SAN DIEGO, Dec. 10, 2019 – Locana, Inc., a leading RNA-targeting gene therapy company, today announced the appointment of James Burns, Ph.D., as chief executive officer, as a key step in expanding the experienced leadership team and as part of a planned transition of the company’s director and recent CEO, Jeffrey M. Ostrove, Ph.D., to continue service as director.
The addition of Jim Burns to CEO brings an accomplished company builder and biopharmaceutical product developer to join Kathie Bishop, Ph.D., Locana’s chief scientific officer, pairing two industry leaders who have succeeded in carrying early product concepts through to approval and advancing product candidates in the gene therapy space. “Jim’s long list of career leadership accomplishments is capped by his recent success in building Casebia Therapeutics, where his focus on delivering emerging gene editing science to patients led to advancing product candidates in multiple indications,” said Tom Daniel, M.D., chairman of the board. “We are inspired by Jim’s experience, leadership and patient focus.
We are also exceedingly grateful for Jeff’s capable leadership in bringing the company to this stage.” “Jeff’s work on building this company and its leadership team has accelerated the advancement of our foundational science into an impressive preclinical data set,” said Dr. Burns. “It is a privilege to be at the helm of a company with a platform of this caliber that presents the opportunity to realize its full potential in dozens of diseases with first- and best-in class therapeutics.”
Dr. Burns joins Locana from Casebia where he served as the chief executive officer and led the team in discovering and developing new CRISPR/Cas9-based breakthrough therapeutics to treat blood disorders, blindness and heart disease. Prior to Casebia, he spent the bulk of his career at Sanofi-Genzyme, where he held several leadership roles with increasing responsibility, including North America Site head for R&D where he coordinated R&D operations across key therapeutic areas. Dr. Burns is a former board member of MassBio, a member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering and is a member of the External Advisory Committee for the BioMedical Engineering Department at Boston University. He also served as the industry representative for the Food and Drug Administration General Plastic Surgery Panel.
Dr. Burns earned a Bachelor of Science degree in biology from Purdue University and Master of Science and Doctorate degrees in bioengineering from the University of Illinois-Chicago, where his thesis work focused on drug delivery. Following his graduate studies, he was a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Florida.
Locana’s platform directly addresses the central role dysfunctional mRNAs play in human diseases. The company’s platform has reassembled elements of nature’s evolutionary repertoire of RNA engagement functions, including binding, degradation, splicing, editing and translational control to target pathogenic RNAs implicated in expansion repeat and other specific genetic diseases. This powerful approach is orthogonal to gene editing and provides tractable and durable therapeutic advantage over other gene therapy approaches currently deployed. Locana is based in San Diego, CA. For more information, visit www.locanabio.com.
Jake Robison, Canale Communications