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CAMBRIDGE, Mass.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Visterra, Inc., a clinical-stage biotechnology company, today announced the appointment of Bernadette Connaughton, Head, European Markets, Canada and Australia of Bristol-Myers Squibb, and Steven Holtzman, former Executive Vice President, Corporate Development of Biogen, to the company’s board of directors. Ms. Connaughton and Mr. Holtzman each bring more than 30 years of strategic, operational and management experience in the biopharmaceutical industry to Visterra’s board and, in particular, experience in growing and leading companies and business units to generate significant value, as well as deep understanding of global pharmaceutical markets.

“We welcome the broad and extensive industry knowledge that Bernadette and Steve bring to Visterra,” said Brian J. G. Pereira, MD, President and CEO of Visterra. “We are thrilled to have these highly accomplished biopharmaceutical leaders join our board as we advance our product candidates for the treatment of influenza A and the treatment of Dengue, and as we continue to apply our proprietary Hierotope™ platform to build a pipeline of antibody-based therapeutics for infectious and non-infectious diseases.”

"I am excited to join Visterra’s board of directors as the company establishes itself as an innovative new leader in biotech," said Ms. Connaughton. "Visterra has the foundation in place to build a great company, with outstanding leaders who know how to translate cutting-edge science into important new therapeutics."

"I am impressed by Visterra’s innovative technology that identifies highly-attractive sites for drug intervention and then enables the design and engineering of optimized antibody drug candidates that selectively target these sites,” said Mr. Holtzman. “I look forward to sharing my insights and experiences to help advance this exciting technology in creating therapeutics to meet the increasingly important unmet needs in infectious diseases.”

Ms. Connaughton has spent her career at Bristol-Myers Squibb, where she currently serves as Head, European Markets, Canada and Australia. She has held a variety of senior leadership positions at Bristol-Myers Squibb, including President-Intercontinental; President-Japan, Pacific Rim and Canada; Senior Vice President-U.S. Cardiovascular/Metabolic Business Unit; and Senior Vice President-Primary Care Marketing. She has been on the European Markets and Patient Access Committees of the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industry Associations since 2014. Ms. Connaughton received a BA from Johns Hopkins University and an MBA from the University of Pennsylvania.

Mr. Holtzman most recently served as Executive Vice President, Corporate Development at Biogen, where he was responsible for business development and program leadership and management of the company’s late-stage product candidates and marketed products. Previously he was the founder, CEO and chair of the board of directors of Infinity Pharmaceuticals. Prior to that, Mr. Holtzman was an early leader and the Chief Business Officer of Millennium Pharmaceuticals, and was a founder, member of the board of directors and the Executive Vice President of DNX Corporation. He is currently a member of the board of directors of two private biotechnology companies, PMV Pharma and Molecular Partners. Mr. Holtzman received a BA from Michigan State University and a BPhil graduate degree from Corpus Christi College, Oxford University, which he attended as a Rhodes Scholar.

About Visterra

Visterra is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company that uses its novel Hierotope™ platform to identify unique disease targets and to design and engineer innovative antibody-based therapies intended to be effective as a single-dose administration. Visterra’s technology enables the design and engineering of product candidates which target a specific region of an antigen, or Hierotope, on a pathogen that is common across all strains of the pathogen and is resistant to mutation. The company believes these Hierotopes are critical to the structural and functional integrity of the pathogen, making them highly attractive therapeutic targets. The company is currently focused on developing therapeutics for infectious diseases and its lead product candidate, VIS410, is a human monoclonal antibody being developed for the treatment of hospitalized patients with influenza A, regardless of viral strain. The company’s second product candidate, VIS513, is a human monoclonal antibody for the treatment of dengue that has been shown in preclinical studies to be effective against all four serotypes of the dengue virus. Visterra was founded on the research into the fundamentals of viral evolution and epitope characterization by our scientific founder, Dr. Ram Sasisekharan at MIT. For more information, please visit