Imara Announces Appointment of Laura A. Williams, M.D., MPH to Board of Directors
Dr. Williams brings 25 years of early-to-late-stage drug development, clinical research leadership, and patient advocacy expertise to Imara
BOSTON, June 30, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Imara Inc. (Nasdaq: IMRA), a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company dedicated to developing and commercializing novel therapeutics to treat patients suffering from rare inherited genetic disorders of hemoglobin, today announced the election of Laura A. Williams, M.D., MPH to its Board of Directors. Dr. Williams brings 25 years of early-to-late-stage drug development experience across multiple therapeutic areas, as well as expertise in patient advocacy to Imara.
“We’re thrilled to welcome Dr. Williams to our Board,” said Rahul Ballal, Ph.D., President and Chief Executive Officer of Imara. “In addition to her significant experience leading clinical trials and guiding products through clinical development, she is a strong advocate for the patient community, making her an outstanding addition to our Board. Her integrated view across numerous important operating functions will greatly help our IMR-687 development efforts, as it continues to advance through the clinic for the treatment of sickle cell disease and beta-thalassemia.”
Dr. Williams has served as Senior Vice President of Global Therapeutic Strategies and Patient Advocacy at Ardelyx since November 2020, where she is also a member of the Executive Leadership Team. In this role, she seeks to enhance the credibility of patient advocacy as a life science function and is also charged with developing the company’s portfolio strategy, prioritizing the access of novel therapies to patients in areas of unmet need. Prior to Ardelyx, Dr. Williams was Senior Vice President and Head of Clinical Development and Biostatistics at AMAG Pharmaceuticals, where she was responsible for investigational-stage assets, on-market compounds and late-stage development activities. Previously, she was Vice President of Clinical Development at Myovant Sciences, overseeing early-stage clinical development and co-leading business development activities. Ahead of this role, Dr. Williams spent 18 years at Abbott/AbbVie managing clinical development programs across several therapeutic areas in multiple roles of increasing responsibility.
“I am excited to be working with the Imara team as the company continues to make progress towards its goal of treating patients suffering from hemoglobinopathies,” added Dr. Williams. “Imara’s work prioritizes both science and the patient voice, a strategy I’ve aligned with during my professional career in biotech and as a clinician treating patients.”
Dr. Williams received a Bachelor of Science degree from Mississippi State University, a Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of Iowa, and a Master of Public Health degree in Epidemiology from the University of Washington, where she also completed a clinical fellowship in Infectious Diseases. She completed her Internal Medicine residency at the University of Michigan, where she also served as Chief Resident and Junior Faculty.
Concurrent with the election of Dr. Williams, Mette Kirstine Agger’s term on the company’s Board of Directors ended. Ms. Agger had served as a member of the company’s Board since January 2016.
“I would like to thank Mette for her numerous contributions to Imara since joining the Board,” added Ballal. “Mette has been a thoughtful partner to our Board and management team and her support and guidance have been invaluable as Imara has grown over these last five years.”
IMR-687 is a highly selective and potent small molecule inhibitor of PDE9. PDE9 uniquely degrades cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP), an active signaling molecule that plays a role in vascular biology. Lower levels of cGMP are often found in people with sickle cell disease and beta-thalassemia and are associated with impaired blood flow, increased inflammation, greater cell adhesion and reduced nitric oxide-mediated vasodilation.
Blocking PDE9 acts to increase cGMP levels, which are associated with reactivation of fetal hemoglobin, or HbF, a natural hemoglobin produced during fetal development. Increased levels of HbF in red blood cells have been demonstrated to improve symptomology and lower disease burden in patients with sickle cell disease and patients with beta-thalassemia. IMR-687 is designed to have a multimodal mechanism of action that acts on red blood cells, white blood cells, adhesion mediators, and other cell types.
Imara Inc. is a clinical-stage biotechnology company dedicated to developing and commercializing novel therapeutics to treat patients suffering from rare inherited genetic disorders of hemoglobin. Imara is currently advancing IMR-687, a highly selective, potent small molecule inhibitor of PDE9 that is an oral, once-a-day, potentially disease-modifying treatment for sickle cell disease and beta-thalassemia. IMR-687 is being designed to have a multimodal mechanism of action that acts on red blood cells, white blood cells, adhesion mediators and other cell types. For more information, please visit www.imaratx.com.
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