Neogene Therapeutics, Inc., a pre-clinical stage biotechnology company pioneering a new class of fully personalized neo-antigen T cell therapies to treat cancer, today announced the appointment of Franz B. Humer, Ph.D., as Executive Chairman of the Board of Directors. A world-renowned pharmaceutical industry trailblazer, Dr. Humer served as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Roche Holding, Ltd. over a period of 16 years before retiring in 2014. As a result of the recent Series A financing, Rachel Mears of Jeito Capital, Elisa Petris, Ph.D., of Syncona Investment Management Ltd., Caroline Stout of EcoR1 Capital, and Katherine Wood of TPG Capital, also have joined the Neogene Board.
“We are honored to welcome Franz as Executive Chairman of our Board of Directors. His vast experience in the development of ground-breaking therapies and decades of unparalleled leadership as a pioneer in the pharmaceutical industry will be invaluable as we advance the development of a novel class of engineered T cell therapies,” said Carsten Linnemann, Ph.D., President, Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder of Neogene Therapeutics. “With the recent completion of our $110 million Series A financing, I am looking forward to working closely with Franz and the Board to advance our differentiated technology and realize a new paradigm of personalized cancer treatment for patients.”
Dr. Humer joined Roche in 1995 as Head of the Pharmaceuticals Division and Member of the Board. He was appointed CEO in 1998 and Chairman of the Board of Directors and CEO in April 2001. From March 2008 to March 2014, he served as Chairman of the Board of Directors of Roche Holding Ltd. Prior to Roche, Dr. Humer spent more than a decade at Glaxo Holdings, where he was appointed Managing Director of Glaxo Pharmaceuticals UK, Ltd. in 1987. He was elected to the Board in 1989 and became Chief Operating Director of worldwide operations (excluding the United States) in 1992. He earned a doctorate in law from Innsbruck University and an M.B.A. from INSEAD in Fontainebleau, France.
“I’m excited to join Neogene and its world-class team of cell therapy experts as they look to advance the development of neo-antigen T cell therapies and lead innovation in cancer treatment,” said Dr. Humer. “The company has already made impressive progress as it develops therapies that have the potential to make a true difference for cancer patients. I look forward to contributing my experience in biopharma drug development, working closely with Carsten and the executive leadership as well as my fellow new board members to help grow the company and bring fully personalized engineered T cell therapies to patients living with advanced solid tumors.”
Dr. Humer currently serves as an independent Director of Allogene Therapeutics, a company developing novel allogeneic CAR-T cell therapies. In addition, he holds private Board appointments across industries and serves as a non-executive Director of Cydar, Chairman of HMNC Holding, a healthcare advisor to a number of international institutions, and Chairman of the Board of the International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children and the Humer Foundation.
Newly Appointed Members of Neogene Board of Directors
- Rachel Mears is a Partner at Jeito Capital. She has more than 20 years of transactional, operational and legal experience in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries. Ms. Mears led Strategy and International Business Operations at Forest Laboratories, where she worked on the successful development and commercialization of over 10 U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved drugs and spearheaded the company’s integration with Allergan (then known as Actavis). Previously, Ms. Mears served as Chief Business Officer and General Counsel at Modern Meadow and as Senior Counsel, Chief of Staff, to PepsiCo’s General Counsel. Ms. Mears began her career as a patent attorney, first with Morrison & Forester and later with Kirkland & Ellis, specializing in complex intellectual property strategy and litigation. She currently serves on the Board of Trustees at Hackley School. Ms. Mears received a B.S. with honors in chemistry from Stanford University and a J.D. from New York University School of Law and was admitted to the U.S. Patent Bar.
- Elisa Petris, Ph.D.,is a Partner at Syncona Investment Management Ltd., a Director on the Board of Quell Therapeutics, and an observer on the Board of Achilles Therapeutics. She previously served on the Board of Blue Earth Diagnostics. She has been closely involved in the foundation of these companies, including their operational and strategic set-up. Previously, she was a Senior Associate at Michel Dyens & Co., where she worked on transactions covering the healthcare industry, and a member of the Life Science team at L.E.K. Consulting. While at L.E.K., she worked on projects for biotech, pharma and private equity clients. Dr. Petris earned a Ph.D. in molecular biology from Imperial College and an M.B.A. from London Business School.
- Caroline Stout is a Principal at EcoR1 Capital. She also serves as Chief Investment Officer of Panacea Acquisition Corporation. At EcoR1 Capital, Ms. Stout focuses on investing in private and public biotechnology companies. She has led multiple investments in the cell and gene therapy space. She serves as a Board observer for Accent Therapeutics and Neurogene Inc. Previously, she served as a Board observer for Prevail Therapeutics. Prior to EcoR1, Ms. Stout was a healthcare investment banker at Credit Suisse, where she worked on a variety of transactions across the healthcare and biotechnology sectors. Ms. Stout graduated magna cum laude from Georgetown University with a B.A. in economics.
