Building on momentum from positive diabetes data, Zafgen scoops Biogen alum Priya Singhal as head of R&D

On the heels of some positive mid-stage data on its lead diabetes drug, Zafgen $ZFGN has brought in seasoned biotech exec Priya Singhal to steering the next phase of its historically bumpy R&D journey.

Priya Singhal

Most recently a co-head of global development at Biogen, Singhal’s resume shows a string of roles at storied biotech shops like Vertex and Millennium. Reporting to CEO Jeffrey Hatfield — the new chief brought in when Tom Hughes left the helm to take a CSO role — she has broad authority over research, clinical and manufacturing strategy and implementation.

The appointment brings Singhal into the metabolics field, where Zafgen shifted focus after its lead obesity drug was found to be linked to patient deaths in a late-stage trial.

Jeffrey Hatfield

The Boston-based biotech decided type 2 diabetes might be a better use of its MetAP2 inhibitors, which modulate cellular mechanisms related to fat and glucose, and the bet seems to be paying off. In a Phase II study reported days ago, 12-week data suggested that both tested doses of ZGN-1061 conferred a statistically significant reduction in A1C — a crucial blood test that measures average levels of blood glucose. The 1.8 mg dose seemed to induce a greater benefit and appeared “very competitive with the currently available best-in-class anti-diabetes therapies,” CMO Dennis Kim said at the time.

Singhal will now play a big role in driving the regulatory conversations around that drug, as well as the development of Zafgen’s preclinical program for Prader-Willi syndrome, with the risk-benefit mindset she sharpened while leading product filings at Biogen.

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Recursion Pharmaceuticals Salt Lake City, UT
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Atlas Venture Cambridge, MA

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