Orange Grove Bio, a preclinical drug investment and development firm, today announced several key leadership appointments highlighted by its naming John C. Byrd, M.D., a renowned cancer clinician and researcher, as chair of the company’s scientific advisory board.
Additionally, the company appointed Rob Scott, M.D., retired chief medical officer and head of development at AbbVie, to its advisory board and named Michael Kalos, Ph.D., as the head of its cellular therapy business unit. These appointments further strengthen Orange Grove’s growing leadership team and support the company’s mission of developing new therapeutics for patients by harnessing the significant research potential found in universities and academic medical centers across the United States.
Dr. Byrd currently serves as the Gordon and Helen Hughes Taylor endowed chair and professor of the department of internal medicine at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. He is also a physician-scientist who has spearheaded a range of translational and clinical drug development efforts that have directly resulted in the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval of four novel cancer therapeutics in the past two decades. A leading expert in the field of hematologic oncology, Dr. Byrd also serves as chief medical officer for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Beat AML Study, highlighting his unique expertise in bringing together academic clinical investigators, pharmaceutical companies, clinical research organizations, and the FDA to efficiently advance novel therapies toward regulatory approval. Prior to joining the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, he served as director of the division of hematology in the department of medicine at the Ohio State University. As a major in the U.S. Army, Dr. Byrd conducted his residency and fellowship at Walter Reed Army Medical Center before transitioning to a staff physician.
“I am excited to join the Orange Grove Bio scientific advisory board as I believe the company’s unique approach to focusing its company creation and therapeutic development efforts outside of the traditional U.S. biotech ecosystems is well positioned to drive innovation across the biopharmaceutical industry. I am particularly pleased that the company has established its headquarters in Cincinnati, a burgeoning biotech market bursting with talented individuals that I eagerly engage with every day,” said Dr. Byrd. “I look forward to contributing my deep expertise in therapeutic development and cancer research to support Orange Grove Bio’s vision of creating biotechnology companies that will develop the transformative medicines of tomorrow. Equally significant to me is the opportunity to work closely with the company to cement Cincinnati’s position as a leading biopharma innovation hub of today.”
Dr. Scott possesses extensive clinical development and regulatory experience having held senior leadership positions in the global biopharmaceutical industry for more thirty years. He most recently served as chief medical officer and head of development for AbbVie, where he was responsible for a team of over 4,000 individuals across 52 countries, a budget of nearly $3 billion and programs involving more than 40 new molecular entities. In this role, he oversaw 14 major regulatory approvals including VENCLEXTA®, ORILISSA®, SKYRIZI®, and RINVOQ®. Prior to joining AbbVie, Dr. Scott was vice president of global development for Amgen, where he conducted the first outcome study for a PCSK9 inhibitor (FOURIER Trial). During his career, he has also held senior leadership positions with Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, and AtheroGenics. A highly regarded medical expert, Dr. Scott has served as an industry representative on the FDA’s Cardiac and Renal Drug Advisory Committee and current sits on the scientific and strategic advisory boards of Variant Bio, Morningside Biopharma, Cytel, Inflexion, and BioEthics International. He also currently sits on the board of directors of ArisGlobal, Confo Therapeutics, Draupnir Bio, Oncospherix, WindTree Therapeutics, and Redx Pharma.
Dr. Kalos, an internationally recognized expert in T cell therapy and immunotherapy, possesses more than 25 years of experience in cell therapy, oncology vaccines, and immuno-oncology. Prior to joining Orange Grove, he held the position of executive vice president and head of R&D at ArsenalBio, a synthetic biology-based cell therapy start-up. He also previously served as vice president of immuno-oncology and oncology cell therapies at Janssen, the pharmaceutical companies of Johnson and Johnson, and chief scientific officer of immuno-oncology at Eli Lilly and Company. Prior to entering the biopharmaceutical sector, Dr. Kalos spent ten years in academia, where he focused on the development of integrated translational biomarker programs to support the development of cell therapy and immunotherapy programs. The laboratory he founded and directed at the University of Pennsylvania played a key role in the success of the university’s cell therapy program, including clinical development of the CTL019 program that was licensed to Novartis and led to the approval of KYMRIAH®. Dr. Kalos earned his Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota and completed post-doctoral training in the laboratory of Phil Greenberg at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.
“Over the past year Orange Grove Bio has dramatically expanded its footprint through the establishment of collaborations with leading academic institutions across the U.S., with several of those within the state of Ohio. Our recent appointments of Drs. Byrd, Scott and Kalos align the expansion of our leadership team with this recent significant uptick in business and partnering activity,” said Marc Appel, Orange Grove Bio’s chief executive officer. “Each of these appointments provide Orange Grove with deep drug discovery, development, and commercialization expertise in high-priority therapeutic areas such as oncology, cellular and gene therapies, and autoimmune and inflammatory diseases, further supplementing our efforts to deliver novel therapeutics to patients in need of new treatment options.”
In additional corporate news, Orange Grove Bio also announced the establishment of a collaboration with Northeast Ohio Medical University (NEOMED) designed to further cultivate the biotechnology industry within the state of Ohio through increased entrepreneurship and education. Under terms of the collaboration, Orange Grove Bio will work with NEOMED to support educational programming and entrepreneurial initiatives for the university’s faculty and students, including the establishment of an internship program.
With its corporate headquarters located in the Cincinnati Innovation District (CID) and partnerships already in place with the University of Cincinnati and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Orange Grove is working aggressively to cultivate the biotechnology landscape within not just the greater Cincinnati area but the entire the state of Ohio. To this end, the company will continue to increase its on-the-ground presence by onboarding new team members within Ohio, who will perform critical scientific and business functions.
Orange Grove Bio’s mission is to develop new therapeutic options for patients by harnessing the significant research potential found in universities and academic medical centers across the United States. Orange Grove Bio fosters strong relationships with technology transfer offices outside of the traditional medical technology hubs of Boston and San Francisco. Collectively, Orange Grove Bio’s team possesses decades of drug development and company creation experience, allowing it to build and finance innovative programs from the research and development stage to clinical trials.