ANN ARBOR — Cerenis Therapeutics, the pharma company developing new  high-density lipoprotein therapies for cardiovascular and metabolic diseases, Tuesday appointed Richard C. Pasternak to the board of directors and John F. Paolini, M.D., as Chief Medical Officer.

Pasternak has had a long-standing research interest in lipid disorders and atherosclerosis, as well as prevention and patterns of practice and disease management. Previously, he was vice president and head of cardiovascular clinical research and head of global scientific affairs and scientific leadership at Merck & Co. from 2004 to 2010. Prior to this, he was director of preventive cardiology and cardiac rehabilitation at Massachusetts General Hospital from 1992 to 2004, and was associate professor of medicine at the Harvard Medical School.

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Pasternak has authored more than 100 publications and has spoken widely on the development of drugs for the treatment of cardiovascular diseases, and about how academia and industry can better collaborate in biomedical research. He is currently a faculty member of the Weill Cornell School of Medicine, and serves on the boards of the Founder’s Affiliate of the American Heart Association, the Galien Foundation, and Essentialis Therapeutics.

Said Jean-Louis Dasseux, CEO of Cerenis: “He brings unique clinical experience in the field of cardiovascular disease, as well as expertise in the biotech and pharmaceutical industry.”

Cerenis also announced the appointment of John F. Paolini, M.D., as Chief Medical Officer.

Paolini will be responsible for the strategic planning and execution of the clinical trials for Cerenis’ portfolio of novel cardiovascular therapies and, most importantly, Cerenis’  lead product, CER-001, a pre-beta HDL mimetic currently in Phase II clinical trials for patients with acute coronary syndrome.

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Paolini has more than 15 years of clinical and research experience in cardiovascular disease, the last decade being focused on clinical development in the pharmaceutical industry: notably, at Merck & Co., Inc he led development programs of novel therapies for dislipidemic patients (Tredaptive, the nicotinic acid/laropripant combination, and Vytorin/Inegy, the ezetimibe/simvastatin combination tablet). At Bayer Healthcare Pharmaceuticals, he led the clinical development program for a novel anticoagulant agent for patients with atrial fibrillation (Xarelto, the direct factor Xa inhibitor, rivaroxaban). He is board certified in cardiovascular disease, a Fellow of the American College of Cardiology and has served as a clinical associate in cardiovascular medicine at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. Paolini has been involved in the publication of more than 50 abstracts and scientific papers.

“I am impressed by the progress of the portfolio developed by Cerenis and the scientific excellence of its teams,” Paolini said. “Cerenis is a leader in the discovery of novel HDL therapies, a new approach to the treatment of cardiovascular disease, which is a primary cause of death and disability worldwide.”

Added Dasseux: “The appointment of Dr. Paolini comes at a crucial time in our development, with our lead drug candidate, CER-001 in Phase II; this product addresses a significant unmet medical need and represents a multibillion dollar opportunity. Dr. Paolini has had an exceptional career in the pharmaceutical industry, having held senior positions at companies such as Merck & Co. and Bayer Healthcare Pharmaceuticals. His role will be to drive the clinical development of our HDL programmes and we are confident that his expertise in the field of cardiovascular disease will enable us to achieve our regulatory milestones.”

Cerenis Therapeutics is an international biopharmaceutical company dedicated to the discovery and development of novel HDL therapies for the treatment of cardiovascular and metabolic diseases. HDL is the primary facilitator of the reverse lipid transport, or RLT, pathway by which excess cholesterol is removed from arteries and is transported to the liver for elimination from the body. Cerenis is developing a portfolio of HDL therapies, including HDL mimetics for the rapid regression of atherosclerotic plaque in high-risk patients, and HDL elevators for patients with low HDL. Cerenis is well positioned to become the leader in the HDL therapeutic market with a broad portfolio of programs in development.

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Since its inception in 2005, the company raised 117 million euros in equity with top tier investors Sofinnova Partners, HealthCap, Alta Partners, EDF Ventures, Daiwa Corporate Investment, TVM Capital, Orbimed, IRDI/IXO Private Equity and the FSI (Fund for Strategic Investment).