Ocular Therapeutix announces updates to leadership, Board of Directors

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The company will add Pravin U. Dugel, MD, as executive director, and add Jeffrey S. Heier, MD, Peter K. Kaiser, MD, and Sanjay Nayak, PhD, MBBS, to its management team.

Image credit: AdobeStock/Anthony deLorenzi

(Image credit: AdobeStock/Anthony deLorenzi)

Ocular Therapeutix, Inc announced updates to its leadership and Board of Directors with the addition of Pravin U. Dugel, MD, as executive director and the additions of Jeffrey S. Heier, MD, Peter K. Kaiser, MD, and Sanjay Nayak, PhD, MBBS, to the company’s management team.

Heier will serve as chief scientific officer, Kaiser as medical director, and Nayak as chief strategy officer.

According to the news release, the addition of this quartet puts the company on track to be a leader in retina care for wet age-related macular degeneration (wet AMD), diabetic retinopathy, and other retinal conditions.1

In the news release, the company also announced that Charles Warden has transitioned from Chairman of the Board to Lead Independent Director.

Moreover, the company noted in its news release that in order to drive full transitions to their new operating roles, Heier has resigned from his positions with the company as a board director and advisor – retina, and Dr. Kaiser has resigned from his position as chief medical advisor – retina of the company.

The company also announced in its news release that Peter Jarrett, PhD, has begun the new role of Chief Technical Officer. Rabia Gurses Ozden, MD, will continue in her role as Chief Medical Officer.

“We are bringing together the ‘Retina Dream Team’ to position Ocular at the forefront of retina care, further energizing the momentum behind the AXPAXLI Phase 3 wet AMD program,” said Antony Mattessich, CEO of Ocular Therapeutix. “We believe our expanded leadership team will enable us to potentially accelerate the pace of our clinical program for AXPAXLI. With our renewed focus on retinal disease, we are thrilled to welcome Dr. Dugel as Executive Chairman. He is a visionary executive who brings a history of successful company building and organizational development that we believe will help us make Ocular a leader in retina care.

Mattessich said he looks forward to working closely with Dugel.

“We believe that his track record of advancing novel products for retinal disease, along with his extensive network and long-standing relationships across the field of retinal disease, have the potential to substantially accelerate our mission to develop and commercialize products to enhance people’s vision and quality of life,” he said.

Mattessich also pointed out that the decision by Heier and Kaiser to join the management team in operating roles is an asset for the company.

“Each of these globally recognized retina specialists bring a deep understanding of the AXPAXLI program, Ocular’s pipeline and the ELUTYX proprietary formulation technology,” he explained. “We believe their experience as study chairman or lead investigators in numerous pivotal trials of approved products for wet AMD and other ophthalmic indications will help the company optimize the enrollment of the AXPAXLI™ Phase 3 pivotal trials and enhance the probability of success. Nayak further strengthens our team, bringing a unique market perspective in retinal disease and ophthalmology from his deep expertise as a strategy consultant and healthcare investor.”

In a statement, Dugel said he was honored to join Ocular’s accomplished and talented Board as we advance the development of AXPAXLI.

“I have dedicated my life to the development of novel therapies for retina diseases, and I believe that AXPAXLI has the opportunity to substantially transform the care of patients with wet AMD and hopefully other retinal diseases,” he said in the news release. “In my role as executive chairman, I look forward to working with Antony and the management team to successfully complete the AXPAXLI Phase 3 program and define and innovate the next steps in the Company’s strategic development.”

Heier added in the release that during his tenure as board director and advisor, he has observed the steady development of a strong clinical database for AXPAXLI, starting with earliest studies.

“With the Phase 3 program underway, I am thrilled to be part of the Team,” he said in the release. “I joined Ocular as a Chief Medical Advisor – Retina because I believed AXPAXLI™ and the ELUTYX™ platform could be a ‘game-changer’ in the care of retinal disease.”

Nayak also expressed his enthusiasm as he joins the team.

“Together with the entire Ocular team, we are hoping to address the single biggest unmet need for our patients: a safe, effective, and truly durable therapy for retinal and ophthalmic indications,” he said. “I am grateful to Antony and Pravin for letting me play a significant role in what we expect will be a transformative time for the company.”

“On behalf of the Ocular team, I am so grateful to Charles Warden for his prior work as board chairman and his guidance regarding the company’s organizational development and strategic focus,” Mattessich concluded. “As Ocular moves forward, I am very pleased that Charles will continue his work with the company as lead independent director.”

According to the news release, Dugel, MD has held previous leadership roles including president of Iveric Bio, Inc., managing partner, Retinal Consultants of Arizona and the Retinal Research Institute; clinical professor, USC Eye Institute, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California; and Founding Member, Spectra Eye Institute in Sun City, Arizona.

The company noted that Heier is and will continue to serve as the director of the Vitreoretinal Service and Director of Retina Research at Ophthalmic Consultants of Boston (OCB), one of the largest multi-specialty ophthalmology practices in the United States. Heier served as co-president & medical director of OCB from 2016-2020. He is the Immediate Past President of the Retina Society and served as a member of the Executive Committee of the American Society of Retina Specialists from 2016 to February 2024. He is the Past President of the New England Ophthalmological Society and a member of the Macula Society.

The company also noted Kaiser was appointed as a Staff member of the vitreoretinal faculty of the Cole Eye Institute at Cleveland Clinic in 1997, where he now holds the Chaney Family Endowed Chair in Ophthalmology Research and will continue to serve as Professor of Ophthalmology at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine.

The company noted that as a National Eye Institute and National Institute of Health RO1-funded principal investigator, Kaiser leads a team involved in the evaluation of vascular biology in age-related macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy. In addition, Kaiser is actively involved in clinical research having served as study chairman for numerous major, multi-center, international clinical trials, and principal investigator in over 60 trials evaluating new treatments for AMD, diabetic retinopathy, and other retinal disorders. Complementing his research endeavors,

Nayak was the founder and fund manager of a biotech-focused private investment fund, Sentiv Capital. The fund invested in public and private biotechnology companies and has been a sought-after co-investor, based on the quality and depth of his due diligence and contributions to investment strategy. Nayak’s investment approach integrated more than 20 years of expertise in retina and ophthalmology with strong connections spanning industry, the investment community and top key opinion leaders, as well as a unique strategic acuity related to healthcare markets.

According to the news release, prior to founding Sentiv Capital, Nayak was the founder and managing partner at AnalyzeRx LLC, a healthcare consulting practice focused on delivering customized, qualitative market analytics and competitive strategy to large-cap pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies.

Reference:
  1. Inc OT. Ocular TherapeutixAnnounces Board of Directors and Leadership Updates. GlobeNewswire News Room. Published February 22, 2024. Accessed February 22, 2024. https://www.globenewswire.com/news-release/2024/02/22/2833571/0/en/Ocular-Therapeutix-Announces-Board-of-Directors-and-Leadership-Updates.html
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