Forma Expands Drug Discovery Team with Three Executive Appointments

WATERTOWN, Mass.--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- FORMA Therapeutics today announced three new additions to its R&D team, greatly expanding its oncology drug discovery capabilities. Jaime Escobedo, Ph.D., has been named Vice President, Biology; Mark J. Tebbe, Ph.D., has been named Vice President, Medicinal and Computational Chemistry; and Dennis France has been named Executive Director and Head, Biomolecular Screening. Each has significant experience in oncology drug discovery and development.

“Joining our science leadership team, these experienced drug hunters will drive FORMA’s astounding drug discovery engine,” said Kenneth Bair, Ph.D., Senior Vice President and Head of Research and Development of FORMA. “More importantly, each will foster the growth of FORMA’s scientists as we pursue our discovery programs focused on important cancer targets, including those involving cancer metabolism, protein-protein interactions and epigenetics.”

“Ken has created an incredible science management team at FORMA,” said Steven Tregay, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer. “This team will play a central role in our expanding number of collaborations as we take on innovative targets that will lead to novel drugs useful in the treatment of cancer.”

Prior to joining FORMA, Dr. Escobedo was Head of Translational Biology and Pharmacology at Novartis Oncology (Emeryville, CA) and a member of the Oncology Decision Board that oversaw all oncology drug development programs. Prior to joining Novartis, Dr. Escobedo held the position of Vice President of Biological Discovery Research and Director of Molecular Technologies at Chiron Biopharmaceuticals and was a member of the Research Management Team, which supervised all drug discovery activities in Chiron Biopharma Research. Before joining Chiron, Dr. Escobedo was an Assistant Professor in the Department of Medicine at UCSF. Dr. Escobedo also served as an Associate Staff member for the Cardiovascular Research Institute and as the Principal Investigator at the Daiichi Research Center at UCSF. Throughout his career, Dr. Escobedo has authored over 70 publications in the field of cell growth regulation, tyrosine kinase receptors and cell signaling, and has been instrumental in filing numerous patent applications. Dr. Escobedo received his undergraduate degree from the Catholic University of Chile and received his Ph.D. in Genetics from Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Yeshiva University in New York.

Dr. Tebbe has held multiple leadership positions during his career prior to joining FORMA, including Head of Discovery Chemistry at Eli Lilly (Hamburg, Germany), Head of Chemistry at Eli Lilly (Research Triangle Park, North Carolina), and Manager of Global Operations for discovery chemistry at Eli Lilly. Dr. Tebbe is a demonstrated “drug hunter” with over 17 years of experience in drug discovery and development, including structure-guided drug design. He has expertise in the areas of infectious diseases, endocrine, and metabolism targets and has delivered clinical candidates in all of these areas. Dr. Tebbe is a co-inventor of Incivek™ (telaprevir), an HCV protease inhibitor discovered and developed during a collaboration between Vertex and Eli Lilly. He has platform-based experience with cell surface receptors/GPCRs (including ion channels), proteases and other enzyme targets, and has extensive experience in lead generation and target validation. Dr. Tebbe obtained his undergraduate degree from the University of Notre Dame and his Ph.D. in organic chemistry from Stanford University.

Mr. France previously served as Vice President of Oncology Lead Discovery at ArQule, Inc., where he focused on molecular targeted approaches to cancer from target selection through lead optimization, and substantially contributed to INDs filed for tivantinib (ARQ 197), a novel c-Met kinase inhibitor; ARQ 171, a novel checkpoint activating agent (9/06); ARQ 621, an Eg5 (KSP) inhibitor; and ARQ 092, a highly potent and selective inhibitor of Akt kinases. Dennis held roles of increasing responsibility at Novartis, his last position as an Executive Director in the oncology disease area where he was responsible for early target-based oncology lead discovery. While at Novartis, he also served as a key liaison for the collaboration between Novartis and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (DFCI). Prior to joining the pharmaceutical industry in 1987, Mr. France trained at leading medical research labs, including DFCI, the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine and the NYU Medical School. He previously served for nearly a decade as Chairman of both the MipTec Conference and the Laboratory Robotics Interest Group (LRIG) on enabling technologies for drug discovery. Mr. France has received a number of awards, including the ISLAR Pioneer Award in Laboratory Robotics, The Association for Laboratory Automation Achievement Award, the Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation Pioneer Award, and the Sino-American Pharmaceutical Association of New England Contribution Award. Dennis received a B.A. in Biology and Psychology from Vassar College.

About FORMA Therapeutics

FORMA Therapeutics targets essential cancer pathways to create transformative small molecule cancer therapies. FORMA’s novel approach to accessing high value drug targets, many of which pose significant challenges to conventional discovery approaches, leverages the integration of its innovative drug discovery technologies and oncology expertise, enabling efficient screening, discovery and rational development of small molecule drug candidates with qualified cellular mechanisms of action. FORMA is building a robust pipeline of cancer therapies in areas such as tumor metabolism, protein-protein interactions and epigenetics. FORMA is headquartered in Watertown, MA.


FORMA Therapeutics
Steven Tregay, 617-679-1970
Media Inquiries
MacDougall Biomedical Communications
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