Drug discovery company Compugen Ltd. announced the appointment of two immuno-oncology experts: former Bristol-Myers Squibb Executive Vice President and Director Elliott Sigal, M.D., Ph.D., has joined the company as a new strategic advisor, and the Compugen USA subsidiary welcomes a new member to its board of directors, Drew Pardoll, M.D., Ph.D., the Abeloff Professor of Oncology, Medicine, Pathology and Molecular Biology and Genetics at the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore.
“I am deeply honored to announce the addition of Dr. Sigal as a strategic advisor, and the enhanced involvement of Prof. Pardoll with Compugen. Dr. Sigal and Prof. Pardoll are well-recognized and highly distinguished leaders in the field of immuno-oncology, who have accomplished multiple key scientific, translational and commercial achievements in the field,” Compugen President and CEO Anat Cohen-Dayag, Ph.D., said in a press release.
The dual appointment at Compugen reunites two of the most influential leaders in immuno-oncology. Sigal and Pardoll worked together at Johns Hopkins to develop Opdivo (nivolumab) from the first trials into one of the most significant cancer treatments today.
Sigal earned his M.D. from the University of Chicago and interned in internal medicine and pulmonary medicine at the University of California in San Francisco. Before he decided to change careers and go to medical school, Sigal earned a B.S. and M.S., and a Ph.D. in engineering, at Purdue University.
Sigal was behind the success of Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Biopharma Transformation Strategy and was pivotal in increasing productivity in R&D.
Sigal accomplished success in several therapeutic areas, such as building Bristol-Myers Squibb’s research into a lead position in immuno-oncology. While under his leadership, BMS marketed 14 new medicines for a wide range of indications, including:
- Sprycel (indicated for leukemia);
- Eliquis (an anticoagulant);
- Orencia (indicated for rheumatoid arthritis, or RA);
- Yervoy (the first approved immune checkpoint inhibitor for immuno-oncology).
Sigal is currently serving as a venture partner and senior advisor to the New Enterprise Associates healthcare team, and is also a member of several boards of directors for major stakeholders in the industry.
Pardoll earmed his M.D. and Ph.D. at Johns Hopkins University, the same institution where he completed his medical residency and oncology fellowship.
He is chairman of Compugen’s Scientific Advisory Board and director of the Bloomberg/Kimmel Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy at Johns Hopkins’ Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center. For the past 20 years, Pardoll has dedicated his studies to molecular aspects of immune regulation – specifically, the mechanisms by which cancer cells escape immune elimination – and has greatly influenced current advances in the field of immunology, including the discovery of new types of immune cells and immune regulatory mechanisms.
Pardoll was the first person to suggest PD-1 blockade for cancer therapy, and his research is responsible for the development of the first anti-PD-1 antibody. He invented a series of immunotherapies, such as cancer vaccines, and has served on editorial boards for publications such as the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. He is also the scientific founder of Amplimmune Inc.
“Compugen is a predictive discovery company, with a primary focus on identifying novel immune checkpoint target candidates and developing first-in-class therapeutics against them, thus potentially creating the next wave of cancer immunotherapies,” Cohen-Dayag said. “As we continue to transform our novel immuno-oncology targets to therapeutic antibody programs and advance them toward clinical evaluation, we enthusiastically look forward to benefiting from the guidance and invaluable experience of Dr. Sigal and Prof. Pardoll.”