David Grainger (Medicxi)

Medicxi co-founder David Grainger gets his oth­er foot in Centes­sa's door as chief in­no­va­tion of­fi­cer

Centes­sa Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals was built on the promise of scal­ing up Medicxi’s as­set-cen­tric mod­el with 10 of the VC firm’s port­fo­lio com­pa­nies and their in­di­vid­ual pro­grams un­der the same roof. But the crew wasn’t go­ing to stop there.

In­stead, now that the biotech has com­plet­ed its IPO, un­veiled the first batch of proof-of-con­cept da­ta from one of its 11 sub­sidiaries and — just a day ago — tapped in­to a fresh $300 mil­lion well of fi­nanc­ing, Centes­sa has set its sights on “strate­gic busi­ness de­vel­op­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties.”

David Grainger, co-founder and (un­til this move) chief sci­en­tif­ic ad­vi­sor at Medicxi, will help dri­ve ex­act­ly that. This means he still step down from a full time po­si­tion at Medicxi, Centes­sa con­firmed to End­points News.

As Centes­sa’s first-ever chief in­no­va­tion of­fi­cer, Grainger will be tasked with the “over­all man­age­ment of the sci­en­tif­ic and re­search ac­tiv­i­ties,” in­clud­ing dis­cov­ery ef­forts and can­di­date se­lec­tion, while work­ing with the lead­er­ship team in each of the Centes­sa com­pa­nies and pro­vid­ing guid­ance to them.

“David will be par­tic­u­lar­ly fo­cused on bring­ing in­no­v­a­tive dis­cov­ery and ear­ly de­vel­op­ment ap­proach­es to dri­ve pipeline de­vel­op­ment at Centes­sa com­pa­nies,” CEO Saurabh Sa­ha wrote in an email. “He will al­so spend time help­ing eval­u­ate new op­por­tu­ni­ties for Centes­sa. This in­cor­po­rates the ma­jor­i­ty of what you would ex­pect from a CSO but with an ad­di­tion­al fo­cus on chang­ing the way we dis­cov­er and de­vel­op med­i­cines to com­bine the best as­pects of R&D in both larg­er and small­er com­pa­ny en­vi­ron­ments.”

Saurabh Sa­ha

In a state­ment, Sa­ha point­ed to Grainger’s ex­per­tise in com­pa­ny for­ma­tion as key to eval­u­at­ing new can­di­dates for pipeline ex­pan­sion.

Grainger co-found­ed Z Fac­tor, one of the Medicxi star­tups that got rolled in­to Centes­sa, to­geth­er with Jim Hunt­ing­ton. Through­out his ca­reer, he’s been in­volved in cre­at­ing 27 more biotechs.

Sa­ha hint­ed that he al­so played a role in sup­port­ing Medicxi col­league Francesco De Ru­ber­tis in se­lect­ing the 16 pro­grams that went in­to Centes­sa, cred­it­ing Grainger as a “vi­tal part­ner and ad­vi­sor.”

For Grainger, it means low­er­ing his time com­mit­ment to Medicxi to a con­sult­ing ca­pac­i­ty. His cur­rent pro­file de­scribes him as a “ven­ture ad­vi­sor.”

“I’ve been close­ly in­volved in the cre­ation of Centes­sa and am ex­cit­ed about the op­por­tu­ni­ties across the pipeline and work­ing close­ly with Saurabh and rest of the lead­er­ship team,” Grainger told End­points. “By jump­ing in­to a full-time op­er­a­tions role I feel I can have the biggest im­pact, bring­ing in­no­v­a­tive med­i­cines to pa­tients as quick­ly as pos­si­ble, while cre­at­ing sig­nif­i­cant val­ue for Centes­sa share­hold­ers.”

Up­dat­ed to add com­ments from Sa­ha and Grainger.

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