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Roche exec Pearl Huang rejoins biotech as CEO of Cygnal — Flagship’s bet on ‘exoneural biology’

Mark Pearl Huang down as the latest illustrious pharma exec to take charge of a biotech.

Jumping from Roche — where she was the SVP and global head of therapeutic modalities, overseeing everything from small molecule to nucleic acid-based therapies — Huang has been tapped as the CEO of Cygnal Therapeutics.

A product of Flagship Pioneering’s innovation foundry, Cygnal is targeting mechanisms and pathways associated with the peripheral nervous system, a structure of nerves working outside the central nervous system, ploughing a field they call “exoneural biology.”

“Cygnal has uncovered one of the most exciting new approaches to cancer therapeutics that I have seen in almost 30 years in the industry,” Huang said, referring to a career that’s spanned senior drug discovery roles at GlaxoSmithKline, Merck and Roche.

While this marks Huang’s first CEO appointment, her first entry into biotech came earlier in 2010, when she co-founded BeiGene — a pioneer among a now-abundant class of China-based biotechs — and steered its first programs into the clinic as acting CSO.

Huang, who’s also joining Flagship as a venture partner, is now tasked with building out a pipeline for Cygnal, starting with cancer — the area she’s had most experience with — to inflammation and autoimmune disease down the line.

Image: Pearl Huang. Ken Richardson, CYGNAL

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