Aviceda Therapeutics Announces Formation of Executive Team


CAMBRIDGE, Mass.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Aviceda Therapeutics, a late-stage, pre-clinical biotech company focused on developing the next generation of immuno-modulators by harnessing the power of glycobiology to manipulate the innate immune system and chronic, non-resolving inflammation, is announcing the composition of the Executive Team that will guide the company through ongoing development of breakthrough, first-in-class therapeutics and continued growth opportunities as a business entity.

Serving in key leadership roles on Aviceda’s Executive Leadership Team will be:

  • Mohamed Genead, MD, CEO & President,
  • David Callanan, MD, Chief Medical Officer,
  • Derek Kunimoto, MD, JD, Chief Operating Officer,
  • Michael Tolentino, MD, Chief Technology Officer, and
  • Christopher Scott, PhD, Chief Scientific Officer.

“Aviceda is extremely proud of the world-class team of internationally renowned experts we have assembled to guide the company in the next phases of growth. In addition to offering keen scientific insight into product development, each member of the Executive Team also brings with them previous experience in key leadership positions in the pharmaceutical industry. Being able to tap into this knowledge base will undoubtedly pay huge dividends as Aviceda pursues an aggressive but realistic growth and product development strategy,” said Dr. Genead, who is a Co-Founder of Aviceda.

A serial life-sciences entrepreneur, senior innovative biopharma executive, inventor, and consultant to many ophthalmic biotechnology companies and healthcare venture firms, Dr. Genead is widely regarded as a global executive and senior leader with 20-plus years’ experience in pharmaceutical drug and business development with execution from discovery to late development and commercial phases. He has played key roles in executing global approvals and launches and driving sales growth in country, regional and global development positions together with direct reporting teams.

Dr. Genead previously served as Chief Medical Officer and Executive Vice-President for GenSight Biologics where he led the clinical team to multiple phase I-III trials leveraging a disruptive ocular gene therapy and optogenetics platforms in patients with retinal degenerative diseases. Prior to GenSight, Dr. Genead was Biogen’s Head of Ophthalmology and Retina Gene Therapy. Dr. Genead has also held leadership positions with Allegro Ophthalmics, where he led the global clinical development teams for the Risuteganib (anti-integrin) platform, and Allergan, where he was Global Medical Director and Clinical Team Lead for Retina Therapeutic area. Dr. Genead is a Co-founder of several start-ups, has been instrumental in the raising of over $500M in venture and institutional capital for numerous life sciences biotech companies and is currently a board member of several ophthalmic organizations and scientific advisory boards. Dr. Genead is a board-certified ophthalmologist/retina specialist by training, having completed a vitreoretinal fellowship at the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences of the University of Illinois in Chicago and Medical College of Wisconsin. He has served as a principal Investigator with a proven record of success in developing and launching global blockbuster therapeutics. He was the primary and key author for numerous peer-reviewed manuscripts in high impact factor scientific journals (more than 100 manuscripts and presentations) focusing on clinical research and novel therapeutics.

Dr. Callanan is a board-certified ophthalmologist, a clinical Professor at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas, Texas and surgeon with Texas Retina Associates, specializing in vitreoretinal diseases including uveitis, diabetic retinopathy and age-related macular degeneration.

Dr. Callanan earned his medical degree at the University of Iowa College of Medicine and completed his ophthalmology residency at Parkland Memorial Hospital, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. He received a National Research Service Award from the National Institutes of Health for the study of Ocular Immunology with Dr. Jerry Niederkorn. He was a Heed Ophthalmic Foundation Fellow at the prestigious Bascom Palmer Eye Institute in Miami, Florida. He completed fellowships in medical retina with legendary Dr. J. Donald M. Gass and vitreoretinal surgery with the Bascom Palmer faculty. Dr. Callanan also received additional training in uveitis with Dr. Robert Nussenblatt at the National Eye Institute in Bethesda, over 60 peer reviewed articles and several book chapters, Dr. Callanan is widely regarded as a respected leader in his field. Throughout his career he has actively conducted clinical research and has played an instrumental role in several ophthalmic drug approvals. In addition to his clinical and academic responsibilities, Dr. Callanan also serves on the board of directors of the Retina Foundation of the Southwest and is a member of numerous professional and honorary societies, including the American Academy of Ophthalmology, The Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, The Macula Society, The American Uveitis Society, and the American Society of Retina Specialists, among others.

“I am thrilled to join Aviceda at an exciting time for the company and its portfolio of pipeline candidates. Glyco-immune therapeutics offers the prospect of a truly transformational approach to treating a variety of underserved immune mediated inflammatory conditions that do not have adequate therapeutic options. While our immediate focus will be on ophthalmic conditions, there is tremendous potential to improve treatment options for a wide assortment of conditions affecting the innate immune system,” said Dr. Callanan.

