Kapeller leaves Nimbus, ending CSO stint defined by virtual drug discovery successes

Rosana Kapeller. (Image: Nimbus Therapeutics)

Rosana Kapeller, M.D., Ph.D., has left Nimbus Therapeutics after eight years in the CSO post. Kapeller departs having helped put virtual drug discovery on the map and land deals with Celgene, Genentech and Gilead.

Resigning as CSO of Nimbus frees Kapeller up to “explore an executive leadership role,” suggesting she will reappear at another biotech sooner rather than later. Kapeller’s decision to explore the new role leaves Nimbus to search for a replacement for a CSO who helped to define and manage its novel approach to early-stage research.

The new CSO will inherit an R&D organization that took an acetyl-CoA carboxylase inhibitor program to a $400 million-plus takeout by Gilead, has partnerships with Celgene and Genentech in oncology and autoimmunity and is cooking up wholly-owned discovery-stage assets.

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That pipeline is one piece of Kapeller’s legacy. The other piece relates to how Nimbus generated and advanced its assets. Under Kapeller, Nimbus helped to show virtual drug discovery is a viable model for biotechs, something that wasn’t certain when it set out on a heavily-outsourced path in 2009. The initial task of making the virtual model work largely fell on Kapeller and then-Nimbus CBO Jonathan Montagu. 

Bruce Booth, whose roles as a partner at Nimbus-founder Atlas Venture and early chairman of the biotech gave him a good view of the process, was effusive about Kapeller’s work.

“Recruiting [Kapeller] to Project Troubled Water (later known as Nimbus) in February 2010, when we were only 9 months old, was one of the smartest hires I've ever made,” Bruce Booth, a partner at Nimbus-founder Atlas Venture and early chairman of the biotech, wrote in a post on Twitter. 

Nimbus established its network of service providers, including computational drug discovery leader and company cofounder Schrödinger, in a very different funding environment than exists today. But the existence of younger biotechs that eschew internal capacity is testament to its continued relevance.