Amplyx Pharmaceuticals, a company developing novel antifungal agents for life-threatening fungal infections, has announced the appointments of Ciara Kennedy, Ph.D., to president and chief executive officer (CEO) and Karen Joy Shaw, Ph.D., to chief scientific officer (CSO). In conjunction with this announcement, the company's former president and CEO, Mike Grey, has assumed the role of executive chairman of the Amplyx board of directors.
"Dr. Kennedy and Dr. Shaw have made tremendous contributions to Amplyx that have resulted in the company's rapid advancement of its preclinical and clinical development programs," said Mike Grey. "Ciara's appointment to president and CEO reflects her impressive leadership and corporate strategy expertise, while Karen's antimicrobial drug R&D experience will be invaluable as the company sharpens its focus on developing novel classes of antifungal drugs and progresses its lead drug candidate, APX001, through the clinic."
Dr. Kennedy added, "In taking on the role of president and CEO, I am honored to lead such a highly accomplished and productive team that has been able to quickly advance early science into a potential medical breakthrough. Amplyx has made remarkable progress over the past year, and we are well-positioned to bring forth the first new class of antifungal drugs in 15 years."
Dr. Kennedy joined Amplyx as chief operating officer (COO) in October 2015, leading the company's development activities and playing a key role in raising more than $49 million in venture capital financing. Prior to joining Amplyx, Dr. Kennedy served as vice president and cholestatic liver disease program head at Shire Pharmaceuticals, which had acquired Lumena Pharmaceuticals, where Dr. Kennedy served as COO. As COO of Lumena, she led the development of the clinical programs she initiated, was instrumental in raising $78 million in venture funding and was preparing to take the company public at the time it was acquired by Shire. Dr. Kennedy also served as vice president of operations at Cypress Bioscience Inc., where she played an integral role in the FDA approval of Savella, a therapy for fibromyalgia, and oversaw corporate acquisitions and in-licensing of several clinical assets.
In her role as CSO, Dr. Shaw, who previously served as the company's vice president of biology, will support the preclinical development program of APX001, Amplyx's broad-spectrum antifungal agent for the treatment of life threatening fungal infections. She also served as senior vice president of biology at Trius Therapeutics (acquired by Cubist Pharmaceuticals), where she was part of the team that developed the antibiotic tedizolid phosphate (Sivextro). Dr. Shaw has more than 25 years of antibacterial and antifungal drug discovery and development experience across both large pharmaceutical and small biotechnology companies, including Schering-Plough and Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical Research and Development.
Amplyx is advancing APX001 clinically, having initiated its phase I clinical program earlier this year. The Phase 1 program evaluates APX001 using both intravenous and oral formulations to address the need for treatment in both the hospital setting and the continued convenient treatment after discharge from hospital. The company plans to initiate phase II studies in 2017.