Rare Daily Staff

Abeona Therapeutics said it appointed João Siffert, an industry veteran with medical and academic experience, as head of research and development and chief medical officer.

Siffert replaces Juan Ruiz as CMO. Ruiz will assume the role of head of European medical affairs.

The company also appointed Neena Patil as general counsel and corporate secretary. Siffert and Patil both report to CEO Carsten Thiel.

“João has an ideal blend of clinical, scientific, and regulatory experience to reference as we look to advance our clinical and pre-clinical candidates and cultivate future pipeline growth,” said Thiel. “Neena brings a breadth of legal expertise to Abeona and the leadership required to ensure the organization continues to operate responsibly and in a compliant manner as we evolve from a clinical- to commercial-stage company.”

Siffert has 30 years of combined experience in the biopharmaceutical industry, medicine, and academia. He has led multiple drug development programs from preclinical to regulatory approvals in the United States and Europe, and has held several scientific leadership positions in biopharmaceuticals, including programs in gene therapy.

In 2017, Siffert joined the board of directors of gene therapy developer AveXis, which was subsequently acquired by Novartis. He served as chief medical officer for Ceregene from 2007 to 2011, where he was responsible for clinical development of adeno-associated viral-based gene therapies for Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases. Siffert also led the R&D and medical organizations at Avanir Pharmaceuticals and Avera Pharmaceuticals before most recently guiding translational research, clinical development, regulatory, and medical affairs as chief scientific and medical officer for Nestle Health Science.

Siffert earned an M.D. from the University of São Paulo, Brazil and an M.B.A. from Columbia University. He completed medical residencies in pediatrics at New York University School of Medicine and in neurology at Harvard Medical School, followed by a fellowship in neuro-oncology at NYU.

Patil brings nearly 20 years of global biopharmaceutical experience to Abeona. She most recently served as associate general counsel and vice president of legal affairs at Novo Nordisk. In this role, Patil developed legal and compliance strategies for the company and led the team responsible for providing comprehensive legal support to Novo Nordisk’s U.S. business. Patil has worked extensively in corporate, regulatory, litigation and compliance matters across therapeutic areas, including in rare diseases. Her experience prior to Novo Nordisk includes various positions at other global biopharmaceutical companies including Pfizer and Sanofi.

She earned her J.D. and master’s in health services administration from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and her undergraduate degree from Georgetown University with a bachelor of arts in political science.

 

October 18, 2018
Photo: Juan Ruiz, CMO of Abeona