CAMBRIDGE, Mass.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Be Biopharma (“Be Bio”), whose mission is to pioneer the emerging new category of engineered B cells as medicines, today announced that Joanne Smith-Farrell, Ph.D., has been appointed Chief Executive Officer and Director. Dr. Smith-Farrell will be joined by Chief Scientific Officer, Richard Morgan, Ph.D., a leading expert in cell and gene therapies.
Be Bio’s rapidly growing team of scientists, drug developers, manufacturing experts, and business builders is leading the creation of a new category of cellular therapies, engineered B cell medicines. B cells are exquisitely designed by nature to embody a unique mix of functionalities, including prolific protein production, tissue targeting, and durable engraftment in cellular niches. Be Bio was founded by Longwood Fund in October 2020 with a $52 million Series A investment led by Atlas Ventures and RA Capital, and joined by Alta Partners and Takeda Ventures to unlock this rich biology by precisely engineering B cells as therapies to develop a broad pipeline of potent and potentially curative cellular medicines.
Prior to joining Be Bio as Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Smith-Farrell was Chief Operating Officer and Business Unit Head, Oncology, at bluebird bio, where she led the growth of bluebird Oncology from an early single-candidate effort into a leading oncology cell therapy business. Prior to this, she held executive leadership roles as Chief Business Officer of bluebird bio, Vice President of Transactions at Merck, and Vice President of Business Development at Pfizer, as well as executive positions in public and private biotechs. Prior to entering the biopharmaceutical industry, she worked in the healthcare practice at The Boston Consulting Group. Dr. Smith-Farrell did her postdoctoral research in Biomedical Engineering in Bob Langer’s lab at the Harvard-MIT Division for Health Science and Technology and holds a Ph.D. in Physics from The Catholic University of America and a B.S. in Physics and Mathematics from Vanderbilt University.
“Be Bio’s mission - to unleash the power of B cells, nature’s protein factories, on many of humanity’s most challenging diseases – is an inspiring and humbling journey to be joining,” said Dr. Smith-Farrell. “It has been a great privilege to participate in the birth of the first generation of cell therapies to come to market, and to witness, first-hand, cell therapy’s power to transform the lives of patients with devastating diseases. Be Bio’s aspiration, fueled by the broad utility of engineered B cell medicines to offer previously impossible solutions across a wide array of therapeutic areas, takes the potential of cell therapy to an entirely new level.”
Rick Morgan, Ph.D., joins Be Bio as Chief Scientific Officer, and brings decades of experience as one of the pioneers of cell and gene therapy. Most recently, Dr. Morgan was Senior Vice President of Immunogenetics at Editas Medicine, where he focused on genome engineering to produce off-the-shelf cell medicines for cancer. Prior to that, he was Vice President of Immunotherapy at bluebird bio in 2013, where he led pre-clinical activities for bluebird’s first oncology medicine, the anti-B-cell maturation antigen (BCMA) chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell therapy idecabtagene vicleucel (ide-cel)—the first CAR-T for the treatment of multiple myeloma filed in the U.S. and Europe. He started his career at the National Institutes of Health, where he conducted groundbreaking research in the development of gene therapy for genetic diseases such as hemophilia, HIV/AIDS, and cancer immunotherapy. He was a member of the team that published the first approved human gene transfer experiment in 1990, and was also the first to report the successful use of T-cell receptor gene therapy for the treatment of cancer in 2006.
“By exploiting the intrinsic drug-like properties of B cells, we can make redosable medicines with superior pharmacokinetic profiles that can be administered without toxic conditioning regimens,” said Dr. Morgan. “Be Bio’s ability to engineer B cells is a true paradigm shift in gene therapy that creates major opportunities to treat diseases such as cancer, autoimmune conditions, infectious disease, and protein deficiencies. As CSO, I am excited to have the rare opportunity to shape the development of a new class of medicine from the very start.”
“Extraordinary science attracts extraordinary leaders,” said David Steinberg, Longwood General Partner, Director and and outgoing Chief Executive Officer, Be Bio. “For over 25 years, Dr. Smith-Farrell has been leading teams that are committed to conquering cancer and rare diseases, most recently at bluebird bio where she built a 400 person oncology cell therapy business unit. We are very fortunate to have her joining alongside Dr. Morgan, an internationally recognized trailblazer in cell and gene therapy and a member of an elite group of scientists who have successfully developed these groundbreaking medicines. Together, Joanne and Rick will be invaluable to Be Bio as they lead our efforts to unlock the potential of B cell medicines, bringing transformational therapies to patients in need.”
About Be Biopharma
Be Biopharma is a leader in developing B cells as medicines, treating disease with the human body’s native protein factories. We precisely engineer B cells to harness their intrinsic drug-like properties – remarkable protein production, selective tissue targeting, and fine control of their cellular environment – to forge a new category of cell therapy. These medicines are designed to be durable, re-dosable and administered without toxic conditioning, creating new avenues to halt or reverse severe diseases like cancer, autoimmune conditions, and enzyme deficiency. Founded by Longwood Fund and B cell engineering pioneers David Rawlings, M.D., and Richard James, Ph.D., Be Biopharma is re-imagining medicine based on the power of B cell therapy. For more information, please visit Be Biopharma.