Rhythm Adds Former Merck VP as CEO

Xconomy Boston — 

Merck veteran Keith Gottesdiener will become the new CEO of Boston-based Rhythm Pharmaceuticals, a Boston startup developing experimental drugs for the treatment of metabolic conditions such as obesity and diabetes, according to an announcement today.

Gottesdiener oversaw pivotal clinical trials as Merck’s former vice president and late-sage therapeutic group leader, and is joining Rhythm as it pushes two drug programs through clinical development. The biotech is navigating the crowded therapeutic field with two drug compounds it has licensed from the French biotech company Ipsen.

Rhythm’s compound RM-131 could enter a Phase 2 clinical trial early next year as a treatment for a complication of Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes called gastroparesis—a digestive disorder involving the abnormal emptying of the stomach. Rhythm is also aiming to file an FDA application by the end of this year to begin human testing of its compound for curbing food intake in severely obese populations who suffer from diabetes or are at risk of developing the disease.

Rhythm is backed by MPM Capital, New Enterprise Associates and Third Rock Ventures.