ANN ARBOR, Mich., Oct 04, 2011 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Lycera Corp., a biopharmaceutical company pioneering innovative approaches to developing novel oral medicines to treat autoimmune diseases, today announced that Kathleen M. Metters, Ph.D., former senior vice president and head of worldwide basic research at Merck, has been named president and chief executive officer and a member of the board of directors. Dr. Metters has a proven track record of global leadership in the pharmaceutical industry and brings to Lycera more than 25 years of pharmaceutical discovery and development experience.
"Kathleen's global pharmaceutical industry experience and leadership capabilities will be critical as Lycera continues to grow and transitions into a clinical-stage company in 2012," said Jeffrey Leiden, M.D., Ph.D., managing director at Clarus Ventures and chairman of Lycera's board of directors. "Her unique skill set and track record of accomplishment as a drug developer will be important in shaping and driving the company's business strategy and long-term success."
Prior to joining Lycera, Dr. Metters spent more than 20 years at Merck where she held multiple leadership roles of increasing responsibility. Most recently, she served as senior vice president of external discovery and preclinical sciences, where she was responsible for expanding the company's global scientific network to the greater research community. Prior to this role, Dr. Metters served as Merck's senior vice president and head of worldwide basic research. In this position, she managed all research activities at major sites around the globe, across all therapeutic modalities and all therapeutic areas. Earlier in her career at Merck Frosst Canada Inc., Dr. Metters' research focused on the arachidonic acid cascade, which resulted in the discovery of SINGULAIR(R) and TREDAPTIVE(R). She holds a B.Sc. in biochemistry from the University of Manchester Institute for Science and Technology, and received her Ph.D. in biochemistry from Imperial College of Science and Technology, London. Dr. Metters completed her post-doctoral training at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, France, and at the Clinical Research Institute of Montreal, Canada.
"Lycera's pioneering approach to developing new classes of selective, oral immunomodulators for the treatment of autoimmune diseases is extremely exciting, and I am truly delighted to join the company," said Dr. Metters. "I look forward to working closely with Lycera's high-caliber leadership and scientific teams as we continue to build upon the company's scientific excellence and innovation to bring new treatment options to patients."
"We are thrilled to have Kathleen assume the leadership of Lycera at such an exciting time in the company's evolution," said Gary D. Glick, Ph.D., founder and chief scientific officer, Lycera. "Kathleen brings extensive experience overseeing compounds from discovery through development, which will be valuable as we expand our pipeline through internal R&D efforts, as well as in-licensing opportunities."
About Autoimmune Diseases
Serious autoimmune diseases are a major and growing public health problem. An autoimmune disorder is a condition that occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys healthy body tissue. There are more than 80 different types of autoimmune disorders(1), and approximately 50 million Americans, or one in five people, suffer from autoimmune diseases(2).
Lycera Corp. is focused on the discovery and development of selective, small-molecule immunomodulators for the treatment of patients with autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis and inflammatory bowel disease. Lycera is developing drug candidates that target two novel therapeutic pathways and have the potential for first-in-class oral efficacy without the adverse effects of current standard-of-care antiproliferative and immunosuppressive agents. The company is focused on the emerging area of cellular bioenergetics to selectively target and silence pathologically activated cells. Lycera also has a program targeting the Th17 pathway through the inhibition of RORt that is the basis of an exclusive research collaboration with Merck. The company's leadership team and advisors represent the core thought leaders in immunology, inflammation, organ transplantation and kinase biology and are responsible for key advances and discoveries in these fields. Visit www.lycera.com for more information.
(1) Medline Plus, http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000816.htm .
(2) American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association, http://www.aarda.org/q_and_a.php .