— Hunter Smith Named Chief Financial Officer; Nithya Desikan Named Chief Commercial Officer —
BOSTON, August 1, 2017— Rhythm, a biopharmaceutical company focused on the development and commercialization of peptide therapeutics for treatment of rare genetic deficiencies that result in life-threatening metabolic disorders, today announced the appointment of Hunter Smith as Chief Financial Officer and Nithya Desikan as Chief Commercial Officer, effective immediately. In addition, Bart Henderson, President and Founder of Rhythm, recently left the company to join an early-stage biotechnology company that he co-founded.
“We are pleased to welcome Hunter and Nithya to Rhythm,” said Keith Gottesdiener, M.D., Chief Executive Officer of Rhythm. “Their combined expertise driving financial and commercial strategy will be critical as we advance our comprehensive development program for setmelanotide, including our Phase 3 clinical study in pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC) deficiency obesity, and seek to transition Rhythm from a late-stage research and development company to a commercial-stage organization. We look forward to their contributions as members of our executive team.”
Dr. Gottesdiener continued, “Bart founded Rhythm to develop peptide therapeutics with a major impact on intractable metabolic disorders. Over the past seven years, he played a significant role in bringing this vision to reality, orchestrating the sale of relamorelin to Allergan and contributing to the advancement of setmelanotide. On behalf of the Rhythm team and Board of Directors, I want to thank Bart for his commitment and leadership, which were critical for maturing Rhythm into an established, late-stage company with robust blue-chip investor support. We wish him success in his new role.”
Hunter Smith, Chief Financial Officer
“It is a tremendous honor to join the Rhythm team,” said Mr. Smith. “Rhythm has established itself on a foundation of scientific excellence and a commitment to rapidly progressing setmelanotide through clinical development. I am eager to lend my expertise to advance these efforts.”
Hunter Smith 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.
Nithya Desikan, Chief Commercial Officer
“I am delighted to join Rhythm as the Company begins planning for the goal of commercialization of setmelanotide,” said Ms. Desikan. “Rhythm has played an important role in expanding the medical and scientific understanding of severe, life-threatening, genetic obesity, and in identifying affected patients. I look forward to working with the team to continue ongoing community and market development efforts, to seek to advance a robust commercialization strategy, and if approved, to successfully launch setmelanotide.”
Nithya Desikan 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.
About Rhythm (www.rhythmtx.com)
Rhythm is a biopharmaceutical company focused on the development and commercialization of peptide therapeutics for the treatment of rare genetic deficiencies that result in life-threatening metabolic disorders. Rhythm’s lead peptide product candidate is setmelanotide, a first-in-class melanocortin-4 receptor (MC4R) agonist for the treatment of rare genetic disorders of obesity. Rhythm supports The Genetic Obesity Project (www.GeneticObesity.com), which is dedicated to improving the understanding of severe obesity that is caused by specific genetic defects. The company is based in Boston, MA.