Civetta Therapeutics Appoints Jesse Smith, Ph.D. as CSO and Susan Ashwell, Ph.D. as SVP of Chemistry

Civetta Therapeutics Appoints Jesse Smith, Ph.D. as CSO and Susan Ashwell, Ph.D. as SVP of Chemistry

Civetta Therapeutics Appoints Jesse Smith, Ph.D. as CSO and Susan Ashwell, Ph.D. as SVP of Chemistry

– Appointments round out management team with expertise in drug discovery, development, and translational medicine-

CAMBRIDGE, Mass.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Civetta Therapeutics, LLC, a biotechnology company focused on developing a pipeline of therapies that target beta-propeller proteins, today announced that it has strengthened its management team with the additions of Jesse Smith, Ph.D., as Chief Scientific Officer and Susan Ashwell, Ph.D., as Senior Vice President of Chemistry.

“At Civetta, we realize that a great team is the foundation of everything we do, and the additions of Jesse and Sue position Civetta for further success at a pivotal point in our development,” said Christopher Roberts, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer of Civetta. “We have made great strides advancing our lead drug discovery programs and mapping the known beta propellers to better understand their roles in driving disease. It’s an exciting time for the company as we move toward the clinic, and Jesse and Sue bring tremendous translational drug development experience across multiple therapeutic areas. They, like others on the Civetta leadership team, have firsthand experience leading programs into the clinic and beyond. I welcome them both and we look forward to their leadership.”

“The team at Civetta has done great work building their novel platform and advancing their emerging pipeline of drugs that target the broad and previously unexploited protein family of beta propellers, which includes more than 600 potential targets,” said Dr. Smith. “This target-rich class of proteins represents an expansive opportunity to tackle protein-protein interactions in novel ways, while developing new treatments for patients in need across a range of diseases and therapeutic areas.”

“Targeting beta propeller proteins has tremendous potential for a variety of reasons. They control the function of a diverse set of biological complexes associated with disease progression,” said Dr. Ashwell. “Because beta propellers can be readily drugged within a protein complex of interest, including using typical small molecule chemistry, they have the potential for more contextuality and specificity than conventional protein-targeting approaches. Civetta’s approach should dramatically expand the universe of tractable protein targets.”

Jesse Smith, Ph.D., has over 20 years of experience advancing novel science, drug discovery, and therapeutics across the biotech and pharma industry. Prior to joining Civetta, he served as the Senior Vice President of Biology at REMIX Therapeutics, a Cambridge biotech focused on drugging RNA processing to target drivers of human disease, including cancer and neurodegeneration. While at REMIX, he played important roles in advancing the company’s lead programs and platform, resulting in $81 million in VC financing and in a recent pharma partnership with Janssen. As Vice President of Biology at Epizyme Pharmaceuticals, his team advanced to the clinic the first EZH2 inhibitor, which was recently approved in two oncology indications. While at Epizyme his team also advanced three additional oncology programs into the clinic in collaboration with GSK and Celgene. Jesse received his Ph.D. in Molecular Cancer Biology from Duke University Medical Center.

Sue Ashwell, Ph.D., has worked in R&D in both biotech and pharma for more than 25 years, helping advance clinical candidates across a variety of target classes and therapeutic areas, including oncology, CNS disorders, inflammation, and immunology. Prior to joining Civetta, Dr. Ashwell was Head of Medicinal Chemistry at UCB, Cambridge (through the acquisition of Ra Pharmaceuticals) where she had multiple roles in group and project leadership and worked to coordinate external collaborations. Before her role at Ra Pharmaceuticals, Sue was a Senior Director in Chemistry at FORMA Therapeutics where she co-led the FT-2102 program, currently in clinical development. Sue joined FORMA from AstraZeneca where she was a member of both local and global cancer chemistry and cancer management teams responsible for setting strategy, portfolio delivery, and governance, including resource and budget allocation. Before her time at AstraZeneca, she was a medicinal chemist, group, and project leader with Wyeth-Ayerst Research. Sue received her Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, prior to conducting postdoctoral research at the University of Illinois at Chicago and Imperial College, London.

About Civetta

Civetta is a biotechnology company focused on the development of therapies that target beta-propeller domains to treat cancer and other diseases. The company was founded based on the pivotal insights into beta-propeller domains made by its founders, which helped elucidate beta-propeller domain functionality and their potential for therapeutic intervention in oncology as well as neurodegeneration, metabolic disease and other disease areas. Civetta is funded by Deerfield Management Company and is based in Cambridge, MA. For more information, please visit


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