-Escient Pharmaceuticals, a clinical-stage company focused on discovering and developing novel, first-in-class therapies to address serious, unserved medical needs, today announced the appointment of Joshua Grass, MBA as Chief Executive Officer effective immediately. Mr. Grass will join the company’s Board of Directors. He succeeds Alain Baron, M.D., who recently retired and will remain a strategic advisor to Escient through the first quarter of 2022.“I am very excited to be leading Escient during this next phase in its evolution,” said Mr. Grass. “The team has developed very elegant science in characterizing several Mrgprs as potentially important drug targets for large unmet needs. Now, with drug candidates against these targets, the company is poised to translate this science into important medicines for neuroinflammatory and immune activation diseases.”
Prior to joining Escient, Mr. Grass most recently served as CEO of Modis Therapeutics. In 2017, Mr. Grass launched ModisTx with a $30 million Series A financing while working at F-Prime Capital as an Entrepreneur in Residence. ModisTx was acquired by Zogenix in 2019 for $250 million upfront and $400 million in total consideration. Before joining F-Prime, Mr. Grass was a member of the BioMarin senior executive management team. During his 15-year tenure there, he led the acquisition and divestiture of many technologies and products and participated in the global development and launch of multiple products to treat rare genetic diseases. He started his career in biotech as a scientist at Cerus Corporation before holding roles in finance and equity research at boutique investment banks. Mr. Grass earned a Bachelor of Science in Biology from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo and an MBA in Finance and Entrepreneurship from the William E. Simon School of Business at the University of Rochester.
“Josh’s deep industry experience and impressive track record combined with his scientific and business background and dynamic leadership style make him the right leader for Escient. We are excited to have him at the helm and welcome him to the role,” said Marcus Boehm, Ph.D., Escient’s Co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer.
“On behalf of the Board of Directors and the entire team at Escient, I want to thank Alain for his leadership in building a world class company and team. Escient is well-positioned for the next stage of growth in Mrgpr drug discovery and clinical development,” added Kathleen Sereda Glaub, Chair of the Board of Directors at Escient.
About Escient Pharmaceuticals
Escient Pharmaceuticals is a clinical-stage company focused on discovering and developing novel, first-in-class therapies to address serious, unserved medical needs. The two most advanced programs are focused on new chemical entity antagonists targeting MrgprX4 and MrgprX2 for the treatment of cholestatic/uremic pruritus, and a broad range of mast-cell mediated disorders, respectively. Based in San Diego, Calif., Escient is led by an experienced team of biotechnology entrepreneurs with specific expertise in GPCR drug discovery and development and funded by top-tier life science investors, including The Column Group, 5AM Ventures, Sanofi Ventures, Cowen Healthcare Investors, Redmile Group, Perceptive Advisors, and Osage University Partners.