Another High-Profile Spark Therapeutics Executive Departs As Merger with Roche Continues

Female Leaving Job

Another high-profile member of the Spark Therapeutics leadership team is departing the company ahead of its merger with Swiss pharma giant Roche. After four years with the gene therapy company, Chief Medical Officer Kathleen Reape will resign her position.

Reape has been with Spark since 2016. She first joined as head of clinical research and development in 2016 and then became CMO in 2018. Her departure was first reported by Fierce Biotech. A spokesperson for Roche confirmed the departure with the outlet and called her a “valuable member” of the company. The Roche spokesperson added that Reape “leaves behind a skilled team of professionals who will continue advancing our important work for patients and families.”

Prior to her time with Spark, Reape served as president of Ark Medical Consulting, Inc., where they focused on clinical research and development, medical affairs, pharmacovigilance, publications and medical writing. Before that, she spent a brief time with Allergan as head of clinical development for global brands research and development, and before that, she spent several years with Actavis in various roles.

Reape’s departure comes less than six days after Katherine High, a co-founder of the company and its longtime head of research and development, announced she was exiting the company. High co-founded the Philadelphia-based gene therapy company in September 2014 after spending 12 years as the director of the Center for Cellular & Molecular Therapeutics at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.

In February 2019 Roche announced it was acquiring the gene therapy company for a total of about $4.8 billion. After multiple delays from regulatory agencies examining whether or not the combination of the two companies would lead to a monopoly in the market, the merger was finally approved in December. The merger brings the gene therapy treatment Luxturna, approved as a treatment for a rare, genetic form of blindness, under the Roche umbrella, as well as a potential gene therapy treatment for hemophilia. Data from Spark’s hemophilia gene therapy, SPK-8011, showed a one-time treatment yielded a 97% response rate in reduced bleeding events in patients.

When the merger was finalized, Jeffrey D. Marrazzo, co-founder and chief executive officer of Spark Therapeutics, said the joining of the two companies “ushers in a new and promising era in the development of genetic medicines for patients and families living with inherited diseases and beyond.”

As Spark continues to be folded into Roche, it is possible that there could be more departures of senior leadership members. However, the company is hiring for a number of positions, according to its online jobs portal.

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