There’s been a change of leadership — and strategy — at one of the Bay Area biotechs looking to play a prominent role in microbiome R&D.
Glenn Nedwin is out as CEO of Second Genome, leaving the top post open for chief scientific officer Karim Dabbagh to step into. Also out is the broad-based approach to R&D that Nedwin had, including ag work, as the biotech looks to create a razor-sharp focus on an upcoming Phase II for NASH — a blockbuster target which has inspired a frenzy of competition.
Nedwin’s departure — styled as a retirement — didn’t have to do with any fundamental disagreements, Dabbagh tells me.
“Glenn was the appropriate person to look at the platform and move it forward with that broad angle,” says the newly minted CEO. But every company gets to a point where it has to decide what it wants to really focus on, and that made a move up for the CSO a logical step.
“We’re just going to do human health,” he adds. “We’re not going to explore the broader applications.”
Second Genome staked its future early on as the biotech with the tech necessary to assess mass quantities of data as it developed new programs.
Dabbagh’s next chapter as CEO will center on SGM-1019, a P2X7 inhibitor that inhibits NLRP3, an inflammasome that has been attracting a broad group of players. Second Genome hopes to advance a drug that can shut down an important inflammatory pathway early on. Interestingly, their target also figures into the ketogenic diet, which spurs production of a set of ketones that may also regulate NLRP3.
The new CEO has an international pedigree, getting his PhD at University College, London. His career spans stints at Pfizer and Roche, and he also founded another biotech called Modus BioMedicine.
The staff at the biotech has grown to 57, says Dabbagh, who now answers to a board led by longtime biotech vet Corey Goodman. And Goodman certainly had to have a big say in who’s running the company.
The new CEO says you can expect that staff number to grow by about 10 as he takes control of the burn rate as well as the R&D strategy.
Image: Karim Dabbagh. SECOND GENOME
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