Dr Graeme Bilbe to Lead DNDi’s R&D Efforts to Address the Treatment Needs of the Most Neglected Patients
The not-for-profit research and development (R&D) organization Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) announces the appointment of its new R&D Director, Dr Graeme Bilbe, previously with Novartis. With this move, Bilbe brings his vast experience in drug discovery and development to the field of neglected diseases.
Dr Graeme Bilbe (PhD Biochemistry/Neurobiology) joined DNDi earlier this month, leaving his position as the Global Head of Neuroscience Discovery at the Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research (NIBR), where he and his team were tasked with finding and advancing to clinical development new treatments for neurodegenerative and psychiatric diseases. Dr Bilbe began his career at Novartis with one of its former founding companies, Ciba-Geigy, in the Biotechnology Department. He contributed to breakthrough drugs such as the Exelon Patch for Alzheimer’s disease and Gilenya for Multiple Sclerosis treatment.
A neurobiologist and biochemist specializing in RNA expression in the brain, Dr Bilbe was trained during the molecular biology revolution. He became known for his ambition in identifying and bringing therapeutics for nervous system diseases through the R&D pipeline, rapidly earning him the name of ‘drug hunter’.
‘I am thrilled to enter the field of neglected diseases, which is at a crucial moment in its drug development history’, said Dr Bilbe. ‘Incremental improvements of existing drugs have been a major step, but now the big challenge is to find critical pathways to get a sufficient amount of promising new chemical entities through the pipeline to address urgent health needs, and to keep replenishing that pipeline.’
He replaces Dr Shing Chang, who served as R&D Director of DNDi since 2007. Under Dr Chang’s leadership, DNDi developed and delivered six new field-adapted treatments for neglected diseases, with 11 new chemical entities in the pipeline. Dr Chang also guided DNDi’s overall R&D strategy to stimulate greater efficiency and innovation.
‘Over the past ten years, our R&D approaches have evolved and our neglected disease pipeline has matured. With the experience and expertise he brings to DNDi, Dr Bilbe will ensure that the pipeline continues to progress and replenish in order to reach our goal of delivering a total of 11 to 13 new treatments to neglected patients by 2018’, commented Dr Bernard Pécoul, Executive Director of DNDi. ‘We are pleased that he is joining us in bringing the very best science to those who need it most.’
The Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) is a not-for-profit research and development organization working to deliver new treatments for neglected diseases, in particular sleeping sickness (human African trypanosomiasis), Chagas disease, leishmaniasis, specific helminth infections, malaria, and paediatric HIV.
Since its inception in 2003, DNDi has delivered six treatments: two fixed-dose antimalarials (ASAQ and ASMQ), nifurtimox-eflornithine combination therapy (NECT) for late-stage sleeping sickness, sodium stibogluconate and paromomycin (SSG&PM) combination therapy for visceral leishmaniasis in Africa, a set of combination therapies for visceral leishmaniasis in Asia, and a paediatric dosage form of benznidazole for Chagas disease.
DNDi has helped establish three clinical research platforms: Leishmaniasis East Africa Platform (LEAP) in Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan, and Uganda; the HAT Platform based in Africa for sleeping sickness; and the Chagas Clinical Research Platform in Latin America.
Violaine Dällenbach, Press and Communications Manager, DNDi
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