MENLO PARK, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Geron Corporation (Nasdaq: GERN) today announced the appointment of Anil Kapur as Executive Vice President, Corporate Strategy and Chief Commercial Officer. With this appointment, all functions of a fully-integrated, late-stage drug development executive leadership team are now in place.
“We are pleased to welcome Anil whose proven track record in shaping hematology-oncology development programs, launching blockbuster oncology products and managing external alliances rounds out our executive team’s capabilities,” said John A. Scarlett, M.D., Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. “More importantly, he will provide a commercial lens to Geron’s corporate strategy that will be instrumental as we evaluate current and future indications of imetelstat to maximize the value of the program, as well as other potential assets to diversify the Company’s pipeline over the long-term.”
In his role at Geron, Mr. Kapur will be a member of the Company’s Executive Management Committee. His initial focus will be on developing value-creating strategic plans to build Geron’s hematology-oncology franchise while leading the Company’s assessment of additional indications for imetelstat. As Geron continues to advance the imetelstat program toward potential commercialization over time, he will be responsible for implementing Geron’s commercial strategy and forming a commercial organization.
“I am excited to be joining Geron,” said Anil Kapur, Executive Vice President, Corporate Strategy and Chief Commercial Officer. “Having seen imetelstat’s transformative potential for disease modification through telomerase inhibition while at Janssen, I strongly believe that imetelstat has great promise in hematology-oncology, and look forward to helping strategically build imetelstat and Geron into an important and meaningful enterprise for clinicians, patients, shareholders and employees.”
Mr. Kapur brings more than 19 years of U.S. and global biopharmaceutical experience to Geron. Most recently, he was Chief Commercial Officer at Actinium Pharmaceuticals, Inc., where he created a strategic commercialization roadmap to help the company transition from clinical stage to a commercial entity. Prior to that, Mr. Kapur was Vice President, Head of Early Assets, Biomarkers and External Innovation for Worldwide Oncology Commercialization at Bristol-Myers Squibb Company. In this role, he led early-asset and biomarker commercial groups with a mandate for accelerating the development of the immuno-oncology portfolio comprising over 20 pipeline assets, including collaborations. Previously, Mr. Kapur was Vice President, Global Head of Commercial and Portfolio Strategy at Baxalta, Incorporated, where he was responsible for growing the newly created Baxalta Oncology Division into a top-tier global oncology business and leading the global commercialization efforts of the company’s oncology portfolio. During Mr. Kapur’s 15-year tenure at Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson (Janssen), he held marketing and sales leadership roles of increasing responsibility for both the U.S. and ex-U.S. markets. As Vice President, Commercial Leader, Hematology Franchise in Janssen’s Global Commercial Strategy Organization, he led the development and execution of commercial strategy and launch plans for in-market development, late development, and early pipeline assets, including myeloid malignancies. During this time at Janssen, Mr. Kapur worked on early commercialization plans for imetelstat. Among Mr. Kapur’s most recognized achievements while at Janssen were the successful global launches of two transformational blockbuster hematology-oncology drugs, Imbruvica and Darzalex.
Mr. Kapur holds a Bachelor of Engineering from Birla Institute of Technology in India; an M.S. in Industrial Engineering from Louisiana Tech University; and an M.B.A from the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University.
Inducement Grants Under Nasdaq Listing Rule 5635(c)(4)
In connection with the commencement of Mr. Kapur’s employment with the Company on December 2, 2019, the Company granted him a non-statutory stock option to purchase 700,000 shares of Geron common stock which vests over four years, with 12.5% of the shares underlying the option vesting on the six-month anniversary of commencement of employment and the remaining shares vesting over the following 42 months in equal installments of whole shares, subject to Mr. Kapur’s continued employment with Geron. In addition, Mr. Kapur was granted a non-statutory stock option to purchase 250,000 shares of Geron common stock on December 2, 2019 with vesting conditioned on the achievement of a certain regulatory milestone for imetelstat, subject to Mr. Kapur’s continued employment with Geron on the vesting date. All of Mr. Kapur’s stock options have a 10-year term and an exercise price of $1.43 per share, which is equal to the closing price of Geron common stock on the date of grant. The stock options were granted as a material inducement to Mr. Kapur’s employment in accordance with Nasdaq Listing Rule 5635(c)(4) and are subject to the terms and conditions of stock option agreements covering the grants and Geron’s 2018 Inducement Award Plan, which was adopted December 14, 2018 and provides for the granting of stock options to new employees.
Imetelstat is a novel, first-in-class telomerase inhibitor exclusively owned by Geron and being developed in hematologic myeloid malignancies. Early clinical data suggest imetelstat may have disease-modifying activity through the suppression of malignant progenitor cell clone proliferation, which allows potential recovery of normal hematopoiesis. Ongoing clinical studies of imetelstat consist of IMerge, a Phase 2/3 trial in lower risk myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS), and IMbark, a Phase 2 trial in Intermediate-2 or High-risk myelofibrosis (MF). Imetelstat has been granted Fast Track designation by the United States Food and Drug Administration for both the treatment of patients with non-del(5q) lower risk MDS who are refractory or resistant to an erythropoiesis-stimulating agent and for patients with Intermediate-2 or High-risk MF whose disease has relapsed after or is refractory to janus kinase (JAK) inhibitor treatment.
Geron is a late-stage clinical biopharmaceutical company focused on the development and potential commercialization of a first-in-class telomerase inhibitor, imetelstat, in hematologic myeloid malignancies. For more information about Geron, visit www.geron.com.
Use of Forward-Looking Statements
Except for the historical information contained herein, this press release contains forward-looking statements made pursuant to the “safe harbor” provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Investors are cautioned that such statements, include, without limitation, those regarding: (i) that imetelstat may have disease-modifying activity; (ii) that imetelstat has the potential for commercialization; and (iii) other statements that are not historical facts, constitute forward looking statements. These statements involve risks and uncertainties that can cause actual results to differ materially from those in such forward-looking statements. These risks and uncertainties, include, without limitation, risks and uncertainties related to: (i) whether imetelstat actually demonstrates disease-modifying activity in patients; (ii) whether imetelstat attains regulatory approval, and Geron decides to commercialize it; and (iii) whether imetelstat has adequate patent protection and freedom to operate. Additional information on the above risks and uncertainties and additional risks, uncertainties and factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those in the forward-looking statements are contained in Geron’s periodic reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission under the heading “Risk Factors,” including Geron’s quarterly report on Form 10-Q for the quarter ended September 30, 2019. Undue reliance should not be placed on forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date they are made, and the facts and assumptions underlying the forward-looking statements may change. Except as required by law, Geron disclaims any obligation to update these forward-looking statements to reflect future information, events or circumstances.