Accelerator Gets New Chief Scientist, David McElligott

Xconomy Seattle — 

The Accelerator, the place that starts more biotech companies than any other outfit in Seattle, has had a changing of the scientific guard.

David McElligott, the chief scientific officer at one of Accelerator’s portfolio companies, Groove Biopharma, has been promoted to the role of chief scientific officer at Accelerator. He replaces Pat Gray, who announced this week he’s moved to take a new job as a scientific fellow at Seattle-based Omeros (NASDAQ: OMER).

McElligott earned his stripes at Accelerator the past several years at Groove, which recently raised $6 million after hitting a series of milestones with its microRNA drug development programs. He’s a former senior director of biological sciences at Bothell, WA-based Icos, where he got to know Gray and several other scientists who have migrated over the years to Accelerator. The new job means that McElligott will have a broader role in day-to-day R&D decisions across the Accelerator portfolio, which currently includes three active companies—Oncofactor, Acylin Therapeutics, and Groove. He’ll also be involved in scouting new investments.

David McElligott, Accelerator's chief scientific officer

“David has consistently impressed the team and our investors with his professional, steady and thoughtful approach, his broad scientific and drug development expertise, his agility and his innovative instincts,” said Accelerator CEO Carl Weissman, in a statement. Gray added: “I have worked with David McElligott for 9 years both at Icos and Accelerator and could not think of a better person to whom to hand off the scientific reins.”

Accelerator was founded in 2003 by the Institute for Systems Biology, Alexandria Real Estate Equities, and a network of venture investors that sought to bring scientific expertise, facilities, and capital together to help create more biotech companies with big potential. It has formed 12 startups since inception, four of which have spun out in one form or another as their own as independent venture-backed companies—Allozyne, Theraclone Sciences, VLST, and Integrated Diagnostics. The Accelerator is currently backed by Amgen Ventures, Arch Venture Partners, OVP Venture Partners, PPD, Alexandria Real Estate Equities, WRF Capital, and the Institute for Systems Biology.

McElligott will be one of the featured speakers at the big Xconomy Seattle event next week, “Reinventing Biotech’s Business Model.” He will be on hand along with Weissman to talk about how to keep the science progressing at Groove in an environment with limited venture capital.