Okairos Team Boosted by Appointment of Industry Leaders

BASEL, Switzerland--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- T-cell vaccine specialist Okairos today announced the appointment of two pharmaceutical industry leaders to its board of directors and the hiring of a Chief Operating Officer.

Bill Burns, previously Chief Executive Officer of Roche’s Pharmaceuticals Division, becomes Chairman of the board and Jean-Paul Prieels, former Head of Research at GSK Vaccines, joins as a board member.

Riccardo Cortese, Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of Okairos said: “Our new appointees join during an important phase in Okairos’ development. Both Bill Burns and Jean-Paul Prieels have led major pharmaceutical divisions, at Roche and GSK, and understand how to take great science through clinical trials to ultimately benefit patients.”

Newly appointed Chairman of the Board Bill Burns said: “Okairos is at the forefront of a new generation of vaccines, based on harnessing the power of T-cells to address diseases not treated by current vaccine approaches, and it is a privilege to join their outstanding team.”

New board member Jean-Paul Prieels added: “I look forward to putting my experience at GSK Vaccines to good use on the significant potential of adenovirus vectors in development at Okairos.”

Riccardo Cortese also paid tribute to the contributions of retiring board members Thomas Szucs and Francesco Sinigaglia, who he said had helped to steer Okairos through its founding years.

The company’s management team has also been boosted by the arrival of Tom Woiwode as Okairos’ Chief Operating Officer. In recent years, Tom has served on the founding teams of four start-up biotechnology companies and brings significant business development, financial and operational expertise.

Tom Woiwode said: “We have generated the strongest clinical CD8 T-cell responses observed in the industry to date and are developing a robust pipeline of first-in-class vaccines, so it’s an ideal time to begin conversations with future potential commercial partners.”

About Bill Burns

Bill also serves on the boards of Roche, Genentech, Chugai, Masters Pharmaceuticals, Biotie Therapies and Shire. He is also chairman of the Health Innovation Challenge Fund Joint Funding Committee at the Wellcome Trust.

Previously, Bill held various executive positions during 23 years at Roche, ultimately becoming Chief Executive Officer of the pharmaceuticals division.

Bill has extensive experience of international pharmaceuticals and of reshaping organisations, including mergers and acquisitions. During his time with Roche, he had significant involvement in the privatisation of Genentech, the integration of Boehringer Mannheim and the negotiations that resulted in Roche becoming a majority owner of Chugai in Japan.

About Jean-Paul Prieels

Jean-Paul is also a board member for Immune Health and Pevion, as well as serving on the scientific advisory board for the Singapore Bioprocessing Technology Institute and the Infectious Disease Research Institute.

Jean-Paul has held various executive positions at GSK, ultimately leading the vaccine R&D activities in Rixensart, Belgium. Previously, he was also a board member at Henogen for eight years.

Jean-Paul was instrumental in developing commercially available vaccines, including treatments to protect against rotavirus, human papilloma virus (HPV) and streptococcus pneumoniae infections.

About Okairos

Okairos is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company, developing genetic vaccines for major infectious diseases - including malaria, hepatitis C, influenza, respiratory syncytial virus and cancer - using a novel proprietary technology. The company is headquartered in Basel, Switzerland and has laboratories in Rome and Naples, Italy.

Okairos' technology platform is centered on the development of new, potent adenovirus vectors to generate a pipeline of T-cell vaccines against a range of infectious diseases for which there is currently no effective vaccine. The company is also pursuing therapeutic vaccines to treat cancer.

The company’s investors include BioMedInvest, Boehringer Ingelheim Venture Fund, LSP, Novartis Venture Funds and Versant Ventures.

For more information, visit www.okairos.com

- ENDS -


Tudor Reilly
Julie Walters
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7034 3200
Mobile: +44 (0) 77 5362 6967
[email protected]

KEYWORDS:   Europe  Switzerland

INDUSTRY KEYWORDS:   Health  Biotechnology  Infectious Diseases  Pharmaceutical