Juno Therapeutics, a biopharmaceutical company developing innovative cellular immunotherapies for the treatment of cancer, has appointed to its Board of Directors Dr. Rupert Vessey, president of Research and Early Development of Celgene.
Dr. Vessey brings significant drug development capabilities to the Juno Board. Before joining Celgene in January 2015, Dr. Vessey was senior vice president of Early Development and Discovery Sciences at Merck and had numerous roles of increasing responsibility at GlaxoSmithKline in drug discovery, experimental medicine, and early clinical development of therapeutics for respiratory and immune diseases.
“Rupert has tremendous knowledge in immunology and experience in both drug development and building an efficient, world class research organization that will be invaluable during this phase of growth at Juno,” said Hans Bishop, Juno’s president and CEO. “Our collaboration with Celgene is an important component of our business, and we are pleased to have Rupert’s extensive skills added to our Board.”
“I believe engineered cell therapy will play an increasingly important role in our industry’s future, and I am excited to join Juno’s Board of Directors,” said Dr. Vessey. “Celgene and Juno intend to lead this field and bring these potentially transformative therapies to patients around the world. I look forward to working with management and the rest of the Board to advance the pipeline and achieve these goals.”
Dr. Vessey will serve as Celgene’s designated appointee to the Juno Board. Tom Daniel, M.D., joined the Juno Board of Directors in 2015 upon the closing of the Celgene/Juno collaboration agreement as the Celgene designated appointee. Dr. Daniel has agreed to remain on the Board as an independent director.
With Dr. Agarwal’s appointment, Juno will bring R&D under one leader responsible for the execution of Juno’s drug development pipeline, integration of translational insights into ongoing programs, and the prioritization of research and development initiatives. Prior to joining Juno, Dr. Agarwal’s last industry role was chief medical officer, executive vice president at Ultragenyx.
“Sunil is a strong strategic thinker and experienced drug developer who will be a great addition to our executive team,” said Hans Bishop, president and CEO of Juno. “He has an established track record of bringing innovative therapies to market, demonstrated by the breadth and quality of the programs he has led. His drug development experience, instincts, and scientific judgment will be important for our next phase of growth, and we will benefit from his experience and insight in both our strategy and execution.”
Prior to his tenure at Ultragenyx, Dr. Agarwal worked in several senior leadership roles at Genentech, most recently as senior vice president, Global Development Head, Ophthalmology, Metabolism, Neuroscience, Immunology and Infectious Diseases. He was responsible for the global development of programs in these areas from proof of concept (PoC) through phase IV. He was also a member of both the Genentech Research and Early Development (gRED) and Pharma Research and Early Development (pRED) committees, which defined the strategy of all molecules from pre-Investigational New Drug through PoC in numerous therapeutic areas, including oncology. He has led global approvals of multiple therapies and successfully built and led large global development organizations in multiple geographies. At Juno, Dr. Agarwal will report to Bishop and will be a member of the firm’s Executive Committee.
“Transforming innovative science into meaningful medicines for patients and building strong organizations fits very well with my passion, experience, and expertise,” said Dr. Agarwal. “Engineered cell and gene therapies have the potential to transform the landscape of medicine over the coming decade, and Juno is well positioned to be a leader in this era. I am delighted to join Juno at this exciting time for the company, and I look forward to partnering with the team on executing Juno’s vision.”