CAMBRIDGE, Mass.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Scholar Rock, a biotechnology company focused on discovering and developing drugs that selectively target supracellular activation of growth factors in the disease microenvironment, announced today the appointment of Michael Gilman, PhD, and Shelia Violette, PhD, to the company’s Scientific Advisory Board. These new members of the SAB have decades of biotechnology industry experience in translational research and drug development, including notable insights into the growth factor TGFβ and its role in fibrosis and other diseases.
“We are so pleased to have Michael and Shelia join Scholar Rock’s Scientific Advisory Board as we advance our pipeline of supracellular activators toward the clinic. Their unique drug development experience in fibrosis and deep knowledge of TGFβs will be invaluable as we continue to target the activation of these growth factors in the disease microenvironment,” said Nagesh Mahanthappa, PhD, President and Chief Executive Officer of Scholar Rock. “In addition, Michael has been a part of Scholar Rock since the beginning as a member of our Board of Directors, and I am thrilled for him to extend his involvement with us.”
“TGFβs have long been known to be pivotal players in many diseases including fibrosis, oncology and autoimmunity,” said Dr. Gilman. “Significant opportunities remain to fulfill the clinical potential of modulating TGFβ signaling. Scholar Rock’s highly specific, novel approach to targeting activation of TGFβs has the potential to propel the field forward and offer important new treatments for patients.”
“The central role of TGFβ signaling in the development and progression of fibrosis is well-established and has been an active area for drug discovery. The recent insights encompassed by Scholar Rock’s platform into the molecular mechanisms of growth factor activation open exciting opportunities to reach beyond traditional therapeutic approaches,” said Dr. Violette. “Scholar Rock’s focus on supracellular activation is a promising therapeutic strategy that achieves the necessary selectivity required for therapeutic success in a range of diseases.”
Dr. Gilman is a distinguished biotech executive and entrepreneur, who has launched a number of biotechnology companies that created value from innovative technologies and drug candidates. He is currently CEO and Chairman of Arrakis Therapeutics, and CEO of Obsidian Therapeutics. In addition to being a Board member of Scholar Rock, Michael also serves as an Advisor at Atlas Venture and on the Board of X4 Pharmaceuticals. Most recently, Michael was Founder and CEO of Padlock Therapeutics, a venture-funded company focused on autoimmune disease, acquired by Bristol-Myers Squibb in 2016. Previously, he served as SVP, Early-Stage Pipeline at Biogen, which he joined following its acquisition of Stromedix, a venture-backed company focused on fibrosis of which he was Founder and CEO. Earlier in his career, Michael served as EVP, Research at Biogen Idec, and EVP and CSO at ARIAD Pharmaceuticals. Prior to entering the private sector, Michael was a researcher at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and a postdoctoral fellow at the Whitehead Institute. He holds a PhD in Biochemistry from University of California, Berkeley and a SB in Life Sciences from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Dr. Violette is a scientific leader in the fields of inflammation and fibrosis, and currently Entrepreneur in Residence at Atlas Venture and Adjunct Associate Professor in the Department of Internal Medicine at the Yale School of Medicine. Previously, Shelia was VP, Tissue Injury and Fibrosis at Biogen where she established the new therapeutic area for the Company. She joined Biogen following its acquisition of Stromedix, where she was Vice President, Research. Prior to Stromedix, Shelia served in several senior research roles at Biogen, including the Research Head of Fibrosis. Shelia holds a PhD in Pharmacology from Yale University where she also completed a Postdoctoral Research Fellowship in the Department of Biology. She received her BS from Massachusetts College of Pharmacy.
Drs. Gilman and Violette join the current members of Scholar Rock’s Scientific Advisory Board, who collectively represent scientific authorities in innovative therapeutic science, the biology of protein growth factor signaling and fibrosis: Dr. Timothy Springer (company co-founder; Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School); Leonard Zon, MD (company co-founder; Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School); Barry Coller, MD (Rockefeller University); Jeffrey S. Flier, MD (Harvard Medical School); Scott L. Friedman, MD (Mount Sinai Hospital); Joan Massagué, PhD (Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center); Daniel Rifkin, PhD (New York University Langone Medical Center); Lynn Sakai, PhD (Oregon Health & Sciences University and Portland Shriners Research Center); and Akshay Vaishnaw, MD, PhD (Alnylam Pharmaceuticals).
About TGF-β and Supracellular Activation
The TGF-β superfamily of growth factors is large and diverse, and plays a role across many important biological processes including proliferation, differentiation and repair. Because of its central role in many disease processes, it has been actively pursued as a drug target by many companies. Most current therapeutic approaches to targeting TGF-β encounter challenges related to selectivity and systemic side effects. Scholar Rock’s supracellular activation is designed to regulate TGF-β locally in the disease and/or immune system microenvironment, offering a potential new therapeutic approach for neuromuscular disease, fibrosis, autoimmune diseases and cancer immunotherapies.
About Supracellular Activation
Scholar Rock was founded on unique insights into the mechanisms of supracellular activation of growth factors, a newly elucidated mechanism by which nature regulates growth factor activation in complex disease microenvironments. Through modulation of supracellular activation, highly specific and localized efficacy at the site of disease can be achieved, overcoming the challenges that have limited the traditional approach of inhibiting growth factors systemically. Scholar Rock is the first company to exploit this mechanism to discover and develop a pipeline of potential best-in-class therapeutic candidates.
About Scholar Rock
Scholar Rock is a biotechnology company focused on discovering and developing a novel class of biologic therapies that target supracellular activation of growth factors in the disease microenvironment. The Company’s initial proprietary and partnered drug discovery programs target specific growth factors which are present in the microenvironments of significant diseases, including fibrosis, neuromuscular diseases, immuno-oncology and autoimmune diseases. Scholar Rock was founded upon discoveries made by its scientific founders, Professors Timothy Springer, PhD, and Leonard Zon, MD, of Boston Children's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, related to the molecular mechanisms of supracellular activation. The company is backed by leading investors, including Polaris Partners, Timothy Springer, ARCH Venture Partners, Fidelity Investments, EcoR1 Capital, The Kraft Group, and Cormorant Asset Management.