Catena Biosciences Expands Executive Leadership Team, Appoints Saurabh Johri as Chief Business Officer and Rick Kendall as Chief Scientific Officer
July 27, 2023Berkeley, CA
Catena Biosciences, Inc., a biotechnology company pioneering protein conjugation technologies for novel therapeutic development, today announced the expansion of its leadership team with two new executive appointments. The company has appointed Saurabh Johri as Chief Business Officer and Rick Kendall, Ph.D. as Chief Scientific Officer.
“Catena is in an exciting phase of growth, and we are pleased to welcome Saurabh and Rick to our growing team. Their experience leading R&D, strategy, partnership, and commercial organizations at some of the world’s largest biopharmaceutical companies will be a tremendous asset as we work to establish our early-stage pipeline and expand our development collaborations with industry partners,” said Marco Lobba, Ph.D., Catena Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer. “We look forward to their leadership as we continue to advance our mission to make imagination the only limit to therapeutic advancement by enabling the production of therapeutics beyond the limits of current biological manufacturing.”
Saurabh is seasoned industry executive with more than 20 years of strategy and commercialization experience in healthcare and biopharma. His experience spans global and U.S. leadership roles in multiple top-tier biopharmaceutical companies across early-stage development, product launches and leading $1B+ businesses with responsibility for partnerships of varying types and scale. Saurabh joins Catena Biosciences from Bayer where he was most recently Vice President & Global Head, Oncology Strategy and Early Commercialization. In his last role at Bayer, he was responsible for setting the short-term and long-term oncology strategy, partnering with early R&D to ensure oncology pipeline development was in line with strategy as well as partnering with business development to ensure strategic dealflow for Bayer’s Oncology pipeline and topline goals. Prior, he was U.S. Head, LYNPARZA (olaparib), leading strategy and execution across all tumor types for this first-in-class and market-leading PARP inhibitor. Saurabh also held senior commercial roles at Merck and Teva Pharmaceuticals where he was helo multiple leadership positions in New product planning and Globla strategy. He holds a BTech in Industrial Engineering from Motilal Nehru National Institute of Technology and an MBA from Carnegie Mellon University.
“Catena has invented a truly unique protein conjugation technology that is demonstrating its potential to create first- and best-in-class targeted therapies across multiple therapeutic areas. What struck me as as truly unique was the potential to quickly develop never before possible structures using targeted protein coupling to address critical unmet needs across a number of modalities,” said Saurabh. “I am looking forward to working alongside this incredibly talented team as we expand our collaborations with development partners around the world.”
Dr. Kendall was most recently President and CEO of ImmPACT BIO, a cell therapy company developing engineered T cells for the treatment of cancer. Prior, he was Vice President of Research at Kite Pharma where he was responsible for the company’s research pipeline and developing CAR-T technologies. Dr. Kendall was also an Executive Director and Head of Oncology Research at Amgen, where he directed a group of 90+ scientists and was responsible for the development of the company’s oncology therapeutic strategy aligning research with other functions including Chemistry, Protein Sciences, Medical Translational Sciences, Development and Commercial. Among his many accomplishments at Amgen, Dr. Kendall iniated efforts that led to the development of the first true KRAS inhibitor, LUMAKRAS. Additionally, he led the research diligence and integration team for the Micromet acquisition integrating the Bi-Specific T-cell Engager (BiTE) platform into Amgen’s repertoire of therapeutic modalities which became a cornerstone in the company’s immune-oncology efforts. He holds a Bachelors of Science from the University of California, Los Angeles and a Ph.D. from the University of California, Irvine School of Medicine.
“I have been very impressed with the Catena platform and its potential to deliver precision biotherapeutics using targeted protein coupling,” said Dr. Kendall. “The elegant mechanisms by which the Catena platform facilitates tyrosinase activation and site-specific protein–protein coupling has the potential to open up new development pathways for a broad range of therapies across a number of hard-to-treat diseases. I look forward to working in close collaboration with my new colleagues as we strive to make a positive difference in the lives of people living with challenging diseases.”