SAN DIEGO, June 15, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — ViaCyte, Inc. today announced the appointment of seasoned entrepreneur, Paul Laikind, Ph.D., as President & Chief Executive Officer. Allan Robins, Ph.D., who was serving as Acting CEO, will continue in his role as Vice President & Chief Technology Officer. ViaCyte is a leading pre-clinical company developing a novel cell therapy product for the treatment of insulin dependent diabetes.
Dr. Laikind brings over 25 years of leadership experience in the biotechnology and life sciences industry to ViaCyte. He is a serial entrepreneur, who co-founded three San Diego companies, Gensia Pharmaceuticals Inc., Viagene Inc., and Metabasis Therapeutics Inc., serving in various executive positions including President and CEO. All three companies went public and were eventually acquired. Most recently, he served as Chief Business Officer and Senior Vice President of Business Development at the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute.
“Paul brings to ViaCyte a wealth of experience in managing new businesses based on highly innovative life sciences technologies,” said Fred Middleton, Chairman of ViaCyte. “We are pleased to have him join to lead ViaCyte through our next phase of development in bringing our transformative stem cell therapy to patients with diabetes. We believe Paul’s leadership and business development skills will greatly assist us in our strategy to be a leader in regenerative medicine therapy and to capitalize on our current technology leadership position in the development of stem cell therapy.”
As Sanford-Burnham’s first Chief Business Officer, Dr. Laikind set a new direction for the Institute’s business development activity through a combination of licensing and strategic partnerships with large pharmaceutical organizations, including collaborations with Pfizer’s Centers for Therapeutic Innovation, Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a division of Johnson & Johnson, and Takeda Pharmaceutical. Working with the Institute’s leadership team he helped establish a sophisticated infrastructure for advanced drug discovery and development at Sanford-Burnham.
Prior to Sanford-Burnham, Dr. Laikind served as President & CEO from 1999-2008 for Metabasis Therapeutics, which developed new therapies for metabolic and liver diseases. Dr. Laikind co-founded Gensia Pharmaceuticals in 1986, was a board member of the company and held various executive leadership positions. While at Gensia he was responsible for establishing a number of important strategic partnerships. In 1997, he was part of a team that restructured Gensia to focus on specialty pharmaceuticals. The restructured company was renamed Gensia Sicor and went on to be acquired for over $3 billion by Teva Pharmaceutical Industries in 2004. Soon after founding Gensia, he was co-founder of Viagene, a gene therapy company. Viagene completed an initial public offering in 1993 and was acquired in 1995 by Chiron Inc., now a subsidiary of Novartis Vaccines & Diagnostics.
Dr. Laikind earned his Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of California, San Diego and is the inventor on a number of key patents.
“ViaCyte addresses one of the largest commercial and medical opportunities in stem-cell-derived therapeutics, and its team is internationally recognized for its scientific leadership,” said Dr. Laikind. “I look forward to working with ViaCyte through clinical development and market launch of its first important product that promises to change the way we treat insulin dependent diabetes.”
ViaCyte is a preclinical cell therapy company focused on diabetes. The Company’s technology is based on pancreatic beta cell progenitors derived from human pluripotent stem cells. These cells are implanted using a durable and retrievable encapsulation device. Once implanted and matured, these cells secrete insulin in response to blood glucose levels. ViaCyte’s goal is long term insulin independence without immune suppression, and without hypoglycemia and other diabetes-related complications. ViaCyte is a private company headquartered in San Diego, California with additional operations in Athens, Georgia. The Company is funded in part by the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine.
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