Biotech Industry Veteran Dietmar Berger, M.D., Ph.D., Joins Atara Biotherapeutics as Global Head of Research and Development
Expanded R&D leadership team focused on rigorous late-stage clinical development and leveraging full potential of Atara’s technology platform
SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, Calif., May 07, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Atara Biotherapeutics, Inc. (Nasdaq:ATRA), a leading off-the-shelf, allogeneic T-cell immunotherapy company developing novel treatments for patients with cancer, autoimmune and viral diseases, today announced Dietmar P. Berger, M.D., Ph.D., most recently a senior R&D leader at Roche/Genentech, will join Atara as Global Head of Research and Development.
“Dietmar is an accomplished physician-scientist and biotech research and development leader,” said Isaac Ciechanover, M.D., Chief Executive Officer and President of Atara Biotherapeutics. “His deep experience building high-performing teams and strategic leadership of cancer immunotherapy development will help us shape the future of our innovative T-cell immunotherapy pipeline and technology platform.”
Prior to joining Atara, Dr. Berger was Senior Vice President and Global Head, Product Development, Clinical Science Hematology and Oncology at Roche/Genentech. In this role, he led medical strategy for the company’s global clinical development portfolio for cancer medicines, including global filings and approvals of Gazyva®, Cotellic®, Alecensa®, Tecentriq® and Hemlibra®. Formerly, he was Vice President of Global Clinical Development for Roche/Genentech’s HER2 breast cancer franchise, supporting the development and marketing approvals of Perjeta® and Kadcyla® across several new indications. Previously, he led oncology clinical development at Bayer and held positions of increasing responsibility at Amgen.
Dr. Berger also led research groups focusing on preclinical drug development, tumor models, angiogenesis, and immunotherapy as Head of the Clinical Research Center at the University Medical Hospital, Freiburg, Germany, and at The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, CA. He received the Cancer Award of the German Cancer Society for his research on angiogenesis and earned his M.D. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Freiburg.
“I am excited to join Atara and lead research and development during this transformational period, including the ongoing Phase 3 development of tab-cel™, the potential first commercially available off-the-shelf, allogeneic T-cell immunotherapy,” said Dr. Berger. “Atara’s robust pipeline in oncology, autoimmune and viral disease, as well as its manufacturing expertise and growing global commercial capabilities uniquely position the company to transform the lives of patients with serious medical conditions. Together with Atara’s strong R&D leadership team, we will continue to focus on rigorous late-stage clinical development and leveraging the full potential of our technology platform.”
Dr. Berger will report directly to Dr. Ciechanover and will manage all R&D leadership functions.
About Atara Biotherapeutics, Inc.
Atara Biotherapeutics, Inc. (@Atarabio) is a leading T-cell immunotherapy company developing novel treatments for patients with cancer, autoimmune and viral diseases. The Company's off-the-shelf, allogeneic T-cells are bioengineered from donors with healthy immune function and allow for rapid delivery from inventory to patients without a requirement for pretreatment. Atara's T-cell immunotherapies are designed to precisely recognize and eliminate cancerous or diseased cells without affecting normal, healthy cells. Atara's most advanced T-cell immunotherapy in development, tabelecleucel, or tab-cel™ (formerly known as ATA129), is being developed for the treatment of patients with Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) associated post-transplant lymphoproliferative disorder (EBV+ PTLD) who have failed rituximab, as well as other EBV associated hematologic and solid tumors, including nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC). Tab-cel™ is in Phase 3 clinical development for the treatment of EBV+ PTLD following an allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplant (MATCH study) or solid organ transplant (ALLELE study). Atara is also developing off-the-shelf, allogenic ATA188 and autologous ATA190 T-cell immunotherapies using a complementary targeted antigen recognition technology for specific EBV antigens believed to be important for the potential treatment of multiple sclerosis (MS). A Phase 1 clinical study of autologous ATA190 in patients with progressive MS is ongoing. Atara also initiated a multinational Phase 1 ATA188 clinical study in patients with progressive or relapsing-remitting MS in Australia in the fourth quarter of 2017 and in the U.S. in March 2018. Atara's clinical pipeline also includes ATA520 targeting Wilms Tumor 1 (WT1) and ATA230 directed against cytomegalovirus (CMV).
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: Atara’s ability to develop tab-cel™; the ability to grow Atara’s commercial capabilities, the timing, enrollment and results of the Company’s clinical trials and the potential advantages of its product candidates. Because such statements deal with future events and are based on Atara's current expectations, they are subject to various risks and uncertainties and actual results, performance or achievements of Atara 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 those discussed under the heading "Risk Factors" in Atara’s annual report on Form 10-K filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on February 27, 2018, including the documents incorporated by reference therein, and subsequent filings with the SEC. Except as otherwise required by law, Atara 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.
Gazyva®, Cotellic®, Alecensa®, Tecentriq®, Hemlibra®, Perjeta® and Kadcyla® are registered trademarks of Roche/Genentech.
INVESTOR & MEDIA CONTACTS:
John Craighead, Atara Biotherapeutics
Steve Klass, Burns McClellan
Justin Jackson, Burns McClellan
Released May 7, 2018