Doug Fambrough has stepped down as a general partner with Oxford Bioscience Partners, in order to become CEO of Oxford portfolio company Dicerna Pharmaceuticals Inc. He will remain as a venture partner with Oxford. Dicerna is a Cambridge, Mass.-based RNA interference company that has raised $21.4 million in VC funding from Oxford, Abingworth Management and Skyline Ventures.
He tells peHUB that Dicerna will likely seek between $25 million and $30 million in new VC funding during the second half of this year.
Dicerna Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Dicerna), a second generation RNA interference (RNAi) company developing novel therapeutics utilizing its proprietary Dicer Substrate Technology™ and Dicer Substrate siRNA (DsiRNA) molecules, today announced the appointment of Douglas M. Fambrough, Ph.D. as chief executive officer. Former CEO and co-founder James C. Jenson, Ph.D. will remain an active contributor to the company as he continues as a member of Dicerna’s board of directors and scientific advisory board.
“The board would like to thank Jim for his outstanding leadership and vision. As founding CEO, Jim has been critical to the growth and success of Dicerna, and we look forward to continuing to work closely with him on Dicerna’s board,” said David M. Madden, chairman of Dicerna’s board of directors. “As we look ahead at the significant opportunities for Dicerna, we believe Doug’s scientific know-how, breadth of business and financing experience, and proven leadership abilities position him well to lead Dicerna as it exploits its broad technology platform through its next phase of growth from an early stage discovery company to a product development company.”
Dr. Fambrough was one of the founders of Dicerna and has been an active board member and investor since its inception. With this appointment, he is stepping down from his position as a general partner at Oxford Bioscience Partners, where he has specialized in financing innovative life science technology companies since 1999. While at Oxford, Dr. Fambrough led the investment in the first generation RNA interference company Sirna Therapeutics. Among his other investments are high-throughput DNA sequencing pioneer Solexa; Xencor, which engineers antibody Fc domains to enhance drug properties; Rib-X Pharmaceuticals, a developer of antibiotics against multi-drug resistant pathogens; and Solstice Neurosciences, which markets the protein drug Myobloc® for movement disorders. Prior to joining Oxford, Dr. Fambrough was a genomic scientist at the Whitehead/MIT Center for Genomic Research, now known as the Broad Institute. He graduated from Cornell University and obtained his Ph.D. in genetics from the University of California, Berkeley.
“As co-founder, lead investor and director, I have been intimately involved in the creation of Dicerna and am proud of its initial scientific and business successes. The company has made tremendous progress on the partnering front by closing major alliances with Kyowa Hakko Kirin and Ipsen, and I am confident we will continue to build on this momentum. I am delighted to be taking my commitment to Dicerna to the next level and lead the company into its next phase of growth,” stated Dr. Fambrough. “Dicerna’s novel, second generation approach to developing RNAi-based therapies and delivery systems, based on its leading-edge Dicer Substrate Technology platform, differentiates the company from other RNAi approaches, and as a result I believe the company is uniquely positioned to realize the promise of RNAi therapeutics. I look forward to working with the strong team at Dicerna and continuing to advance the company’s clinical and business development strategy.”
About Dicer Substrate RNAi
Dicer is a critical enzyme involved in the RNAi gene silencing cascade and acts as the natural initiation point for this pathway by processing double-stranded RNA so that it can be used for gene silencing. Dicer then delivers these modified small RNA molecules to the mature gene silencing complex (RISC). Dicerna’s synthetic Dicer Substrate siRNA (DsiRNA) molecules are 25 or more base pairs in length and are processed by Dicer. By utilizing this distinct early entry point into the pathway, DsiRNA molecules have greater potency and longer duration of action than other RNAi approaches. In addition, DsiRNA molecules have enhanced delivery potential because their structure creates a natural conjugation point for cellular targeting agents.
Dicerna Pharmaceuticals is a private, venture-backed RNAi-focused biopharmaceutical company developing novel therapeutic agents and related drug delivery systems in multiple disease areas based on its proprietary Dicer Substrate Technology platform and Dicer Substrate siRNA (DsiRNA) molecules. Dicer Substrate Technology is a second generation RNAi approach that results in greater potency, longer duration of action and enhanced delivery potential, differentiating it from other RNAi approaches. Dicerna believes that its Dicer Substrate Technology is based on intellectual property that is both broadly enabling and distinct from other IP in the field. Dicerna has exclusive, worldwide rights to the Dicer Substrate Technology and has the sole right to grant sublicenses to the full portfolio of Dicer Substrate intellectual property. Dicerna has a major alliance with Kyowa Hakko Kirin for DsiRNA pharmaceuticals and drug delivery systems, initially focused on oncology. The company also has a partnership with Ipsen to research and develop novel DsiRNA therapeutics with targeted delivery in oncology and endocrinology. Dicerna is based in Watertown, Massachusetts. For more information, please visit www.dicerna.com.