- Odyssey Therapeutics, a startup focused on developing precision medicines for inflammatory diseases and cancer, has recruited former Vertex CEO and current Executive Chairman Jeffrey Leiden as its new board chairman.
- With the appointment, Leiden is teaming up once again with Gary Glick, a serial biotech entrepreneur whose most recent project is Odyssey. Leiden also served as chairman of the board of Lycera, the first company founded by Glick.
- Leiden is a molecular biologist and cardiologist by training but is best known for overseeing Vertex’s maturation into one of the most valuable and profitable biotech companies. Before Vertex, Leiden served as a managing director of Clarus Ventures and president, chief operating officer and chief scientific officer at Abbott Laboratories.
Leiden’s counsel will be valuable as Odyssey tries to move from a research company into a clinical-stage biotech, Glick said in a statement Thursday. Glick founded Odyssey last year, raising more than $200 million and setting an ambitious goal of bringing one to three drug candidates into clinical testing by the end of 2023 or early 2024.
Already, Odyssey has acquired another company to boost its hunt for new medicines. In January, the company announced it had bought Rahko, whose drug discovery technology combines computational chemistry, machine learning and quantum computing.
Leiden is joining Odyssey as he completes a slow transition out of Vertex. He first announced plans to step down as CEO in July 2019 and handed over the job to Reshma Kewalramani in April 2020. His stint as executive chairman of Vertex’s board was originally set to expire at the end of March 2023 but has been extended by a year.
In the meantime, Leiden has also taken on board chairmanships at Tmunity Therapeutics, a clinical-stage biotech also focused on cancer treatments, and Casana, which develops technology for in-home health monitoring.