BeyondSpring Strengthens Executive Rank for Pipeline Expansion and Commercialization Readiness in China
January 6, 2020
Dr. James Tonra Promoted to Chief Scientific Officer; Roland Liu Named Chief Commercial Officer for China Subsidiary
NEW YORK, Jan. 06, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — BeyondSpring Inc. (the “Company” or “BeyondSpring”) (NASDAQ: BYSI), a global biopharmaceutical company focused on the development of innovative immuno-oncology cancer therapies, announced today the appointment of Dr. James Tonra, Ph.D. as Chief Science Officer, effective immediately. Dr. Tonra had previously served as Senior Vice President, Preclinical Development at BeyondSpring since April 2018. In addition, Dalian Wanchunbulin Pharmaceuticals Ltd., BeyondSpring’s majority owned subsidiary in China, has tapped a commercial veteran, Roland Liu to serve as Chief Commercial Officer for China.
In his previous position at BeyondSpring, Dr. Tonra has focused heavily on the Company’s I/O strategy, pipeline development and ubiquitination platform advancements, among other responsibilities. He was part of the team that discovered Plinabulin’s differentiated mechanism of action and helped to advance the publication of four peer reviewed papers in leading journals in 2019, including two journals from Cell Press. Additionally, he was instrumental in expanding Plinabulin’s clinical indications through outsourced nonclinical research, collaborating with leading experts, and was responsible for prioritizing and advancing the Company’s preclinical programs toward successful clinical testing.
Prior to joining BeyondSpring, Dr. Tonra had over 20 years of drug development experience working in leading innovative biotech companies, including Millennium Pharmaceuticals, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Kadmon Holdings and ImClone Systems/Eli Lilly, specializing in translating pre-clinical assets to clinical development and expanding the utility of clinically advanced assets. His research is published in over 45 peer-reviewed journals and he is an inventor on multiple patents claiming new uses for drugs. In the nearly 10 years Dr. Tonra spent at ImClone, his efforts were critical in the validation and IND filing for 10 pre-clinical assets, including Cyramza®, Portrazza®, and Lartruvo®. Moreover, Dr. Tonra’s preclinical work at ImClone demonstrated synergy between the combination of agents such as Cyramza and Tarceva®, recently shown to have meaningful clinical benefit in a subtype of non-small cell lung cancer patients.
“As a scientist, it is thrilling to understand the mechanism that makes certain compounds work in the human body,” commented Dr. Tonra. “When it comes to Plinabulin and the important work we are doing at BeyondSpring to help patients in need all over the world, we have made it our mission to make sure that our beliefs around the vast promise of Plinabulin as a ‘pipeline in a drug’ are backed up by hard science and data. Our goal is to create a more effective standard of care in Plinabulin for the broadest population of cancer patients, as we advance a pipeline of innovative new projects driven by intense scientific investigation and critique, partnered with high quality and ethical drug candidate development.”
Mr. Roland Liu has over 15 years of experience in marketing of oncology drugs in China. He worked at Bayer, Novartis, Novo Nordisk and Bristol-Myers Squibb in China, where he has managed multiple oncology brands, including Glivec®, Tasigna® and Nexavar®. He served as Head of Marketing for Sinopharm-think Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd., which is the anti-cancer platform of China National Pharmaceutical Group Corporation. Mr. Liu also had entrepreneur experience, as he joins Dalian Wanchunbulin from Medally Solutions Co., Ltd., a marketing consulting company, where he served as Founder and CEO.
“As the Company moves closer to Plinabulin’s commercialization with planned NDA filings in 2020 in China and the U.S., and bring additional pipeline assets to IND stage, it is our great pleasure to have Dr. Tonra to serve as BeyondSpring’s Chief Science Officer, and have Mr. Liu as Chief Commercial Officer for our China subsidiary. Both Dr. Tonra and Mr. Liu bring impressive, unique skillsets and leadership qualities to BeyondSpring,” concluded Dr. Lan Huang, BeyondSpring’s CEO and Co-Founder. “With Dr. Tonra’s pre-clinical asset development experience, along with Mr. Liu’s rich experience in commercial product launches and product lifecycle management in China, BeyondSpring is poised to transform from a clinical- to commercial-stage company, with a robust pipeline, operating in the two largest pharmaceutical markets in the world.”
BeyondSpring is a global, clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on the development of innovative immuno-oncology cancer therapies. BeyondSpring’s lead asset, first in class agent Plinabulin, is in a Phase 3 global clinical trial as a direct anticancer agent in the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and two Phase 3 clinical programs in the prevention of chemotherapy-induced neutropenia (CIN). BeyondSpring has strong R&D capabilities with a robust pipeline in addition to Plinabulin, including three immuno-oncology assets and a drug discovery platform using the ubiquitination degradation pathway. The Company also has a seasoned management team with many years of experience bringing drugs to the global market.
Cautionary Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements
This press release includes forward-looking statements that are not historical facts. Words such as “will,” “expect,” “anticipate,” “plan,” “believe,” “design,” “may,” “future,” “estimate,” “predict,” “objective,” “goal,” or variations thereof and variations of such words and similar expressions are intended to identify such forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements are based on BeyondSpring’s current knowledge and its present beliefs and expectations regarding possible future events and are subject to risks, uncertainties and assumptions. Actual results and the timing of events could differ materially from those anticipated in these forward-looking statements as a result of several factors including, but not limited to, difficulties raising the anticipated amount needed to finance the Company’s future operations on terms acceptable to the Company, if at all, unexpected results of clinical trials, delays or denial in regulatory approval process, results that do not meet our expectations regarding the potential safety, the ultimate efficacy or clinical utility of our product candidates, increased competition in the market, and other risks described in BeyondSpring’s most recent Form 20-F on file with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. All forward-looking statements made herein speak only as of the date of this release and BeyondSpring undertakes no obligation to update publicly such forward-looking statements to reflect subsequent events or circumstances, except as otherwise required by law.
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