aTyr Pharma Appoints Biotech Pioneer, Dr. Ed Penhoet, to Board of Directors

Mar 28, 2014, 08:00 ET from aTyr Pharma

SAN DIEGO, March 28, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- aTyr Pharma ("aTyr"), a rare disease biotherapeutics enterprise, announced today the appointment of Ed Penhoet, Ph.D., to the Company's board of directors (BOD).  Dr. Penhoet, who co-founded Chiron, is an accomplished scientist and biotech pioneer. He has served on the Independent Citizens Oversight Committee (ICOC) for the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) and was recently appointed to President Obama's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST).  On aTyr's BOD, Dr. Penhoet will represent Alta Partners, an aTyr investor. 

"Dr. Penhoet brings additional expertise to our board as a highly regarded scientist and biotechnology business leader," said John Mendlein, Ph.D., CEO and executive chairman of aTyr Pharma, "His significant insights will be invaluable as we develop meaningful medicines for rare disease patients with little or no treatment options at this time.  On behalf of aTyr and the Board of Directors, I welcome Ed and look forward to drawing upon his strategic, operational and clinical judgment." 

"I'm delighted to join the board of aTyr as the company moves forward into the era of clinical investigation of its promising Physiocrine molecules," said Dr. Penhoet.

Dr. Penhoet joined Alta Partners in 2000 as a director and has been full time at Alta since 2008. He currently serves also on the board of directors of Cymabay, Immune Design, and Scynexis.  A co-founder of Chiron, Dr. Penhoet served as the Company's president and chief executive officer from its formation in 1981 until 1998. He served as vice-chair of the governing board of the ICOC for CIRM from 2005 to 2010 and served as the president of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation from 2004 to 2008.  Dr. Penhoet was recently appointed to PCAST, an advisory group comprised of 20 of the nation's leading scientists and engineers who directly advise the President of the United States and the Executive Office of the President. PCAST makes policy recommendations in the many areas where understanding of science, technology, and innovation is key to strengthening our economy and forming policy that works for the American people. For 10 years prior to founding Chiron, Dr. Penhoet was a faculty member of the Biochemistry Department of the University of California, Berkeley.  Dr. Penhoet is the immediate past dean of the School of Public Health at the University of California, Berkeley. He is a member of both the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He has co-authored more than 50 scientific articles and papers.

About Physiocrines
Among their various homeostatic functions, some Physiocrines act as extracellular signaling molecules to orchestrate immuno-homeostasis in response to stress and other physiological changes.  Physiocrines comprise naturally occurring proteins derived from tRNA synthetases that play fundamental roles in the function of human physiology and restoring pathophysiological states to a healthier state.  aTyr is currently focused on Physiocrines that act as endogenous modulators of our immune system. Physiocrines offer the opportunity for modulating biological pathways through newly discovered, naturally occurring mechanisms, many of which may provide multiple therapeutic advantages, including improved efficacy and reduced side effect profiles compared to many existing therapeutics.

About aTyr Pharma
aTyr Pharma is developing  a pipeline of therapeutic products based on Physiocrine biology. To protect these products aTyr built a dominant intellectual property estate comprising over 200 patent applications and patents.  aTyr's key programs are currently focused on rare disorders where the immune system is imbalanced. These diseases are serious potentially life threatening autoimmune conditions, for which there are currently no effective, safe, long term treatments. The privately held biotech was founded by The Scripps Research Institute Professor Paul Schimmel, a leading aminoacyl tRNA synthetase scientist, and is backed by top life sciences investors Alta Partners, Cardinal Partners, Domain Associates and Polaris Ventures. For more information, please visit

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SOURCE aTyr Pharma