SAN DIEGO, May 18, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Mirati Therapeutics, Inc. (NASDAQ: MRTX), a clinical-stage targeted oncology company, today announced that Joseph Leveque, M.D. has been named Chief Medical Officer effective May 18, 2020. Isan Chen, M.D., will step down as Chief Medical and Development Officer to lead an early-stage biotech company, however, Dr. Chen will continue to act as an advisor to Mirati.
"Isan's leadership over the last seven years has been central to the advancement of our programs," said Dr. Charles Baum, M.D., Ph.D., President and Chief Executive Officer at Mirati Therapeutics. "We appreciate his dedicated service which brought Mirati from a small oncology company to where we are today. We wish him well and know he will be successful in this new opportunity."
"Joe's experience with world class clinical development teams that have brought several novel oncology therapies to patients will have an important impact as we prepare for Mirati's next phase of growth," said Dr. Baum. "We are thrilled to have him join Mirati as we rapidly advance our registration-enabling clinical trials for both sitravatinib and MRTX849, as well as advance our preclinical pipeline including the KRAS G12D inhibitor program."
Dr. Leveque joins Mirati following his successful tenure as Chief Medical Officer at Synthorx, which was acquired by Sanofi in late 2019. Prior to Synthorx, he served as Chief Medical Officer at ARMO Biosciences, a late-stage immuno-oncology company that was acquired by Eli Lilly in May 2018. Prior to these roles, Dr. Leveque was Chief Medical Officer of EMD Serono, the North American subsidiary of Merck KGaA, and Vice President and Head of U.S. Medical Oncology at Bristol-Myers Squibb, where he led the development and commercialization of the first generation of immuno-oncology therapeutics. He has also held key medical leadership positions at Onyx Pharmaceuticals, Cephalon Oncology and Amgen.
Dr. Leveque earned a Medical Doctorate from The University of Texas School of Medicine in Houston, TX and completed his post-graduate medical training in internal medicine at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, a teaching affiliate of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). In addition, Dr. Leveque holds a Master of Business Administration from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
In connection with his employment, the Compensation Committee of Mirati's Board of Directors granted Dr. Leveque an inducement award consisting of a non-qualified stock option to purchase shares of common stock with a grant date fair value equal to $3,500,000 and restricted stock units with a grant date fair value equal to $2,500,000 ("RSUs"). The stock option has an exercise price per share equal to the closing price of the Company's common stock on the Nasdaq Global Select Market on May 18, 2020 and will vest over four years, with 25% of the underlying shares vesting on the one-year anniversary of the vesting commencement date and 1/48th of the underlying shares vesting monthly thereafter over 36 months subject to Dr. Leveque's continued service relationship with Mirati through the applicable vesting dates. The RSUs vest over four years, with 25% of the underlying shares vesting on each of the four anniversaries of the vesting commencement date, subject to Dr. Leveque's continued service relationship with Mirati through the applicable vesting dates. The Compensation Committee of Mirati's Board of Directors approved the awards as inducement material to Dr. Leveque's employment in accordance with NASDAQ Listing Rule 5635(c)(4).
About Mirati Therapeutics
Mirati Therapeutics (NASDAQ: MRTX) is a San Diego-based clinical-stage biotechnology company dedicated to advancing novel therapeutics that extend the lives of patients by directly addressing the genetic and immunological drivers of cancer. Mirati is developing sitravatinib, designed to selectively target a spectrum of tyrosine kinases implicated in both tumor growth and the suppression of immune responses to tumors. Sitravatinib has demonstrated durable responses in lung cancer patients whose cancer has progressed despite treatment with checkpoint inhibitors - an area of significant unmet medical need. Sitravatinib is being evaluated in multiple clinical trials to treat patients who are refractory to prior immune checkpoint inhibitor therapy, including a potentially registration-enabling Phase 3 trial of sitravatinib in combination with a checkpoint inhibitor in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) that is currently enrolling patients.
Mirati is also developing novel inhibitors of KRAS mutations including MRTX849, a potent and selective inhibitor of KRAS G12C. This previously difficult to drug target is present in approximately 14% of NSCLC adenocarcinomas, 4% of colorectal cancer as well as smaller percentages of several other difficult-to-treat cancers. MRTX849 is being evaluated in a Phase 1/2 clinical trial as a treatment for patients with KRAS G12C-positive tumors. Our research on G12C has led to breakthroughs in targeting other KRAS mutations including G12D which drives tumor growth in more patients than G12C and includes pancreatic, colorectal and other types of cancer. For more information, visit www.mirati.com.
Forward Looking Statements
This press release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the U.S. Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Any statements in this press release regarding the business of Mirati Therapeutics, Inc. ("Mirati") that are not historical facts may be considered "forward-looking statements," including without limitation statements regarding Mirati's development plans and timelines, potential regulatory actions, the scope, timing and results of clinical trials, including without limitation the Phase 1/2 clinical study of sitravatinib in combination with nivolumab referenced above, and the potential benefits of and markets for Mirati's product candidates. Forward-looking statements are typically, but not always, identified by the use of words such as "may," "will," "would," "believe," "intend," "plan," "anticipate," "estimate," "expect," and other similar terminology indicating future results. Forward-looking statements are based on current expectations of management and on what management believes to be reasonable assumptions based on information currently available to them, and are subject to risks and uncertainties. Such risks and uncertainties may cause actual results to differ materially from those anticipated in the forward-looking statements. Such risks and uncertainties include without limitation potential delays in development timelines, negative clinical trial results, reliance on third parties for manufacturing and development efforts, changes in the competitive landscape, changes in the standard of care, as well as other risks detailed in Mirati's recent filings on Forms 10-K and 10-Q with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Except as required by law, Mirati undertakes no obligation to update any forward-looking statements to reflect new information, events or circumstances, or to reflect the occurrence of unanticipated events.