Wotton replaces Gilman as CEO of cell, gene therapy startup Obsidian

Obsidian Therapeutics has named Paul Wotton as CEO. The appointment gives Obsidian a full-time CEO following a period in which Michael Gilman helmed the biotech while also running Arrakis Therapeutics.  

Under Gilman’s leadership, Obsidian broke cover with a $49.5 million series A round and went on to enter into a collaboration with Celgene. Obsidian attracted the strategic and financial interest on the strength of its efforts to use synthetic biology to improve the regulation of cell and gene therapies through the use of destabilizing domains and companion small-molecule medicines.

Now, Wotton will assume responsibility for taking the science forward. Wotton comes to Obsidian with 30 years of biopharma experience that includes stints as CEO of a clutch of biotechs.

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Wotton was last seen leading Flagship Pioneering-backed Sigilon Therapeutics but stepped back from the role last year to manage a family health issue. Ex-Bioverativ EVP Rogerio Vivaldi stepped in to the Sigilon CEO role, leaving Wotton free to take up the post at Obsidian.

Earlier in his career, Wotton led Ocata Therapeutics to its drawn-out $379 million takeover by Astellas and served as CEO of Antares Pharma and Topigen Pharmaceuticals. 

Wotton’s resume is littered with companies active in areas that overlap with Obsidian’s focus on cell and gene therapy. Ocata landed the Astellas deal on the strength of its stem cell assets, while Sigilon is working on engineered human cells. That makes Wotton a good fit for Obsidian on paper. 

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“Paul’s substantial experience, his strategic business savvy, together with his in-depth of knowledge of cell and gene therapies make him a natural choice to lead the Obsidian team and advance its next generation cell and gene therapies into the clinic,” Gilman said in a statement.