Merrimack Pharma Names Former GSK Vice President Clet Niyikiza, Ph.D. Senior Vice President,Development
Mon, 09/21/2009 - 4:36am
Merrimack Pharmaceuticals,Inc., has today that Clet Niyikiza, Ph.D., has joined the company asSenior Vice President, Development. Dr. Niyikiza comes to Merrimack fromGlaxoSmithKline (GSK) where he was Vice President and Medicine DevelopmentLeader for oncology. Dr. Niyikiza has extensive drug development experiencewith a career that spans over 18 years in the pharmaceutical industry inwhich he has led ten New Drug Application teams that have all successfullyobtained approvals from U.S. and European regulatory authorities. "Merrimack is founded on a systems biology approach to drug discovery anddevelopment," says Merrimack President and CEO Robert Mulroy. "Clet'sexperience couples a leading knowledge of oncology drug development with apassion for systems approaches to medicine which make him an excellent leaderfor our teams working on a pipeline of very exciting oncology therapeutics."A mathematician by training, Dr. Niyikiza began his pharmaceutical careerat Eli Lilly and Company, focusing on applying systems techniques to betterunderstand disease and drug interactions. During his tenure at Lilly, Dr.Niyikiza was credited for playing critical roles in developing many medicines,including two popular anticancer therapies. Dr. Niyikiza used a systemsbiology approach to identify the previously unknown role of a blood markerwhich was causing life-threatening toxicities for one of the therapies. Thediscovery allowed for the successful development of the therapeutic formultiple indications in cancer and was featured on the front page of the TheWall Street Journal in 2004. "The Network Biology approach of understanding the intricate underlyingmechanisms of a disease first and then designing a drug based on thosecomplexities has the potential to be hugely beneficial to patients," says Dr.Niyikiza. "It is that possibility that brought me to Merrimack and makesMM-121 and MM-111 such promising oncology therapeutic candidates."Prior to GSK, Dr. Niyikiza held the position of Lilly Research Fellow andGlobal Oncology Pharmacogenomics Leader at Eli Lilly. He has also worked withSyntex Research and as a Visiting Professor of Mathematics with IndianaUniversity. Dr. Niyikiza received his Doctorate and Masters degrees fromIndiana University and a Masters from the African Institute of Statistics andApplied Economics in Kigali, Rwanda.