Atara Biotherapeutics, Inc. (Nasdaq: ATRA), a pioneer in T-cell immunotherapy, leveraging its novel allogeneic EBV T-cell platform to develop transformative therapies for patients with serious diseases including solid tumors, hematologic cancers and autoimmune disease, today named cell therapy and oncology expert Cokey Nguyen, Ph.D. as Chief Scientific Officer.
“With his passion for serving patients and a deep commitment to delivering results, we’re very excited for Cokey to join our team as Chief Scientific Officer,” said Jakob Dupont, M.D., Head of Global Research & Development. “Bringing significant experience to Atara in research and development of cell therapies as well as oncology drug discovery and development, Cokey is eager to both advance our existing programs and further expand our pipeline.”
Dr. Nguyen comes to Atara from Fate Therapeutics, where, as Vice President, Innovation, Research and Development, he directed strategy for discovery and innovation efforts, and spearheaded the corporate collaboration program with ONO Pharma. Prior to that, he was leader of the targeted immunotherapy group on the Oncology R&D team at Pfizer, producing bispecific antibodies for solid tumors and hematological malignancies and bringing them into the clinic.
Dr. Nguyen’s bench science experience includes work in tumor metabolism, gene expression and molecular biology. He holds numerous patents for iPSC and immune effector cells and has been published in various peer-reviewed journals. Dr. Nguyen has also been active in successful business development activities, including, while at Janssen, evaluating Legend’s BCMA-directed CAR T program and supporting the Janssen/Legend partnership.
“I’m thrilled to join the Atara team to help advance the novel allogeneic EBV T-cell platform. Having worked many years in the oncology and cell therapy space, I believe this platform has best-in-class potential, and Atara’s strong process science capabilities and manufacturing scale-up experience at pre-commercial stage with allogeneic T cells can accelerate bringing transformative therapies to patients in need,” said Nguyen. “Throughout my career, it’s been my personal mission to discover and advance innovative therapies to address the unmet need of cancer patients who do not respond to current standards of care.”
Dr. Nguyen received his undergraduate degree in biology from Harvard College and a Ph.D. in Immunology from Washington University in St. Louis. He was a Postdoctoral Associate at the Center for Cancer Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he focused on the identification and characterization of BRCT domains as novel phospho-binding domains in DNA damage pathways.
“Bringing a seasoned professional like Cokey to Atara is another demonstration of the investment we are making in attracting top talent to the Company to both advance our existing pipeline and build out our portfolio as we further leverage our differentiated allogeneic cell therapy platform,” said Pascal Touchon, President and Chief Executive Officer of Atara. “We look forward to Cokey joining the team to help create and advance truly transformative therapies for patients.”
About Atara Biotherapeutics, Inc.
Atara Biotherapeutics, Inc. (@Atarabio) is a pioneer in T-cell immunotherapy leveraging its novel allogeneic EBV T-cell platform to develop transformative therapies for patients with serious diseases including solid tumors, hematologic cancers and autoimmune disease. With our lead program in Phase 3 clinical development, Atara is the most advanced allogeneic T-cell immunotherapy company and intends to rapidly deliver off-the-shelf treatments to patients with high unmet medical need. Our platform leverages the unique biology of EBV T cells and has the capability to treat a wide range of EBV-associated diseases, or other serious diseases through incorporation of engineered CARs (chimeric antigen receptors) or TCRs (T-cell receptors). Atara is applying this one platform to create a robust pipeline including: tab-cel® in Phase 3 development for Epstein-Barr virus-driven post-transplant lymphoproliferative disease (EBV+ PTLD) and other EBV-driven diseases; ATA188, a T-cell immunotherapy targeting EBV antigens as a potential treatment for multiple sclerosis; and multiple next-generation chimeric antigen receptor T-cell (CAR-T) immunotherapies for both solid tumors and hematologic malignancies. Improving patients’ lives is our mission and we will never stop working to bring transformative therapies to those in need. Atara is headquartered in South San Francisco and our leading-edge research, development and manufacturing facility is based in Thousand Oaks, California. For additional information about the company, please visit atarabio.com and follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn.
This press release contains or may imply "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. For example, forward-looking statements include statements regarding: Dr. Nguyen joining Atara as Chief Scientific Officer and the related effective date; Atara’s portfolio, pipeline, technology and platform; Atara’s process science and manufacturing capabilities; and Atara’s ability to successfully advance the development of its portfolio, pipeline, technology and platform. Because such statements deal with future events and are based on Atara Biotherapeutics' current expectations, they are subject to various risks and uncertainties and actual results, performance or achievements of Atara Biotherapeutics could differ materially from those described in or implied by the statements in this press release. These forward-looking statements are subject to risks and uncertainties, including, without limitation, risks and uncertainties associated with the costly and time-consuming pharmaceutical product development process and the uncertainty of clinical success; the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which may significantly impact (i) our business, research, clinical development plans and operations, including our operations in South San Francisco and Southern California and at our clinical trial sites, as well as the business or operations of our third-party manufacturer, contract research organizations or other third parties with whom we conduct business, (ii) our ability to access capital, and (iii) the value of our common stock; the sufficiency of Atara’s cash resources and need for additional capital; and other risks and uncertainties affecting Atara’s and its development programs, including those discussed in Atara Biotherapeutics' filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), including in the “Risk Factors” and “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” sections of the Company’s most recently filed periodic reports on Form 10-K and Form 10-Q and subsequent filings and in the documents incorporated by reference therein. Except as otherwise required by law, Atara Biotherapeutics disclaims any intention or obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date hereof, whether as a result of new information, future events or circumstances or otherwise.