Austin-based biopharmaceutical company XBiotech announced the addition of Daniel Vasella, MD, as a new member of their Board of Directors, to assist in the company’s mission of developing next generation antibody-based treatments for diseases like cancer. The distinguished physician has left Novartis AG, and is taking on this new board position at a time when XBiotech is preparing the construction of a state-of-the-art research and manufacturing center.
Vasella started his career in Switzerland, with a M.D. from the University of Bern, after completing his residency at the University Hospital in Bern. In 1988, he joined Sandoz AG. There he was promoted to the position of CEO and in 1996 led one of the most important mergers in the history of pharmaceuticals, between Ciba-Geigy and the company he managed.
The merger of the two Swiss pharmaceutical companies resulted the creation of Novartis AG, as well as the recognition of Vasella’s success and he was appointed CEO of the new company, and, three years later, chairman of the Board. In 2010, Vasella decided to leave the position of CEO and personally selected Joseph Jimenez as his successor. Three years later, the physician also stepped down as chairman of the Board of Directors, becoming honorary chairman until Jörg Reinhard took up the position.
Time Magazine elected Vasella one of the 100 most influential people in the world, and the Financial Times described him as being the most influential European business leader of the last 25 years. Vasella is known for his innovative work at Novartis, as he created and led the company, where he was able to increase the production and reduce the time to market of medications.
“I speak for the rest of our board members in offering a hearty welcome to Dr. Vasella. We will all embrace the experience of Dr. Vasella to help manage our dynamic R&D assets as we transition rapidly towards commercialization,” said the chairman and CEO of XBiotech, John Simard. The company also recently named a new vice president of clinical operations, Gary Gonzales, who is now responsible for the international clinical operations and for the clinical trial team.
XBiotech has been dedicated to the development of a cancer therapy program involving two pivotal phase III clinical trials to study an agent that is expected to help patients suffering from cancer and block tumor’s growth, spread and harm. The company has been working in antibody-based therapeutics, as they believe it comprises a safer and better tolerated option, as well as the manufacturing technology is able to reduce cost and the complexity of drug development.
The research and manufacturing center that the company is planning to build on 48 acres in southeast Austin is expected to be used as the primary site for mass production and shipping of Xilonix, the company’s lead therapy for colorectal cancer, and one of the ongoing phase III clinical studies. With 46,000 square feet, and a budget of $12 million, the facility is planned to open in mid-2015.