Mahanthappa graduates from Scholar Rock, hires Taris CEO Kingsley as new chief

(Christian Guiton/iStock)

After eight years at the helm, Scholar Rock’s founding CEO Nagesh Mahanthappa, Ph.D., is stepping down from the biotech to become its scientific adviser.

In Mahanthappa’s place from Aug. 1 comes Tony Kingsley, formerly president and CEO at the now Johnson & Johnson-acquired Taris Bio. The change-up is so he can “lead through next phase of clinical development growth and commercial preparedness,” the biotech said in a statement, following a fairly common move where a startup starts thinking about selling drugs, rather than just pure early clinical work.

The Cambridge, Massachusetts-based biotech says it is currently “on-track” for clinical data readouts in 2020 and 2021 from SRK-015 phase 2, which is being tested in spinal muscular atrophy, and its cancer immunotherapy hopeful SRK-181, which is in phase 1.

“Scholar Rock is at an exciting inflection point, with great scientific strength, two product candidates in clinical development and multiple milestones in 2020 and 2021,” said Kingsley.

“I look forward to working with our extraordinary team to continue advancing our highly innovative research and platform capabilities, as well as lead the company through its next phase of growth, bringing desperately needed therapies to patients who often have limited treatment options.”

Kingsley led bladder disease specialist Taris Bio before its late 2019 about from Janssen, and was also president and chief operating officer of The Medicines Company. He also had a stint as leading the global commercial operations at Biogen as executive vice president.

“Nagesh has been a remarkable executive, building upon breakthrough academic research to lead Scholar Rock through the initial start-up phase to create a special company now poised to move multiple product candidates through clinical development and hopefully to patients in real need. On behalf of the entire board of directors, we want to thank Nagesh for his vision and leadership over the past eight years,” said David Hallal, chairman of the Scholar Rock board of directors.

“Building on the tremendous foundation Nagesh has established, Tony’s clinical development, strategic, and commercial acumen will lead and drive Scholar Rock to further the company’s great potential. Tony has extensive experience in launching and growing franchises and companies, and we are thrilled that he’s taking the helm of the company at this pivotal time.”

In 2018, the biotech under Mahanthappa’s leadership also penned a big but early-stage deal with Gilead for fibrotic diseases, handing over $80 million with $1.5 billion in biobucks wedded to the deal.