China, People

Novartis’ oncology research chief in China jumps to upstart EpimAb in Shanghai

China upstart EpimAb Biotherapeutics has wooed in a top researcher from Novartis as its first chief medical officer.

Bin Peng, who had been global chief of oncology translational medicine at NIBR’s Shanghai group, is jumping to the startup, which grabbed a $25 million launch round last April and is allied with noted UK antibody design shop Kymab. They have a lead drug — EMB01 — now headed into the clinic.

He’s joining a global team of developers assembled by CEO Chengbin Wu, a Harvard postdoc who had worked at Abbott before being named CSO at Shanghai CP Guojian Pharmaceutical. Wu has been working on a bispecific antibody platform and his old boss at Abbott, Third Rock EIR Robert Kamen, sits on the board. COO and chief business exec Stephan Lensky is a Boehringer Ingelheim vet.

The Shanghai-based biotech is part of a thriving group of startups in China, looking to move quickly to start introducing new drugs in the giant Asian market and around the world.

Peng joins a long lineup of execs inside Novartis who are launching new chapters of their careers in biotech. Sue Dillon, the former head of immunology R&D at Novartis, was one of the most recent examples of the exodus of top talent leaving Big Pharma and moving to launch a new outfit.

“Dr. Peng’s successful global leadership and expertise will be extremely beneficial to EpimAb’s portfolio of preclinical candidates, which have been developed within just two years using our proprietary bispecific antibody platform FIT-Ig,” says the CEO. “We are proud to have him on our team and look forward to his expertise and guidance as we move forward into the next stage of EpimAb’s development.”


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