BrainCells, Inc. Names James Schoeneck Chief Executive

By VentureWire Staff Reporters 10/20/2005

San Diego-based BrainCells Inc., a drug discovery and development company focused on neurogenesis and the treatment of depression, said it has appointed James Schoeneck as chief executive.

Hired in September, he replaces former chief executive and co-founder Harry Hixson, who remains the company's chairman. The new CEO has assumed a newly created slot on the BrainCells board.

Most recently, Schoeneck was the chief executive of ActivX BioSciences Inc., a proteonics-based drug development company that was acquired by Japan's Kyorin Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd. in December 2004. Before that, from 2000 to 2003, he was president and CEO of Prometheus Laboratories Inc., a pharmaceutical firm developing treatments for gastrointestinal diseases. Previously, Schoeneck was vice president and general manager of the immunology unit at Centocor Inc. and served as director of healthcare services and director of marketing at Rhone-Poulenc Rorer Inc.

BrainCells' drug development program centers on a screening platform that can profile the effectiveness of what the company describes as the "neurogenic potential" of pharmaceutical products and drug candidates. The goal is the discovery of neurogenesis-modulating compounds to be developed for the treatment of depression, cognitive disorders, sub-types of schizophrenia and Alzheimer's, and brain repair indications.

At present, Schoeneck said his and the company's primary focus is the in-licensing of compounds, either newly discovered chemical entities or existing drugs that can be repurposed for CNS. To those ends, BrainCells has at its disposal $9.7 million of Series A funding that has been committed by its investors, but not pulled down by the company.

In July, BrainCells closed on $8 million from a $17.7 million Series A round in order to fund its operations leading up to the expected in-licensing. Members of its investor syndicate include Technology Partners, Oxford Bioscience Partners, Bay City Capital, A. M. Pappas & Associates, Neuro Ventures and individuals.

Following the in-licensing, Schoeneck said he expects the company to raise a Series B around those assets. He said BrainCells is conducting discussions for some compounds and looking at other potential candidates, but did not give a timeframe for a licensing deal.

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