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BOSTON, Aug. 07, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Ziopharm Oncology, Inc. (Nasdaq:ZIOP) today announced changes to the Company’s Board of Directors. Scott Tarriff, a member of the Board since 2015, has been elected to serve as Lead Director, succeeding Sir Murray Brennan, M.D. Both Sir Dr. Brennan and former U.S. Sen. William Wyche Fowler will step down when their terms expire on September 18, 2018, the date of the annual meeting of shareholders. Doug Pagán and Elan Ezickson have been nominated for election to the Board at the Company’s annual meeting of stockholders.
Sir Dr. Brennan, emeritus chairman of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center’s Department of Surgery, has held leadership positions at several of the most prominent professional associations in his field during his illustrious career, and he has served on the Ziopharm Board of Directors since 2004. Sen. Wyche Fowler, whose career in public service is equally distinguished, joined the board the next year in 2005.
Mr. Pagán and Mr. Ezickson each would bring nearly 25 years of experience in the biopharmaceutical industry to the Board, as both have held leadership positions at global pharmaceutical companies as well as emerging, clinical-stage biotech companies.
“This marks the first step toward strengthening our Board, and we anticipate further announcements in the near term. We are pleased to nominate new directors like Doug and Elan as they clearly have the biopharmaceutical expertise and experience needed to guide Company management in advancing Controlled IL-12 and Sleeping Beauty, two platform technologies with enormous potential to treat blood cancers and solid tumors,” said Mr. Tarriff, who is Chief Executive Officer of Eagle Pharmaceuticals. “On behalf of the board and Company, we thank Sir Murray and Sen. Wyche Fowler for their many years of service and commitment to Ziopharm and its mission.”
Ziopharm’s Board of Directors comprises seven directors, and two seats remain vacant. The Company and board have begun a search and recruitment effort to fill those seats in the coming months.
About Ziopharm’s Nominees for Election
As chief operating officer and head of corporate development since 2014 at Scholar Rock, Mr. Ezickson leads corporate development, operations and administration and execution of corporate strategy for this Cambridge, MA-based clinical-stage biotechnology company. He plays a significant role in corporate finance at Scholar Rock, which raised $86 million in its IPO in June 2018. Prior to joining Scholar Rock, Mr. Ezickson served as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Aveo Pharmaceuticals, Inc., where he worked from 2003 to July 2013. From 1994 to 2003, he worked at Biogen Inc. in roles that included President of Biogen Canada, Program Executive and Associate General Counsel. Elan holds a B.A. in political science from Yale University and a J.D. from the Columbia University School of Law.
As chief financial officer at Paratek Pharmaceuticals, a Boston-based biopharmaceutical company approaching commercialization of its lead asset, Mr. Pagán has played the leading role in the company’s financial strategy since 2014, during which time it has raised well over $500 million from the public markets. Prior to joining Paratek, he was Vice President, Finance at Acceleron Pharma Inc., where he was instrumental in the company's successful IPO as well as multiple rounds of private and public equity and debt financings. Prior to working at Acceleron, Mr. Pagán served in strategic and financial management roles at Biogen Idec and Bristol-Myers Squibb. Previously, Mr. Pagán was an investment banker in J.P. Morgan’s Healthcare group, and he held a number of pharmaceutical operational roles at Johnson and Johnson. Mr. Pagán received his BSE in chemical engineering from Princeton University and his MBA from Columbia Business School.
About Ziopharm Oncology, Inc.
Ziopharm Oncology is a Boston-based biotechnology company focused on the development of next-generation immunotherapies utilizing gene- and cell-based therapies to treat patients with cancer. In partnership with Precigen Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Intrexon Corporation (NYSE:XON), Ziopharm is focused on the development of two platform technologies designed to deliver safe, effective and scalable cell- and viral-based therapies for the treatment of multiple cancer types: Controlled IL-12 and Sleeping Beauty for genetically modifying T cells. The Company's lead asset, Ad-RTS-hIL-12 plus veledimex, has demonstrated in clinical trials the potential to control interleukin-12, leading to an infiltration of T cells that fight cancer. Ad-RTS-hIL-12 plus veledimex is being evaluated as a monotherapy and in combination with immune checkpoint inhibitors to treat brain cancer and other tumor types. The Company also is advancing therapies using Sleeping Beauty, a non-viral approach to genetically modify chimeric antigen receptor (CAR+) and T-cell receptor (TCR+) T cells, which target specific antigens in blood cancers and neoantigens in solid tumors. Sleeping Beauty is designed using the Company's point-of-care technology, a shortened manufacturing process which potentially can be developed as a decentralized manufacturing process based in hospitals. These programs are being advanced in collaboration with Precigen and with MD Anderson Cancer Center, the National Cancer Institute and Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany.
Forward-Looking Statements Disclaimer
This press release contains certain forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, as amended. Forward-looking statements are statements that are not historical facts, and in some cases can be identified by terms such as "may," "will," "could," "expects," "plans," "anticipates," and "believes." These statements include, but are not limited to, statements regarding the Company adding new directors. All such statements are subject to certain risks and uncertainties, many of which are difficult to predict and generally beyond the control of the Company, that could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed in, or implied by, the forward-looking statements. These risks and uncertainties include, but are not limited to: the Company’s ability to advance certain activities; whether chimeric antigen receptor T cell (CAR-T) approaches, Ad-RTS-hIL-12, TCR and NK cell-based therapies, or any other product candidates will advance further in the preclinical research or clinical trial process and whether and when, if at all, they will receive final approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration or equivalent foreign regulatory agencies and for which indications; whether chimeric antigen receptor T cell (CAR-T) approaches, Ad-RTS-hIL-12, TCR and NK cell-based therapies, and the Company's other therapeutic products it develops will be successfully marketed if approved; the strength and enforceability of the Company's intellectual property rights; competition from other pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies; as well as other risk factors contained in the Company's periodic and interim reports filed from time to time with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including but not limited to, the risks and uncertainties set forth in the "Risk Factors" section of the Company's Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2017 and subsequent reports that the Company may file with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements that speak only as of the date hereof, and the Company does not undertake any obligation to revise and disseminate forward-looking statements to reflect events or circumstances after the date hereof, or to reflect the occurrence of or non-occurrence of any events.