Malvern, Pennsylvania-based VenatoRx, a pharmaceutical company focused on developing novel anti-infectives to treat multi-drug-resistant bacterial infections and hard-to-treat viral infections, has expanded its team with three new additions. Jennifer Ellis is now senior vice president of quality; Dr. Paul McGovern is vice president of medical sciences; and Lauren P. Tornetta has been appointed vice president of regulatory affairs. VenatoRx is backed by Versant Ventures, Abingworth and Foresite Capital.
MALVERN, Pa.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–VenatoRx Pharmaceuticals today announced the addition of pharmaceutical industry veterans, Jennifer Ellis, Dr. Paul McGovern and Lauren P. Tornetta to its development team. These appointments come as the Company continues to advance its portfolio of antibacterial and antiviral assets through their respective pre-clinical and clinical milestones.
“VenatoRx has the distinctive opportunity to address critical unmet medical needs in anti-infectives for patients worldwide,” said Lisa Wittmer, Ph.D., Chief Development Officer at VenatoRx. “We have assembled an experienced team that brings an important depth and breadth of expertise across clinical, medical, quality and regulatory functions that will be vital for our next stage of growth. We welcome Jen, Paul and Lauren to the team and look forward to their contributions as we continue to progress our antibacterial and antiviral portfolio.”
Jennifer Ellis — Senior Vice President, Quality — Ms. Ellis has more than 25 years of GCP/GMP quality assurance experience, having worked in and set up analytical chemistry and quality control laboratories. Ms. Ellis has experience creating quality control and quality assurance systems for small biotech companies and has extensive experience managing contract manufacturing facilities for drug substance and drug product manufacture, including injectable and solid oral dosage forms. Prior to joining VenatoRx, Ms. Ellis was Head of Quality Assurance at TRACON, and Vice President of Quality Assurance at Trius Therapeutics, Inc. (acquired by Cubist Pharmaceuticals, Inc.) where she led the GxP Quality activities for development and commercialization of SivextroTM.
SivextroTM was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in June 2014. Ms. Ellis started her career as an analytical chemist at Alliance Pharmaceuticals, then moved to leading analytical and CMC project teams at Pfizer, Inc. In her career she has led CMC and Quality groups in the development of compounds in a variety of therapeutic areas. Ms. Ellis received a B.A. in Chemistry from the University of Delaware.
Paul McGovern, M.D. — Vice President, Medical Sciences — Dr. McGovern has 20 years of Infectious Diseases experience including 13 years in anti-infective drug development. As Vice President, Medical Sciences at VenatoRx, Dr. McGovern will serve as the primary scientific and medical advisor to the Company’s clinical teams, providing medical input to all aspects of product development and to drug discovery teams. Additionally, Dr. McGovern will be involved in the planning, implementation, analysis and interpretation of clinical studies, and will provide medical expertise necessary to advance development programs to the filing of INDs and NDAs. Prior to VenatoRx, Dr. McGovern was Vice President, Clinical & Medical Affairs at Paratek Pharmaceuticals; Senior Director at Actelion Clinical Research; and Director of Vaccine Research and Clinical Affairs for Infectious Diseases at Wyeth/Pfizer. Dr. McGovern received his B.S. from the University of Notre Dame, his M.D. from Northwestern University, and completed his Internal Medicine and Infectious Diseases training at the University of Pennsylvania.
Lauren P. Tornetta, M.B.A., M.S. — Vice President, Regulatory Affairs — Ms. Tornetta has more than 15 years of experience as an accomplished regulatory leader in the private, public and government sectors with broad knowledge of drug discovery, pre-clinical, clinical (early/late) and post-approval drug development through to commercialization. At VenatoRx, Ms. Tornetta will be responsible for developing and leading all regulatory strategies and activities, including regulatory submissions. Prior to VenatoRx, Ms. Tornetta was Vice President, Head of Regulatory Affairs at Galera Therapeutics; Director of Regulatory Affairs and Global Team Lead at Pfizer; and Director, Regulatory Affairs at Endo Pharmaceuticals. Ms. Tornetta began her career as a Senior Research Associate at Nabi Biopharmaceuticals and subsequently as Regulatory Project Manager of the Division of Anesthesia, Analgesia, and Rheumatology Products at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Ms. Tornetta received her M.B.A. in Biotechnology from John Hopkins University, Carey Business School and her M.S. in Biomedical Chemistry from Thomas Jefferson University.
About VenatoRx Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
VenatoRx is a private pharmaceutical company that is focused on the discovery and development of novel anti-infectives to treat multi-drug-resistant bacterial infections and hard-to-treat viral infections. Founded in 2010, VenatoRx has built a world-class in-house R&D organization that has filed over 100 patents spanning multiple research programs. VenatoRx has received significant funding awards from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH); Wellcome Trust; the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), part of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service (HHS); the U.S. Department of Defense’s Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA); and CARB-X, and as well as private equity investments from Versant Ventures, Abingworth and Foresite Capital.
The Company’s most advanced development-stage product is VNRX-5133, an injectable beta-lactamase inhibitor (BLI) that features selective and potent in vitro activity against both serine- and metallo-beta-lactamases, including ESBL, OXA, KPC, NDM, and VIM enzymes. VenatoRx believes that VNRX-5133, in a fixed combination with the fourth generation cephalosporin, cefepime, has the potential to provide a valuable broad-spectrum treatment option to meet unmet medical need in patients with infections due to carbapenem-resistant pathogens including carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) and carbapenem-resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa (CRPA), suspected polymicrobial infections caused by both gram-negative and gram-positive susceptible pathogens, and engineerable MDR bioterror pathogens such as Burkholderia spp. and Salmonella spp. This project has been funded in whole or in part with federal funds from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, under Contract No. HHSN272201300019C, The Wellcome Trust under Award No. 360G-Wellcome-101999/Z/13/Z, and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, Department of Health and Human Services under Contract No. HHSO100201900007C.
VenatoRx’s second development-stage product in clinical development is VNRX-7145, an orally bioavailable BLI that in a fixed combination with the third generation orally bioavailable cephalosporin, ceftibuten, has the potential to rescue activity of the partner antibiotic against ESBLs and key carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae, including those expressing KPC and OXA carbapenemases. This project has been funded in part with Federal funds from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, under Contract No. HHSN272201600029C.
Additionally, VenatoRx has a broad pipeline of preclinical programs including a novel class of Penicillin-Binding Protein (PBP) inhibitors that are impervious to beta-lactamase-driven resistance, and novel antiviral agents targeting Hepatitis B Virus. For more information, please visit www.venatorx.com.