Karuna Pharmaceuticals is a company focused on targeting muscarinic cholinergic receptors for the treatment of neuropsychiatric disorders marked by psychosis and cognitive impairment).
Today they announced the appointment of Steven Paul, MD, as Chief Executive Officer, effective August 15.
Founder, Andrew Miller, PhD, is a member of the board and will assume the role of Chief Operating Officer.
“As the lead inventor of Karuna’s lead programme KarXT, Andrew has been essential in both creating and executing on the vision for Karuna, and I thank him for bringing the company to this point where it is positioned for immense growth,” said Dr Paul. “Targeting muscarinic receptors is one of the most promising approaches to treating both the psychosis and cognitive impairment that characterise many disabling neuropsychiatric disorders, including schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s disease, where there is a profound need for more effective treatments. Having been one of the scientists involved in the original work on xanomeline at Lilly, I am excited by the progress that Karuna has made to unlock this important new class of therapeutics. I am looking forward to helping Karuna become a leader in the field and believe in the potential for KarXT to be the first antipsychotic drug with a truly novel mechanism in over 60 years. We are also excited by recent preclinical work suggesting that KarXT may be an effective non-opiate treatment for pain.”
“I worked closely with Steve at Sage Therapeutics and his experience and creativity in the field is rare,” said Robert Nelsen, Managing Director of ARCH Venture Partners, and Board Member at Karuna. “KarXT’s potential to meet unmet patient need is exciting and Steve’s experience is perfectly aligned to support Karuna’s goal of delivering first-in-class drugs for treating psychosis, cognitive impairment, and pain.”
Dr Paul, who also serves as Chairman of the Karuna Board, is an expert in central nervous system (CNS) drug discovery and development. He spent 17 years at Eli Lilly and Company (NYSE: LLY), during which time he held several key leadership roles, including Executive Vice President for Science and Technology and President of the Lilly Research Laboratories, where he was responsible for the Company’s overall research and development efforts for CNS drugs such as Zyprexa® and Cymbalta®. At Lilly, Dr Paul also helped oversee the development of xanomeline where its antipsychotic and procognitive properties were initially demonstrated. Prior to Lilly, Steve spent 18 years at the National Institute of Health (NIH) and served as the Scientific Director of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Dr Paul is a Co-founder and Board Member of Sage Therapeutics (NASDAQ: SAGE), a Co-founder of Voyager Therapeutics (NASDAQ: VYGR) where he served as President, Chief Executive Officer, and member of the Board of Directors, and a member of the Board of Directors at Alnylam Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: ALNY). Dr Paul is the former Director of the Appel Alzheimer Disease Research Institute at Weill Cornell Medical College and is currently an Adjunct Professor of Psychiatry at Washington University of St Louis School of Medicine.
Dr Paul has authored or co-authored more than 550 papers and book chapters. He is an elected fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a member of the National Academy of Medicine (NAM) of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS). He is also an elected fellow of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ACNP) and served as ACNP President (1999). Dr Paul is the Chairman of the Board of the Foundation for the NIH (FNIH) and previously served on the Science Board of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in addition to serving on many other advisory committees and receiving many awards and honors for his work in neuropsychiatry.
“We have made significant progress in the development of our lead product candidate, KarXT, and we are thrilled to have Steve at the helm as we advance into a Phase 2 trial in schizophrenia inthe third quarter,” said Dr Miller. “Steve has an extensive track record of successfully advancing the R&D activities of novel molecular entities for CNS disorders, having led efforts from discovery through commercialisation for blockbuster treatments. His expertise will be immensely valuable as we drive Karuna forward.”