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John Mendlein Passes Torch to New CEO at San Diego’s aTyr Pharma

Xconomy San Diego — 

San Diego-based aTyr Pharma (NASDAQ: LIFE) said John Mendlein is stepping down as president and CEO, effective today. According to a statement released after the market closed, Sanjay S. Shukla, who has served as aTyr’s chief medical officer since March 2016, is succeeding Mendlein, who plans to continue to serve on aTyr’s board as a non-executive board member.

The company says aTyr’s board of directors and management team are in “full support” of the decision. In the statement from aTyr, Mendlein says the timing is right and the company is well-positioned to develop medicines for patients with rare muscle and lung diseases, and to serve cancer patients with products derived from its new immune-oncology platform. He is quoted as saying, “After six incredible years as CEO, I am very pleased to pass the leadership torch to Sanjay and continue to advise him as a board member.”

Mendlein also serves on a number of other company boards, including Editas Medicine, Moderna Therapeutics, and Axcella Health.

In the 19 months since he joined aTyr, Shukla led the completion of three early stage clinical trials of a protein therapeutic designated “Resolaris,” and two long-term safety extension studies for the treatment of rare muscular dystrophies. Resolaris is a physiocrine-based drug candidate, intended for rare myopathies with an immune component, such as facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy and limb girdle muscular dystrophy. Shula also advanced aTyr’s iMod.Fc program for the treatment of interstitial lung diseases, with a Phase 1 trial expected to commence this quarter.

Neither Mendlein nor Shukla were available to discuss the transition.