Dr. Kunimoto, who is a co-Founder of Aviceda, holds a medical degree with honors from Harvard Medical School and a law degree with honors from Oxford University, which he attended on a Rhodes Scholarship. He was a medicine intern at Massachusetts General Hospital and completed his residency at Wills Eye Hospital in Philadelphia, where he served as co-chief resident. Dr. Kunimoto was recognized as a Heed and Michaels Fellow. He worked as a consultant with the management consultancy, McKinsey & Co. Dr. Kunimoto has authored numerous peer-reviewed publications, two major ophthalmology textbooks, and has been invited to speak at ophthalmology conferences, both nationally and internationally. Dr. Kunimoto has been very active in the clinical research of retinal diseases, acting as Investigator or Principal Investigator in over 150 global clinical trials. A recipient of numerous honors for academic and research achievements, Dr. Kunimoto served as Managing Partner of Retinal Consultants of Arizona, where he lead efforts to grow the practice to 35 locations, develop a nutraceutical franchise, and establish an Aviation Department for transportation and patient coverage at outlying satellite offices. He also served as Manager of the Retina Research Institute. Dr. Kunimoto is a founding member and served as Founding President of the Vit-Buckle Society, served as Chair of the Medical Student Governing Council in the Massachusetts Medical Society, and as a member on the Council on Constitution and Bylaws of the American Medical Association. Outside of medicine, Dr. Kunimoto serves on the Board of Directors of the Association of American Rhodes Scholars.

Prior to graduating with a medical degree from the University of Massachusetts, Dr. Tolentino performed research on retinal degeneration at the Schepens Eye Research Institute and the Berman Gund Lab (both at Harvard Medical School), as well as the National Eye Institute. After Medical School, Dr. Tolentino did a post-doctoral angiogenesis research fellowship in the lab of Dr. Judah Folkman, where he helped develop a cancer/xenograft model to screen for angiogenic inhibitors, work that demonstrated the role of Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF) in macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy and vein occlusion. During this time he purified Bevacizumab (Avastin), a drug designed for oncologic applications, and demonstrated intravitreal application could inhibit ocular neovascularization, a discovery that led to the eventual development of anti-VEGF therapeutics for retinal disease. After finishing his Ophthalmology Residency, Dr. Tolentino joined the retina and molecular ophthalmology faculty at the University of Pennsylvania, where he ran a lab funded by the National Institutes of Health working on gene, cell and RNAi therapy. Among his many accomplishments is the invention of a new class of gene silencing molecules called small interfering RNA (siRNA) against anti-angiogenic targets. He has 3 issued patents on the composition and methods of use of these molecules in vertebrate organisms for treating neovascular diseases. The discovery of siRNA and its mechanisms in invertebrate worms resulted in the Nobel prize in Medicine for Craig Mello and Andrew Fire in 2006. Dr. Tolentino co-founded and served as the interim CEO/CSO for Acuity Pharmaceuticals, where he was able to herald the first siRNA therapeutic into human clinical trials. Acuity eventually merged with Exegenic Inc to form OPKO health (NYSE: OPK), a publicly traded biopharmaceutical company. Over the course of his career, Dr. Tolentino has been very active in the clinical research of retinal diseases, acting as principal investigator in over 150 clinical trials that led to multiple global approvals for retinal therapeutics. He has authored over 100 publications and delivered over 200 international lectures. He has served as a consultant/scientific advisor for numerous pharma/biotech companies.

Prof. Scott, Aviceda Scientific Co-Founder, is Director of the Patrick G Johnston Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology at Queen’s University Belfast. He is internationally renowned for his work in development of novel approaches in the field of antibody and nanomedicine-based therapies for the treatment of cancer and other conditions. Prof. Scott has a background in both the pharmaceutical industry and academia and was a founding scientist of Fusion Antibodies Plc. Research in his laboratory is funded by agencies such as Medical Research Council, UK charities and various industrial sources. He also held a Royal Society Industrial Fellowship with GSK from 2012 to 2015 and won the Vice Chancellor’s Prize for Innovation in 2015 with his group’s work on developing a novel Siglec targeting nanomedicine for the treatment of sepsis and other inflammatory conditions.

About Aviceda Therapeutics

Founded in 2018 and based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Aviceda Therapeutics is a late-stage, pre-clinical biotechnology company with a mission to develop the next generation of glyco-immune therapeutics (GITs) utilizing a proprietarytechnology platform to modulate the innate immune system and chronic, non-resolving inflammation. Aviceda has assembled a world-class, cross-disciplinary team of recognized scientists, clinicians and drug developers to tackle devastating ocular and systemic degenerative, fibrotic, oncologic and immuno-inflammatory diseases. At Aviceda, we exploit a unique family of receptors expressed on all innate immune cells and their associated glycobiological interactions to develop transformative medicines. Combining the power of our biology with our innovative cell-based high-throughput screening platform and proprietary nanoparticle technology, we can modulate the innate immune response specifically and profoundly. Aviceda is developing a pipeline of GITs that are delivered via biodegradable nanoparticles and which safely and effectively target numerous immune-inflammatory conditions. Aviceda’s lead ophthalmic optimized nanoparticle, as an intravitreal formulation, AVD-104, is being developed to target various immune system responses that contribute to the pathology associated with age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

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