Keith M. Gottesdiener, MD | Chief Executive Officer
Dr. Gottesdiener has been our Chief Executive Officer and a member of our board of directors since October 2011. He joined Rhythm after 16 years at Merck Research Laboratories. Dr. Gottesdiener joined Merck early clinical development in 1995, helping to transition compounds from the bench to the bedside and through to proof of concept. He held positions of increasing responsibility, eventually leading Merck’s early clinical development across all therapeutic areas from 2001 through early 2006. From 2006-2011, he was a leader of Merck’s late clinical development organization, first overseeing the development of Merck’s infectious diseases and vaccine products through pivotal trials, registration, and life cycle management, including Gardasil™ (HPV Vaccine), Rotateq™ (rotavirus vaccine), Zostavax™ (zoster vaccine) and Isentress™ (HIV integrase inhibitor), among others. In 2008, Dr. Gottesdiener was appointed Late Stage Therapeutic Group Leader, and in that role led Merck’s late-stage clinical development efforts (from Phase 2 thru patent expiry) across all therapeutic areas. After Merck’s merger with Schering Plough in 2009, he continued as co-head of late development. Dr. Gottesdiener received his B.A. from Harvard College and his M.D. from the University of Pennsylvania. He completed his residency and fellowship at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital-Beth Israel Medical Center-Dana Farber Cancer Institute Children’s Hospital programs. After his fellowship, Dr. Gottesdiener did postdoctoral research in the laboratory of Dr. Jack Strominger at Dana Farber Cancer Institute working on the molecular immunology of the T-cell receptor. In 1986, he joined the faculty as an assistant professor at Columbia University, started an independent research laboratory with NIH RO-1 funding, focusing on gene transcription, and was Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine at the time he left to join Merck in 1995.
Nithya Desikan | Chief Commercial Officer
Ms. Desikan has been our Chief Commercial Officer since August 2017. She is a seasoned biotechnology executive, with over 15 years of experience commercializing new therapies in domestic and global markets. Ms. Desikan joins Rhythm from Biogen Inc., where she served most recently as Vice President and Asset Executive, TECFIDERA®, overseeing the product’s global P&L and supporting the product’s position as the #1 prescribed oral therapy in multiple sclerosis. Earlier, Ms. Desikan held roles in Biogen’s Hematology business, leading cross-functional teams to drive the growth of ALPROLIX® and ELOCTATE® and the development of multiple preclinical assets. Before that, Ms. Desikan built the strategy to support the U.S. launch of ALPROLIX, Biogen’s first entrant into the orphan hemophilia market. Before joining Biogen Inc., Ms. Desikan spent 12 years at Johnson & Johnson in the United States and China, supporting brands including: XARELTO®, LEVAQUIN®, TOPAMAX®, ULTRACET®, NUCYNTA®, NUCYNTA®ER and VELCADE®. Ms. Desikan holds a B.S. in Material Science Engineering, with honors, from the University of Florida.
Fred T. Fiedorek, MD | Chief Medical Officer
Dr. Fiedorek has been our Chief Medical Officer since October 2014, joining Rhythm after nearly 14 years at Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS). He has extensive drug development experience across many therapeutic areas, ranging from early development through Phase 4 and commercial launch. Dr. Fiedorek has particular expertise in diabetes, metabolic disorders and cardiovascular disease, most recently serving as Senior Vice President, Head of Cardiovascular (CV) and Metabolic Development at Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS), where he led Phase 2 through Phase 4 global development for these therapeutic areas. Under his leadership, several new medicines achieved successful marketing authorization, including Onglyza® (saxagliptin), Farxiga™ (dapagliflozin), Eliquis® (apixaban), Myalept™ (metreleptin), Bydureon® Dual Chamber Pen, and Glucovance® (metformin/glyburide). While at BMS, Dr. Fiedorek also previously co-led exploratory development, helping to transition compounds from discovery stage to proof-of-concept patient trials. In addition, Dr. Fiedorek co-directed the Clinical Science Committee charged with providing scientific, regulatory, and biostatistical review of Phase 1 through Phase 4 clinical trials; he was a member of the Medical Review Group charged with oversight of potential emerging safety signals from marketed medicines or compounds in development; and he participated in joint development committees for BMS alliances with Astra-Zeneca, Pfizer, Otsuka, KAI Pharmaceuticals, Solvay, and Merck. Prior to joining BMS, Dr. Fiedorek held positions of increasing responsibility at Glaxo-Wellcome in Research Triangle Park (RTP), and was International Project Leader for a Phase 3 metabolic drug development program prior to his move to BMS. Dr. Fiedorek received his B.A. from Yale University and his M.D. from Harvard Medical School. He completed residency and fellowship training in Internal Medicine and Endocrinology & Metabolism at Washington University in St. Louis, including post-doctoral research on the genetics of animal models of diabetes and obesity. He also served on the faculties at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill School of Medicine, including an adjunct clinical appointment while at Glaxo-Wellcome in RTP.
Hunter Smith | Chief Financial Officer
Mr. Smith has been our Chief Financial Officer since August 2017. He brings over 20 years of global finance and management experience across multiple industries and financial disciplines, including expertise in business analysis and planning, mergers and acquisitions, capital raising and investor relations. He joins Rhythm from Celgene Corporation, where he served as Vice President, Finance and Chief Financial Officer of the Company’s Inflammation and Immunology Business Unit. In this role, Mr. Smith provided finance leadership for the global launch of Otezla®, co-led the integration of Receptos, Inc. following its acquisition by Celgene, and led global business planning and analysis for commercial affiliates and clinical study activities in over 16 countries. Before joining Celgene, Mr. Smith worked in roles of increasing responsibility at Bunge Limited, including Director of Investor Relations, Chief Financial Officer–Asia, Corporate Treasurer, and Chief Financial Officer of Bunge’s Sugar and Bioenergy Segment. He holds an M.B.A. in Finance from NYU’s Stern School of Business and a B.A. in History, with honors, from Northwestern University. Mr. Smith also serves as an Independent Director of Genessee & Wyoming Inc. and is a member of the Compensation Committee.
Lex H.T. Van der Ploeg, PhD | Chief Scientific Officer
Dr. Van der Ploeg has been our Chief Scientific Officer since October 2011. He has more than 25 years of drug development experience focused on obesity, metabolic disorders, oncology, and neurodegenerative diseases. Before joining Rhythm, he was Senior Vice President of Integrative Medicine and Translational Science at Abraxis Bioscience and Head of R&D at Abraxis Health; both companies were acquired by Celgene Corporation. Prior to that, he held R&D leadership roles at MRL directing drug development programs in metabolism, oncology, and neurodegenerative diseases as Vice President, Basic Research and Site Head, MRL Boston; Site Head, MRL San Diego; and Head, Obesity Research for Merck Rahway and Banyu, Japan. Previously, Dr. Van der Ploeg was an associate professor in the Department of Genetics and Development at Columbia University. He has received numerous awards and grants for his research and has published more than 200 peer-reviewed research papers. Dr. Van der Ploeg is a named inventor on more than 50 patents and patent applications. He received an M.S. in Biochemistry from the University of Amsterdam and a Ph.D. in Biochemistry/Enzymology/Genetics from the University of Amsterdam/Netherlands Cancer Institute.