NEW YORK, May 29, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Synergy Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Nasdaq:SGYP), a developer of new drugs to treat gastrointestinal disorders and diseases, announced today the appointment of Patrick H. Griffin, M. D., FACP as Chief Medical Officer. Dr. Griffin will report directly to President and Chief Executive Officer, Gary S. Jacob, Ph.D., and will be responsible for guiding Synergy's clinical programs, particularly the plecanatide Phase III program on chronic idiopathic constipation (CIC), and the ongoing Phase IIb trial of plecanatide in irritable bowel syndrome with constipation (IBS-C). "Patrick is a tremendous addition to our management team, and I'm very pleased to welcome him to Synergy," said Dr. Jacob. "Patrick has an impressive medical and academic background, along with extensive industry experience in clinical research, and is going to have a vital role in moving our clinical programs forward which covers our lead GC-C agonist drug candidate, plecanatide, in late-stage development, and our next-generation agonist, SP-333." Dr. Griffin is a board-certified physician in both internal medicine and gastroenterology, and is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians. He received his medical degree from Columbia University, completing a residency in internal medicine at Presbyterian Hospital in New York, and a fellowship in gastroenterology at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. Following his residency and fellowship, Dr. Griffin joined the medical faculty of Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons, where he held a number of academic, clinical research, teaching and management positions, as well as a solo private practice in New York. He subsequently moved to the biopharmaceutical industry, where he held positions of increasing responsibility, first at Forest Laboratories, and subsequently at Sanofi-Aventis, culminating with his appointment as Associate Vice-President, Clinical Development. About Plecanatide Plecanatide is a member of a new class of essentially non-systemic drugs, referred to as guanylate cyclase-C (GC-C) agonists, which are currently in development to treat CIC and IBS-C. Plecanatide is a synthetic analog of uroguanylin, a natriuretic hormone that regulates ion and fluid transport in the GI tract. Orally-administered plecanatide binds to and activates GC-C receptors expressed on epithelial cells lining the GI mucosa, resulting in activation of the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR), and leading to augmented flow of chloride and water into the lumen of the gut. Activation of the GC-C receptor pathway is believed to facilitate bowel movement as well as producing other beneficial physiological responses including improvement in abdominal pain and inflammation. In animal models, oral administration of plecanatide promotes intestinal secretion and also ameliorates GI inflammation.