Atara Biotherapeutics Appoints Pascal Touchon President, Chief Executive Officer and Member of the Board of Directors

SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, Calif., May 28, 2019 (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 the appointment of Pascal Touchon as President, Chief Executive Officer and member of the Board of Directors.

Dr. Touchon has over 30 years of global biopharmaceutical leadership experience, most recently at Novartis Oncology serving as Global Head, Cell & Gene and member of the Oncology Executive Committee. Notably in this role he was accountable for the Oncology Cell & Gene unit financial performance and responsible for all activities including the global launch of KYMRIAH® (tisagenlecleucel), securing regulatory approval and reimbursement in major markets, expanding global CAR T manufacturing and technical operations, overseeing multiple new clinical studies and building a strong leadership team.

Previously at Novartis, Pascal Touchon served as Global Head, Strategy, Business Development, Oncology where he was responsible for various activities including early commercial strategy, portfolio management, business development and external collaborations as well as member of the Oncology Executive Committee. Prior to joining Novartis Oncology, Dr. Touchon held leadership roles in research, marketing, general management and business development at various companies including Servier, Sanofi, Glaxo and Glaxo-Wellcome.

“We are delighted that Pascal Touchon will be Atara’s next Chief Executive Officer,” said Carol G. Gallagher, Pharm.D., Atara’s Lead Independent Director. “His proven oncology leadership as well as CAR T development and global commercialization experience make him an ideal choice to lead Atara. We are confident that Pascal’s capability to unite cell and gene immunotherapy teams will help to guide strategy and execution in the years ahead and enable Atara to further realize its mission to transform the lives of patients with serious diseases.”

In connection with Dr. Touchon’s appointment, Isaac Ciechanover stepped down from his role as President, Chief Executive Officer and member of the Board of Directors, effective today. Dr. Ciechanover will serve as a special advisor to a subcommittee of the Board who will lead the Company until Dr. Touchon begins his tenure as President, Chief Executive Officer and member of the Board of Directors on June 24, 2019.

“When I announced my decision to step down in January, I had agreed to stay on until my successor was chosen,” said Isaac Ciechanover M.D. “I am thrilled with the appointment of Pascal, who I know will lead the company in its next stages of growth.”

“Isaac has been the inspiration and architect of Atara since its founding nearly seven years ago,” added Dr. Gallagher. “We thank him for his leadership and vision building a world-class T-cell and CAR T immunotherapy company. We wish him the very best in his next endeavor.”  

In addition, Dr. Dietmar Berger, Atara’s Global Head of Research and Development, has resigned from the Company effective as of May 31, 2019 to pursue other opportunities.

About Atara Biotherapeutics, Inc.
Atara Biotherapeutics, Inc. (@Atarabio) is a leading off-the-shelf, allogeneic T-cell immunotherapy company developing novel treatments for patients with cancer, autoimmune and viral diseases. Atara’s technology platform leverages research collaborations with leading academic institutions with the Company’s scientific, clinical, regulatory and manufacturing expertise. Atara’s pipeline includes tab-cel® (tabelecleucel), which is in Phase 3 development for patients with Epstein-Barr virus-associated post-transplant lymphoproliferative disorder (EBV+ PTLD) as well as in earlier stage development for other EBV-associated hematologic malignancies and solid tumors, including nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC); T-cell immunotherapies targeting EBV antigens believed to be important for the potential treatment of multiple sclerosis; and next-generation chimeric antigen receptor T-cell (CAR T) immunotherapies. The company was founded in 2012 and is co-located in South San Francisco and Southern California. Our Southern California hub is anchored by the state-of-the-art Atara T-cell Operations and Manufacturing (ATOM) facility in Thousand Oaks, California. For additional information about the company, please visit

KYMRIAH® is a registered trademark of Novartis.

Forward-Looking Statements
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. Pascal joining Atara as President, Chief Executive Officer and member of the Board of Directors and the date on which this tenure will begin; Dr. Ciechanover’s service as a special advisor to a subcommittee of the Board; and Atara’s ability to realize its mission. 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 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.


John Craighead, Atara Biotherapeutics

John Grimaldi, Burns McClellan
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Nancie Steinberg, Burns McClellan
212-213-0006 x318

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Source: Atara Biotherapeutics, Inc.