Scholar Rock Appoints Jay Backstrom, M.D., M.P.H., as Chief Executive Officer

CAMBRIDGE, Mass.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Scholar Rock (NASDAQ: SRRK), a Phase 3, clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on the treatment of serious diseases in which protein growth factors play a fundamental role, today announced that its Board of Directors appointed Jay Backstrom, M.D., M.P.H., as Chief Executive Officer-Elect, effective September 20, 2022. Dr. Backstrom will work closely with Founding and Interim CEO Nagesh Mahanthappa, Ph.D., M.B.A., before officially assuming the role of President & CEO on October 20, 2022, at which time he will also join the company’s Board of Directors. 

Dr. Backstrom has a unique combination of clinical research and development, regulatory, and leadership experience, which spans 30 years across the biopharmaceutical industry. He has been instrumental in organizing and executing development strategies and has led programs in a broad range of therapeutic areas through regulatory approvals. He most recently served as Executive Vice President, Research and Development at Acceleron Pharma, which was acquired by Merck in 2021. Prior to Acceleron, Dr. Backstrom served as the Chief Medical Officer and Head of Global Regulatory Affairs for Celgene Corporation and spent more than a decade at the company during a time of significant pipeline expansion and revenue growth. Prior to Celgene, he was Vice President, Global Medical and Safety at Pharmion Corporation. Early in his career he held industry roles at Quintiles, Hoechst Marion Roussel, and Marion Merrell Dow.

“Jay is an exceptional executive leader with a track record of success that spans several decades in the biopharmaceutical industry. He is the ideal leader for Scholar Rock, as he has brought transformative therapies targeting the TGFβ signaling pathway through development and into commercialization, including REBLOZYL® and sotatercept,” said David Hallal, Scholar Rock’s Chairman. “On behalf of the entire Board of Directors, I am thrilled to welcome Jay as Scholar Rock’s next CEO, where his extensive leadership experience and expertise in R&D and regulatory strategy will be critical for the next phase of the company. I would like to thank Nagesh for his remarkable leadership and commitment to Scholar Rock during his 10-year tenure at the company. He has led Scholar Rock from its initial startup phase and built an innovative company with a broad, late-stage pipeline targeting the TGFβ signaling pathway to bring potentially transformative therapies to patients suffering with devastating and life-threatening diseases.”

“I am both honored and humbled to have this opportunity to lead Scholar Rock at such a pivotal time, and I am excited about the potential of Scholar Rock’s spinal muscular atrophy and oncology programs, where we have near-term opportunities to develop transformative therapies for patients through a highly differentiated platform targeting growth factors like TGFβ,” said Dr. Backstrom. “I look forward to working closely with Nagesh, the Board, the executive team, and Scholar Rock employees to advance our lead clinical assets, build our pipeline, increase our impact on the lives of patients, and grow Scholar Rock for its next phase of success.”

During the transition period, Dr. Backstrom will fully engage with the company, working closely with Dr. Mahanthappa, members of the executive team, the R&D team, and other functions to advance the pivotal Phase 3 trial for apitegromab for patients with spinal muscular atrophy, the Phase 1 SRK-181 proof-of-concept study for patients with advanced cancer, and pre-clinical programs from the company’s innovative platform. Dr. Mahanthappa will remain interim CEO until October 20, following which he will step off the Board of Directors and serve as a strategic advisor to Scholar Rock.

Dr. Backstrom holds an M.D. from Temple University School of Medicine, received post-graduate training in Internal Medicine at Temple University Hospital, and holds an M.P.H. from St. Louis University School of Public Health. Dr. Backstrom currently sits on the board of directors of Autolus Therapeutics, Be Biopharma, Disc Medicine, and Lava Therapeutics.

About Scholar Rock

Scholar Rock is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on the discovery and development of innovative medicines for the treatment of serious diseases in which signaling by protein growth factors plays a fundamental role. Scholar Rock is creating a pipeline of novel product candidates with the potential to transform the lives of patients suffering from a wide range of serious diseases, including neuromuscular disorders, cancer, and fibrosis. Scholar Rock’s approach to targeting the molecular mechanisms of growth factor activation enabled it to develop a proprietary platform for the discovery and development of monoclonal antibodies that locally and selectively target these signaling proteins at the cellular level. By developing product candidates that act in the disease microenvironment, the Company intends to avoid the historical challenges associated with inhibiting growth factors for therapeutic effect. Scholar Rock believes its focus on biologically validated growth factors may facilitate a more efficient development path.

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