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Former Pfizer Neuroscientist to Helm New York Biotech Vencerx

Written by: | | Dated: Friday, March 31st, 2017


Former Pfizer Neuroscientist to Helm New York Biotech Vencerx
March 31, 2017
By Mark Terry, Breaking News Staff

New York, NY – Vencerx Therapeutics announced that Robert Ring will join the company as chief executive officer and Jeffrey Stevenson will join as chairman of the board
Vencerx focuses on developing treatments for rare neurodevelopmental disorders such as Fragile X Syndrome. The most common form of inherited mental retardation in males, and a significant cause in females, Fragile X Syndrome (FXS) is marked by intellectual deficit, potential memory problems, behavioral anomalies and autistic-like behavior. It is caused by changes in the FMR1 gene, when a DNA segment called a CGG triplet repeat, is expanded. The name of the disorder comes about from early cytogenetic testing, where under specific growth conditions, the X chromosomes appeared broken in the area of the gene.

Ring was most recently chief science officer of Autism Speaks. Before Autism Speaks, he headed the Autism Unit at Pfizer Global Research and Development. He also had leadership roles at Wyeth Research.

Stevenson is managing partner at VSS, a private equity investment company, which he joined in 1982. He has been a senior member of the investment committees of all VSS buyout funds and structured capital funds.

“Rob is a recognized leader in the field of autism research and brings years of experience working at the forefront of therapeutics development for related neurodevelopmental disorders such as Fragile X,” said David Malpass, one of Vencerx’ founders, in a statement. “We are pleased to have someone with Rob’s experience spearheading our efforts to advance treatments for Fragile X Syndrome and related conditions. We are also thrilled that Jeff Stevenson will join as Chairman of the Board. He brings strong leadership, a stellar investment career and nearly two decades of involvement in advancing the treatment of Fragile X.“

Vencerx was founded in 2015. Its key founders were Michael Tranfaglia and David Malpass. Malpass also founded Encima Global, an economic research firm. From 1993 to 2008, he was a senior managing director at Bear, Stearns & Co., and Chief Economist. He is a member of the Council of Foreign Relations and served on the boards of the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations.

Tranfaglia is the medical director and chief scientific officer of FRAXA. His role is to coordinate the foundation’s research strategy and work with university and industry scientists on developing new treatments for Fragile X, autism, and other related development disorders. He and his wife founded FRAXA in 1994 after his son was diagnosed with Fragile X. He is a psychiatrist.

Additional founders include Misha Lozovik, currently director and healthcare analyst for Blackrock Large Cap Series Team; Patricia Nasshorn, with Care Capital, a life sciences venture capital firm; and Alexander Kolevzon, a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist and Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Pediatrics at Mount Sinai School of Medicine.

Not much is known about Vencerx since its founding. There has not been much successful work in the area of therapeutics for Fragile X. In 2014, Roche (RHHBY) had a failed clinical trial of RG7090, a mGluR5 therapy, in Fragile X. After failing to hit its primary and secondary goals in a mid-stage trial, the company shuttered the program. Other companies, including Seaside, Novartis (NVS) and Alcobra, have also had failed programs in Fragile X and other similar disorders.

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