|March 10th, 2009|
Dr. James Cai Joins aTyr Pharma to Drive Clinical Development in Asia
Former AstraZeneca Exec to Lead Hong Kong-based subsidiary Pangu BioPharma
San Diego, CA, March 10, 2009 – aTyr Pharma, a privately held biopharmaceutical company focused on discovery and development of an entirely new class of natural protein therapeutics (biologics) for multiple disease indications, today announced that Dr. James Cai has joined the Company as Senior Vice President of Clinical Development at aTyr Pharma and President of Pangu BioPharma, a fully owned aTyr Pharma subsidiary in Hong Kong.
With over a decade of experience developing and leading research and development in Asia for leading pharmaceutical companies, Dr. Cai’s industry and regional expertise will position both aTyr Pharma and Pangu BioPharma to fully take advantage of the unique growth opportunities of Asia. Most recently, Dr. Cai was Vice President of Research and Development at AstraZeneca China. In this role he established the Research and Development organization in China and was responsible for Clinical Research, Medical-Marketing, Regulatory Affairs, Patient Safety and Business Development. During his tenure, the team launched Iressa and Crestor, with $265 M and $3.6 B in global annual sales respectively
“We are thrilled to have Dr. James Cai join aTyr Pharma and Pangu BioPharma as a key member of our management team” said Dr. Jeff Watkins, CEO of aTyr Pharma. “His many years of hands on clinical development, paired with deep relationships in Asia and a proven ability to drive drug discovery forward in the region make Dr. Cai perfectly suited for his role as the leader of our subsidiary Pangu BioPharma.”
Prior to joining AstraZeneca, Dr. Cai was External Affairs and HIV Franchise Director at Merck Sharp & Dohme China and Medical Director at Pfizer. Dr. Cai graduated from Columbia University with Executive MBA, and trained as physician and clinical researcher from Shanghai Second Medical University and New York University, respectively. Dr. Cai is based in Shanghai, where he has opened an office for aTyr Pharma and Pangu BioPharma.
aTyr Pharma and Pangu BioPharma are discovering novel, naturally occurring protein fragments that can be developed into biologic agents for treating a wide variety of diseases. Capitalizing on the years of experience and discoveries made by founder Prof. Paul Schimmel, aTyr Pharma and Pangu BioPharma are identifying a broad platform of protein fragments derived from human aminoacyl tRNA synthetases. In his decades of research at MIT and now The Scripps Research Institute, Prof. Schimmel, has been a leader in discovering the many activities, roles and functions for this ancient class of enzymes and reported the first evidence that fragments and splice variants of these proteins have latent extracellular activities distinct from their intracellular roles in protein synthesis. With a wide variety of cell signaling activities, this class of unexplored peptides provides a reservoir of proteins with the potential to become blockbuster biotherapeutics (“Biologics”).
“We are developing an entire new class of biologics, and China is a critical component of our strategy at aTyr,” said Dr. Schimmel. “Similar to our efforts at Sirtris Pharma, which was sold to Glaxo Smith Kline for $720M in 2008, we will leverage operations in Hong Kong to effectively and efficiently discover and characterize new compositions. Basing Pangu BioPharma at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) ensures that we have access to the best trained talent and can more easily recruit leading scientists to our program.”
“I am extremely pleased to be joining aTyr Pharma and Pangu BioPharma where the passion, innovation and cutting edge science inspire me” said Dr. Cai. “I look forward to leveraging my expertise and building upon the success of aTyr here in Asia through Pangu BioPharma.”
About aTyr Pharma, Inc.
aTyr Pharma is a privately held biopharmaceutical company focused on identifying and developing a novel class of naturally occurring protein biologics for therapeutic application. aTyr’s research facility is headquartered in San Diego, California, with offices in Hong Kong and Shanghai.