WATERTOWN, Mass.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Dicerna Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (“Dicerna” or the “Company”) (NASDAQ:DRNA), a leader in the development of RNAi-based therapeutics, today announced the appointment of Theodore (Ted) T. Ashburn, M.D., Ph.D. to Senior Vice President, Product Strategy and Operations. Dr. Ashburn brings 15 years of product and corporate development experience to Dicerna. In this newly-created position, Dr. Ashburn will lead product strategy and operational efforts for the Company’s Dicer substrate short interfering RNAi (DsiRNA) therapeutics.
“We are very pleased to welcome Ted to the Dicerna management team at a pivotal time in the Company’s growth,” said Douglas M. Fambrough, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer of Dicerna. “Ted’s science and medical background combined with his in-depth industry expertise in oncology and rare diseases will be extremely valuable in driving our programs going forward, particularly as we advance our DCR-PH1 program for patients with primary hyperoxaluria type 1 in the clinic.”
Dr. Ashburn spent the last eight years at Genzyme/Sanofi Oncology where he most recently led all aspects of the marketed product Leukine® (yeast-derived, rhu GM-CSF), including commercial, manufacturing and development across multiple therapeutic areas and divisions. Here he led the negotiation, closing and subsequent implementation of a multimillion dollar biodefense stockpiling and R&D contract with the U.S. Federal Government’s Biomedical Research and Development Authority (BARDA) and was the Principle Investigator (PI) on an associated $22.3M award for label expansion of Leukine® for use in an untoward nuclear or radiation event (Contract HHSO10020130005I). Dr. Ashburn was also the PI on $2.2M grant from the NIH’s National Institute of Ageing for a Phase II/proof of concept trial involving Leukine® for early Alzheimer’s disease (1UF1AG046143 – 01) and led the development of Leukine® for severe rare diseases. Prior to this, Dr. Ashburn led business development for Genzyme’s Rare Disease and Transplant and Oncology divisions where he closed a multimillion dollar out-licensing deal with ViroPharma. Prior to joining Genzyme, Dr. Ashburn worked at the venture capital firm Oxford BioScience Partners where he spearheaded investments in Alantos Pharmaceuticals, AG (acquired in June, 2007 by Amgen for $300 million in cash) and superDimension, Ltd. (acquired by Covidien in March, 2012 for more than $300 million), and also co-founded and later worked for the Oxford-led start up Dynogen Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Dr. Ashburn started his business career in a business development and strategic planning group at Pfizer.
Dr. Ashburn has a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he worked on the structure and properties of β-amyloid protein associated with Alzheimer’s disease and a M.D. from Harvard Medical School.
"I'm excited to join Dicerna and look forward to working closely with the team to realize the goal of bringing RNAi therapeutics to market," said Dr. Ashburn. "Dicerna’s leadership position in the field of siRNA holds exceptional promise for the development of transformative therapies for patients with severe medical conditions. The Company has already made significant progress on both its platform and on several of its programs, most notably its DCR-MYC and DCR-PH1 programs for various cancers and primary hyperoxaluria type 1, respectively.”
Dicerna also today announced it granted stock options to purchase 230,000 shares of common stock of the Company (“Shares”) to Dr. Ashburn on December 15, 2014. The grant of these stock options was approved by the compensation committee of the board of directors of the Company on December 9, 2014 as an inducement material to Dr. Ashburn entering into employment with the Company in reliance on NASDAQ Listing Rule 5635(c)(4). Dr. Ashburn joined the Company on December 15, 2014. The stock options have an exercise price per share of $13.08, the closing price per share of the Company’s common stock on December 15, 2014. Stock options with respect to 115,000 Shares vest over a four year period, with options with respect to 28,750 such Shares vesting on the one year anniversary of the date of grant and as to the remaining three-quarters of such Shares in thirty-six monthly installments thereafter, and stock options with respect to the remaining 115,000 Shares are subject to achievement of pre-established performance goals, in each case subject to Dr. Ashburn’s continued service with the Company. This press release is required notice under NASDAQ Listing Rule 5635(c)(4).
Dicerna Pharmaceuticals, Inc., is a biopharmaceutical company focused on the discovery and development of innovative treatments for rare, inherited diseases involving the liver and for cancers that are genetically defined. The company is using its proprietary RNA interference technology platform to build a broad pipeline in these therapeutic areas. In both rare diseases and oncology, Dicerna is pursuing targets that have been difficult to address using conventional approaches, but where connections between targets and diseases are well understood and documented. The company intends to discover, develop and commercialize novel therapeutics either on its own or in collaboration with pharmaceutical partners.
Cautionary Note on Forward-Looking Statements
This press release includes forward-looking statements. Such forward-looking statements are subject to risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied in such statements. Applicable risks and uncertainties include those relating to our preclinical research and other risks identified under the heading "Risk Factors" included in our most recent Form 10-Q filing and in other future filings with the SEC. The forward-looking statements contained in this press release reflect Dicerna's current views with respect to future events, and Dicerna does not undertake and specifically disclaims any obligation to update any forward-looking statements.