Jounce's Number One Employee Rejoins Constellation Pharma as New CEO

Aerie Rockets as Eye Drug Wows in Key Phase III Study May 25, 2017
By Mark Terry, Breaking News Staff

Cambridge, Mass.-based Constellation Pharmaceuticals announced it has appointed Jigar Raythatha as president and chief executive officer.

Prior to this position, Raythatha was chief business officer at Jounce Therapeutics . Before that, he worked at Constellation as head of corporate development. During his tenure at Jounce, he helped grow the company from its inception—he was its first employee—to a publicly-traded 100-staffer research and development company. His career has also involved roles with Biogen , Red Abbey Venture Partners, and AT Kearney.

In his new role as president and CEO, Raythatha will work to advance the company’s two ongoing clinical programs, CPI-1205 and CPI-0610, which target EZH2 and BET, respectively. The company’s overall focus is on epigenetics, which is how organisms modify gene expression in other ways than changing the genetic code.

EZH2, which stands for Enhancer of Zeste Homolog 2, methylates a single lysine residue (I27) on the histone H3 N-terminal region, which has implications in tumor initiation and progression, stem cell self-renewal, migration, angiogenesis and proper function of activated Tregs.

BET stands for bromodomain and extra-terminal proteins that make up a subset of a larger family of 47 bromodomain-containing proteins. They affect chromatin structure and function, which affects gene expression. Constellation researchers have found that MYC transcription can be suppressed by inhibitors of BET protein bromodomains, which has significant implications in cancer research.

“I am pleased to return to Constellation at a time when the company is poised for breakout success,” said Raythatha in a statement. “The team has done a fantastic job driving multiple clinical programs through Phase I, and I look forward to working with everyone here to build on this progress and translate the company’s stellar science into meaningful outcomes for cancer patients.”

In addition, the company is adding Padmanee Sharma and Robert Schreiber to its Scientific Advisory Board (SAB). Sharma is currently a scientific director and professor in the departments of genitourinary medical oncology and immunology at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. Schreiber is the alumni-endowed professor of pathology and immunology, professor of molecular biology, and co-leader of the Tumor Immunology Program (TIP) of the Siteman Cancer Center (SCC) at Washington University, in addition to founding director of the Washington University Center for Human Immunology and Immunotherapy Programs.

Also, James Audia, who was the company’s chief scientific officer since 2011, has been appointed as an independent member of the company’s board of directors and a special scientific advisor. This transition will occur in mid-July.

“We are very happy to welcome Jigar back as the CEO of Constellation Pharmaceutical, a company with which he has a very positive history,” said Mark Goldsmith, executive chairman of Constellation’s board of directors, in a statement. “Jigar has a proven track record in biotech deal-making and oncology drug development, and he is a compelling choice to lead its next phase of growth and assure that Constellation realizes its full potential. I also want to thank Jim Audia for his deep commitment to the company over many years and to acknowledge the tremendous impact he has had on its R&D endeavors. We look forward to continue working closely with Jim through his new role on the Board and as a special scientific advisor.”

Back to news