Editas Medicine CMO Plans to Leave the Company at the End of 2018

Doctor working on computer, with placard reading 'Chief Medical Officer'

Cambridge, Mass.-based Editas Medicine, one of the leading CRISPR gene editing companies, is losing its chief medical officer. Gerald Cox will step down from his role at the end of the year. A search is underway to find a successor, Editas announced late Monday.

Neither Cox nor the company provided a reason for the departure in the brief announcement. Cox has served in the CMO role at Editas since the fall of 2016, according to his LinkedIn profile. Prior to that, he spent 16 years as vice president of clinical development in rare diseases at Sanofi Genzyme. For 29 years he has been a staff physician in genetics at Boston Children’s Hospital.

In a brief statement, Cox said he has “greatly enjoyed the privilege of working alongside a tremendous and talented team” at Editas. He pointed to the efforts to advance the company’s genome editing program aimed at the treatment of LCA10, most common form of Leber Congenital Amaurosis (LCA), an inherited retinal disorder. LCA10 is caused by mutations in the CEP290 gene. That mutation is the cause of LCA in approximately 20 to 30 percent of all patients.

Pointing to the progress the company has made in LCA10, which includes a collaboration with Allergan to develop CRISPR therapies aimed at the disease, Cox said the end of 2018 felt like a “natural transition point” for his departure.

“I look forward to working closely with the team on the submission of our IND for our LCA10 program and to seeing Editas Medicine's continued success long-term,” Cox said in a statement.

Katrine Bosley, president and chief executive officer of Editas Medicine, thanked Cox for his contributions over the past two years.

"Gerry has been instrumental in shaping our clinical strategy, establishing our clinical operations, and advancing our LCA10 program to the cusp of the clinic. We look forward to working with him on a smooth transition through the end of the year and wish him well in his next endeavor,” Bosley said in a statement.

Cox’s departure was announced just a few weeks after Allergan exercised its option to develop and commercialize EDIT-101 globally for the treatment of LCA10. The companies will co-develop and share equally in the profits and losses from EDIT-101 in the United States. Allergan said the agreement with Editas “covers a range of first-in-class ocular programs targeting serious, vision-threatening diseases based on Editas Medicine's unparalleled CRISPR genome editing platform, including CRISPR/Cas9 and CRISPR/Cpf1.”

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