Passage Bio CEO Bruce Goldsmith Abruptly Steps Down
Less than three months after Passage Bio laid off 13% of its staff to preserve its cash runway, it has now lost its chief executive officer. On Wednesday morning, the Philadelphia-based company announced that Bruce Goldsmith, president and CEO, has abruptly stepped down from his duties.
Although Goldsmith will no longer serve on the executive team, as well as one of the company board of directors, he will remain with Passage Bio for a short period as a strategic advisor to the interim CEO and the rest of the leadership team.
In its brief announcement, Passage Bio did not explain Goldsmith's departure, two years after being named CEO. The company only said Goldsmith and the board of directors "mutually agreed" to the decision.
The board has appointed Edgar B. (Chip) Cale, the current general counsel and corporate secretary, as interim CEO. Maxine Gowen, Ph.D., the company's chairwoman, has assumed the role of interim executive chairwoman of the board. A search for a permanent CEO is underway.
Gowen thanked Goldsmith for his service to the company. He noted that Passage Bio completed its initial public offering and transitioned from a preclinical to a clinical-stage company under Goldsmith's leadership with three programs in clinical development for GM1 gangliosidosis, Krabbe disease and frontotemporal dementia.
In addition to those three clinical programs, Passage Bio is also conducting preclinical work in metachromatic leukodystrophy, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and Huntington's disease, as well as exploratory research programs in Alzheimer's disease and temporal lobe epilepsy.
"It has been a privilege to serve as president and CEO over the past two years, working hand in hand with a strong dedicated team and in close partnership with Dr. James Wilson and the renowned Gene Therapy Program at the University of Pennsylvania," Goldsmith said in a statement. "I am excited by the promise the Passage pipeline offers for patients and am encouraged by the clinical data emerging from these programs. I look forward to supporting the board and management through this transition."
Goldsmith joined Passage Bio in 2020, succeeding company co-founder Stephen Squinto as CEO. Goldsmith came to Passage Bio from Deerfield Management, where he was a venture partner responsible for early-stage investments. He served as interim CEO of Civetta Therapeutics and chief operating officer at Lycera, a company developing first-in-class small molecules for immuno-oncology and autoimmune disease.
In May, Passage Bio noted in its recent quarterly financial report that it had $267.1 million in available cash as of Mar. 31, 2022. The available funds were expected to be sufficient to fund operations through the second quarter of 2024. During the first quarter, the company submitted an Investigational New Drug Application to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for its metachromatic leukodystrophy asset. It also returned rights to programs for Canavan disease, Charcot-Marie-Tooth Type 2A and Parkinson's disease to the University of Pennsylvania.
Interim CEO Cale has been with Passage Bio since 2019. Before joining the company, he spent two decades at GlaxoSmithKline. His most recent post with the pharma giant was senior vice president of legal corporate functions, which included legal support for global business development.
"I am honored to serve as interim chief executive officer through this transition period to drive continued execution across our programs and advance our mission of transforming the lives of patients with CNS disorders. With three programs currently in clinical development, we are well-positioned to achieve several important milestones over the coming months, and I look forward to working closely with the talented team at Passage to bring these to fruition," Cale said in a statement.