Novartis loses 2nd oncology R&D exec as Hammerman leaves through the door left open by Engelman

Days after Novartis lost Jeff Engelman M.D., Ph.D., ex-director of cancer drug discovery at the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research, Peter Hammerman, M.D., Ph.D., has followed his boss out the exit as both answer the call of biotech.

That call is for “molecular machines” biotech MOMA Therapeutics, a quiet startup that wants to crack a new type of drug target wide open. A year back, the company snagged $86 million from the likes of Third Rock Ventures to systematically go after molecular machines, a family of more than 400 enzymes that others have only stumbled upon by chance.

Now it has Hammerman to help in that search, coming off a stint at the Novartis Institutes of Biomedical Research where he was global head of oncology translational research. He becomes chief scientific officer of the biotech.

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This comes just a few days after his boss Engelman made a similar move, leaving as director of the Novartis Institutes of Biomedical Research’s cancer unit to launch a whole new oncology biotech with Eli Lilly’s former R&D lead Josh Bilenker, M.D.

“The addition of Peter, a consummate physician scientist with a passion for drug discovery, to lead MOMA’s group of veteran drug hunters, marks a critical step forward in assembling a world-class team that will deliver important new medicines to patients in need,” said Asit Parikh, M.D., Ph.D., president and CEO of MOMA.

“This is a unique time for MOMA in terms of maturation of our scientific platform, and I am thrilled to be welcoming Peter to the team as our partner to oversee the next phase of our evolution.”

“I’ve always believed that targeting the molecular machines that underlie human disease has enormous potential to generate a brand-new class of medicines,” added Hammerman.

“In addition to MOMA’s singular focus and progress to date on this previously elusive target class, I am excited to be a part of MOMA’s industry leading team to improve the lives of the patients I have committed my career to serving.”