Next-gen biotech Caribou Biosciences nabs Array (now Pfizer) cancer R&D exec as clinical lead

CRISPR-Cas9
(Ernesto del Aguila III, National Human Genome Research Institute, NIH)

After a relatively quiet few years, Caribou Biosciences has hired Cherry Thomas, M.D., as its new senior vice president of clinical development.

Thomas comes to the California-based gene-editing biotech from Array BioPharma, where she most recently served as VP of clinical development at its oncology division.

Last year, Array was snapped up by Big Pharma Pfizer in an $11.4 billion deal, and, as is common with these big company buying biotech deals, a number of research execs from the acquired sought pastures new. At Caribou, Thomas finds herself in a new field of experimental biomedical science.

The company is working across a range of next-gen therapies, including gene-edited natural killer cell therapies and engineered gut microbes.

In this newly created position, she will oversee work on the biotech’s more advanced program, namely its first allogeneic CAR-T cell therapy candidate, expected to start clinical trials later this year.

“The experience and expertise that Dr. Thomas brings in both clinical and regulatory processes and in oncology and immuno-oncology will be invaluable to Caribou as we advance our first allogenic CAR-T cell therapy into the clinic,” said Steven Kanner, Ph.D., chief scientific officer at Caribou. “Dr. Thomas’ appointment also represents a key senior-level addition to our capabilities in cell therapy development which will be critical as we expand our clinical pipeline.”

She’s had a long and illustrious career working as executive director of clinical development at BeiGene, where she oversaw development programs aiming to evaluate an immuno-oncology combination therapy targeting solid tumors, along with stints at startup Jounce, Bristol Myers Squibb, Novartis, GlaxoSmithKline and Amgen.

“I am thrilled to be joining Caribou at this significant time in its evolution,” said Thomas. “I’m excited to be working with a team at the forefront of advancing groundbreaking gene-edited cell therapies to benefit patients with significant medical need.”

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