Friday, May 18, 2012

Executive Spotlight: Dr. Alain Baron, President and CEO, Elcelyx Therapeutics

Dr. Alain Baron
Elcelyx Therapeutics is a privately held biotechnology company focused on creating a wide range of products based on the science of nutrient sensing. The company’s novel product candidates are directed at the prevention and treatment of obesity and diabetes. Since joining Elcelyx Therapeutics in 2010, Baron has been focused on advancing the company’s new products to treat metabolic diseases based on a completely novel platform, called “gut sensory modulation.” He brought his expertise as an entrepreneur-in-residence and a member of the life science team at Morgenthaler Ventures, a position he has held since 2008, along with prior experience as senior vice president of research at Amylin Pharmaceuticals. He has held faculty positions at Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis and UCSD, along with the Veterans Administration Medical Center in San Diego. Baron graduated from McGill University in Canada with a bachelor’s degree in biology and a medical degree from the Medical College of Georgia Augusta. He completed postdoctoral studies at UCSD.

Q: Share with us a brief history of the company. How did your leaders come together? How was the company originally funded?

A: Elcelyx was founded by two former Amylin Pharmaceuticals employees, myself and Martin Brown. Elcelyx was first funded by Morgenthaler Ventures in a Series A round in March of 2010. Currently, the company is funded by Morgenthaler Ventures, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, and Technology Partners.

Q: Tell me some of your biggest goals for the year.

A: Elcelyx is developing new products to treat metabolic diseases based on a completely novel platform, named “gut sensory modulation,” that shows promise to produce very safe and effective oral therapies.

Q: What are the biggest challenges to achieving these goals?

A: Recognizing the importance of safety of therapeutics for metabolic diseases in the current regulatory environment, Elcelyx has focused its efforts at maximizing safety in its development of novel therapeutics.

Q: If you could change a public policy at the state or federal level, what would it be?

A: Given the time and risks involved with drug development, there is a great need to improve dialogue with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to make their decisions more predictable.

Q: What is the most rewarding part of your job?

A: The collaborative environment created and nurtured at Elcelyx makes for a very productive and enjoyable workplace. Knowing we are working to address large, unmet medical needs is all the more rewarding.

Q: What are you doing when you’re not at work?

A: I love to spend time with my family and friends, read, play tennis and travel.

CHI-Advancing California biomedical research and innovation

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