IRVINE, Calif., Jan. 6 /PRNewswire/ -- Jeffrey McKelvy Ph.D. M.D. is President and CEO of Avera Pharmaceuticals in San Diego, California. Prior to joining the founding team of Avera, Dr. McKelvy was Vice President of Merck Research Laboratories and Site Head for their San Diego facility in 1999 following Merck's acquisition of SIBIA Neurosciences, Inc. In that capacity, he has overseen the integration of SIBIA into Merck Research Laboratories. Dr. McKelvy joined SIBIA Neurosciences, Inc., a publicly traded biotechnology company as Executive Vice President, Chief Scientific Officer and Director in 1998. In this capacity, he was responsible for drug discovery and preclinical and clinical development activities, and was a major contributor to the formulation of corporate strategy and liaison with the investment banking community.
Prior to SIBIA, Dr. McKelvy became founding CEO of Trophix Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a private biotechnology company in 1997. Trophix pioneered the identification of new molecular targets for pain, spasticity, schizophrenia and dementia in collaboration with major pharmaceutical partners. He then led the acquisition of Trophix by Allelix Biopharmaceuticals, Inc. of Ontario, Canada, and played a transitional role for the integration of the new company as Senior Vice President for Neuroscience, Allelix Biopharmaceuticals, and President, Allelix Neurosciences, Inc., U.S. Allelix was subsequently acquired by NPS Pharma, Inc.
Prior to Trophix, Dr. McKelvy served as Vice President of the Central Nervous System Strategic Business Unit for CIBA, where he managed a large portfolio of clinical development candidates for depression, anxiety disorders, epilepsy, stroke and Alzheimer's disease, supervising clinical, regulatory, product development and portfolio management functions for neurotherapeutic agents. In 1987, he left his position as Professor of Neurobiology, Molecular Biology and Psychiatry at SUNY Stony Brook and Chairman of the Neuroscience Research Review Committee of the National Institutes of Mental Health, to join Abbott Laboratories, first as Area Head for Neuroscience Drug Discovery and then as founding Venture Head for the Neuroscience Venture. While at Abbott, Dr. McKelvy established joint ventures with NOVO/NORDISK, resulting in the registration and marketing of the novel antiepileptic drug GABITRIL(R), and with H. Lundbeck A.S., which resulted in the registration and marketing of SERLECT(R), a novel antipsychotic drug.
Dr. McKelvy received his medical and scientific training at Case Western Reserve School of Medicine and Johns Hopkins University. He is currently Adjunct Professor of Psychiatry at University of California San Diego School of Medicine.
Keith B. Hoffman, Ph.D., Chief Operating Officer of Thuris, said, "We are thrilled to have Jeff on the team. His strong background in therapeutic development and proven track record will bring important insights as we expand into our next phase. This is a very exciting time at Thuris and having Dr. McKelvy on board makes our future even brighter. We are looking forward to getting his guidance across drug development, clinical, and strategic areas."
McKelvy said, "I look forward to contributing to the growth of Thuris whose technology can provide the basis for novel therapeutic agents, especially in the area of disorders of cognition."
Thuris is focused on pharmaceuticals to treat select Orphan and niche indications in-house, ranging from ischemia-related conditions, brain inflammation, and Huntington's disease. The future pursuit of Alzheimer's disease and Mild Cognitive Impairment will be in alliance with pharmaceutical partners.
Thuris is also the majority shareholder of Izalex, Inc. (R. Scott Greer, CEO), a company based upon the Thuris-invented NeuroGraph, a 510k-cleared, non-invasive medical device that will deliver much-needed objective patient data to the fields of psychiatry and neurology. http://www.izalex.com/
Thuris' drug development efforts originated from the Company's in vitro and in vivo animal models that recreate the hallmarks (including brain inflammation, neuronal inclusions, neurofibrillary tangles, amyloid toxicity, etc.) of major neurodegenerative diseases in just days -- a significant leap forward for neuroprotective drug development. Such advances have enabled Thuris to focus on developing mechanism-based compounds to treat select disorders.
Thuris intends, through its co-development partnerships, as well as with its own in-house drug leads, to forward multiple anti-neurodegenerative therapeutics to the clinic. To this end, Thuris has partnered with Cephalon (USA; http://www.cephalon.com/), PRAECIS Pharmaceuticals (USA; http://www.praecis.com/), D-Pharm (Israel; http://www.dpharm.com/), Sigma-Tau Pharmaceuticals (Italy; http://www.sigma-tau.it/); the Chinese National Center for Drug Screening, SiniWest China, and Degussa BioActives (Germany; http://www.degussa.com/).