VIENNA, AUSTRIA, November 15, 2023 — Proxygen, a leader in the discovery and development of molecular glue degraders, today announced the formation of the company’s scientific advisory board (SAB). The newly appointed SAB, which is comprised of highly regarded thought leaders in the emerging field of protein degradation, will offer scientific expertise and guidance to Proxygen as the company works to advance its internal molecular glue degrader programs toward clinical development. In addition to its internal programs, Proxygen is also actively engaged in strategic research collaboration and license agreements with Merck & Co (known as MSD outside the U.S. and Canada), Boehringer Ingelheim and Merck KGaA designed to jointly identify and develop novel molecular glue degraders.
“As a company at the forefront of translating the latest protein degradation research into the discovery and development of first-of-their-kind molecular glue degraders, we are fortunate to align with several of the brightest minds in this field. We are excited to add Drs. Schulman and Draetta to the Proxygen team as key advisors and pair them with Drs. Winter and Kubicek, who co-founded the company based on their trailblazing research at CeMM,” said Bernd Boidol, Ph.D., chief executive officer of Proxygen. “We are proud of the momentum that we continue to generate as we strive to achieve our goal of developing novel therapeutics to address the significant unmet needs of patients around the world. In addition to building a proprietary molecular glue discovery engine, creating a pipeline of promising internal programs, and establishing collaborations with three major pharmaceutical companies, we have also now assembled a premier board or directors and prestigious SAB to provide key guidance as we continue to work to achieve our mission.”
The members of Proxygen’s newly formed scientific advisory board include:
Brenda Schulman, Ph.D., Director, Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry
Dr. Schulman is a leading biochemist and structural biologist who is highly regarded for her significant contributions to understanding the regulation of E3 ubiquitin ligases. Her lab at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry, and at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, is recognized for illuminating mechanisms of ubiquitin and ubiquitin-like protein ligation, and for using a distinctive biochemical reconstitution approach to identify novel in vivo regulatory pathways. Dr. Schulman is an elected member of American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Sciences and EMBO. She has been awarded several prizes including the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize, the Ernst Jung Prize for Medicine, and the Louis-Jeantet Prize for Medicine. Prior to joining the Max Planck Institute in 2017, Dr. Schulman’s career also included conducting pioneering research at the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, and as a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
Giulio Draetta, M.D., Ph.D., Professor, Genomic Medicine, and Chief Scientific Officer, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Dr. Draetta is a physician scientist who has spent nearly three decades in oncology research and drug discovery in both academia and industry. He is widely recognized for spearheading fundamental research in the biology of the eukaryotic cell division cycle and of DNA damage induced checkpoints. Currently, his research focuses on pancreatic cancer and glioblastoma, using functional genomics to identify novel tumor dependencies and evaluate their potential for therapeutic translation. Over the years, Dr. Draetta has leveraged his translational expertise as a co-founder of several biotechnology companies and a leader of global research in large pharmaceutical companies. Prior to joining MD Anderson, he had been chief research business development officer and deputy director of the Belfer Institute for Applied Cancer Science at Dana Farber Cancer Institute, as well as head of oncology drug discovery at Pharmacia and Merck.
Georg Winter, Ph.D., Principal Investigator, CeMM, the Research Center for Molecular Medicine of the Austrian Academy of Sciences
Dr. Winter is a pioneer in the emerging field of protein degradation, having been credited with publishing the first paper reporting on in vivo target protein degradation. Today, his research as a principal investigator at CeMM is focused on using the unique pharmacology of targeted protein degradation to understand and disrupt aberrant gene control circuits in cancer. In particular, his group develops and implements functional genomics technologies to mechanistically characterize how E3 ligases can be hijacked with small molecules. Dr. Winter is a scientific co-founder of Proxygen and Solgate Therapeutics. His contribution to the field of targeted protein degradation has been honored through multiple international prices and awards, including the Tetrahedron Young Investigator Award (2023), the Wilson S. Stone Memorial Award from MD Anderson (2021) and the Eppendorf Award (2019).
Stefan Kubicek, Ph.D., Head of CeMM Molcular Discovery Program
Dr. Kubicek is a highly regarded researcher focused on chromatin, epigenetics, and small molecules that change cell fates in oncology and diabetes. He is a principal investigator at CeMM, where he previously headed the Christian Doppler Laboratory for Chemical Epigenetics and Anti-infectives and now serves as head of the Molecular Discovery Program. An organic chemist by training, his research focuses on the discovery and characterization of bioactive small molecules. This resulted in developing the first selective histone methyl transferase inhibitors as part of his Ph.D. and multiple chemical probes during his postdoctoral research with Stuart Schreiber at the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT and in his own laboratory. Research in Dr. Kubicek’s lab is funded by several organizations including the Austrian Academy of Sciences, the European Union, and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), among others.
Molecular glue degraders redirect the cell’s own quality control machinery towards disease-causing proteins, inducing their selective and complete elimination. Due to the ability of molecular glue degraders to modulate protein classes unamenable to traditional drug discovery approaches, these molecules hold the promise of unlocking a large proportion of the undruggable target space and delivering innovative therapies for diseases with high medical need. However, the lack of scalable discovery strategies has so far hindered the full exploitation of the clinical potential of molecular glue degraders.
By streamlining and fully integrating cutting-edge genomic, proteomic, and biochemical technologies, Proxygen has successfully developed a highly versatile glue degrader discovery engine. This screening approach enables the specific identification of molecular glue degraders against difficult-to-drug or completely undruggable targets at large scale. The company has generated expansive knowledge and data in the discovery and chemical optimization of degrader molecules, positioning it as a pioneer in this novel modality.
Proxygen is a leader in the discovery and development of molecular glue degraders against targets of unmet medical need across various indications. While advancing its internal programs towards clinical development, the company also maintains various strategic partnerships, including collaborations with Merck & Co (known as MSD outside the U.S. and Canada), Boehringer Ingelheim and Merck KGaA, to co-create synergies along the drug development pipeline. With its headquarters and laboratory operations in Vienna, Austria, Proxygen employs talent both locally and remotely all over Europe. Learn more at: www.proxygen.com.
Bernd Boidol, Ph.D.
Chief Executive Officer
Vida Strategic Partners (on behalf of Proxygen)
Tim Brons (Media)