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Drug Innovation Ventures at Emory, LLC (DRIVE) appoints Chief Scientific Officer

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Holly Korschun

Emory University and Drug Innovation Ventures at Emory, LLC (DRIVE) have appointed Abel De La Rosa, PhD, as Chief Scientific Officer of DRIVE and the Emory Institute for Drug Development (EIDD).

"Abel's proven scientific and business leadership in the biotechnology industry will be invaluable to the success of Emory's new initiative linking academic drug development and the biotech industry," says George Painter, PhD,CEO of DRIVE. "By combining university research and business expertise, we expect to create a new model that will move discoveries more efficiently into the marketplace." 

From 2002 until its acquisition by Gilead Sciences (Nasdaq: GILD) for $11 billion in 2012, De La Rosa was senior vice president of business development and scientific affairs at Pharmasset. He was responsible for licensing, strategic transactions and alliance management, and provided business and scientific leadership to drug development programs for hepatitis C, hepatitis B and HIV.

"I am very excited about the opportunity to leverage Emory's vast scientific capabilities to advance potential drugs along the continuum of development and increase the probability that they will reach the marketplace and benefit patients," says De La Rosa. "DRIVE links the ingenuity and creativity of academic research with the financial, organizational and technical expertise needed to advance a compound into the clinical stages of drug development."

Prior to Pharmasset, De La Rosa held both scientific and business positions at Visible Genetics, where he was responsible for the development and improvement of sequencing-based diagnostic tests for HIV, hepatitis C and hepatitis B. He also held scientific positions at Innogenetics, Boston Biomedica, and Digene, developing molecular diagnostic tests for infectious diseases. He is an inventor and author of several patents and publications relating to molecular diagnostic methods, techniques and therapeutics for infectious diseases and cancer.

De La Rosa completed post-doctoral training in the Laboratory of Biochemistry and the Laboratory of Pathology of the National Cancer Institute, and earned a bachelors degree in microbiology from the University of California San Diego and a PhD in microbiology from Miami University.

DRIVE is a new not-for-profit company wholly owned by Emory with the independence to run like a biotechnology company. It will expand the capabilities of traditional academic drug research by combining the expertise of Emory and other university scientists and their success in drug discovery with a highly experienced development, business and management team of industry leaders.

This partnership will allow DRIVE to effectively move drugs through lead optimization and pre-clinical testing –– a stage of drug development often termed the "Valley of Death" –– and into proof-of-concept clinical trials. Technologies with added value will be out-licensed to pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, partnered with foundations or government entities, or spun-out into newly formed companies financed by venture capital firms.

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