Dr. Varney will continue to advance the company’s portfolio in current roles as chairman of research and development as well as member of scientific advisory board
SAN DIEGO, December 18, 2020 – Erasca, a company whose mission is to erase cancer, announced the appointment of Michael Varney, Ph.D., to its board of directors. He will continue in the roles of chairman of research and development (R&D) and a member of its scientific advisory board (SAB), to which he was appointed in August 2020.
“We are delighted to have Mike deepen his engagement with Erasca by undertaking this expanded fiduciary role,” said Jonathan E. Lim, M.D., Erasca’s chairman, CEO and co-founder. “During the relatively short period of time we’ve been working together, he has already provided invaluable insights into our corporate strategy, portfolio optimization, and R&D activities, while also helping us attract exceptional talent to the team. We are honored that Erasca’s board of directors is the first Mike has joined since retiring from Genentech at the end of July.”
Erasca’s portfolio of precision oncology medicines has been built through in-house drug discovery and pipeline expansion via collaborations with world-class academics and biopharmaceutical companies.
Dr. Varney added, “Over the past several months, I have been impressed by Erasca’s singular focus on its bold mission and the tremendous progress that has been made since the company’s founding two years ago. I am excited to continue working with this team in maturing its pipeline of potentially first-in-class and best-in-class oncology programs.”
About Dr. Varney
Dr. Varney is a pioneer drug discoverer and biotech leader. As one of the original fifteen employees at Agouron, a biotechnology company based in San Diego, he built a team that developed protein-structure based design, a novel approach to drug discovery that is utilized globally by drug discovery teams today. In 1997, the Agouron team launched Viracept®, an HIV protease inhibitor that achieved the highest first year launch sales of any biotechnology product at the time. Dr. Varney’s leadership at Agouron resulted in the discovery of several marketed anti-cancer agents, including Xalkori® and Inlyta®, a drug that won the American Chemical Society’s Heroes of Chemistry Award in 2018.
In 2005, Dr. Varney was recruited to Genentech to expand the organization’s drug discovery capabilities to include small molecules. Focused on agility and pioneering science, Dr. Varney built a team-based organization that today produces more than 40% of Genentech’s development portfolio, including the marketed anti-cancer agents Erivedge® and Cotellic®.
In 2015, Dr. Varney was appointed executive vice president and head of Genentech’s Research and Early Development (gRED) and a member of the Roche Corporate Executive Committee. In this role, he was responsible for all aspects of gRED innovation, drug discovery and development. Dr. Varney also focused on building a team-based culture empowered to clear the path to patients. Under his leadership, gRED teams discovered and developed successful medicines that include Venclexta® with AbbVie, the first BCL-2 inhibitor, and Polivy™, an antibody drug conjugate for the treatment of DLBCL. Pioneering molecules in clinical development include mosunetuzumab, a bispecific antibody targeting CD20, and GDC-9545, a next-generation estrogen receptor degrader. Dr. Varney retired from Genentech in July 2020, leaving a diversity of drug platform types that includes personalized therapeutic vaccines and cellular therapies.
Dr. Varney holds a B.S. in chemistry from the University of California, Los Angeles, and a Ph.D. in synthetic organic chemistry from the California Institute of Technology, and was an American Cancer Society postdoctoral fellow at Columbia University.
At Erasca, our mission is embedded in our name: To erase cancer. Energized by recent scientific discoveries in drugging various biological drivers of cancer, we are advancing multiple programs that shut down key cancer pathways to solve oncology’s hardest problems. We have assembled a proven team and joined forces with world-class collaborators who embrace our ambitious goals. We also are pursuing additional pipeline expansion opportunities through academic and biopharmaceutical collaborations. Founded in 2018 and headquartered in San Diego, Erasca has raised $300 million in financing from investors who share the company’s bold mission, including ARCH Venture Partners, City Hill Ventures and Cormorant Asset Management. For more information, please visit www.erasca.com.
Erasca is a trademark of Erasca, Inc.
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Heidi Chokeir, Ph.D.