Epizyme has appointed Jeffery Kutok as its chief scientific officer. In luring Kutok away from Infinity Pharmaceuticals, Epizyme has gained a scientific leader it thinks will help find new uses for Tazverik and advance its pipeline prospects.
In the three years since Robert Copeland retired, Epizyme has operated without a CSO. Those years were characterized by a focus on getting EZH2 inhibitor Tazverik to market. Epizyme achieved that goal by securing FDA approval in advanced epithelioid sarcoma in January, marking the start of a new phase in the company’s history.
Now, Epizyme has revealed that its plans for the new phase include a CSO. In explaining his decision to hire Kutok as CSO, Epizyme CEO Robert Bazemore focused on the need to carry out research to expand the use of Tazverik.
“Given the profile of Tazverik, it is strategically important that we continue our efforts to explore its therapeutic potential in additional indications and combinations. Jeff’s extensive knowledge and insights will be instrumental in helping direct our scientific strategy for Tazverik,” Bazemore said in a statement.
Talking to investors last month, Bazemore talked up the potential for Epiyzme to use its knowledge of EZH2 biology to unlock opportunities to use Tazverik in a broader range of cancers. The appointment of Kutok is part of Epizyme’s strategy for achieving those hoped-for label expansions.
Kutok has spent the past nine years at Infinity, rising from the rank of director of molecular pathology to CSO over that time. Infinity was Kutok’s first, and until now only, job in industry. Before joining the biotech late in 2010, Kutok worked as an associate professor of pathology at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
Taking the CSO role at Epizyme will give Kutok the chance to research new uses for Tazverik and work on early-stage candidates. Epizyme’s preclinical pipeline features a G9 inhibitor program and efforts to drug undisclosed targets in collaboration with Boehringer Ingelheim and Celgene.