Former Genentech CEO Ian Clark will guide Kyverna’s vision to transform the treatment of autoimmune diseases through engineered cell therapies
Seasoned pharmaceutical executive Karen Walker will lead technical development of Kyverna’s T-cell therapies
EMERYVILLE, Calif., September 15, 2021 – Kyverna Therapeutics, Inc., a cell therapy company focused on engineering a new class of therapies for serious autoimmune diseases, today announced the appointment of Ian Clark as chair of the company’s board of directors and the appointment of Karen Walker as Chief Technology Officer (CTO).
“Kyverna is honored to welcome Ian as chairman of our board of directors. He is among the most respected leaders in our industry, and his accomplishments have transformed the lives of millions of patients,” said Dominic Borie, M.D., Ph.D., President and CEO of Kyverna. “Over several decades, Ian led the delivery of more than a dozen new medicines to market, helping patients fighting autoimmune diseases, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, and various types of cancer. His stellar background, track record, and passion will be invaluable to Kyverna as we grow our company and aim to deliver on our mission of curing autoimmune diseases.”
“Developing medicines for patients with life-threatening illnesses is an incredible responsibility, and one I approach with the utmost urgency,” said Mr. Clark. “Kyverna’s science is aiming to address the most urgent needs of those who suffer from more than 80 autoimmune diseases with suboptimal treatments and no cures. I’m thrilled at the opportunity to work with Kyverna’s board and leadership team to help realize the vision for a company that shows such promise in helping patients with few treatment options.”
Mr. Clark has more than 35 years of experience in the biopharmaceutical industry. During his seven-year tenure as Genentech’s top executive, he ranked among the highest-rated CEOs by Glassdoor, was recognized as the Bay Area’s most admired CEO by the San Francisco Business Times, and was awarded the Honorable Mentor of the Year award by the Healthcare Businesswoman’s Association. Prior to becoming CEO, Mr. Clark served in a number of leadership roles, including Executive Vice President of Commercial Operations and Senior Vice President and General Manager of Biooncology.
Before joining Genentech, Mr. Clark held various positions of increasing responsibility at Novartis, Sanofi, Ivax, and Searle, working in the U.S., U.K., Canada, Eastern Europe, and France. Currently, he serves on the boards of several other public biopharmaceutical companies, including Takeda, Agios Pharmaceuticals, Guardant Health, Olema Oncology, and Avrobio. He is also on the BioFulcrum Board of the Gladstone Institutes. Mr. Clark holds a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences and an honorary Ph.D. from Southampton University in the U.K.
Karen Walker Appointed Chief Technology Officer
Ms. Walker has several decades of broad and deep industry experience developing biopharmaceuticals and cell and gene therapy (CGT) products. She brings extensive and pioneering expertise in the product development, manufacturing, and supply of cell-based therapies and associated analytics.
“We are delighted to welcome Karen to the Kyverna team and look forward to her leadership as we actively prepare to bring our first cell therapy to patients,” said Dr. Borie. “Karen has world-class expertise in the development of recombinant protein products with a particular focus on cell therapy products. She has championed a focus on associated analytics, essential to the appropriate management, characterization, and control of these therapies to realize the promised benefit to patients. Her expertise and passion will help us advance Kyverna’s programs into the clinic as we aim to deliver on our mission of bringing cures to patients who are suffering from debilitating autoimmune disorders.”
Ms. Walker held positions in Technical Development, Regulatory Affairs, and Quality at a number of companies including Roche/Genentech, Seagen (formerly Seattle Genetics), Novartis, Amgen, Bayer, Bristol-Myers Squibb, and several other small to mid-sized biotech companies. She comes to Kyverna from Roche/Genentech where she was Senior Advisor, Cell and Gene Therapy Manufacturing. In this position, she was instrumental in developing and implementing the strategy for CGT manufacturing and controls into the Roche/Genentech organization.
“I am thrilled to be joining the Kyverna team to play my part in bringing transformative cell therapy approaches to patients,” said Ms. Walker. “Right now, people suffering from a vast number of autoimmune diseases must settle for suboptimal treatments. Kyverna aims to create a new class of T-cell therapies programmed to target and selectively modulate the underlying causes of autoimmunity. It’s an incredibly exciting time in history for Kyverna and for the patients who desperately need us.”
Prior to Roche/Genentech, she was Vice President of Global Quality at Seagen Inc., formerly Seattle Genetics, Inc., where she oversaw and directed the Global Quality Organization in the U.S. and Europe. Previously, Ms. Walker was Vice President and Global Head of Cell and Gene Therapy Technical Development and Manufacturing for Novartis’ CGT Unit. There, she led the Chemistry, Manufacturing, and Controls (CMC) teams through the formation of the strategies and execution of those strategies to develop KYMRIAH® (tisagenlecleucel) through the pivotal trial stage and to filing of the first CAR-T Biologics License Application (BLA) in pediatric acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). During her time at Novartis and continuing to the present, Ms. Walker has been a strong and leading voice in the establishment of industry standardization and contributed to influence emerging regulatory guidance in the area of CGT products globally.
Ms. Walker holds a bachelor’s degree from St. Olaf College. She is a member of numerous pharmaceutical industry trade organizations, including the Alliance for Regenerative Medicines (ARM) Cell Therapy Manufacturing Committee, Deloitte Industry Working Group for Advanced Therapy Medicinal Products (ATMPs), Parenteral Drug Association (PDA), PDA Biologics Advisory Board, where she was vice chair from 2018 to 2020, and the PDA ATMP Working Group.
About Kyverna Therapeutics
Kyverna Therapeutics is a cell therapy company engineering a new class of therapies for autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. The Kyverna therapeutic platform combines advanced T-cell engineering and synthetic biology technologies to suppress or eliminate the autoreactive immune cells at the origin of autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. In addition to developing next-generation chimeric antigen receptor T-cell (CAR T) therapies in both autologous and allogeneic settings, Kyverna is creating synReg T cells, a synthetic version of Regulatory T cells (Tregs), powerful natural immune cells that control immune homeostasis through multiple immunosuppressive mechanisms. By offering more than one mechanism for taming autoimmunity, Kyverna is positioned to transform how autoimmune diseases are treated. For more information, please visit https://kyvernatx.com.