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CAMBRIDGE, Mass.-- September 14, 2017--Axcella Health, a biotechnology company pioneering Defined Amino Acid Compositions (DAACS™) as therapeutics across a range of important diseases, announced today that Manu Chakravarthy, M.D., Ph.D., has joined the company as Chief Medical Officer and Senior Vice President of Clinical Development. Dr. Chakravarthy comes to Axcella with deep experience in translational medicine, clinical development and therapeutic strategy, and with specific expertise in metabolic diseases. He will lead Axcella’s clinical activities and oversee the execution of clinical studies.

“Amino acids are critical regulators of metabolic processes and their dysregulation plays a major role in many diseases. Deploying disease-specific combinations of amino acids as a single agent can restore these dysregulated pathways, having powerful effects through their essential role in biology. DAACs are a new therapeutic category with the potential to disrupt the paradigm of traditional drug development,” commented Dr. Chakravarthy. “Axcella has a robust pipeline of transformative therapeutics and I’m excited to help drive that pipeline forward to improve the lives of patients.”

“Manu brings extensive experience in clinical development and translational medicine programs, and is a recognized leader in metabolic and liver diseases, including nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), one of our most advanced programs,” said Robert Connelly, President and Chief Executive Officer of Axcella. “We are moving Axcella and DAAC Therapeutics into the pharmaceutical spotlight with multiple proof-of-concept (POC) studies initiating this quarter. Our ability to move candidates rapidly into the clinic is unprecedented, and under Manu’s leadership we will be able to initiate a range of important clinical POC studies in several additional indications in the coming months.”

Prior to Axcella, Dr. Chakravarthy served as the Global Head of Innovation Strategy and External R&D in diabetes and cardiovascular research at Eli Lilly & Co., where he oversaw the identification & evaluation of novel therapeutics and platforms for in/out-licensing, and established academic collaborations to complement and enhance Lilly’s internal R&D portfolio. He additionally served as the industry co-leader of the Innovative Medicine Initiative’s LITMUS project, one of the largest public-private consortia efforts to elucidate noninvasive biomarkers for NAFLD. Before his global leadership role at Lilly, Dr. Chakravarthy spent more than 7 years at Merck & Co., where he assumed positions of increasing responsibility and leadership, ultimately serving as a Distinguished Scientist. During his tenure at Merck, Dr. Chakravarthy spearheaded the design and execution of a variety of clinical trials (mechanistic, biomarker, first-in human, phase 2 POC) in neuroscience, anti-virals, and metabolic diseases. He also led the Discovery Medicine and Clinical Pharmacology groups within diabetes and cardiometabolic diseases, and oversaw activities that ranged from target identification/validation to studies supporting regulatory filings.

Prior to Merck, Dr. Chakravarthy served as an Instructor of Medicine in the Department of Endocrinology & Metabolism at Washington University School of Medicine. He is Board-certified in Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism, and an Adjunct Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine at the Rutgers School of Medicine, New Jersey. Dr. Chakravarthy received his MD from the University of Texas Houston Medical School, and his PhD from the Univ. of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. He completed a residency in Internal Medicine at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, clinical fellowship in Endocrinology, Diabetes & Metabolism at the Barnes-Jewish Hospital, and postdoctoral fellowship in lipid metabolism at Washington Univ. School of Medicine in St Louis.

About Axcella Health

Axcella has pioneered a new therapeutic class – Defined Amino Acid Compositions (DAACs™). Our DAAC Therapeutics leverage the essential signaling function of amino acids to restore health across a network of dysregulated pathways, and provide safer solutions for patients with complex disease. With our Axcellerator™ platform, we are transforming traditional drug discovery and development by generating patient data in less than a year from indication selection. This platform has delivered a rich pipeline including clinical programs in liver, metabolic, CNS and orphan diseases.