CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – February 4, 2021 – Catamaran Bio, Inc., a biotechnology company developing allogeneic CAR-NK cell therapies to treat diseases with significant unmet medical need, today announced the appointment of Alvin Shih, MD, MBA, as President and Chief Executive Officer. He has concurrently been appointed to the Board of Directors for Catamaran. Dr. Shih is an experienced biopharma executive with a track record of success in building companies across a broad spectrum of disease areas and therapeutic modalities, including cell and tissue therapies.
“We are delighted to welcome Alvin to Catamaran, as his exceptional leadership skills for high-growth biotech companies are an ideal fit to lead the next phase of growth and CAR-NK cell therapy product development at Catamaran,” said Kevin Pojasek, PhD, founder, initial Executive Chairman and current Board member of Catamaran. “Alvin will join the outstanding team at Catamaran that is rapidly advancing programs based on a cutting-edge and differentiated platform for developing allogeneic CAR-NK cell therapies capable of reaching solid tumors.”
Dr. Shih was most recently CEO of Disarm Therapeutics, a private biotechnology company developing therapeutics forneurodegenerative diseases, until its acquisition by Eli Lilly in October 2020. Prior to Disarm, he was CEO of Enzyvant Therapeutics, where he led the company’s development of a cell/tissue-based therapy for a rare immunologic disease. Previously, he was Executive Vice President and Head of R&D at Retrophin, Inc. (now Travere Therapeutics) where he led the development of a diverse pipeline encompassing multiple disease areas. Alvin was previously the Chief Operating Officer and a founding member of Pfizer’s rare disease research unit, and he began his career as a management consultant at L.E.K. Consulting and McKinsey & Company. Dr. Shih holds an MD from the University of Alabama and an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. He completed residency training in internal medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital.
“Catamaran has a unique set of capabilities for developing highly-potent CAR-NK cell therapies with the potential to dramatically expand the reach of cell therapies to solid tumors and bring transformative benefit to patients in need,” said Dr. Shih. “I am thrilled to have the opportunity to lead the very talented team at Catamaran as we advance our leading-edge TAILWIND™ Platform for engineering and manufacturing off-the-shelf CAR-NK cell therapies.”
About the TAILWIND™ Platform
Catamaran’s TAILWIND™ Platform integrates proprietary capabilities to create novel, allogeneic CAR‑NK cell therapies by harnessing the natural cancer-fighting properties of natural killer (NK) cells and enhancing them with the power of synthetic biology and innovative NK cell engineering and manufacturing. With the TAILWIND Platform, CAR-NK cells are programmed with NK cell-specific CAR architectures and potency-boosting switches to neutralize the hostile tumor microenvironment and enable efficacy against diverse cancer types, especially solid tumors. Additionally, the TAILWIND Platform includes proprietary, non-viral NK cell engineering technology for efficient modification of NK cells with customized genetic programs enabled by synthetic biology. Catamaran’s CAR-NK cell therapies use healthy donor cells that are engineered and manufactured for off‑the‑shelf use, unlike current CAR-T cell therapies that use a patient’s own genetically modified T cells and require a customized, multi-week manufacturing process.
About Catamaran Bio
Catamaran Bio is developing novel, off-the-shelf CAR-NK cell therapies designed to treat a broad range of cancers, including solid tumors. Our proprietary capabilities enable us to harness the natural cancer-fighting properties of NK cells and enhance and tailor their effectiveness with the power of synthetic biology and innovative non-viral cell engineering. We are using our TAILWINDTM Platform, an integrated suite of technologies, to specifically address the end-to-end methods of engineering, processing and manufacturing NK cells and rapidly advance our pipeline of CAR-NK cell therapy programs. Our team combines experienced biopharmaceutical leadership with founding scientists who are pioneers in NK cell biology, engineering, manufacturing and clinical application. Catamaran is backed by leading financial and corporate investors, including SV Health Investors, Sofinnova Partners, Lightstone Ventures, Takeda Ventures and Astellas Venture Management. For more information, please visit www.catamaranbio.com and follow us on LinkedIn and @CatamaranBio on Twitter.
Kathryn Morris, The Yates Network