Black Diamond Therapeutics, Inc., a biotechnology company developing next-wave precision medicines for cancer, today announced five new management appointments as the company advances its lead programs targeting groups of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) allosteric mutants toward the clinic. Brent Hatzis-Schoch was named as the company’s Chief Operating Officer (COO) and General Counsel. In this role, he will oversee operations and all business and legal functions as Black Diamond transitions into a clinical-stage company. In addition, Black Diamond strengthened its senior leadership team with the appointments of Karsten Witt, M.D., Senior Vice President of Clinical Development, Nigel Waters, Ph.D., DABT, Vice President of Preclinical Development, Carl Cook, M.S., Vice President of Clinical Operations, and Sanna Belorusets, CPA, MBA, Vice President of Finance.
David M. Epstein, Ph.D., President and CEO of Black Diamond commented, “I am thrilled to welcome this talented team to Black Diamond at a time when we are preparing our lead program to enter the clinic next year. Brent, Karsten, Nigel, Carl, and Sanna each bring a wealth of experience and a proven track record of strategic business and clinical development accomplishments including identifying and financing the development of new therapeutics, shepherding them through clinical and regulatory hurdles, and ultimately, delivering those treatments to patients in need. Their collective expertise will be invaluable as we execute on our strategy to discover and develop next-wave precision medicines for patients with cancer, particularly those diagnosed with deadly cancers such as glioblastoma for which limited treatment options currently exist.”
Brent Hatzis-Schoch, Black Diamond’s COO and General Counsel, brings more than 20 years of experience leading legal, intellectual property (IP), and business functions at commercial and development-stage pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies. He joins Black Diamond from Radius Health, Inc., where he was Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary. While at Radius, Brent had responsibility for the legal, IP, contracts management, compliance, regulatory, and quality assurance functions, and helped build the company from a 35-employee development-stage company to a 500-employee commercial organization. Previously, he served as Senior Vice President and Chief Legal Counsel at Merz Pharma in Frankfurt, Germany, where he had global responsibility for the legal, IP, and compliance functions.
“Black Diamond’s pipeline and powerful MAP platform hold great promise to revolutionize how we treat cancers by identifying and drugging new allosteric mutant disease targets. I am privileged to be joining the company at such an exciting time and look forward to working with this impressive team to discover and develop transformative therapies that have the potential to help cancer patients and the physicians who treat them,” said Hatzis-Schoch.
Brent began his legal career in private practice and later held senior legal positions in the U.S. and internationally, including as General Counsel to two publicly traded development-stage German biopharmaceutical companies, European legal counsel for Baxter International, and Associate General Counsel of Pharmacia Corporation. He holds a Juris Doctor from George Washington University and was a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Cologne, Germany.
Karsten Witt, Black Diamond’s Senior Vice President of Clinical Development, is responsible for the company’s clinical and regulatory strategies. He brings more than 30 years of clinical development experience, including eight successful new drug applications, in the areas of oncology and inflammatory disease, having served in senior leadership positions for companies including Array Biopharma, OSI Pharmaceuticals, Gilead, NeXstar, and Amgen. Among his many achievements, Karsten was intimately involved in the clinical development of Tarceva® (erlotinib) for advanced non-small cell lung cancer, pancreatic cancer, hepatocellular cancer, and other solid tumors, as well as the parallel development of biomarkers and companion diagnostics. He has served on Executive Management Committees, Global Development Committees, and as a member of the Board of Directors for Danish pharmaceutical company Topotarget until its merger with the French company BioAlliance resulting in the formation of Onxeo. Karsten earned his M.D. from the University of Copenhagen and practiced medicine at Hvidovre University Hospital in Copenhagen in the internal medicine subspecialties of gastroenterology, infectious disease, and cardiology, before transitioning to industry.