- Katherine Wood is a Principal at TPG Capital, where she focuses on investments in the healthcare sector. She currently serves on the Boards of LifeStance Health, Convey Health Solutions, Kadiant, AskBio and Ellodi Pharmaceuticals and was previously on the Board of Adare Pharmaceuticals. She was involved in TPG’s investments in Allogene Therapeutics, Aptalis, EnvisionRx, IASIS and Par Pharmaceutical. Prior to joining TPG, Ms. Wood worked in healthcare investment banking at Goldman, Sachs & Co. She received a B.S. with honors in molecular and cell biology from Stanford University and an M.B.A. with distinction from Harvard Business School.
Existing Neogene Board members include the following:
- Raul Jain, M.D., is a Director at Vida Ventures. He has more than 20 years of experience in science, medicine and academia, including in cell therapy and oncology development. Prior to Vida Ventures, he held roles of increasing responsibility at Kite Pharma, most recently as Vice President and Head of Development, where he oversaw the development and regulatory approvals of multiple CAR and TCR-engineered T cell programs. Previously, Dr. Jain served as Global Development Lead at Amgen, where his role included overseeing the development and regulatory approvals of small molecules and biologics in oncology. Dr. Jain currently serves on the Board of Directors for InnoSkel and Quanta. He completed his post-doctoral training in biophysics at Rockefeller University, and fellowship training at MD Anderson Cancer Center, where he was Chief Fellow. He completed a B.A. in chemistry and biochemistry at Rice University. He earned an M.D. and completed his internal medicine internship and residency at UT Southwestern Medical School, where he was a Howard Hughes Fellow.
- Carsten Linnemann, Ph.D., is the President, Chief Executive Officer, and a Co-Founder of Neogene. Before Neogene, Dr. Linnemann served as Associate Director, Next Generation T Cell Therapies and Managing Director of Kite Pharma EU B.V. He has co-founded several biotech companies, including T-Cell Factory B.V. (acquired by Kite Pharma, Inc. in 2015). He has co-authored several publications in the field of genetic engineering of T cells, and done seminal work on human neo-antigen biology. Dr. Linnemann has been awarded numerous professional honors including the Thesis Prize from the Netherlands Society of Gene and Cell Therapy and the Antoni van Leeuwenhoek Career Achievement Award from The Netherlands Cancer Institute. Dr. Linnemann is an alumnus of the German Academic Foundation and the Boehringer Ingelheim Fonds – Foundation for Biomedical Research. He received a Ph.D. with honors for his work on engineering T cell immunity by TCR gene transfer in the laboratory of Dr. Ton Schumacher at The Netherlands Cancer Institute.
- Ton N.M. Schumacher, Ph.D., is a Co-Founder of Neogene and Principal Investigator at The Netherlands Cancer Institute, Oncode Institute member, and Professor of Immunotechnology at Leiden University Medical Center. Dr. Schumacher previously co-founded AIMM Therapeutics, Neon Therapeutics and T Cell Factory and served as Chief Scientific Officer of Kite Pharma EU. In addition, Dr. Schumacher serves as Venture Partner at Third Rock Ventures. He is an internationally renowned researcher in the areas of cancer neoantigens and TCR therapies, and in recognition of his work in these areas, he has received, among others, the Amsterdam Inventor Award, the Queen Wilhelmina Cancer Research Award, the Meyenburg Cancer Research Award, the William B. Coley Award, and the Stevin Award of the Dutch Research Council.
- David M. Tanen is Corporate Secretary of Neogene and a Partner and Co-Founder of Two River Consulting, which specializes in creating, operating and financing development-stage life science companies. Mr. Tanen is also a Co-Founder of Kite Pharma, where he served as an officer and General Counsel from its inception until its acquisition by Gilead Sciences; a Co-Founder of Kronos Bio, where he serves as an officer and member of the Board of Directors; and a Co-Founder and Officer of Allogene Therapeutics. He also serves as an advisor to Vida Ventures. Mr. Tanen received a B.A. from The George Washington University and a J.D. from Fordham University School of Law, where he has served on the Dean’s Planning Council for more than 10 years as well as the Entrepreneurial Law Advisory Council.
About Neogene Therapeutics
Neogene Therapeutics, Inc. is a pre-clinical stage biotechnology company pioneering the development of next-generation, fully personalized engineered T cells therapies for a broad spectrum of cancers. The Company’s engineered T cells target mutated proteins found in cancer cells due to cancer-associated DNA mutations, or neo-antigens, that render tumor cells vulnerable to detection by T cells. Neogene’s proprietary technology platform aims to identify TCR genes with specificity for neo-antigens from tumor biopsies. Neogene’s novel approach intends to deliver a tailored set of TCR genes for each individual patient, which will be engineered into patient-derived T cells directing them towards neo-antigens in tumor cells, with the goal of providing a fully personalized engineered T cell therapy for cancer.