Ovid Therapeutics Expands Its Scientific Leadership Team & Appoints Chief Strategy Officer
- Dr. Zhong Zhong joins Ovid as Chief Scientific Officer (CSO) and Dr. Manoj Malhotra assumes role as Chief Medical Officer (CMO) following the planned retirement of Dr. Claude Nicaise
- Meg Alexander promoted to Chief Strategy Officer
- Ovid streamlined G&A infrastructure to improve operational efficiency and reduce costs
NEW YORK, June 28, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Ovid Therapeutics Inc. (NASDAQ: OVID), a biopharmaceutical company committed to developing medicines that transform the lives of people with rare epilepsies and seizure-related disorders, today announced leadership appointments intended to enhance the execution of its corporate strategy and the scientific stewardship of its therapeutic development programs. The Company also announced changes to its administrative functions intended to enhance efficiency and reduce costs.
“We are excited as Zhong and Manoj respectively assume research and development leadership of Ovid’s focused pipeline of potential first-in-class and best-in-class CNS programs,” said Jeremy Levin, D. Phil, MB BChir, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Ovid Therapeutics. “Both have successfully developed many anti-seizure and other CNS medicines. By adding their collective knowledge, experience, and management skills to Ovid, we seek to rapidly advance and accelerate our exciting programs,” remarked Dr. Levin.
Scientific Leadership & Development Appointments
Dr. Zhong will lead all non-clinical scientific and research activities that support the advancement of Ovid’s pipeline of potential therapeutic candidates for the treatment of epilepsy and seizure-related disorders. In this role, Dr. Zhong will oversee Ovid’s scientific strategy and the Company’s research team and academic collaborations with the goal of accelerating research that underpins the clinical development of: OV329, a next-generation GABA aminotransferase inhibitor; selective ROCK2 inhibitors for rare neurological conditions, including GV101 for the potential treatment of cerebral cavernous malformations; and OV350, the first candidate from the Company’s library of KCC2 activators. His efforts will additionally characterize the medical potential of a unique library of direct KCC2 transporter activators in a range of indications, including epilepsies as well as other cognitive, behavioral and pain disorders.
Prior to joining Ovid, Dr. Zhong served in senior leadership and scientific roles at Generation Bio, Wave Life Sciences, Vertex Pharmaceuticals, and GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals. He has extensive neuroscience experience across small molecule and next generation modalities and has been responsible for developing scientific strategies and external research collaborations. He earned a Ph.D. in Molecular Cell Biology from The Rockefeller University in New York, where he discovered Stat3 and Stat4. He completed his Postdoctoral Fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Richard Axel at Columbia University.
Dr. Zhong will partner closely with Dr. Manoj Malhotra who is taking on an expanded role as Chief Medical Officer. Dr. Malhotra will oversee the Company’s clinical, medical, and regulatory functions, and is responsible for progressing Ovid’s clinical-stage programs. Drs. Malhotra and Zhong replace former Head of Research & Development, Dr. Claude Nicaise, who is retiring after seven years of service at Ovid. Dr. Nicaise will continue to consult for the Company as a member of Ovid’s Scientific Advisory Board (SAB).
“We are grateful to Claude for all he has done for Ovid. It has been a privilege working alongside him daily and we look forward to continuing to benefit from his wisdom and experience in his continued collaboration via our SAB,” said Dr. Levin. “Claude is among the select few in our industry who have successfully stewarded medicines that have successfully saved and extended lives. His thinking is embedded in our pipeline. We expect to build on his leadership as we advance our programs,” said Dr. Levin.
Corporate Strategy & Leadership Appointment
In addition to deepening its bench of scientific leadership, Ovid expanded the role of Meg Alexander to the position of Chief Strategy Officer. In this remit, she will oversee Ovid’s corporate strategy and planning, performance measurement, and risk mitigation. She will also continue to oversee Ovid’s Corporate Affairs function with a focus on effectively engaging the Company’s stakeholders including the patient, caregiver, advocacy, and policymaker communities that Ovid strives to serve. Prior to Ovid, Ms. Alexander founded and led a consultancy group at Syneos Health, one of the world’s largest clinical and commercial research organizations, where she worked extensively with biopharmaceutical C-suites and supported the launch efforts of approximately 25 rare disease therapies.
General & Administrative Infrastructure Cost Reductions & Operational Efficiencies
In June 2023, Ovid made several changes and reductions to its G&A functions to reduce infrastructure costs and enhance efficiency as part of an ongoing operational initiative. The Company continues to expect that its capital should fund operations into the first half of 2025. Additionally, Ovid is eligible for significant milestones and royalties if soticlestat is approved and commercialized, which would serve as a long-term and non-dilutive capital source for the Company. Ovid will continue to operate efficiently and focus its capital and human resources toward value-creating research and development efforts.
About Ovid Therapeutics
Ovid Therapeutics Inc. is a New York-based biopharmaceutical company striving to conquer seizures and brain disorders with courageous science. Ovid’s pipeline of small molecule candidates seeks to meaningfully improve the lives of people and families affected by rare epilepsies and seizure-related disorders. Ovid intends to develop: a potential platform of potent and highly selective ROCK2 inhibitors for the potential treatment of rare neurological conditions, including GV101 for the potential treatment of cerebral cavernous malformations; OV329, a GABA-aminotransferase inhibitor, for treatment-resistant seizures; and OV350, a direct activator of the KCC2 transporter, for potential treatment of epilepsies. In addition, Ovid maintains a significant financial interest in the future regulatory development and potential commercialization of soticlestat, which Takeda is responsible for advancing globally. Soticlestat is a cholesterol 24-hydroxylase inhibitor, which is currently in Phase 3 trials for Dravet and Lennox-Gastaut syndromes. For more information about these and other Ovid research programs, please visit www.ovidrx.com.
This press release includes certain disclosures that contain “forward-looking statements,” including, without limitation: the creation of a leading R&D team and pipeline in the field of seizures; the impact our appointments will have on our pipeline, programs and our long-term success; statements regarding the Company’s pipeline, including the potential development and use of GV101, OV329, OV350, the library of ROCK2 inhibitors and the library of KCC2 activator inhibitors; the status of Takeda’s two pivotal Phase 3 trials evaluating soticlestat for Lennox-Gastaut and Dravet syndromes; and the expectations and duration of Ovid’s cash runway and the expectation that it will support the advancement of Ovid’s pipeline. You can identify forward-looking statements because they contain words such as "anticipates," "believes," "expected," "intends," "plan," "potentially," and "will," and similar expressions (as well as other words or expressions referencing future events, conditions or circumstances). Forward-looking statements are based on Ovid’s current expectations and assumptions. Because forward-looking statements relate to the future, they are subject to inherent uncertainties, risks and changes in circumstances that may differ materially from those contemplated by the forward-looking statements, which are neither statements of historical fact nor guarantees or assurances of future performance. Important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those in the forward-looking statements include, without limitation, uncertainties inherent in the preclinical and clinical development and regulatory approval processes, the risk that Ovid may not be able to realize the intended benefits of its technology. Additional risks that could cause actual results to differ materially from those in the forward-looking statements are set forth under the caption “Risk Factors” in Ovid’s Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on May 5, 2023, and in future filings Ovid makes with the SEC. Any forward-looking statements contained in this press release speak only as of the date hereof, and Ovid assumes no obligation to update any forward-looking statements contained herein, whether because of any new information, future events, changed circumstances or otherwise, except as otherwise required by law.