Vencerx Therapeutics, a company focused on advancing treatments for neurodevelopmental disorders, has announced the appointments of Robert H. Ring, Ph.D. as chief executive officer and Jeffrey Stevenson as chairman of the board of directors.
Dr. Ring brings significant expertise to Vencerx that includes CNS drug discovery and development, translational research and patient advocacy. His distinguished career spans pharma, non-profit, venture philanthropy and academia, with leadership roles at Pfizer, Wyeth Pharmaceuticals and Autism Speaks among others.
"Rob is a recognized leader in the field of autism research and brings years of experience working at the forefront of therapeutics development for related neurodevelopmental disorders such as Fragile X. We are pleased to have someone with Rob's experience spearheading our efforts to advance treatments for Fragile X Syndrome and related conditions," said David Malpass, a founder of Vencerx. "We are also thrilled that Jeff Stevenson will join as Chairman of the Board. He brings strong leadership, a stellar investment career and nearly two decades of involvement in advancing the treatment of Fragile X."
Regarding Dr. Ring, Stevenson said, "Rob is an experienced R&D leader with a unique background in the emerging field of neurodevelopmental disorders that makes him ideally suited to lead our ground-breaking efforts ahead at Vencerx. Ring also brings to Vencerx a deep understanding of the diverse unmet medical needs of patients and their families, the complexities of developing therapeutics for these unique populations, and firsthand experience working collaboratively with patient groups to achieve success."
"I am absolutely thrilled to be joining the team at Vencerx at a moment in time when the field of therapeutics development for rare neurodevelopmental disorders like Fragile X is poised to take off," said Dr. Ring. "The past decade of CNS drug development field has quietly ignored what I see as a massive opportunity to address the diverse unmet needs of families across the autism and neurodevelopmental disorder communities by leveraging the rich diversity of targets and clinical assets pursued, and in many cases abandoned, for other indications."
Continued Dr. Ring: "In a short period of time, Vencerx has identified potential partnerships that will quickly establish its initial pipeline around two exciting therapeutic opportunities, both for neurodevelopmental indications like Fragile X. We look forward to sharing more about these lead assets in the coming months."
"By applying our understanding of the pathophysiology of Fragile X Syndrome, FXS, we have been able to identify promising innovative and potentially disease-modifying therapeutics," said Michael Tranfaglia, M.D., a Vencerx founder, board member and chief scientific officer of FRAXA, a nonprofit dedicated to supporting individuals affected by FXS.
Dr. Ring most recently served as chief science officer of the global nonprofit science foundation Autism Speaks, where he oversaw a science mission credited with over $300 million of funding investments across the autism research community. His leadership tenure was highlighted by the launch of MSSNG, a ground-breaking genomics partnership with Google (now Verily) and the Hospital for Sick Children that has established the field's largest database of genomic sequence information from 10,000 individuals with autism and their families. Ring was also instrumental in starting up DELSIA LLC, the foundation's innovative venture arm that expanded the foundation's philanthropic mission to include innovative investments in commercialization activities by entrepreneurs and small companies.
Prior to Autism Speaks, Ring headed the Autism Unit at Pfizer Global Research and Development, considered one of the industry's earliest research divisions dedicated exclusively to the discovery and development of medicines for autism and related neurodevelopmental disorders such as Fragile X. Ring's leadership extended from basic target identification to phase 2 proof-of-concept trials, and he was instrumental in helping shape the commercial strategy for this new therapeutic area. Before Pfizer, Ring worked for over a decade at Wyeth Research in Princeton heading Mood Disorders Research and serving as program leader for numerous drug development programs. A neuroscientist by training, Ring also maintains adjunct faculty appointments in the departments of Psychiatry at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, and Pharmacology & Physiology at Drexel University College of Medicine in Philadelphia. In 2014, Ring was appointed by then HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to serve on the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC), and continues his service on the committee after reappointment by Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell in 2015.
Stevenson is managing partner of VSS, a leading private equity investment firm that invests in the information, business services, healthcare and education industries. Stevenson has been the senior member of the investment committees of all VSS buyout funds and structured capital funds. He joined the Firm in 1982, shortly after its formation, and has been the head of its private equity business since its first investment.