Former Pfizer R&D Chief Joins PureTech Ventures as Senior Partner

Xconomy Boston — 

PureTech Ventures says it has swelled its ranks with another Big Pharma veteran. John LaMattina, former president of global research and development at Pfizer, has joined the Boston-based venture firm as senior partner. PureTech has also promoted previous firm associates Eric Elenko and Steve Muniz to partner.

LaMattina—who retired from New York-based Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) in December 2007 after 30 years with the company—adds deep drug-development experience to PureTech. He’s even written a book on the topic of Pharma research and development called “Drug Truths: Dispelling the Myths About Pharma R&D.” His experience could have a major impact at PureTech, where partners and advisors use their experience to identify medical needs and then found companies to address those needs. (Many of our readers also know PureTech as the founding venture firm behind Follica, the developer of therapies to re-grow hair and treat baldness.)

PureTech has been known to recruit from the ranks of Big Pharma to lead its ventures or advise the firm on big opportunities in healthcare. For example, the firm previously recruited Eliot Forster, the former head of European R&D at Pfizer, to be CEO of its Cambridge, MA-based portfolio company Solace Pharmaceuticals. And PureTech’s own team includes Frank Douglas, another senior partner, who is the former chief scientific officer of drug giant Aventis (now Sanofi-Aventis). LaMattina, in fact, told me in an e-mail that one of the first things that caught his attention about PureTech was its track record in recruiting talented pharmaceutical executives.

“I was impressed by [PureTech’s] non-traditional model,” LaMattina told me. “Rather than wait for start-ups to come to them for funding, PureTech looks to key areas of medical need where they would like to invest, seeks out experts in that field, and does extensive research into where the next key breakthrough can be made.” (He noted that his early impression of the firm was also helped by the fact that this friend and former Pfizer colleague, Jeff Ives, is the CEO of PureTech portfolio company Satori Pharmaceuticals in Cambridge. He also mentioned Forster.)

Daphne Zohar, founder and managing partner of PureTech, said in a statement that LaMattina brings to the firm both his large network of industry and scientific contacts and his expertise in translating innovative technologies into products.