Nigel Waters, Black Diamond’s Vice President of Preclinical Development, is responsible for all nonclinical development activities, including clinical pharmacology. With more than 15 years of drug discovery and development experience, Nigel is well-versed in building and leading nonclinical development teams having previously held positions of increasing responsibility at Epizyme, Syros Pharmaceuticals, and Relay Therapeutics. He spent his early career in pharmaceutical research and development with AstraZeneca and Novartis. Nigel has contributed to the discovery and development of multiple novel agents, particularly in oncology, including asciminib and tazemetostat, and coauthored more than fifty peer reviewed papers, book chapters, and patents, in the areas of drug discovery, drug metabolism, clinical pharmacology, and preclinical safety assessment. He earned a Ph.D. in chemistry from Imperial College, London, and is a Diplomate of the American Board of Toxicology (DABT).
Carl Cook is Black Diamond’s Vice President of Clinical Operations. Carl has more than 20 years of drug development experience in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries, as well as academia. Prior to joining Black Diamond, he was Senior Director of Clinical Development, iMed at AstraZeneca where he led the delivery of clinical studies from first-in-human/proof-of-concept through Phase III across multiple projects including small molecules, antisense oligonucleotides, immuno-oncology (IO)-novel combinations, and IO-novel/chemotherapy combination studies. Early in his career, Carl led the pivotal studies for Iressa® (gefitinib) and was responsible for regulatory submissions in the U.S. and Japan. With experience in both solid and hematologic malignancies, Carl has established relationships with Phase I/II clinical trial collaborators across the U.S., European Union, and Asia. Carl holds an M.S. in Natural Science, Social and Preventive Medicine, and Epidemiology, from Roswell Park Cancer Institute, State University of New York at Buffalo, and was a Ph.D. candidate in epidemiology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, prior to transitioning to industry.
Sanna Belorusets is Black Diamond’s Vice President of Finance and responsible for all financial matters affecting or involving the company, including directing Black Diamond’s financial strategy, accounting, budgeting, and compliance. She brings more than 15 years of experience in all areas of finance and accounting for both biotechnology and technology companies. Sanna joined Black Diamond from Mersana Therapeutics where she was Senior Director of Finance overseeing the organization’s finance function. At Mersana, she built the finance team and implemented processes and systems necessary for the company’s successful completion of its initial public offering. Previously, she held positions of increasing fiscal responsibility at companies including Biogen IDEC and Enanta Pharmaceuticals; she started her career at Pricewaterhouse Coopers. A certified public accountant, Sanna received an MBA with a concentration in Strategy and Business Analysis from Boston University School of Management.
Black Diamond’s MAP: a unique platform
Black Diamond’s industry-leading mutation, allostery, and pharmacology (MAP) computational and discovery platform identifies and drugs allosteric mutant disease targets. Oncogenes are activated by kinase domain mutations or by allosteric mutations. While kinase domain mutations have been successfully drugged with selective inhibitors and are standard of care in many malignancies, allosteric mutations represent an undrugged and unexplored space. Black Diamond’s MAP platform pinpoints new druggable families of mutations from the thousands of lesions identified across individual oncogenes derived from cancer patients, thus leading to the creation of high-impact precision medicines. Black Diamond’s MAP platform has generated a pipeline of five programs, of which the first three disclosed programs are targeting groups of EGFR and HER2 allosteric mutants and have progressed compounds through lead optimization or into investigational new drug-enabling studies. The fourth and fifth programs are in lead identification.
About Black Diamond
Black Diamond Therapeutics is a next-wave cancer precision medicine company. Black Diamond pioneered the development of selective medicines for patients with genetically defined cancers driven by oncogenes activated by allosteric mutations. Using its mutation, allostery, and pharmacology (MAP) computational and discovery platform, Black Diamond is uncovering new ways to functionally assess the mutational landscape of individual oncogenes – to discover and validate new targets and develop novel approaches to creating highly selective therapeutics. Black Diamond was founded by David M. Epstein, Ph.D., Elizabeth Buck, Ph.D., and Versant Ventures, and is the first new company to emerge from Versant’s Ridgeline Discovery Engine in Basel, Switzerland. For more information please visit www.bdtherapeutics.com.