SEATTLE, May 28, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Juno Therapeutics (Nasdaq:JUNO), a biopharmaceutical company focused on re-engaging the body's immune system to revolutionize the treatment of cancer, announced today the appointment of Hyam I. Levitsky, M.D., as executive vice president, research and chief scientific officer, effective immediately. Prior to joining Juno, Dr. Levitsky was at Roche, where he was head of cancer immunology experimental medicine.
"Hy is a terrific addition to the world-class scientific team we are building, one with the knowledge and experience to deepen our understanding of the immune system as well as expand and diversify our pipeline," said Hans Bishop, Juno's chief executive officer and president. "By leveraging scientific leaders, both inside and outside the company, we have the capabilities to develop fundamental insights into T cell biology and take compounds from discovery to commercialization."
While at Roche, in the Pharma Research and Early Development organization, Dr. Levitsky was responsible for guiding research and early development programs focused on the immunotherapy of cancer, overseeing experimental medicine studies and projects in collaboration with internal and external partners. He also was involved in the selection and validation of targets, the selection of clinical candidates and the establishment of alliances and partnerships with leading research and academic institutions.
"I look forward to building and expanding upon Juno's foundational work to create one of the most scientifically considered and robust immunotherapy programs focused on advancing chimeric antigen receptor and T-cell receptor technologies towards potentially curative therapies for patients with cancer," said Dr. Levitsky.
During his tenure at Roche, Dr. Levitsky continued to serve as professor of oncology, medicine and urology at The Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at The Johns Hopkins Hospital, while maintaining his ongoing research program. His laboratory research focuses on basic studies of antigen processing and presentation, T cell co-stimulation, T cell priming versus tolerance, and the evolution of tumor-specific immunity during immune reconstitution. He is a co-inventor of genetically modified GM-CSF secreting tumor cell vaccines (GVAX). He has been a pioneer in the integration of therapeutic cancer vaccines during immune reconstitution following high-dose chemotherapy and stem cell transplantation. Dr. Levitsky holds five patents.
Dr. Levitsky will report to Mr. Bishop. Mark Frohlich, M.D. will continue to report to Mr. Bishop in his new position as executive vice president, development and portfolio strategy. Ken Mohler, Ph.D., who was serving as chief scientific officer, will become senior vice president, research, working closely with Dr. Levitsky.
"Hy is one of the most respected experts in the field of cancer immunotherapy. His extensive academic and medical research background and his many contributions to the field will be invaluable to Juno as we continue to advance our immunotherapy pipeline," said Dr. Frohlich.
Dr. Levitsky received his B.S. degree from the University of Pennsylvania School of Engineering and Applied Science and his M.D. from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. He completed his internship and residency in internal medicine at Johns Hopkins Hospital and trained in medical oncology as a senior clinical fellow at Johns Hopkins Oncology Center.
About Juno Therapeutics, Inc.
Juno Therapeutics is building a fully integrated biopharmaceutical company focused on revolutionizing medicine by re-engaging the body's immune system to treat cancer. Founded on the vision that the use of human cells as therapeutic entities will drive one of the next important phases in medicine, Juno is developing cell-based cancer immunotherapies based on chimeric antigen receptor and high-affinity T cell receptor technologies to genetically engineer T cells to recognize and kill cancer. Juno is developing multiple cell-based product candidates to treat a variety of B-cell malignancies as well as solid tumors. Several product candidates have shown compelling evidence of tumor shrinkage in the clinical trials in refractory leukemia and lymphoma conducted to date. Juno's long-term aim is to improve and leverage its cell-based platform to develop new product candidates that address a broader range of cancers and human diseases. Juno brings together innovative technologies from some of the world's leading research institutions, including the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Seattle Children's Research Institute, and The National Cancer Institute.
Juno Forward Looking Statements
This press release contains forward-looking statements, including statements regarding the capabilities of Juno's team and the advancement, including commercialization, of Juno's product candidates, programs, and pipeline. Forward-looking statements are subject to risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from such forward-looking statements, and reported results should not be considered as an indication of future performance. These risks and uncertainties include, but are not limited to, risks associated with: the success, cost, and timing of Juno's product development activities and clinical trials, and Juno's ability to finance these activities and trials; Juno's ability to obtain regulatory approval for and to commercialize its product candidates; Juno's ability to establish a commercially-viable manufacturing process and manufacturing infrastructure; regulatory requirements and regulatory developments; success of Juno's competitors with respect to competing treatments and technologies; Juno's dependence on third-party collaborators and other contractors in Juno's research and development activities, including for the conduct of clinical trials and the manufacture of Juno's product candidates; Juno's ability to effectively integrate the acquired technologies and employees into Juno's operations and strategy and to realize the intended benefits of the transaction; Juno's ability to obtain, maintain, or protect intellectual property rights related to its product candidates; amongst others. For a further description of the risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ from those expressed in these forward-looking statements, as well as risks relating to Juno's business in general, see Juno's Annual Report on Form 10-Q filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on May 12, 2015 and Juno's other periodic reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. These forward-looking statements speak only as of the date hereof. Juno disclaims any obligation to update these forward-looking statements.