ANNAPOLIS, Md., Jan. 10, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- PharmAthene, Inc. (NYSE Amex: PIP) announced today that it has strengthened its research and development and program management functions with the addition of several new leadership appointments. Namely, Ms. Susan Linna has been appointed Vice President of Program Management; Dr. Kevin Connolly has joined the organization as Senior Program Director for rPA-based anthrax vaccines; and Dr. Kimberly Taylor has joined the organization as Senior Program Director for Valortim ®. In addition, Dr. Thomas Fuerst, who joined the Company in April 2010, has been appointed Executive Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer.
"We are delighted to welcome these experienced and accomplished individuals to the PharmAthene leadership team," remarked Eric I. Richman, President and Chief Executive Officer. "Collectively, Drs. Fuerst, Connolly and Taylor and Ms. Linna bring a wealth of experience in biopharmaceutical and vaccine development, which will optimally position us to expand our capabilities in biodefense and infectious diseases and drive the future growth of the organization."
Mr. Richman continued, "In addition, Dr. Fuerst's leadership and expertise in biodefense and Ms. Linna's extensive program management experience have enabled us to strengthen the scientific leadership of our biodefense programs and streamline our organizational structure to work more effectively with our government partners. PharmAthene remains committed to improving our national security by developing 21 st century medical countermeasures for anthrax and other biochemical threats, and we're very pleased to welcome these exceptional individuals to our team."
Prior to joining PharmAthene in April 2010, Dr. Fuerst served as Director, Vaccines and Biologics (2004-2007), and Senior Science and Technology Advisor (2007-2010) for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). In these positions, Dr. Fuerst led the development and acquisition of vaccines and biotherapeutic products for biodefense and other emerging public health threats, including anthrax, smallpox, botulism, and pandemic flu. During his tenure at HHS, he helped establish the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) and oversaw the planning, implementation, and monitoring of medical countermeasure development and acquisition, while managing a budget of approximately $3.0 billion.Previously, Dr. Fuerst served as Executive Director of Corporate Development at Sanofi Pasteur, Inc., where he oversaw the scientific and business transactions for vaccines and immunotherapeutic products for infectious diseases and cancer, and played a key role in establishing the company's biodefense initiative post 9/11. He also led a collaborative R&D group to develop a next generation anthrax vaccine in response to the National Institute of Health's Request for Proposal. Prior thereto, he was Vice President, Research and Development, at Genelabs Technologies, and a scientific founder and Director of Molecular Genetics, at MedImmune. He also served as a senior fellow at the National Institutes of Health, NIAID, in Bethesda, MD. Dr. Fuerst holds a B.A. in Biochemistry from the University of California at Berkeley, a Ph.D. in Molecular Genetics from Cornell University, and a MBA in Science, Technology, and Innovation from the George Washington University. Ms. Linna, who was recently appointed to the position of Vice President of Program Management, brings more than 23 years of experience in drug development, with extensive experience building global project management offices in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries. Most recently, she served as the Executive Director of Project Management at Novavax Inc., with global project management responsibilities for developing vaccines from late discovery through licensure. Previously, Ms. Linna was the Vice President of Project Management at Emergent Biosolutions, where she was responsible for unifying multiple, local project management functions under one project management office, and standardizing the practices, processes, roles and responsibilities of project managers and project leaders. Previously, she served as Director of Project Management at Human Genome Sciences and prior thereto was employed at Merck, most recently as Associate Director of Project Planning and Management with experience taking product candidates from early development to licensure. Ms. Linna holds a B.S. in Biology/Chemistry; a M.A. in Biology, and a M.S. in biostatistics from Western Michigan University. Dr. Kevin Connolly, who was recently appointed to the position of Senior Program Director for rPA-based anthrax vaccines, began his career in the biopharmaceutical industry in 1982, and brings vast experience in the development of both small molecule and genomics-based drugs, as well as vaccine development with a focus in anthrax, influenza, RSV and VZV. Dr. Connolly joined PharmAthene from Novavax Inc, where he was the Director of Product Development and Preclinical Project Leader for RSV and VZV vaccine development, as well as seasonal and pandemic influenza vaccine. Prior to this, Dr. Connolly worked for Emergent Biosolutions as Director of Product Development, where he served as a Project Leader for the next generation anthrax vaccine (rPA) and adjuvanted AVA (Anthrax Vaccine Absorbed) programs. Previously, he was Senior Scientist in the Department of Pharmacology and a Project Manager at Human Genome Sciences. In addition, he spent eight years with Glaxo Inc., as a Research Investigator. Dr. Connolly holds a B.A. in Natural Science from Johns Hopkins University and a M.S. in Biology from Virginia Tech. He also holds a Ph.D. in Microbiology from Virginia Tech, and was a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Surgery for the Medical College of Virginia. Dr. Kimberly Taylor, who was recently appointed to the position of Senior Program Director for Valortim ®, brings more than a decade of experience managing scientific R&D projects in the biotechnology industry, including initiation and management of external collaborations with academic, government, and corporate entities. Prior to joining PharmAthene, Dr. Taylor was employed with Nabi Biopharmaceuticals where she oversaw the development of two new toxoid compounds for a multi-component Staphylococcus aureus vaccine from discovery through preparation for the IND submission to the FDA. She began with Nabi as a Scientist in the research group and assumed positions of increasing responsibility, ultimately serving as Executive Director of Research, where she was responsible for managing multiple projects with a main focus on developing Gram Positive vaccines against S. aureus. Prior thereto, Dr. Taylor served as a post-doctoral fellow at the National Institutes of Health, NIDDK, in Bethesda, MD, where she studied the propagation of S. cerevisiae yeast prions using molecular biology, biochemistry and genetics. She holds a B.S. in Biochemistry from Penn State University and a Ph.D. in Chemistry (Bio-organic) from the University of Maryland. About PharmAthene, Inc. PharmAthene was formed to meet the critical needs of the United States and its allies by developing and commercializing medical countermeasures against biological and chemical weapons. PharmAthene's lead product development programs include:
- SparVax™ – a second generation recombinant protective antigen (rPA) anthrax vaccine
- Valortim ® – a fully human monoclonal antibody for the prevention and treatment of anthrax infection
- rBChE (recombinant butyrylcholinesterase) – a medical countermeasure for nerve agent poisoning by organophosphate compounds, including nerve gases and pesticides