Press Releases 06.02.2022
Michael Severino, M.D., Joins Flagship Pioneering-Founded Tessera Therapeutics as Chief Executive Officer
CAMBRIDGE, Mass., June 2, 2022 – Flagship Pioneering, the bioplatform innovation company, and Tessera Therapeutics, the biotechnology company pioneering GENE WRITING technology, today announced that Michael Severino, M.D., has joined Tessera as Chief Executive Officer. Dr. Severino, who was previously Vice Chairman and President of AbbVie, also serves as a Flagship Pioneering CEO-Partner.
Dr. Severino brings more than two decades of biopharmaceutical leadership to Tessera, having led the strategy behind research, development, registration, and commercialization of more than a dozen FDA-approved therapies. In his roles at AbbVie as Executive Vice President of Research and Development, Chief Scientific Officer and most recently Vice Chairman and President, he led efforts to build a strong pipeline and advance promising science for patients in the areas of hematologic oncology, immunology, and neuroscience. Prior to joining AbbVie, Dr. Severino held several senior leadership roles at Amgen, leading to his appointment as Senior Vice President and Corporate Chief Medical Officer where he oversaw the company's global clinical research efforts. Prior to Amgen, he was Senior Director at Merck & Co., Inc., responsible for leading research in multiple areas, including clinical genomics, molecular profiling, and experimental medicine.
“Mike will play a critical role at Flagship as CEO-Partner and, through that position, take on the role as CEO of Tessera, a company revolutionizing genetic medicine,” said Noubar Afeyan, Ph.D., Founder and CEO of Flagship Pioneering and Tessera Co-Founder and Board member. “Mike’s R&D expertise and years of experience leading innovative strategies for notable biopharmaceutical companies will help drive Tessera’s growth and the translation of its pioneering technology.”
Afeyan added, “Under Geoff von Maltzahn’s leadership as founding CEO of Tessera, the company has created strong platform foundations and is poised for the next phase of growth as Geoff transitions into the Board Chair role.”
Tessera’s GENE WRITING technology consists of multiple platforms designed to offer scientists and clinicians the ability to write therapeutic messages into the human genome, thereby curing diseases at their source. Geoffrey von Maltzahn, who served as Tessera’s founding CEO, will transition to Board Chair and continue to stay closely involved in the company’s efforts to transform genetic medicine with treatments for diseases and vulnerabilities through its GENE WRITING platforms.
“Tessera will benefit immensely from Mike’s extensive leadership experience and expertise in both R&D and commercial, especially as we look ahead to bringing GENE WRITING into the clinic,” said Geoffrey von Maltzahn, Ph.D., Co-Founder and Board Chair of Tessera Therapeutics. “I am delighted to welcome Mike to Tessera, and I am confident the company’s GENE WRITING platforms will continue to advance and scale under his leadership.”
“The emerging tools of Genetic Medicine represent a powerful new category of technology that has the potential to change the way we treat human disease and build one of the great companies in our
industry,” said Michael Severino, M.D., Flagship Pioneering CEO-Partner and Chief Executive Officer of Tessera Therapeutics. “I am excited by the potential of Tessera’s GENE WRITING platforms and look forward to leading the next phase of our mission to cure disease by writing in the code of life.”
In addition to his CEO role, Dr. Severino will also serve as a director on the company’s board. His appointment reflects Tessera’s continued growth. In the last year, Tessera announced the expansion of its Senior Leadership team with the appointments of Howard Liang, Ph.D., President and Chief Financial Officer; David Davidson, MD., Chief Medical and Development Officer; Michael Holmes, Ph.D., Chief Scientific Officer; Iain McFadyen, Ph.D., Chief Data Officer; and Becky Lillie, Chief Human Resources Officer. In April, Tessera announced that it raised over $300 million in Series C financing to advance its GENE WRITING platforms.
About Michael Severino, M.D.
Michael Severino is an accomplished executive with more than two decades of leadership experience in the biopharmaceutical industry and has made significant contributions to the development, registration, and/or commercialization of more than a dozen approved therapies. He joined AbbVie in 2014 as Executive Vice President of R&D and Chief Scientific Officer and was promoted to Vice Chairman and President in 2018. In that capacity, he assumed leadership of functions including Business Development and Corporate Strategy while maintaining overall responsibility for R&D. In his eight years with AbbVie, Dr. Severino led efforts to build a strong pipeline and advance promising science for patients in the areas of hematologic oncology, immunology, and neuroscience.
Prior to joining AbbVie in 2014, Dr. Severino was Senior Vice President, Global Development and Corporate Chief Medical Officer at Amgen, Inc. During his tenure at Amgen, he served in multiple leadership positions, including Vice President, Global Development; Vice President, Therapeutic Area Head, General Medicine and Inflammation; and Therapeutic Area Head, Inflammation Global Clinical Development. As Senior Vice President he led an organization of more than 2,000 people in 35 countries and oversaw the company's R&D efforts across all therapeutic areas, including oncology, inflammation, neuroscience, and metabolic disorders. Prior to joining Amgen, Dr. Severino was Senior Director at Merck & Co., Inc. where he was responsible for leading research in multiple areas, including clinical genomics, molecular profiling, and experimental medicine.
Dr. Severino earned his Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry from the University of Maryland, College Park, where he graduated summa cum laude and was a member of the Phi Beta Kappa Society. He earned his M.D. from the Johns Hopkins University, where he was a member of the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society. Dr. Severino completed his residency and post-doctoral training at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School.
About Tessera’s GENE WRITER Technology
Tessera’s GENE WRITER tools are based on nature’s genome architects, Mobile Genetic Elements (MGEs)—the most abundant class of genes across the tree of life, representing approximately half of the human genome. Tessera has evaluated tens of thousands of natural and synthetic MGEs to create GENE WRITER candidates with the ability to write therapeutic messages into the human genome. Tessera’s research engine further optimizes the discovered GENE WRITER candidates for efficiency, specificity, and fidelity—essentially compressing eons of evolution into a few months.
About Tessera Therapeutics
Tessera Therapeutics is pioneering GENE WRITING technology, which consists of multiple technology platforms designed to offer scientists and clinicians the ability to write therapeutic messages into the human genome, thereby curing diseases at their source. The GENE WRITING platforms allow the correction of single nucleotides, the deletion or insertion of short sequences of DNA, and the writing of entire genes into the genome, offering the potential for a new category of genetic medicines with broad applications both in vivo and ex vivo. Tessera Therapeutics was founded by Flagship Pioneering in 2018, a life sciences innovation enterprise that conceives, resources, and develops first-in-category companies to transform human health and sustainability. For more information about Tessera, please visit www.tesseratherapeutics.com.
About Flagship Pioneering
Flagship Pioneering conceives, creates, resources, and develops first-in-category bioplatform companies to transform human health and sustainability. Since its launch in 2000, the firm has, through its Flagship Labs unit, applied its unique hypothesis-driven innovation process to originate and foster more than 100 scientific ventures, resulting in more than $100 billion in aggregate value. To date, Flagship has deployed over $2.9 billion in capital toward the founding and growth of its pioneering companies alongside more than $19 billion of follow-on investments from other institutions. The current Flagship ecosystem comprises 41 transformative companies, including Denali Therapeutics (NASDAQ: DNLI), Evelo Biosciences (NASDAQ: EVLO), Foghorn Therapeutics (NASDAQ: FHTX), Moderna (NASDAQ: MRNA), Omega Therapeutics (NASDAQ: OMGA), Rubius Therapeutics (NASDAQ: RUBY), Sana Biotechnology (NASDAQ: SANA), and Seres Therapeutics (NASDAQ: MCRB).