Additions Strengthen Management Team, Position Company to Accelerate CNS Pipeline into the Clinic
CAMBRIDGE, Mass.--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- SAGE Therapeutics, a biopharmaceutical company developing novel medicines to treat central nervous system (CNS) diseases, today announced that Jeffrey Jonas, M.D., has been named Chief Executive Officer. Dr. Jonas succeeds Kevin Starr, who has served as interim CEO since the company's founding. SAGE also announced the appointments of Stephen Kanes, M.D., Ph.D., to Chief Medical Officer and Kimi Iguchi to Chief Financial Officer.
"SAGE Therapeutics is focused on bringing transformative new CNS products to patients, including those with status epilepticus, traumatic brain injury, procedural sedation and Fragile X Syndrome," said Mr. Starr, a Partner at Third Rock Ventures and Director of SAGE. "The company has made significant progress over the past two years and is now poised to make the transition from a discovery stage to a development and commercial stage company. With the addition of Jeff, Stephen and Kimi, we have the right team in place to advance SAGE's product strategy and move several programs into late stage development by 2015."
Dr. Jonas, who was most recently the President of Regenerative Medicine at Shire plc, brings more than 20 years of scientific and business leadership in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries, as well as a proven track record in developing and launching drugs for CNS diseases. His appointment, along with the additions of Dr. Kanes and Ms. Iguchi, strengthen the leadership team and add significant medical, operational and financial expertise. In less than two years since the company was founded, SAGE has made rapid progress across its pipeline and is poised to enter human clinical trials with two of its programs this year.
"SAGE's approach of allosteric modulation of GABAA and NMDA receptors is highly differentiated, backed by strong clinical data and has the potential to yield therapies that make a real difference for patients," said Dr. Jonas. "While several pharmaceutical companies have greatly diminished their CNS discovery efforts in recent years due to concerns about its difficulty, SAGE has taken a smart approach to CNS discovery by initially focusing on treatments for acute and orphan CNS indications with clear and accelerated paths to regulatory approval in significant commercial markets. The SAGE PANAM chemistry platform is well positioned to deliver multiple product opportunities over the next several years, and we are now actively engaging industry and academic partners to realize its true potential. I'm thrilled to be part of the team and to be joining at such pivotal time in the company's evolution."
Before joining SAGE, Dr. Jonas was President of Regenerative Medicine at Shire and Senior Vice President of Research and Development Pharmaceuticals at Shire. Prior to Shire, Dr. Jonas served as Executive Vice President of ISIS Pharmaceuticals, Chief Medical Officer and Executive Vice President of Forest Laboratories, Inc. and in senior leadership positions at Upjohn Laboratories. Dr. Jonas is regarded as a successful entrepreneur, having founded AVAX Technologies, where he served as CEO and President, and SCEPTOR Industries, where he served as Chairman, President and Chief Technology Officer. Dr. Jonas has published more than 70 scientific papers and chapters and has received numerous awards.
Additional New Appointments to Management Team
SAGE also expanded its management team with the addition of Dr. Kanes and Ms. Iguchi to the newly created CMO and CFO roles.
"These additions add to our already excellent R&D team, validating the work that SAGE has done to date to build a highly productive drug discovery platform that could yield multiple new medicines over the next few years," said Steven Paul, M.D., SAGE Therapeutics co-founder and Venture Partner at Third Rock Ventures. "While our initial efforts are focused on acute and orphan indications, SAGE will also eventually expand into larger populations of patients with chronic neuropsychiatric disorders, including targeting NMDA receptors to develop broader approaches for cognition and fast-acting depressants."
With broad CNS product experience in both acute care such as anesthesia and chronic indications such as migraine, osteoarthritis pain and schizophrenia, Dr. Kanes will focus on the clinical development of the company's pipeline. He is a former practicing psychiatrist and previously served as the Executive Director/Therapeutic Area Clinical Director for the Inflammation, Neuroscience and Respiratory GMED division of AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals. During his time at AstraZeneca, he also served as Medical Science Senior Director for the neuroscience established brands and emerging anesthesia Global Product Team and in other positions of increasing responsibility in the Neuroscience Discovery Medicine, early and late development groups. Prior to joining AstraZeneca, Dr. Kanes was a faculty member in the Psychiatry Department at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine where he continues to serve as an adjunct assistant professor of psychiatry.
Ms. Iguchi brings both financial and operating strength from her senior management experience at Millennium Pharmaceuticals and Biogen as well as emerging life science companies. Prior to joining SAGE, Ms. Iguchi served as the Chief Operating Officer, North America, for Santhera Pharmaceuticals. Before that, she held the role of Vice President of Finance at Cyberkinetics Neurotechnology Systems. Previously, Ms. Iguchi was the Senior Director of financial reporting and analysis at Millennium and the Senior Manager external reporting at Biogen. She also worked as a business assurance manager at PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP and started her career at chemistry-related positions at various Boston-based companies.
About SAGE Therapeutics
SAGE Therapeutics is a neuroscience-focused company developing therapeutics to treat CNS specialty and orphan diseases. The company has identified several product opportunities with clear and accelerated paths to regulatory approval. SAGE's initial pipeline includes programs in status epilepticus, anesthesia, Fragile X Syndrome and traumatic brain injury, where CNS drugs poorly address the areas of most urgent patient need and are often accompanied by considerable side effects. The company's robust allosteric modulator chemistry platform - called the Positive and Negative Allosteric Modulator (PANAM) platform - has generated multiple new chemical entities supported by promising preclinical data, which the company believes has the potential to lead to products with multiple indications over the next several years. SAGE Therapeutics is a private company launched in 2011 by a proven team of R&D leaders, renowned CNS experts and Third Rock Ventures. For more information, please visit www.sagerx.com.