Third Rock adds three new venture partners, including Karuna’s Paul, and promotes two others

Third Rock adds three new venture partners, including Karuna’s Paul, and promotes two others

Hallmark biotech investment firm Third Rock Ventures is bolstering its ranks, adding three new venture partners, including Karuna Therapeutics’ co-founder, and promoting two others.

Steve Paul, M.D., will join the firm fresh off his sale of Karuna to Bristol Myers Squibb, according to an announcement Thursday, though it’s more of a reuniting after he helped launch fellow Third Rock companies Voyager Therapeutics and Sage Therapeutics. Paul became CEO of Karuna in 2018 before transitioning to head of R&D and chief scientific officer in January 2023.

Karuna was the second of two schizophrenia-focused biotechs to be acquired at the end of last year, with BMS shelling out $14 billion to buy the company and its drug, KarXT, which is currently awaiting an FDA decision. All signs point to the drug being approved after two successful phase 3 trials, marking a potential shift in the standard of care for schizophrenia patients after years of stagnant advances in neuropsychology.

The drug is also being tested as an adjunctive schizophrenia therapy and as a treatment for Alzheimer’s-related psychosis. BMS believes KarXT could tackle bipolar disorder as well. Prior to Karuna’s exit, neuroscience biotech Cerevel was bought by AbbVie for $8.7 billion.

Paul is not the only new addition to Third Rock’s team. Courtney Wallace, former chief business officer at Beam Therapeutics, has also been named as a new venture partner. Wallace previously worked at Celgene and healthcare consulting firm Easton Associates.TESARO co-founder Mary Lynne Hedley, Ph.D., will be joining them, some five years after GSK acquired the oncology biotech.

Third Rock’s announcement included the promotion of Jigar Raythatha from venture partner to partner, adding more responsibility to the ex-Constellation CEO. That biotech was acquired by MorphySys for $1.7 billion, though the larger German biotech ultimately canned the U.S. R&D site in 2022 as part of an early pipeline restructuring and reconsolidated the work back at its European headquarters. Raythatha also sits on the board of a handful of other Third Rock-founded companies, including Flare Therapeutics and Synnovation Therapeutics.

Last but not least, Vyas Ramanan, Ph.D., is being elevated from principal to venture partner. He worked at the firm for two years from 2016 to 2018 before joining the R&D team at Third Rock-launched Maze. He jumped back to Third Rock in June 2020, according to his LinkedIn, and now rises the ranks.

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