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Axovant Gene Therapies Strengthens Board of Directors and Announces New Chief Commercial Officer

Axovant Sciences Ltd.
·7-min read
  • Kristiina Vuori, M.D., Ph.D. is a leading genetics and cancer researcher who serves as President and Board member of Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute

  • Appointment of Dr. Vuori establishes a majority independent Board of Directors

  • Parag V. Meswani, Pharm.D., promoted to Chief Commercial Officer to support Axovant’s commercialization efforts across clinical-stage pipeline

NEW YORK, Oct. 08, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Axovant Gene Therapies Ltd. (NASDAQ: AXGT), a clinical-stage company developing innovative gene therapies for neurological diseases, today announced the appointment of Kristiina Vuori, M.D., Ph.D., to its Board of Directors and the promotion of Parag. V. Meswani, Pharm.D., from SVP, Commercial Strategy & Operations to Chief Commercial Officer (CCO), effective October 6, 2020.

“We are thrilled to welcome Kristiina to our Board and to recognize the impact Parag has made while serving as our head of Commercial strategy,” said Pavan Cheruvu, M.D., Chief Executive Officer of Axovant. “Kristiina is a recognized scientific leader who has made significant contributions in the fields of genetics and cancer biology while providing exceptional leadership during her tenure as President of the Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute. We believe her scientific prowess combined with her diverse leadership experiences will be an ideal complement to our Board as we navigate exciting new milestones in our innovative gene therapy programs. Additionally, as we continue to advance our clinical-stage pipeline, we are excited to promote Parag to CCO. His deep commercial experience at the intersection of neurology and genetic medicine from companies such as Biogen and Spark Therapeutics uniquely qualify him to lead commercialization at Axovant in the years ahead.”

Atul Pande, M.D., Chair of Axovant’s Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee, said “Kristiina, a respected scientific leader, is an important addition to our Board. In addition to her academic track-record, Kristiina strengthens our Board by enhancing our diversity and marks a new phase at Axovant with a majority independent Board of Directors. This appointment demonstrates our commitment at Axovant to build an organization that recognizes diversity of ideas and representation as critical components of our long-term growth and success. We look forward to Kristiina’s contributions and guidance over the years ahead.”

Dr. Vuori said, “I am honored to join the Board of Axovant. I was drawn to Axovant’s biology-driven approach to gene therapy and am encouraged by the emerging data which suggest their programs have the potential to provide transformative treatments to patients with devastating neurological diseases. I look forward to collaborating with the other directors on Axovant’s Board and am thrilled to provide my guidance as the Company advances through exciting data readouts and the initiation of new clinical programs in the coming months.”

Dr. Vuori is a Professor at the Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute (SBP), where she also serves as President and member of the Board of Directors. SBP is one of the largest non-profit biomedical research centers in the U.S. with a focus on cancer, neurodegeneration, inflammatory and infectious diseases, heart disease and rare children’s disorders. Dr. Vuori is a globally recognized cancer researcher who has delineated the molecular pathways that regulate cancer cell survival, motility, metastasis, and drug responsiveness. She has published over 100 research papers in leading scientific journals and has been awarded numerous research grants from organizations including the National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Cancer Institute (NCI) and Department of Defense. Dr. Vuori currently serves or has served on the Board of Directors for American Association for Cancer Research, California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, California Breast Cancer Research Program, Sanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine, UCSD Sanford Stem Cell Clinical Center, and Bionano Genomics, Inc. She was director of WebMD, Inc. until it was sold to KKR in 2017. Dr. Vuori earned her M.D. and Ph.D. degrees at University of Oulu, Finland. Following internship and residency, she completed research fellowship at SBP and was appointed to faculty in 1996. She was appointed Deputy Director of the Institute's NCI-Designated Cancer Center in 2003, and subsequently served as Director of the Cancer Center in 2005-2013. She additionally served as SBP’s EVP for Scientific Affairs in 2008-2010. Dr. Vuori has been President of SBP since 2010.

Dr. Meswani, the Company’s newly promoted CCO, has extensive experience in leading new product planning and commercialization, having served in various commercial and medical affairs leadership roles at Novartis, Pharmacia, Biogen, and most recently, Spark Therapeutics. At Spark, he served as head of U.S. marketing and diagnostics, leading the development and execution of the brand strategy for LUXTURNA™, the first approved gene therapy in the United States. Prior to Spark, he held several corporate and franchise leadership roles at Biogen, including serving in the office of the CEO, commercial operations, the multiple sclerosis franchise, and the U.S. hemophilia franchise. He has been at Axovant since November 2018, leading new product planning, investor relations, patient advocacy and business development efforts. Dr. Meswani earned his M.B.A. from Columbia University and his Pharm.D. and B.S. from the Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy at Rutgers University.

Dr. Meswani added, “With the recently announced encouraging data for Axo-Lenti-PD and upcoming clinical readouts, Axovant is at a critical inflection point in its transformation into a leading CNS gene therapy company. I’m incredibly excited to work alongside the entire team to realize the promise of our pipeline as we prepare the Company and educate the market about the potential benefits and value of our gene therapies for patients, caregivers, and physicians.”

Axovant would like to acknowledge Bench International for providing a pool of highly distinguished candidates from which Dr. Vuori was selected.

About Axovant Gene Therapies

Axovant Gene Therapies is a clinical-stage gene therapy company focused on developing a pipeline of innovative product candidates for debilitating neurodegenerative diseases. Our current pipeline of gene therapy candidates targets GM1 gangliosidosis, GM2 gangliosidosis (also known as Tay-Sachs disease and Sandhoff disease), and Parkinson’s disease. Axovant is focused on accelerating product candidates into and through clinical trials with a team of experts in gene therapy development and through external partnerships with leading gene therapy organizations. For more information, visit www.axovant.com.

Forward-Looking Statements

This press release contains forward-looking statements for the purposes of the safe harbor provisions under The Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 and other federal securities laws. The use of words such as “intended”, "may," "might," "will," "would," "should," "expect," "believe," "estimate," and other similar expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements. For example, all statements Axovant makes regarding costs associated with its operating activities are forward-looking. All forward-looking statements are based on estimates and assumptions by Axovant’s management that, although Axovant believes to be reasonable, are inherently uncertain. All forward-looking statements are subject to risks and uncertainties that may cause actual results to differ materially from those that Axovant expected. Such risks and uncertainties include, among others, the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on our operations, the initiation and conduct of preclinical studies and clinical trials; the availability of data from clinical trials; the scaling up of manufacturing, the expectations for regulatory submissions and approvals; the continued development of our gene therapy product candidates and platforms; Axovant’s scientific approach and general development progress; and the availability or commercial potential of Axovant’s product candidates. These statements are also subject to a number of material risks and uncertainties that are described in Axovant’s most recent Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on August 11, 2020, as updated by its subsequent filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Any forward-looking statement speaks only as of the date on which it was made. Axovant undertakes no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statement, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.

Contacts:

Media contact:
Josephine Belluardo, Ph.D.
LifeSci Communications
646-751-4361
jo@lifescicomms.com
media@axovant.com

Investor Contact:

Parag Meswani
Axovant Gene Therapies Ltd.
(212) 547-2523
media@axovant.com
investors@axovant.com