Industry Veterans Catherine Thut and Tom Wickham Join Company as Chief Business Officer and Chief Scientific Officer, Respectively
Partnership with MIGAL Galilee Research Institute Broadened to Include Exclusive Licensing of Unique Immune Evasive Technology
BOSTON, Mass., October 28, 2020 – GentiBio, Inc., an emerging biotherapeutics company developing engineered regulatory T cells (EngTregs) programmed to treat autoimmune, alloimmune, autoinflammatory, and allergic diseases, announced today the appointments of Catherine Thut as Chief Business Officer and Thomas Wickham as Chief Scientific Officer. In these roles, Thut will be responsible for leading the company’s corporate development, strategy and financing, and Wickham will drive the company’s research and development activities to advance the company’s scientific platform and shape research strategy. Additionally, GentiBio expanded its existing partnership with MIGAL Galilee Research Institute to further leverage the institute’s expertise in synthetic immunology.
“We are excited to welcome Cathy and Tom to our team as both come at a pivotal time for the company as we advance the development of our Regulatory T cell-based therapies,” said Adel Nada, Co-founder, President and CEO of GentiBio. “Catherine brings to GentiBio extensive experience and a proven track record in business development and fundraising in the biopharmaceutical space, while Tom’s deep expertise in immunology and a diverse spectrum of drug and engineered cell therapy platforms will be invaluable to the company as we further the progress of our research programs and pursue moving our therapies into the clinic. Adding their leadership to GentiBio will be critical in helping us achieve our business and scientific goals.”
Catherine Thut, Ph.D., MBA
Thut brings vast biopharmaceutical industry experience to the GentiBio team. Cathy most recently served as CEO of Makana Therapeutics, a preclinical stage company focused in alleviating organ shortage crisis through xenotransplantation, where she led the merger of Makana with Recombinetics. Prior to Makana, Cathy was Executive Director in the Business Development and Licensing group at Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research (NIBR), where she worked across multiple therapeutic areas and was responsible for negotiating a number of immuno-oncology partnerships. Cathy also worked at Merck Research Laboratories as Therapeutics Area group leader for Ophthalmology Research. She pursued her graduate and postdoctoral training at U.C. Berkeley and Stanford University Medical School, respectively, and received her MBA from MIT’s Sloan School of Management.
“I’m excited to work with the GentiBio team to bring my corporate development and business strategy experience to the company as we work to determine how our unique therapeutic modality can directly address the underlying cause of autoimmune, alloimmune, auto inflammatory and allergic diseases,” said Thut. “GentiBio’s platform has the potential to realize the promise of EngTregs cell therapy products in the treatment of serious diseases, and I’m eager to help make this a reality for patients.”
Tom Wickham, Ph.D.
Tom brings over 25 years of experience in advancing drug platforms in a variety of therapeutic areas from discovery through clinical trials. Most recently, Tom served as Senior Vice President of Research and Development at Rubius Therapeutics, where he pioneered synthetic biology approaches using genetically engineered red cells for autoimmunity, immuno-oncology, and rare disease applications, building a full discovery and preclinical organization leading to multiple product programs and two regulatory filings. Prior to Rubius, he held senior roles at numerous leading biopharmaceutical companies, including as Vice President of R&D at Merrimack Pharmaceuticals, Senior Director of Preclinical Pharmacology at EMD Lexigen (now Merck-Serono), and at GenVec, Inc. Tom holds a B.S. in chemical/biomedical engineering from Carnegie Mellon University, a Ph.D. in biochemical engineering from Cornell University, and pursued his postdoctoral training at the Scripps Research Institute in the Department of Immunology.
“Understanding the limitations in existing regulatory T cell-based therapeutics, I’m motivated by the innovative approach GentiBio is taking to successfully restore immune tolerance in the body,” said Wickham. “I look forward to bringing my expertise with advancing drug platforms to GentiBio as I truly believe Regulatory T cell biology coupled with smart and fit-for-purpose receptor engineering has the potential to treat and cure many patients living with serious autoimmune and inflammatory diseases.”
Expanded MIGAL Galilee Research Institute Partnership
In addition to the new executive hires, GentiBio has expanded its partnership with MIGAL-Galilee Research Institute through the exclusive licensing of its unique immune evasive technology that can potentially enable durable engraftment of allogeneic cells, including EngTregs. This proprietary technology has been conceptualized and achieved building on the long standing and pioneering insights of Prof. Gidi Gross, Head, and Dr. Hadas Weinstein-Marom, Senior Scientist, Immunology Laboratory, MIGAL and Scientific Co-Founders and Scientific Advisory Board members of GentiBio.
“Enabling durable cell therapy engraftment in immune competent patients will advance the reach of EngTregs and cell therapy platforms, positioning GentiBio to become a leader in allogeneic cell therapy,” said Nada. “We are thrilled to continue partnering with a premier research organization like MIGAL to advance novel and potent engineered cell therapies with the potential to treat and cure serious autoimmune and inflammatory diseases.”
“The immune evasive technology is a product of many years of synthetic immunology tinkering and engineering. We are delighted to see this technology further developed and advanced by GentiBio to make it available for the many patients who can benefit from it,” said Prof. Gross.