Ikena appoints Michelle Zhang, Ph.D., Industry and Business
Dr Zhang takes up CSO post after spending more than five years at Ikena leading research and development
Jeffrey Ecsedy, Ph.D., assumes the newly created role of Director of Development (CDO) to guide the expansion of the development pipeline
BOSTON, 08 Dec. 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) – Ikena Oncology, Inc. (Nasdaq: IKNA, “Ikena”), a targeted oncology company exploring new territory in patient-directed cancer treatment, today announced the internal promotion from Michelle Zhang, Ph.D., to Chief Scientific Officer (CSO), effective late November 2021. Dr. Zhang, one of Ikena’s first employees, held a number of positions during his tenure at Ikena , most recently as Senior Vice President of Translational Research. and Early Development in Ikena.
“Michelle’s vigor and passion for our work and her extensive experience in cancer drug discovery and development have made her an invaluable member of the team. We are delighted to increase his responsibilities and welcome him to the leadership team, ”said Mark Manfredi, Ph.D., CEO of Ikena. “As we continue to advance our targeted therapies in oncology, we are constantly assessing the cancer landscape for new opportunities to expand our portfolio and better serve patients with difficult-to-treat types of cancer. The elevation of Michelle to CSO and Jeff to his new role as CDO will allow them both to take on new and essential responsibilities to support our evolving pipeline.
As CSO, Dr Zhang is primarily responsible for overseeing and executing Ikena’s research strategy, advancing discovery programs through target validation and optimizing leads to nominations of development candidates and IND files.
“At Ikena, we are constantly striving to develop therapies that bring us closer to our vision of a world where every cancer patient has a cure,” said Dr. Zhang. “I have always been passionate about the work we do, the team we have built and the culture of dedication to patients that we have fostered. I am delighted to join the inspiring group of leaders on our leadership team to continue our work to redefine targeted patient-centered oncology. “
Michelle Zhang, Ph.D., joined Ikena (then Kyn Therapeutics) in 2016 as Vice President, Research and Development and was subsequently promoted to Senior Vice President, Translational Research and Early Development. At Ikena, she guided the critical progress of the company’s pipeline programs to clinical studies. Dr. Zhang has over 20 years of oncology drug discovery and development experience in biotechnology as an Entrepreneur in Residence at Atlas Venture as well as Curis, Inc. and BioMed Valley Discoveries, and in the pharmaceutical field at the Novartis Institutes for biomedical research. Its R&D expertise extends to small molecules, antibodies, antibody-drug conjugates, proteins and radiopharmaceutical therapeutic and diagnostic modalities. She has led numerous programs from early discovery, translational research and non-clinical evaluations to clinical development. Dr Zhang obtained his doctorate. in Biochemistry from Harvard University.
Jeffrey Ecsedy, Ph.D., has become Director of Development (CDO), a newly created role to drive Ikena’s growing clinical stages pipeline. Dr Ecsedy has broader development responsibilities, including translational research, clinical pharmacology, non-clinical safety, program leadership, and manufacturing responsibilities. In his role as CSO, Dr Ecsedy was a key leader in building and expanding Ikena’s research and development capabilities, as well as establishing a strong oncology pipeline comprising the leadership of three IND most recently approved for the TEAD IK-930 inhibitor from Ikena.
Dr Ecsedy commented: “This transition of responsibilities parallels the next phase of Ikena’s growth into a mid-to-late clinical stage company. I know Michelle will effectively and efficiently lead our early discovery and preclinical R&D in her new role and I look forward to continuing to partner with her in our new roles.
About Ikena Oncology
Ikena Oncology is focused on the development of new therapies targeting the major signaling pathways that lead to cancer formation and spread. The Company’s primary targeted oncology program, IK-930, is an inhibitor of TEAD acting on the Hippo signaling pathway, a known tumor suppression pathway that also results in resistance to several targeted therapies. Additional programs include an ERK5 inhibitor program targeting the KRAS signaling pathway and programs targeting the tumor microenvironment and immune signals, two of which are under development in collaboration with Bristol Myers Squibb, including IK-175, an antagonist of aryl hydrocarbon receptors designed to modulate the tumor. micro-environment. Ikena’s pipeline is based on the treatment of genetically defined or biomarker-induced cancers and on the development of therapies that can serve specific patient populations in need of new treatment options. To learn more, visit www.ikenaoncology.com or follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn.