Umoja Biopharma gets chief business and strategy officer

David Fontana, Ph.D., has become chief business and strategy officer of Umoja Biopharma, a leading oncology company leveraging its proprietary, integrated technologies to reprogram immune cells directly in the human body to create next-generation immunotherapies for the treatment of solid tumors and hematologic malignancies.

“David comes to Umoja with a wealth of leadership experience in drug development and business strategy,” says Andrew Scharenberg, M.D., co-founder and CEO. “His extensive expertise in the biotech and biopharma sectors and proven track record of bringing novel oncology drugs from development all the way through to commercialization will be invaluable as we advance our in vivo cell therapies into the clinic.” 

Fontana joins Umoja from Bristol Myers Squibb, where he was an executive in the Cell Therapy Franchise and part of the Lymphoma Disease Strategy Team. There, he led the development of CD19 CAR T cell therapy Breyanzi from clinical evaluation to commercialization. Prior to this role, he led the advancement of late-stage immuno-oncology assets and translational medicine as VP of Immuno-Oncology at Pfizer. 

David Fontana, Ph.D., Chief Business and Strategy Officer, Umoja Biopharma

Company executives say Fontana has successfully guided multiple drug candidates to significant milestones throughout his career, including Adcetris (CD30 antibody-drug conjugate, Brentuximab vedotin), Bavencio (avelumab, anti PD-L1), and relatlimab (anti-LAG-3 antibody). Fontana received a Ph.D. in pharmacology from Wayne State University and holds a PMP certification from the Project Management Institute.

“Umoja’s integrated in vivo platform approach to immunotherapy holds great potential to transform the current standard of cancer care by generating safe, broadly accessible immunotherapies that build off of the learnings of existing cell and gene therapy technologies,” Fontana says. “I’m excited to join this forward-thinking team and help Umoja deliver on the promise of our unique technologies to bring effective cancer treatments to patients in need.”