After engineering Aravive’s reverse merger with the moribund Versartis, Ray Tabibiazar, M.D., is moving on to Twist Bioscience, where he will serve as senior vice president of corporate development and business strategy. He will also head up Twist’s biologics drug discovery unit, at least in the interim, as its acting general manager.
“Ray has been working with us as an adviser for two years, and we are thrilled to have him join us full time as we expand our focus on biologics drug discovery,” said Twist CEO Emily M. Leproust, Ph.D., in a statement. “In addition to his ongoing efforts to extend our reach in our core synthetic biology and genomics markets, we look forward to Ray leading the team to forward integrate our drug discovery offerings, serving more customer needs and ultimately building important solutions for antibody discovery.”
“Having worked with the company in an advisory role, I’m eager to continue building important value-add solutions focused on antibody discovery and development as we employ our expertise in library development and antibody optimization to create a truly differentiated offering for our current and future customers. In addition, I am very excited to forge new partnerships to enhance the discovery of hard to drug targets like G-coupled protein receptors (GPCRs),” Tabibiazar said.
Tabibiazar founded Ruga, which came out of stealth in 2016 as Aravive Biologics. The company is working to power down the GAS6/AXL pathway in cancer, which could help stop the spread of the disease and lessen the side effects of treatment.
Tabibiazar served as Aravive‘s president CEO until Stephen Eck signed on in May 2017. He tapped Eck, a veteran of Astellas, Pfizer and Eli Lilly, to lead the company on the strength of his oncology experience. However, Eck didn’t stay for long, leaving the company just 12 months after joining to take the chief medical officer position at Immatics US.
As chairman of Aravive’s board, Tabibiazar led the deal that would take the company public: its reverse merger with Versartis, which had, nine months earlier, posted a phase 3 failure. In September 2017, it reported that its somavaratan failed to match Pfizer’s Genotropin in a phase 3 pediatric growth hormone deficiency (pGHD) trial. The news wiped more than 80% off Versartis’ stock price. At the news of the Aravive merger, its shares leapt 20% in premarket trading.