Warp Drive Bio Appoints Co-Founder Gregory Verdine, Ph.D., to Chief Executive Officer; Expands Team with Two Key Appointments
James Nichols, Ph.D., Appointed to Chief Operating Officer; Julian Adams, Ph.D., Joins Board of Directors
Warp Drive, a life sciences company using proprietary genomic technology to transform the discovery and development of natural product drugs, today announced the appointment of world-leading scientist and company co-founder Gregory Verdine, Ph.D., to chief executive officer. Dr. Verdine succeeds founding CEO Alexis Borisy, who will remain on Warp Drive Bio's board of directors and will assume the position of executive chairman. In addition, Warp Drive Bio has appointed industry veteran James Nichols, Ph.D., to the newly created role of chief operating officer, and industry-leading drug hunter Julian Adams, Ph.D., to its board of directors.
"The significant progress and rapid advances that Warp Drive Bio has made in developing our proprietary technologies – both under our strategic partnership with Sanofi, as well as across our unpartnered programs – over the past year are nothing short of staggering," said Mr. Borisy, who is also a partner at Third Rock Ventures. "Today, this is underscored by the appointment of three proven, renowned and tenacious drug discovery and development experts to our team. With Greg, Jamie and Julian joining, we are even closer to achieving our goal of revealing nature's drugs to create breakthrough therapies for patients."
Dr. Verdine is a pioneer in the field of chemical biology, having served as the Erving Professor of Chemistry in the Harvard University Departments of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology, Chemistry and Chemical Biology, and Molecular and Cellular Biology for the past 25 years. He discovered the molecular mechanism of epigenetic DNA methylation and elucidated the pathway by which certain genotoxic forms of DNA damage are eradicated from the genome. He is also responsible for having developed a new class of therapeutics termed stapled peptides, which are currently in clinical development and have received much attention for their ability to drug "undruggable" targets. In addition to Warp Drive, Dr. Verdine has co-founded multiple biotechnology companies, including Enanta Pharmaceuticals, Gloucester Pharmaceuticals, Aileron Therapeutics, Tokai Pharmaceuticals, Ontorii Pharmaceuticals and Eleven Biotherapeutics. For more than a decade, Dr. Verdine served as one of two global consultants for Hoffmann-La Roche, and was a founding scientific advisor to Vertex Pharmaceuticals, Ariad Pharmaceuticals and Variagenics, Inc. In 2009, he joined Third Rock Ventures as a venture partner. Dr. Verdine serves as a scientific advisor to the board of directors of the Ibusuki Medipolis Research Institute; on the board of scientific consultants of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Research Institute; on the board of scientific advisors of the National Cancer Institute; and the scientific advisory board of the SMA Foundation. Dr. Verdine holds a Ph.D. in chemistry from Columbia University, a B.S. in chemistry from St. Joseph's University, and served as an NIH postdoctoral fellow in molecular biology at MIT and Harvard Medical School.
"In the year since the launch of Warp Drive Bio, the team has invented a completely new way of discovering 'nature's drugs', which are hiding in plain sight literally in the soil of our own backyards," said Dr. Verdine. "Warp Drive Bio is leading the rebirth of natural products, a field that has historically made a powerful contribution to the betterment of human health, but had worked itself into seeming obsolescence. We believe Warp Drive Bio's proprietary genomic technologies will propel natural products into the forefront of the future pharmacopeia. The research being conducted by the Warp Drive Bio team is one of the most exciting scientific enterprises that I have ever been a part of, and I am thrilled to lead the company as we enter our next phase of growth and progress."
A biopharmaceutical executive and entrepreneur with more than 15 years of life sciences experience, Dr. Nichols joins Warp Drive Bio in the newly created role of chief operating officer. Throughout his career, he has held key leadership roles spanning corporate strategy, portfolio and product strategy, product development, business development, operations and research. Prior to joining Warp Drive Bio, Dr. Nichols was president and chief operating officer of Resolvyx Pharmaceuticals Inc., where he advanced two programs through early clinical development, led the company's financing and business development activities and closed a strategic partnership on the company's lead clinical ophthalmic program. Prior to joining Resolvyx, Dr. Nichols was vice president of therapeutics at CombinatoRx, Inc. (now Zalicus), where he led product and portfolio strategy, overseeing seven programs from discovery through Phase 2, and was instrumental in closing multiple strategic deals and financing rounds. Previously, Dr. Nichols was a management consultant at Braun Consulting, a health care-focused consulting firm (acquired by Fair Isaac). Dr. Nichols graduated from Columbia University and holds a Ph.D. in neuroscience from the University of Pennsylvania. He was subsequently a Helen Hay Whitney Postdoctoral at Stanford University Medical School.
New board member and world-renowned scientist Dr. Adams currently serves as president, research and development at Infinity Pharmaceuticals, Inc., where he is responsible for the full spectrum of Infinity's drug discovery, preclinical and clinical development strategy, and regulatory affairs activities. Prior to joining Infinity in 2003, Dr. Adams was the senior vice president, drug discovery and development at Millennium Pharmaceuticals, where he had global responsibility for multiple drug discovery programs, including the successful discovery and development of Velcade (bortezomib), a proteasome inhibitor for cancer therapy. Earlier in his career, Dr. Adams served in senior positions at LeukoSite and ProScript and as director, medicinal chemistry at Boehringer Ingelheim, where he successfully discovered the drug Viramune (nevirapine) for HIV. From 1982 to 1987, he was also a medicinal chemist at Merck. Dr. Adams has received many awards, is an inventor of more than 40 patents and has authored more than 100 papers and book chapters in peer-reviewed journals. He received his B.S. from McGill University and his Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He also received a Doctor of Science, honoris causa, from McGill University in 2012.
"Warp Drive Bio's transformative science is poised to awaken and drive the reemergence of the field of natural products," said Dr. Adams. "The team at Warp Drive Bio is creating breakthrough therapies that target critical pathways currently considered undruggable. I look forward to working with this group of innovative scientists and drug hunters to advance the development of this revolutionary technology."
Warp Drive Bio is driving the reemergence of natural products in the era of genomics to create breakthrough treatments that make an important difference in the lives of patients. Built upon the belief that nature is the world's most powerful medicinal chemist, Warp Drive Bio is deploying a battery of state-of-the-art technologies to access powerful drugs that are now hidden within microbes. Key to the Warp Drive Bio approach is the company's proprietary "genomic search engine" and customized search queries that enable hidden natural products to be revealed on the basis of their distinctive genomic signature. The company was launched in 2012 through a groundbreaking strategic partnership with Sanofi and with financing from Third Rock Ventures and Greylock Partners. For more information, please visit www.warpdrivebio.com.
Dan Budwick, 973-271-6085