Cambridge, Mass. (Business Wire) June 13, 2018 – Imara Inc., a clinical stage biopharmaceutical company, today announced that Rahul D. Ballal, Ph.D., has joining as its new Chief Executive Officer (CEO). Dr. Ballal comes to Imara with more than 15 years of life sciences experience and will help drive important expansion as the company’s investigational medicine for sickle cell disease, IMR-687, advances through mid- and late-stage clinical trials. Throughout his career, Dr. Ballal has demonstrated a track record of success in business development, strategic partnerships, venture capital, and company financing. Dr. Ballal will succeed Imara’s founder and former President and CEO, James McArthur, Ph.D., who will continue his work helping patients living with sickle cell disease as a member of Imara’s Board of Directors.
“We’re at an exciting point in the clinical development of IMR-687, as this promising new therapeutic is being evaluated in a Phase 2a study in sickle cell patients,” said Rahul D. Ballal, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer of Imara. “Patients need access to innovative, easy to manage therapies and I am looking forward to expanding the company and continuing the important work James and team have done to date. IMR-687 is designed to be a disease-modifying therapy in a simple once-daily oral pill that we hope will help healthcare providers create better treatment outcomes for patients.”
“Rahul is a leader in biotech and venture capital, with a strong emphasis on business development, strategic partnerships, and financing. While Chief Business Officer at Northern Biologics, he built a top-tier immuno-oncology portfolio and led a key set of transactions with Celgene,” said David Mott, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Imara. “We look forward to Rahul leading Imara during this critical time, as the company advances IMR-687 through clinical development to help patients suffering from sickle cell disease and other hemoglobinopathies.”
Dr. Ballal joined Imara from Northern Biologics and Versant Ventures where he was Chief Business Officer and an Entrepreneur-in-Residence, respectively. At Northern, he built a first-in-class immune-oncology portfolio, led a broad strategic partnership with Celgene, and managed several key functional roles at the executive level. At Versant, he negotiated foundational assets for existing portfolio and new companies, sourced several new deals, and participated in investment team activities. Previously, Dr. Ballal was Vice President, Business Development at Flexion Therapeutics, where he led several business development transactions, supported multiple functions during the initial public offering, and completed a key $175MM strategic partnership with Patheon UK, for dedicated commercial manufacturing. Prior to Flexion, he held business development and leadership positions at Novartis Venture Fund; Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard; and Redmind Inc. Dr. Ballal earned a Bachelor’s degree in Biology from Brown University, a Master’s degree in Bioinformatics from Johns Hopkins University and a Ph.D. in Biochemistry from Georgetown University.
The company is scheduled to present information on IMR-687 at the 12th Annual Symposium of the Foundation for Sickle Cell Disease Research held June 15-17 in Washington, D.C.
About Sickle Cell Disease
Sickle cell disease is a rare, genetically inherited condition that alters hemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells that transports oxygen throughout the body. The altered hemoglobin distorts red blood cells into a sickle, or crescent, shape. Painful episodes can occur when sickled red blood cells, which are stiff and inflexible, get stuck in small blood vessels. These episodes deprive tissues and organs of oxygen-rich blood and can lead to vaso-occlusive crisis (VOC), acute chest syndrome (ACS), and permanent damage to organs including the liver, spleen, kidney and brain.
Imara Inc., is dedicated to developing novel therapeutics for patients with sickle cell disease and other hemoglobinopathies. Imara is currently developing IMR-687, a highly selective, potent small molecule inhibitor of PDE9, to treat patients with sickle cell disease. IMR-687 was specifically designed to treat patients with sickle cell disease by both reducing red blood cell sickling and blockage of blood vessels that are underlying causes of the pathology of sickle cell disease. The company was launched out of orphan drug accelerator Cydan Development with financing from life science investors NEA, Pfizer Venture Investments, Lundbeckfond Ventures, Bay City Capital and Alexandria Venture Investments.