Cydan Launches with $16M in Backing

Cydan, an orphan drug accelerator that aims to identify and “de-risk” programs with therapeutic and commercial potential, said that it has launched with $16 million in venture backing. New Enterprise Associates and Pfizer Venture Investments led the financing, with participation from Alexandria Real Estate Equities Inc. Cydan is based in Cambridge, Mass.


Cydan, LLC, an orphan drug accelerator that identifies and de-risks programs with therapeutic and commercial potential, today announced its launch with $16 million in financing led by New Enterprise Associates (NEA) and Pfizer Venture Investments, with participation from Alexandria Real Estate Equities, Inc. The accelerator will focus on identifying promising assets with well-understood biology and proof-of-concept data in in vivo models from academia, industry and other sources. Data generated during a rigorous de-risking process will enable Cydan to form stand-alone companies and strategic partnerships. The accelerator was founded by a management team with extensive drug development and commercialization experience across the biopharmaceutical industry, venture capital, consulting, non-profit organizations and research foundations.

“Cydan is taking a new approach to drug development – one that takes advantage of recent scientific breakthroughs in rare diseases and is externally focused, highly collaborative and capital efficient,” said Cristina Csimma, Pharm.D., Chief Executive Officer of Cydan. “We are partnering with leading academic centers, patient foundations and biopharmaceutical companies to identify the most promising rare disease programs and conduct de-risking studies to accelerate development decisions. The most viable programs will be spun out of the Cydan accelerator as new startup companies focused on making an impact on the lives of patients with rare diseases.”

Cydan will assess opportunities across all therapeutic areas in rare diseases, with a focus on diseases and disorders with a characterized genetic etiology. The accelerator will conduct outsourced pharmacology, toxicology and other studies aimed at de-risking these programs and providing data to inform definitive “go” or “no go” development decisions. Additionally, Cydan will evaluate a wide range of drug platforms and technologies.

“The founding team at Cydan is exceptionally well positioned to build this new business model for orphan drug development, bringing a depth of expertise, a vast network of key relationships, and a true passion for developing treatments for rare diseases,” said David Mott, a General Partner at NEA. “We look forward to partnering with Cristina and her leadership team as they leverage a capital-efficient approach to identifying and de-risking multiple assets. We ultimately expect the accelerator to spin out several exciting rare disease companies, and, most importantly, to lead to therapeutics that make a difference in the lives of patients.”

“The Cydan accelerator model is a collaborative new way to explore therapeutic opportunities in the large and diverse rare disease space,” said Barbara J. Dalton, Ph.D., Vice President of Venture Capital at Pfizer Venture Investments. “This venture investment is aligned with and builds on our broad corporate strategic interest in the rare and orphan disease space. Pfizer Ventures is excited to facilitate this new business model in the important field of rare diseases.”

Cydan’s experienced and globally networked team brings deep expertise in drug development and a track record of product commercialization, as well as strong relationships with academia and patient advocacy groups. Dr. Csimma has held development leadership positions at Virdante Pharmaceuticals, Wyeth Research and Genetics Institute, was a Principal at Clarus Ventures and has worked with rare disease non-profit organizations. Joining her on Cydan’s founding management team are Chris Adams, Ph.D., Chief Business Officer, and former Chief Business Officer of FoldRx (acquired by Pfizer in 2010) and a former senior business development executive at ViaCell and TKT; James McArthur, Ph.D., Chief Scientific Officer, and a former senior R&D executive at Synovex, Phylogix and Cell Genesys; and Deborah Geraghty, Ph.D., Vice President, Project and Portfolio Development, and a former senior portfolio management executive at Aileron Therapeutics and Infinity Pharmaceuticals as well as a founder of consulting firm Back Bay Strategies (Back Bay Life Science Advisors).

About Orphan and Rare Diseases

A rare and orphan disease is one that affects fewer than 200,000 patients – or about 1 in 1,500 – in the U.S. Other countries have defined rare diseases as those affecting similar portions of their populations. Today, there are nearly 7,000 recognized rare diseases affecting nearly 30 million Americans and an estimated 350 million people worldwide. Most of these rare diseases are genetic and many appear early in life – 75 percent of rare diseases affect children and 30 percent of rare disease patients will not live to the age of five. The vast majority of rare and orphan diseases have no approved treatment options and there is a critical need for new potential therapies. However, recent advances in the molecular understanding of rare diseases have created an opportunity to dramatically advance breakthrough research and develop new treatments. (Sources: U.S. Food & Drug Administration, NORD, EURORDIS and SIOP Europe)

About NEA

New Enterprise Associates, Inc. (NEA) is a leading venture capital firm focused on helping entrepreneurs build transformational businesses across multiple stages, sectors and geographies. With more than $13 billion in committed capital, NEA invests in information technology, healthcare and energy technology companies at all stages in a company’s lifecycle, from seed stage through IPO. The firm’s long track record includes more than 175 portfolio company IPOs and more than 290 acquisitions. In the U.S., NEA has offices in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area; Menlo Park, California; and New York City. In addition, New Enterprise Associates (India) Pvt. Ltd. has offices in Bangalore and Mumbai, India and New Enterprise Associates (Beijing), Ltd. has offices in Beijing and Shanghai, China. For additional information, visit

About Pfizer Venture Investments

Pfizer Venture Investments (PVI), the venture capital arm of Pfizer, Inc., was founded in 2004 and invests for return in areas of current or future strategic interest to Pfizer. As part of Worldwide Business Development, PVI seeks to remain at the forefront of life science advances, looking to identify and invest in emerging companies that are developing compounds and technologies that have the potential to enhance Pfizer’s pipeline and shape the future of our industry.

About Alexandria Real Estate Equities, Inc.
Alexandria Real Estate Equities, Inc. (NYSE: ARE), is the largest and leading investment-grade real estate investment trust (REIT) focused principally on owning, operating, and developing high-quality, sustainable real estate for the broad and diverse life science industry. Founded in 1994, Alexandria was the first REIT to identify and pursue the laboratory niche and has since had the first-mover advantage in best-in-class life science cluster locations. In 1996, Alexandria founded Alexandria Venture Investments, its strategic venture capital arm that actively invests at the cutting edge of novel, breakthrough discoveries in biopharmaceuticals, technology platforms, clinical candidates, diagnostics, research tools, and medical devices. Alexandria is uniquely positioned to fund life science and advanced technology companies based on its experience and in-depth understanding of the life science industry, its long-term relationships with leading investors, and its world-class international scientific advisory network. For more information, please visit

About Cydan, LLC
Cydan is an orphan drug accelerator that identifies and de-risks assets with therapeutic and commercial potential. The accelerator’s model evaluates programs for treating rare diseases with high unmet medical need and is aimed at creating new companies to develop those therapies. Cydan was launched in 2013 by a management team with extensive drug development and commercialization experience and with financing from leading investors NEA, Pfizer Venture Investments and Alexandria Real Estate Equities. The accelerator is based in Cambridge, Mass.