Leiden, The Netherlands, June 30, 2021 – Azafaros B.V. today announced that Stefano Portolano, M.D., has joined Azafaros as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and has concurrently been appointed to the Board of Directors of the company. Dr. Portolano is an experienced industry executive with a track record of successfully implementing commercialization and market access strategies across a broad spectrum of indications. Within his 25 years in the biotech and pharmaceutical industries, he has focused on leadership roles in organizations that develop orphan specialty medicines for patients with rare diseases.
“We are very happy to welcome Stefano to Azafaros as the company progresses further into clinical development. We believe Azafaros will benefit greatly from his experience in defining and executing corporate strategies as well as his extensive background in rare diseases,” said Carlo Incerti, M.D., Chairman of Azafaros’ Board of Directors. “Stefano joins an outstanding team that is rapidly advancing lead candidate AZ-3102, the company’s proprietary orally-available azasugar molecule for the treatment of GM1 and GM2 gangliosidoses.”
Dr. Incerti added: “In addition, on behalf of the Board, the company and its shareholders, I would like to express our deepest gratitude to Olivier Morand for his invaluable contributions as co-founder of the company and its first CEO. Olivier’s efforts to secure significant financing, to attract experienced industry executives, and to bring its lead program into the clinic, were instrumental for laying the solid foundation upon which Azafaros will further expand. We wish him the best for his future ventures.”
“Since the company’s inception in 2018, Azafaros has made remarkable progress by building a strong and committed organization that has reached the clinic in less than three years,” said Stefano Portolano, M.D., Azafaros’ Chief Executive Officer. “I am excited about the opportunity to lead Azafaros through its transition into the next phase and to further expand the potential of our pipeline.”
About Dr. Stefano Portolano
Dr. Portolano joins Azafaros from Ultragenyx Pharmaceuticals where he served as Head of Europe since 2016. At Ultragenyx, he was responsible for all aspects of the company’s business in the European market, as well as the oversight of the company’s European offices. Prior to Ultragenyx, Dr. Portolano spent a decade at Celgene, most recently as Vice President, Strategy & Commercial Operations. In this role, Dr. Portolano was responsible for strategic initiatives and driving commercial execution. Earlier in his career, Dr. Portolano held various senior commercial, business development and general management positions at Genzyme and Sigma-Tau. Dr. Portolano started his career as an adjunct assistant professor of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), where he authored several scientific publications on the molecular biology of autoimmunity. He received his Doctor of Medicine from Università degli Studi di Napoli ‘Federico II’.
Azafaros was founded in 2018 by a team of experienced industry professionals and scientists aspiring to address rare genetic metabolic disorders through a pipeline of oral small molecules with diseasemodifying potential. Based on discoveries from Leiden University and Amsterdam University Medical Center, Azafaros’ proprietary lead compound AZ-3102 will initially address inherited life-threatening lysosomal storage diseases for which there are no effective therapies today. This orally available azasugar compound interferes with the metabolism of glycolipids and uniquely affects several key disease pathways through a dual mode of action. Leveraging the know-how of its team and partners in orphan drug development, the company is advancing its lead program in first-in-man studies while further expanding its product pipeline into other rare metabolic diseases through its drug discovery efforts. Azafaros is supported by a syndicate of leading Dutch and Swiss investors including Forbion, BioGeneration Ventures, BioMedPartners and Schroder Adveq.
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