Malvern, PA, April 4, 2019 – Venatorx Pharmaceuticals today announced that Lisa Wittmer, Ph.D. has joined the Company as Chief Development Officer. Dr. Wittmer has more than 20 years’ experience and a demonstrated track record in leading development from early stages through to licensing, registration and commercialization of new therapeutics. In her new role at Venatorx, Dr. Wittmer will oversee nonclinical and clinical development, as well as global regulatory affairs.
“I am pleased to welcome Lisa to the Venatorx family,” said Christopher J. Burns, Ph.D., President and CEO at Venatorx. “She possesses an extraordinary array of talent, expertise and integrity that aligns with our culture and values. A highly-regarded scientific leader in the life sciences community, Lisa brings more than two decades of ground-up drug development experience to our organization during a transformative time in our company’s history. I look forward to working with Lisa as we advance our programs to the market.”
“Venatorx is a strong, fast-growing company that has a unique business model, a robust R&D engine, and an esteemed group of experts who are deeply committed to solving global health problems created by the spread of serious drug-resistant bacterial and hard-to-treat viral infections,” said Dr. Wittmer. “Innovation is at the heart of Venatorx's mission – to discover, develop and progress into clinical development novel therapeutics for infectious diseases with unmet medical need. I look forward to working with Chris and the entire Venatorx team to advance these drug candidates.”
Throughout her career, Dr. Wittmer has held executive and senior management positions in research & development, product strategy, regulatory strategy, scientific assessment, portfolio development and operations at established and emerging, public and private companies. Dr. Wittmer has achieved clinical trial approval, marketing authorization and new indications for more than fifteen currently marketed products. Additionally, she has completed diligence of over 100 pharmaceutical or biotech products, and advised on valuation and deal/partnership structures for product/company acquisitions.
Prior to joining Venatorx, Dr. Wittmer founded Theorogen, LLC, a consulting company focused on emerging life sciences companies seeking strategic advice on their development, regulatory or partnering strategies. Previously, Dr. Wittmer was Chief Operating Officer and Director at AMO Pharma Ltd, a privately-held, start-up biopharmaceutical company focused on rare diseases; Partner at NeXeption LLC, a biopharmaceutical portfolio management company; and Vice President, Global Regulatory Affairs & Compliance at Ceptaris Therapeutics, a privately-held, mid-stage biopharma company focused on treatment of cutaneous T-cell lymphoma. Additionally, Dr. Wittmer was Vice President, Global Regulatory Affairs and R&D Due Diligence, followed by General Manager, for the Emerging Products Business Unit at Shire Pharmaceuticals, where she led several multidisciplinary teams in developing a portfolio of early and mid-phase specialty and rare disease therapeutic candidates.
Dr. Wittmer continues to support the life-science start-up community in Pennsylvania by serving as a Mentor-in-Residence at University of Pennsylvania's Center for Innovation and an advisor to Dreamit Ventures’ HealthTech program, which is focused on growth-stage digital health, medical device and diagnostic startups. Prior to being appointed a Howard Hughes Fellow at Duke University, Dr. Wittmer earned a Ph.D. in Molecular Biophysics and Neuropharmacology from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis; a M.S. in Chemistry from Washington University in St. Louis; and a B.S. in Chemistry and Mathematics from the University of Detroit.
About Venatorx Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
Venatorx is a private pharmaceutical company that is focused on the discovery and development of novel anti-infectives to treat multi-drug-resistant bacterial infections and hard-to-treat viral infections. Founded in 2010, Venatorx has built a world-class in-house R&D organization that has filed over 100 patents spanning multiple research programs. Venatorx has received significant funding awards from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Wellcome Trust, CARB-X, and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) as well as private equity investments from Versant Ventures, Abingworth, and Foresite Capital.
The Company’s most advanced development-stage product is VNRX-5133, an injectable beta-lactamase inhibitor (BLI) that features selective and potent in vitro activity against both serine- and metallo-beta-lactamases, including OXA, KPC, NDM, and VIM. Venatorx believes that VNRX-5133, in a fixed combination with the fourth generation cephalosporin, cefepime, has the potential to provide a valuable broad-spectrum treatment option to meet unmet medical need in patients with infections due to carbapenem-resistant pathogens including carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) and carbapenem-resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa (CRPA), suspected polymicrobial infections caused by both gram-negative and gram-positive susceptible pathogens, and engineerable MDR bioterror pathogens such as Burkholderia spp. and Salmonella spp. Early clinical studies of cefepime/VNRX-5133 have been completed and Venatorx intends to initiate Phase 3 pivotal trials during the second quarter 2019.
Venatorx’s second development-stage product in clinical development is VNRX-7145, an orally bioavailable BLI that in a fixed combination with the third generation orally bioavailable cephalosporin, ceftibuten, has the potential to rescue activity of the partner antibiotic against ESBLs and key carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae, including those expressing KPC and OXA carbapenemases. Additionally, Venatorx has a broad pipeline of preclinical programs including a novel class of Penicillin-Binding Protein (PBP) inhibitors that are impervious to beta-lactamase-driven resistance, and novel antiviral agents targeting Hepatitis B Virus. For more information, please visit www.venatorx.com.