Casma Therapeutics Expands Executive Team with Appointment of Two Senior Vice Presidents

August 6, 2018

CAMBRIDGE, Mass.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Casma Therapeutics, Inc., today announced the appointment of two executives with extensive experience in drug discovery and translational medicine to further the company’s goal of leveraging the natural cellular process of autophagy to treat neurodegenerative, inflammatory and lysosomal storage disorders, among other conditions.

Jeffrey Saunders, Ph.D., Casma’s new senior vice president of drug discovery, is widely respected as a pioneer in developing efficient and highly productive models for drug design. Daniel Ory, M.D., professor of medicine, cell biology and physiology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, will bring his expertise in biomarker and clinical development of rare genetic diseases to his new role as senior vice president of translational medicine.

“Jeff and Dan come with outstanding expertise in their respective fields,” said Keith Dionne, Ph.D., CEO of Casma Therapeutics. “Jeff has built several successful drug discovery teams that have culminated in the launch of multiple commercial products and is leading Casma’s efforts to develop small molecule therapeutics targeting specific autophagy drivers. Dan’s biomarker and clinical expertise in NPC and other rare genetic diseases lays the foundation for advancing Casma’s autophagy inducing therapeutics into the clinic and beyond. Together, their expertise is invaluable as we advance autophagy research into therapeutic treatments for RGDs and broader indications including neurodegeneration.”

Jeffrey Saunders, Ph.D. has nearly three decades of experience as a drug discovery leader. Most recently, he served as vice president of chemistry at Nuvalent Therapeutics and in 2014, he co-founded Resilience Therapeutics, a neurology research company focused on developing solutions for anxiety- and trauma-based disorders. Previously, Dr. Saunders held leadership positions at Ember Therapeutics, where he helped move metabolic disease candidates through discovery, and Agios Pharmaceuticals, where he managed both internal and external researchers in drug design and led the team that discovered Agios’ recently approved drugs, IDHIFA® and TIBSOVO®. Dr. Saunders worked for over 10 years at Vertex Pharmaceuticals, culminating in a role as principal investigator where he led structure-based drug design programs in a number of disease areas, including Hepatitis C, inflammation and neurodegeneration. Dr. Saunders received his A.B. in chemistry from Hope College and holds a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from the University of South Carolina. He completed an NIH postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania.

Daniel Ory, M.D. comes to Casma from Washington University School of Medicine, where he served as the Alan A. and Edith L. Wolff Professor of Cardiology and was a tenured professor of medicine, cell biology and physiology. He is internationally recognized for his research on cholesterol biology and Niemann-Pick disease type C (NPC). His work to develop diagnostic biomarkers has transformed the way in which NPC is diagnosed. Working closely with the NIH, Dan led development of the Phase 1/2a trial of intrathecal cyclodextrin which led to the recent successful completion of an international, multisite Phase 2/3 trial for NPC. Dr. Ory has served on the scientific advisory boards of Stride Bio Scientific and the National Niemann-Pick Disease Foundation, among others. He holds 10 patents and has coauthored more than 120 peer-reviewed scientific articles. Dr. Ory has an A.B. from Harvard College and an M.D. from Harvard Medical School. He completed his residency at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and his fellowship in the cardiac unit at Massachusetts General Hospital.

About Casma Therapeutics
Casma Therapeutics is harnessing the natural cellular process of autophagy to open vast new target areas for drug discovery and development. Casma uses several approaches to intervene at strategic points throughout the autophagy-lysosome system to improve the cellular process of clearing out unwanted proteins, organelles and invading pathogens. By boosting autophagy, Casma expects to be able to arrest or reverse the progression of lysosomal storage disorders, muscle disorders, inflammatory disorders and neurodegeneration, among other indications. Casma was launched in 2018 by Third Rock Ventures and is based in Cambridge, Mass. For more information, please visit

Ten Bridge Communications
Stephanie Simon, 617-581-9333

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