Press Releases 01.03.2017
Axcella Augments Leadership Team with the Appointment of Three Key Hires
Thomas Leggett joins as Chief Financial Officer
Iman Barilero, Pharm.D., Ph.D., joins as Senior Vice President, Chief Regulatory Science, Patient Advocacy and Pharmacovigilance Officer
Veena Warikoo, Ph.D., joins as Vice President, Product Development
CAMBRIDGE, Mass., Jan. 3, 2017 – Axcella, a biotechnology company pioneering transformative medicines for patients with severe conditions caused by disrupted amino acid biology, announced today the addition of three new members to its senior leadership team: Thomas Leggett, MBA, Chief Financial Officer; Iman Barilero, Pharm.D., Ph.D., Senior Vice President, Chief Regulatory Science, Patient Advocacy and Pharmacovigilance Officer; and Veena Warikoo, Ph.D., Vice President, Product Development.
“We welcome Thomas, Iman and Veena to the Axcella team and look forward to the contributions they will make as we advance our pipeline of novel therapeutics across multiple disease areas, including our clinical-stage metabolic and neurological disease programs,” said Robert Connelly, President and Chief Executive Officer of Axcella. “Tom’s unique background of substantial investment banking and biopharmaceutical industry experience will help propel Axcella forward in 2017, as we seek new partnerships and expand our platform into new disease areas. Iman’s extensive global experience in regulatory science and policy, and drug development will help the company deliver novel, unprecedented medicines to patients of unmet medical needs. With her deep product development and manufacturing experience, Veena will augment the Axcella management team as we transition from research to product development.”
During his 13 years as an investment banker, Mr. Leggett worked at J.P. Morgan Securities, Healthcare Group and later as a Vice President at Lazard Frères & Company and an Executive Director in the Healthcare Group at UBS Securities. He raised over $6 billion in equity and $26 billion in debt while advising on over $32 billion in mergers and acquisitions transactions for healthcare clients. Most recently, as the Treasurer and Head of Business Development Finance at Purdue Pharma L.P., Mr. Leggett executed five strategic transactions, including the recently announced alliance for the joint U.S. commercialization of Symproic®(naldemedine) with Shionogi & Co., Ltd. He received his Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Columbia University and earned his Master’s in Business Administration in Finance from The Wharton School.
Dr. Barilero comes to Axcella with 30 years of multidisciplinary, international drug development and regulatory experience across academia and industry, spanning a broad spectrum of therapeutic areas. Before joining Axcella, she served as Vice President, Global Regulatory Development Strategy, Science, Intelligence and Policy at Lundbeck, where she played an instrumental role in the global approval of several products including Selincro®, Brintellix®, Rexulti® and Abilify Maintena®. Dr. Barilero previously worked in regulatory affairs at Johnson & Johnson and held roles of increasing responsibility at Hoffman-La Roche in regulatory affairs, pharmacovigilance and medical information. She received her Pharm.D. from the University of Damascus and both her Master’s degree in Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology and Ph.D. in Pharmacology from the University of Paris VI. She also recently obtained her certificate in Leadership Transition from INSEAD Business School in Paris.
Dr. Warikoo has 17 years of experience in process development, manufacturing and organizational management. Most recently, she worked for nearly a decade at Sanofi Genzyme, where she held roles of increasing responsibility in therapeutics development and manufacturing, including overseeing the development of an end-to-end, integrated biomanufacturing platform. During her career, Dr. Warikoo has worked on the commercialization teams for several drugs, including Alprolix®, Plegridy®, Atryn®, Lumizyme® and Thymoglobulin®, as well as on the post-commercialization teams for the drugs, Avonex®, Cerezyme®, Myozyme®, Fabrazyme® and Thyrogen®. Dr. Warikoo obtained her Ph.D. in Microbiology from the University of Oklahoma and completed her postdoctoral training in Environmental Engineering at Stanford University.
Axcella also announced that Peter Mueller, Ph.D., has resigned from his current role as President of R&D and Chief Scientific Officer, to focus on The Mueller Health Foundation, an organization he created that is dedicated to the eradication of global, lethal infectious diseases, with a main focus on tuberculosis.
“During the past two years, Peter has made substantial contributions especially in establishing firm scientific foundations and building a strong team. We thank him for his time and wish him well in his future endeavors,” said Mr. Connelly.
Axcella is pioneering a revolutionary therapeutic modality that identifies how disturbances in amino acid biology lead to disease. The company’s platform rapidly yields novel molecules to restore normal amino acid homeostasis, treat disease and reactivate healthy central metabolism.
Axcella has expeditiously translated its discoveries into molecules that have been tested in 10 clinical trials to date, with lead programs in intractable epilepsy, NASH and pathological atrophy. Its lead clinical candidates have demonstrated in human and preclinical models an ability to bring homeostasis to dysregulated cells, repair cellular function, restore healthy pathways, and regenerate tissue and healthy organ function. The company was founded by VentureLabs, the Innovation Foundry at Flagship Pioneering, and has received financing from Flagship’s venture funds, alongside co-investors Fidelity Research & Management Group, Gurnet Point Capital and Nestlé Health Science. Axcella is based in Cambridge, Mass. For more information, visit www.axcellahealth.com.