Ipierian Hires New CEO to Carry on With Stem Cells for Discovering Neurological Drugs

Xconomy San Francisco — 

iPierian, the South San Francisco-based developer of stem cell technology co-founded by top scientists at Harvard University, said today it has hired a new CEO. Nancy Stagliano, the co-founder and former CEO of South San Francisco-based CytomX Therapeutics, has taken the top job at iPierian, while interim CEO Peter Van Vlasselaer has moved aside to become the executive chairman of the board.

The company has been quiet since May, when Xconomy broke the news that the iPierian’s board terminated CEO Mike Venuti and most of the senior management team. A few weeks later, board chairman Corey Goodman resigned in the wake of the company’s shift in strategy. Today’s statement from iPierian says that Van Vlasselaer, the interim CEO, has prioritized the company’s efforts over the past several months toward using its stem cell technology to help discover drugs for neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and spinal muscular atrophy.

The company’s technology is used to coax ordinary adult cells into a stem-cell like state in which they have the potential to differentiate into some other desired cell, like a human neuron. The cells are known as induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs).

“Neurodegenerative diseases represent a significant unmet medical need. Unfortunately there are few experimental models that provide a robust understanding of the mechanistic biology behind neurodegeneration. The promise of making an impact in this therapeutic area using iPierian’s iPSC drug discovery platform makes this opportunity a very special one for me,” Stagliano said in a statement.

Nancy Stagliano

iPierian has raised more than $50 million from some of the biggest names in Big Pharma and venture capital, including Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Highland Capital Partners, MPM Capital, Google Ventures, GlaxoSmithKline’s SR One, and Biogen Idec New Ventures. The company was formed in July 2009 by the merger of South San Francisco-based iZumi Bio, with Pierian, a company co-founded by top scientists at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute.

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