Nimbus builds out scientific team with new heads of biology, preclinical development

Nimbus uses an in silico and computational chemistry platform to build novel small molecules. (Pixabay)

A month after hiring on a new chief scientific officer, Nimbus Therapeutics is at it again. Its scientific team is getting two new leaders—Jennifer Rocnik, Ph.D., previously director of oncology biology, was promoted to vice president of biology and Alan Collis, Ph.D., who joined Nimbus on a part-time basis last October, will transition to the full-time role of vice president of preclinical development. 

Rocnik and Collis join Chief Scientific Officer Peter Tummino, Ph.D., Janssen’s former global head of lead discovery, who came on board in February. Rocnik has led Nimbus’ oncology and immuno-oncology programs since 2015, after working on drug discovery teams at Sanofi and Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research. Before joining Nimbus, Collis was the executive director of DMPK—drug metabolism and pharmacokinetics—at Forma Therapeutics, and served stints at Novartis, Aventis and Pfizer. 

“Alan and Jenn’s expertise in drug discovery and development will no doubt accelerate our momentum toward broadening our pipeline to include new highly sought-after targets in metabolic disease, cancer and immune-inflammatory disorders," company CEO Jeb Keiper said in a statement.

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Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Nimbus uses an in silico and computational chemistry platform to build novel small molecules. It has several discovery partnerships with Big Pharma and biotech companies, including Celgene, with which it is pushing a TYK2 inhibitor for autoimmune disease toward the clinic. 

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The new appointments come as Nimbus looks to expand “the depth and breadth” of its pipeline, which includes programs in cancer, metabolic disease and autoimmune and inflammatory disorders. These include molecules targeting IRAK4—partnered with Roche's Genentech—and STING. Nimbus is developing a STING agonist for immuno-oncology in-house and is partnering with Celgene on a STING antagonist for autoimmune indications. 

In 2016, Gilead snapped up the company’s acetyl-CoA carboxylase inhibitor program for $400 million up front. Nimbus picked up another $200 million milestone payment a few months later after the drug posted positive phase 1 study results in nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH).

Editor's note: This story has been updated to correct Alan Collis' title. He is the vice president of preclinical development, not clinical development.