1-Year Old Biotech Goldfinch Steals AstraZeneca R&D Exec for CEO Post

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Goldfinch Bio continues to expand its leadership team. On Tuesday, the company announced it was able to lure industry veteran Anthony Johnson away from AstraZeneca to serve as the company’s new president and chief executive officer.

Johnson has had a long history of success in the pharma industry. He has been responsible for advancing more than 25 positive proof of concept studies to completion, and contributed to multiple drug filings and approvals. Johnson most recently helmed AstraZeneca’s early clinical development for the Innovative Medicines and Early Development Biotech Unit. Johnson has also held similar R&D roles at Bristol-Myers Squibb and GlaxoSmithKline. Prior to his tenure at AstraZeneca, he was a venture partner at OrbiMed Advisors, which could be critical for Goldfinch as it seeks additional funding.

"As a clinician, I have witnessed first-hand the unmet medical need in patients with kidney disease," Johnson said in a statement. "Goldfinch's multidisciplinary approach will revolutionize the discovery and development of new treatments for such patients. I'm delighted to work with our innovative scientists, renowned founders and many underserved patients to make this vision a reality."

Goldfinch Bio launched nearly one year ago backed by Third Rock Ventures with $55 million in Series A funding. The company’s primary focus is on kidney disease. When the company launched, it intended to develop a product engine that “integrates genetic, genomic and biological tools to identify and validate novel drug targets and inform treatment strategies focused on molecularly defined patient groups.”

In addition to tapping Johnson, Goldfinch also hired Michael Broxson to serve as chief business and operating officer. Broxson spent 16 years at Takeda Pharmaceuticals. Most recently, he served as head of R&D business development. During his career, Broxson has played a “significant role” in more than 75 transactions that total more than $25 billion. He has been part of deals including the acquisitions of Millennium, Nycomed and Envoy Therapeutics.

"Goldfinch is leading the charge to bring precision medicine to kidney disease, and it has been impressive to see the team's accomplishments advancing an innovative portfolio of therapeutic programs and building out the patient registry and product engine," Broxson said in a statement. "This is an exciting time for all the stakeholders in the nephrology community and we look forward to further collaboration as we advance new treatments for patients with kidney disease."

As the new CEO, Johnson succeeds interim chief executive officer Abbie Celniker. Broxson takes over for interim chief operating officer Neil Exter. Both are partners at Third Rock Ventures and will remain on Goldfinch Bio's board of directors.

Johnson and Broxon are two of the latest additions Goldfinch has made to its executive team. In September, Goldfinch brought on Maria Beconi, former chief scientific officer of Retrophin, to serve as vice president of pharmacology and non-clinical development. The company also hired Liron Walsh to serve as vice president of translational and clinical nephrology. Before Goldfinch, Walsh served as a senior medical director at BioMarin Pharmaceutical. She was in charge of clinical programs in Pompe's Disease and Hemophilia A.

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