet since securing a $112 million raise in March 2020, but now the gut-brain biotech will have a former Merck leader at the helm to ramp up clinical work.

Jay Galeota joins the New York City biotech as president and will become CEO by October 1 as founding CEO Nancy Thornberry moves to a research and development role. Galeota was most recently CEO of Nektar Therapeutics spin-out Inheris Biopharma.

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Thornberry and Galeota worked together at Merck on the development and commercialization of sitagliptin, which became the type 2 diabetes medicine Januvia and its offshoot Janumet. The drugs generated $5.3 billion in sales for Merck in 2020.

As Kallyope's new leader and board member, Galeota will expand the company's pipeline. Metabolism, gastrointestinal function, immunology, inflammation and CNS disorders are areas of focus for the biotech. 

"I look forward to collaborating with Jay and the team as we advance our fourth molecule into the clinic by the end of 2021, in addition to progressing over a dozen earlier stage programs forward," Thornberry said in a statement.

RELATED: Nektar unveils Inheris Biopharma, its new CNS-focused offshoot

Galeota's hiring comes a month after Kallyope named Patrick Flanigan as chief financial officer. Flanigan joined from Ichnos Sciences, where he held the same role, and previously led investor relations at Celgene and Genzyme.