Recursion has named Sharath Hegde, Ph.D., as its chief scientific officer. The appointment ends a 20-year stint at Theravance Biopharma and its parent company that culminated in Hegde rising to head of research.
Hegde joined Theravance as associate director of pharmacology in 1999, 15 years before the company split its biopharma R&D operation from its royalty management business. When the company split, Hedge went with the biopharma R&D operation and was appointed senior vice president and head of research two years later.
Prior to joining Theravance, Hegde spent a total of nine years at Syntex Research and the company that bought it for $5.3 billion in the 1990s, Roche, giving him a résumé defined by long stretches at a small number of companies.
Now, Hegde has become the third person to occupy the CSO role at Recursion in the past two years. Dean Li, who co-founded Recursion, held the role before leaving to join Merck late in 2017. Martin Brenner replaced Li but lasted just nine months in the role. Brenner is now CSO at Pfenex.
Hedge arrives at Recursion at an important moment for the computing-enabled R&D shop. Having raised a $60 million series B round in 2017 and allied with Sanofi and Takeda Pharmaceutical, Recursion plans to move internal or partnered programs into the clinic over the next 18 months. The programs will join existing phase 1 treatments for cerebral cavernous malformation and neurofibromatosis type 2.
Recursion thinks Hegde’s background will help it keep its pipeline well stocked, pointing to his role in the discovery of the now-approved Yupelri and Vibativ to demonstrate his credentials. Yupelri and Vibativ were discovered long before the technology to attempt Recursion’s machine learning-enabled approach to R&D existed, but the company thinks Hegde can adapt to new ways of working.
“We needed a Chief Scientific Officer who could marry extensive experience leading drug discovery teams with an enthusiasm to reimagine the whole process and do it differently. In Sharath we have found that exceptional aptitude for the effective advancement of new medicines from discovery to development and a true openness to both embracing and challenging new technologies and approaches,” Recursion CEO Chris Gibson said in a statement.