For Logical Therapeutics It’s a New City and a New Approach to Anti-Inflammatory Drugs; For the CEO, It’s a Whole New Career

12/13/07

For a company so new it still has that new-car smell (literally—the firm’s slate-and-beige carpet is still very much in off-gas mode), Logical Therapeutics has made some decent distance on the road to commercializing its first product. The Waltham, MA-based biotech startup already has a drug in clinical trials—one that could ultimately address a multibillion-dollar market—as well as two active preclinical programs. And, as I learned from cofounder and CEO Mitchell Fink, Logical has a strategy in place for getting maximal mileage out of its venture funding.

I visited Fink yesterday at Logical’s headquarters in a low-slung brick building just off of I-95 in Waltham, and found him, cofounder Carolyn Green, and their eight colleagues rattling around in some 8,000 square feet of newly built-out office and lab space. (The company’s three scientists share one of the most spacious lab setups I’ve ever seen.) Logical moved into the building just last week, after camping out for a few months in temporary quarters down the street while the renovation was under way. Logical has just made the leap to the Boston area from Pittsburgh, where Fink and Green founded the company two years ago, at the behest of the Series B investors who gave the firm some $30 million this past June. Those investors—including SV Life Sciences, Burrill & Company, and Novo A/S—thought that Logical would have a better chance of recruiting the managers and scientists it needed in a city like Boston, San Diego, or San Francisco. “They gave us a menu of options, and for a variety of reasons we chose Boston,” Fink says.

Right around that same time, and also at the investors’ urging, Fink—then the chair of the University of Pittsburgh’s Department of Critical Care Medicine, which he had helped launch several years earlier—made the choice to leave a lengthy career in academia and join Logical full time as its second employee. Green, a Pitt colleague of Finks who had been the health sciences director of the university’s Office of Enterprise Development, had became Logical employee number one about a year earlier, when the company raised its Series A round. (Logical has not disclosed the amount raised in that round, which it closed in July of 2006.)

Fink, a surgeon by training who has held a series of professorships in the UMass, Harvard, and Pitt systems, was no stranger to entrepreneurship. In 2000, he cofounded Lexington, MA-based Critical Therapeutics; the company (NASDAQ: CRTX) went public in 2004. That same year, Fink was appointed Pitt’s Associate Vice Chancellor for Translational Research and Commercialization, a position that allowed him to help other scientists decide when and how to commercialize their own work. But before taking the helm at Logical, Fink had never actually done the company thing full time.

“I was a very successful academic clinician/scientist, I think it’s fair to say,” Fink says. (Indeed, his CV includes a litany of NIH research grants.) “I had been doing it for more than 20 years, but I always thought the time to make a change was when you were at the top of your game.” What’s more, Fink says, “Development work in industry is closer to changing public health—it’s kind of fun to have an opportunity to make that kind of difference.”

And the lead candidate in Logical’s pipeline, Fink says, is just the sort of drug that could wind up having a huge impact on public health. … Next Page »

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