Black Diamond Therapeutics Names Christopher Roberts, Ph.D., as Chief Scientific Officer
Industry veteran brings extensive small molecule drug discovery and oncology experience as company advances its MAP platform and moves its lead program, BDTX-189, toward the clinic
Company also announces two new senior appointments in medicinal chemistry and biology
CAMBRIDGE, Mass., and NEW YORK, NY, September 19, 2019 – Black Diamond Therapeutics, Inc., a precision oncology medicine company pioneering the discovery and development of small molecule, tumor-agnostic therapies, today announced the appointment of Christopher D. Roberts, Ph.D., as Chief Scientific Officer. In this role, Chris will oversee all Black Diamond’s research and early development. The company also announced the addition of Matt Lucas, Ph.D., as Vice President (VP) of Chemistry, based in Cambridge, MA, and Tai-An Lin, Ph.D., as VP and Head of Biology, based in Black Diamond’s labs in New York, NY.
David M. Epstein, Ph.D., President and CEO said, “We are thrilled to have Chris, Matt, and Tai-An join Black Diamond in these critical roles at this pivotal time as we advance our lead candidate, BDTX-189, toward the clinic and build out and progress our pipeline of development programs based on our MAP platform. With this team’s depth and breadth of industry experience, particularly in identifying and advancing small molecules in oncology, they will be vital in helping us fulfill our mission of discovering and developing new targeted therapies for people with cancer for whom limited treatment options exist.”
“I would also like to thank Dr. Alex Mayweg of Versant Ventures, who has served as our founding and interim Chief Scientific Officer since 2017 and has made significant contributions to our drug discovery strategies and to the development of BDTX-189. I am pleased that the Company will continue to have the benefit of Dr. Mayweg’s advice and support as a member of Black Diamond’s board of directors,” added Dr. Epstein.
Chris Roberts brings more than two decades of experience leading discovery and development functions and clinical development projects for multiple therapies in oncology and immunology. He joins Black Diamond from SR One, the corporate venture capital arm of GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), where he was an Entrepreneur in Residence.
“I am extremely excited to join Black Diamond’s management team and partner with co-founder and Executive Vice President Elizabeth Buck, Ph.D., and our talented group to advance our pipeline of small molecule, tumor-agnostic therapies and leverage the MAP platform to expand the reach of targeted therapies. We hope to make a real difference in the lives of people living with cancer and their families, as well as the physicians who treat them,” said Dr. Roberts.
Prior to SR One, Chris was the VP of Chemistry and Early Development at Syros Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a Cambridge, MA-based biotech focused on gene control and drugging transcription, where he built and led a variety of discovery and development functions and helped guide two oncology assets into clinical development. Prior to joining Syros, Chris held numerous positions of increasing responsibility at GSK, including VP and Head of the Host Defense Discovery Performance Unit, and also led multiple clinical development projects. He joined GSK as Senior Director of Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) Medicinal Chemistry via its acquisition of Genelabs Technologies. As a medicinal chemist at Genelabs, Chris was significantly involved in establishing Genelabs’ HCV research focus and building the pipeline that led to collaborations with Gilead and Novartis and the acquisition by GSK. Chris holds 24 issued patents and has more than 25 patents pending. His work has been extensively published. Chris earned a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from the University of California, Riverside, and completed a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Bern, Switzerland.
Matt Lucas, Black Diamond’s VP of Chemistry, has more than 17 years of drug discovery experience at small and mid-sized biotech companies and large pharmaceutical organizations. Prior to joining Black Diamond as VP of Chemistry, he served as Senior Director of Chemistry at Yumanity Therapeutics. Before that, Matt served as Director of Chemistry at Cubist Pharmaceuticals and as Head of Exploratory Inflammation Chemistry at Roche. He has led multiple projects from discovery into clinical development, and worked in numerous therapeutic areas including oncology, immunology, anti-infectives, pain, cardiovascular, and neuroscience. An author of 37 patent applications, 38 scientific articles, and numerous conference presentations, Matt earned his Ph.D. in Chemistry and Biochemistry from the University of Southampton, UK, and completed postdoctoral research at Florida State University.
Tai-An Lin, Black Diamond’s VP and Head of Biology, is an accomplished leader in drug discovery and translational research, with extensive global pharmaceutical experience in advancing multiple drug discovery programs from target identification to early clinical trials in oncology, immuno-oncology (IO), and immunology. Previously, he was Director of IO Translational Innovation Platform and Experimental Medicine at Merck KGaA/EMD Serono, where he led IO, biomarker, and precision medicine efforts. For 20 years prior, Tai-An led multidisciplinary drug discovery teams at Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS), Roche, and Janssen Pharmaceuticals, where his key accomplishments included early discovery efforts for several kinase inhibitors, including dasatinib, and leadership of BMS’ linrodostat and Roche’s RG7185 projects, respectively. A co-inventor of 12 patents who is widely published, he completed his postdoctoral fellowship at Washington University in St. Louis after earning his Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the University of Missouri-Columbia.
Black Diamond’s Mutation-Allostery-Pharmacology (MAP) platform is built on three central pillars – discover, reveal, and target. The Company uses population-level cancer genetic data obtained from all tumor types to identify potential families of mutations that occur within individual oncogenes and rank the mutations for potential oncogenicity. Black Diamond then uses its MAP platform to understand the mechanism for oncogenic activation and its team of experienced medicinal chemists then develops mutation spectrum-selective drugs for the identified targets. Black Diamond’s MAP platform has generated a pipeline of orally available, potent and selective small molecule kinase inhibitors that target a range of driver mutations in cancer.
BDTX-189 is designed to be an orally available, irreversible small molecule inhibitor that targets undrugged oncogenic driver mutations of the ErbB kinases in epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2). These include extracellular domain allosteric mutations of HER2, as well as EGFR and HER2 domain exon 20 insertions, and additional activating oncogenic drivers of ErbB. The ErbB receptors are a group of receptor tyrosine kinases involved in key cellular functions, including cell growth and survival. Currently, there are no medicines approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to target all of these oncogenic mutations with a single therapy. Black Diamond Therapeutics is completing investigational new drug (IND)-enabling activities for BDTX-189 and plans to start a combined Phase 1/2 clinical trial in the first half of 2020.
About Black Diamond
Black Diamond Therapeutics is a precision oncology medicine company pioneering the discovery of small molecule, tumor-agnostic therapies. Black Diamond targets undrugged mutations in patients with genetically defined cancers. Black Diamond is built upon a deep understanding of cancer genetics, protein structure and function, and medicinal chemistry. The Company’s proprietary technology platform, Mutation-Allostery-Pharmacology, or MAP, platform, is designed to allow Black Diamond to analyze population-level genetic sequencing data to identify oncogenic mutations that promote cancer across tumor types, group these mutations into families and develop a single small molecule therapy in a tumor-agnostic manner that targets a specific family of mutations. Black Diamond was founded by David M. Epstein, Ph.D. and Elizabeth Buck, Ph.D., and, beginning in 2017, together with Versant Ventures, began building the MAP platform and chemistry discovery engine. For more information please visit www.bdtherapeutics.com.
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