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Escient Pharmaceuticals Announces Appointment of K. Peter Hirth to Board of Directors

Co-founder, former CEO of Plexxikon brings proven track record building platform-based companies and delivering novel medicines for patients

SAN DIEGO, CA; September 24, 2019Escient Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a biotechnology company advancing first-in-class G Protein Coupled Receptor (GPCR)-targeted drugs to address unmet needs for a broad range of therapeutic indications, today announced the appointment of K. Peter Hirth to its Board of Directors. Dr. Hirth has over 30 years of biotechnology and pharmaceutical discovery and development experience, including co-founding and serving as chief executive officer (CEO) of Plexxikon, Inc., prior its acquisition by Daiichi Sankyo.  

“The novel family of Mrgprs that comprise Escient’s scientific foundation hold the potential to yield multiple first-in-class GPCR drugs to target a spectrum of underserved medical needs,” said Alain Baron, M.D., founder and chief executive officer (CEO) of Escient. “We are excited to welcome Peter to Escient’s board, and we look forward to leveraging his expertise cultivating novel discovery platforms to build broad pipelines and deliver meaningful medicines for patients.”

Escient is focused on unleashing the therapeutic potential of specific orphan GPCRs, including the novel family of Mas-Related G-Protein Receptors (Mrgprs). Neuro-immuno-inflammatory and autoreactive diseases are Escient’s initial therapeutic areas of focus.

“I am quite intrigued by the biology underlying this novel family of GPCRs and impressed by the Escient team’s progress translating this science into exciting discovery programs,” said Dr. Hirth. “As Escient advances toward the clinical stage, they are ideally positioned to mine learnings from initial programs to inform and accelerate future development programs. I look forward to collaborating with Alain, the Escient team and the board as Escient continues to advance its pipeline.”

As co-founder and CEO of Plexxikon, Dr. Hirth built a novel, structure-guided drug discovery platform, which has brought several new chemical entities into the clinic in a variety of indications. Most advanced from this portfolio is a V600E B-raf selective inhibitor that was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for metastatic melanoma together with a companion diagnostic and is sold under the brand name Zelboraf®. In addition, Turalio™ obtained FDA approval for Tenosynovial Giant Cell Tumors (TGCT), a rare type of tumor affecting the synovium and tendon sheaths. Plexxikon was acquired in April 2011 by Daiichi Sankyo.

Previously, Dr. Hirth was at Sugen, Inc., where he helped build the company from its inception and advanced several kinase inhibitors through clinical trials in oncology. While at Sugen, Dr. Hirth held several positions with increasing responsibilities, last as President. Sutent® was the first Sugen product to reach the market in renal cell carcinoma. Sugen was acquired by Pharmacia Upjohn in 1999.

Prior to Sugen, Dr. Hirth was a vice president in research with Boehringer Mannheim where, among other responsibilities, he successfully led the company’s erythropoietin program to approval in 1989, sold under the name Recormon™. Before joining Boehringer Mannheim, Dr. Hirth was a research scientist with the Max Planck Institute, following the completion of his post doctoral work at the University of California, San Diego. Dr. Hirth received his Ph.D. in molecular genetics from Heidelberg University, Germany. Dr. Hirth currently serves as the chairman of IO Bio in Copenhagen, and as a director on the boards of Iconic Therapeutics, SutroVax Inc. and TRex Bio.

About Escient Pharmaceuticals

Escient Pharmaceuticals is a privately held biotechnology company that is advancing first-in-class

G Protein-Coupled Receptor (GPCR)-targeted drugs to address serious, unserved medical needs across a broad range of therapeutic indications. Focused on unleashing the therapeutic potential of specific orphan GPCRs, including the novel family of Mas-Related G-Protein Receptors (Mrgprs), Escient will initially pursue therapies for neuro-immuno-inflammatory and autoreactive diseases. Based in San Diego, Calif., Escient is led by an experienced team of biotechnology entrepreneurs with specific expertise in GPCR drug discovery and development. The company is funded by top-tier life science investors, including The Column Group, 5AM Ventures and Osage University Partners. Visit to learn more.


Liz Melone
Scient PR