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.”
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.