SAN FRANCISCO, April 4, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — Surrozen, a preclinical-stage company advancing drug candidates that promote the repair and regeneration of human tissues, today announced two appointments to expand its leadership team. Craig Parker, a biotech industry veteran recently of Jazz Pharmaceuticals, has been appointed CEO, and Hans Clevers, M.D., Ph.D., professor of molecular genetics at the Hubrecht Institute, has been appointed scientific co-founder of Surrozen.
“The broad therapeutic potential of the Wnt pathway is largely untapped. Surrozen’s technology platforms render this pathway accessible to drug discovery in an unprecedented manner, paving the way for a new class of regenerative medicines,” said Mr. Parker. “I couldn’t be more confident in Surrozen’s first-rate team and science, or more honored to lead the organization at this exciting time.”
Mr. Parker will replace Dr. Tim Kutzkey, a managing partner at The Column Group, who will assume the role of chairman of the board. Dr. Clevers joins Christopher Garcia, Ph.D., Roeland Nusse, Ph.D., Calvin Kuo, M.D., Ph.D., and Claudia Janda, Ph.D., as a company scientific founder, and will remain on Surrozen’s Scientific Advisory Board.
“The challenge of producing Wnt has been a great source of frustration in the field, impeding the advancement of organoid technology and a deeper dissection of Wnt signaling,” said Dr. Clevers. “Surrozen’s ability to generate potent and selective Wnt pathway agonists with drug-like properties is a real breakthrough. I’m thrilled to join an esteemed group of co-founders as Surrozen continues its rapid pace of discovery and further innovates with its technology platforms.”
Surrozen was launched in 2016 with a focus on harnessing the Wnt pathway for applications in regenerative medicine. Founded on breakthrough science from Dr. Garcia’s laboratory at Stanford University and backed by The Column Group, Surrozen has implemented a broad platform of “surrogate” Wnts with the potential to unlock stem cell control in a wide array of human tissues. Under the scientific leadership of Chief Scientific Officer, Wen-Chen Yeh, M.D., Ph.D., and Vice President of Biology, Yang Li, Ph.D., the company is building a broad pipeline of engineered Wnt pathway agonists. These agonists drive tissue regeneration in situ, with the goal of addressing a variety of critical unmet medical needs with first-in class molecules.
Mr. Parker brings more than 25 years of science and business experience across leadership positions in both public and privately-held biopharmaceutical companies, as well as within financial organizations. Most recently, he was Senior Vice President of Corporate Development at Jazz Pharmaceuticals. He previously served as Executive Vice President of Corporate Development and Scientific Affairs at Geron Corporation, as well as Senior Vice President of Strategy and Corporate Development at Human Genome Sciences until the company’s acquisition by GlaxoSmithKline. He began his career in various positions at financial institutions on Wall Street, where he was one of the top-ranked biotechnology research analysts. Mr. Parker serves as a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of Life Sciences Institute, University of Michigan, and chairs the institute’s Leadership Council. He also currently serves on the Board of Directors of vTv Therapeutics Inc. Mr. Parker earned a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences from the University of Chicago, an M.B.A. from the University of Michigan and attended the Georgetown University School of Medicine.
Dr. Clevers is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and has received numerous honors and awards, including the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences and Knighthood in the Order of the Nederlands’ Lion. He was formerly president of the International Society for Stem Cell Research (2017-2018) and president of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Sciences (2012-2015). He serves on multiple Scientific Advisory Boards, and was a founder of several companies, including U-BiSys which later became Crucell. Dr. Clevers’ laboratory first identified the existence of adult stem cells in the gut, which divide to regenerate the intestinal lining. His lab further elucidated the central molecular pathways which govern regeneration in the gut and other adult tissues, identifying key proteins that enact growth signals stimulated by the Wnt proteins. Currently, Dr. Clevers studies the role of Wnt-pathway proteins and organoids in regenerative and personalized medicine. He serves as a Professor in Molecular Genetics at the University Medical Center Utrecht and as the Director of Research of the Princess Maxima Center for Pediatric Oncology. Dr. Clevers earned his master’s of science in biology, M.D., and Ph.D. at the University of Utrecht.