CODA Biotherapeutics Deepens Gene Therapy Expertise with Industry Veteran, Annahita Keravala, Ph.D., and Key Promotions

Expansion and development of leadership team drives the company's chemogenetic gene therapy platform toward the clinic in initial core therapeutic areas of chronic neuropathic pain and focal epilepsy

SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, Calif., Nov. 21, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- CODA Biotherapeutics, Inc., a preclinical-stage biopharmaceutical company developing a chemogenetic gene therapy platform to treat neurological diseases, today announced the appointment of Annahita Keravala, Ph.D., as Senior Vice President, Gene Therapy. In this role, Annahita will lead the gene therapy aspects of CODA's chemogenetic platform. The company also announced the promotions of Orion Keifer, M.D., Ph.D., to Vice President, Discovery and Translational Research, and Steve Dodson, Ph.D., to Vice President, Pharmacology and Early Development, respectively.

CODA Biotherapeutics, Inc.

Michael Narachi, President and Chief Executive Officer, said, "We are excited to have Annahita, Orion, and Steve in these vital roles as we advance our lead candidates toward the clinic, as well as build our pipeline based on CODA's chemogenetic gene therapy platform. Their combined gene therapy, neuroscience and small molecule expertise, and experience in early stage research and development, will prove invaluable. With this leadership team, we will fulfill our mission of discovering and developing transformative therapies for patients with intractable neurological diseases for whom limited or no treatment options exist."

Annahita brings more than two decades of experience in gene therapy using viral and non-viral vectors. In particular, she has extensive expertise in discovering novel vector technologies and gene therapy drug development for ophthalmic, systemic and inflammatory diseases. Annahita joins CODA from Rocket Pharmaceuticals, where she was Associate Vice President, AAV Platform. At Rocket, she provided strategic, scientific and operational leadership, oversaw all aspects of discovery research, preclinical and assay development, and provided technical insight to the Chemistry, Manufacturing and Controls (CMC) team. This culminated in a successful Investigational New Drug (IND) application filing.

"I am thrilled to be joining CODA at such an exciting time in the Company's development and growth. What attracted me was the opportunity to partner with Mike, Orion, Steve and our talented team to help bring cutting-edge therapeutic options to patients living with some of the most challenging and debilitating neurological conditions and disorders like chronic neuropathic pain and focal epilepsy for which there remains great unmet medical need," said Dr. Keravala.

Prior to her tenure at Rocket Pharma, Annahita held several positions of increasing responsibility at Adverum Biotechnologies (formerly Avalanche Biotechnologies). As Director of Adverum's Novel Vector Technology group, she designed the overall research strategy, led her team to discover and optimize next-generation adeno-associated virus (AAV) vectors, and oversaw process development and preclinical testing to support the company's pipeline. Earlier, Annahita was a Research Scientist at Stanford University School of Medicine. An author of multiple patents, she is also widely published in prestigious scientific journals. Annahita earned a Ph.D. in molecular genetics and biochemistry from the University of Pittsburgh, a M.Sc. in life sciences and biotechnology from the University of Bombay, Bombay, India, and a B.Sc., with Honors in life sciences and biochemistry from St. Xavier's College, Bombay, India. She completed a post-doctoral fellowship in the Department of Genetics at Stanford University School of Medicine.

CODA's Vice President, Discovery and Translational Research, Orion Keifer, M.D., Ph.D., is a neuroscientist with neurosurgical training and hands-on expertise in small and large animal models, focused small molecule, and cell and gene therapies for neurological diseases. Before joining CODA, he worked as consultant translational scientist and surgeon for Above and Beyond focusing on precision medicines for neurodegenerative disorders. Orion earned an M.D. and a Ph.D. in neuroscience from Emory University, and a M.S. in brain and cognitive neurosciences and B.S. degrees in biomedical engineering, applied psychology and applied biology with Highest Honors from Georgia Tech. He completed his post-doctoral training in the Department of Neurosurgery at Emory University.

Steve Dodson, Ph.D., is CODA's Vice President, Pharmacology and Early Development. Prior to joining CODA, Steve served as Senior Director, Drug Discovery and Development at Second Genome, Inc. Previously he held positions of increasing responsibility at NeuroTherapeutics Pharma, Inc., and Renovis, Inc., where his work focused on the discovery and development of small molecule therapeutics to treat pain, central nervous system disorders and inflammation. Steve received his Ph.D. in biological sciences from Stanford University and a B.S. in genetics from University of California, Berkeley.

About CODA Biotherapeutics
CODA Biotherapeutics, Inc., is a preclinical-stage biopharmaceutical company developing an innovative gene therapy platform to treat neurological disorders and diseases. The company is creating the ability to control neurons with its revolutionary chemogenetics-based technology. CODA is located in South San Francisco, CA. For more information, please visit

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