Ensuring commercial readiness in the cellular cancer immunotherapy space

Cell & Gene Therapy Insights 2022; 8(7), 885–894

DOI: 10.18609/cgti.2022.133

Published: 16 August 2022
Julian Adams, Michele Korfin, Ronit Simantov

David McCall, Editor, Cell & Gene Therapy Insights, talks to three experts from Gamida Cell’s leadership team – Julian Adams PhD, CEO, Michele Korfin PhD, COO & CCO & Ronit Simantov MD, CMO & CSO

Julian Adams joined Gamida Cell’s leadership team as CEO in November 2017, bringing more than 35 years of drug discovery and development experience to his role. Prior to his CEO appointment, Julian served as President and Chief Scientific Officer at Clal Biotechnology Industries (CBI), where he oversaw the Boston office, evaluating investment opportunities and supporting portfolio companies, including Gamida Cell. Before joining CBI, he served as president of research and development at Infinity Pharmaceuticals and as senior vice president of drug discovery and development at Millennium Pharmaceuticals, now part of Takeda Oncology. At Millennium, he played a key role in the discovery of Velcade (bortezomib), a therapy widely used for treatment of multiple myeloma. He was also instrumental at developing an oral inhibitor of phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K), also known as duvelisib. In 2018, the FDA approved COPIKTRA (duvelisib, Verastem, Inc.) for adult patients with relapsed or refractory chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) or small lymphocytic lymphoma (SLL). Earlier in his career, while at Boehringer Ingelheim, he was credited with discovering Viramune (nevirapine) for HIV. He has also worked in research and development leadership roles at LeukoSite and at ProScript. Julian serves as Chairman at Elicio Therapeutics since 2017. He also serves on the Stand Up to Cancer Scientific Advisory Committee, AACR Council of Scientific Advisors, and MGH Center for Cancer Research Scientific Advisory Board.Julian has won several awards for his drug development efforts throughout his career, holds more than 40 patents from the United States Patent and Trademark Office and has authored more than 100 papers and book chapters in peer-reviewed journals. Julian holds a BSc from McGill University and a Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He also holds a ScD, honoris causa, from McGill University.

Michele Korfin joined Gamida Cell’s leadership team as Chief Operating and Chief Commercial Officer in July 2020. Prior to Gamida Cell, Michele served as Chief Operating Officer at TYME Technologies. From 2016–2018, she was Vice President of Market Access at Kite Pharma, where she oversaw market access strategy, including payer relations, reimbursement and government affairs for YESCARTA®, the first approved CAR-T therapy in lymphoma. She also worked closely with the manufacturing and supply chain teams at Kite to prepare for FDA approval and commercialization. Before joining Kite, Michele spent more than a decade at Celgene in a variety of key strategic and operational roles, including in commercial leadership and oversight of the global development programs for REVLIMID®, a foundation therapy for multiple myeloma and MDS del 5Q. She also led the Celgene oncology sales force of over 120 representatives who were responsible for $650 million in revenue for ABRAXANE®, which is now a standard of care in pancreatic cancer. Michele has also held positions at Merck & Co. as a manufacturing scientist, Bain & Company as a consultant and Schering-Plough in sales and marketing. Michele holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and a BSc in pharmacy from Rutgers University. She is also on the Board of Trustees of BioNJ, the organization that represents the biotechnology industry for New Jersey.

Ronit Simantov joined Gamida Cell’s leadership team as Chief Medical Officer in July 2017, bringing more than 20 years of experience in hematology and oncology research, development, registration and product launch. Prior to joining Gamida Cell, Ronit served as Head of Oncology Global Medical Affairs at Pfizer, where she was responsible for multiple programs including Sutent® (sunitinib), Inlyta ® (axitinib), Ibrance® (palbociclib), Bosulif® (bosutinib) and Xalkori ® (crizotinib). Ronit previously led phase 1-3 studies as Vice President of Clinical Research at OSI Pharmaceuticals. She also served as Chief Medical Officer at CuraGen Corporation (acquired by Celldex), where she led development of small molecules and antibody-drug conjugates. At Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals, Ronit led the phase 3 study of Nexavar® (sorafenib) resulting in the first approval of a tyrosine kinase inhibitor in renal cell carcinoma. Prior to joining industry, Ronit spent seven years on the academic faculty at Weill Medical College of Cornell University, where she directed the fellowship program and conducted angiogenesis and vascular biology research. She has authored over 40 peer-reviewed manuscripts.Ronit holds an MD from New York University School of Medicine and a BSc. from Johns Hopkins University. She completed a residency in internal medicine at New York Hospital Cornell Medical Center, and a fellowship in hematology and oncology at Weill Cornell Medicine.