Management Team

We are a team of drug hunters with decades of extensive experience in drug discovery and development.

We are a team of drug hunters with decades of extensive experience in drug discovery and development.

The Cydan management team has extensive drug development and commercialization experience across the biopharmaceutical industry, venture capital and consulting industries, and strong relationships with non-profit organizations and research foundations.

Chris Adams, Founder and Chief Executive Officer

Chris Adams, PhD, MBA

Founder and Chief Executive Officer

Chris has more than 20 years’ experience in ensuring patient impact drives all aspects of the business side of orphan drug development, including business strategy, commercial planning, licensing and mergers and acquisitions.

Before co-founding Cydan in 2013, Chris was president of CMA Biotech Consulting, which primarily served development stage orphan drug companies. He also was chief business officer of FoldRx Pharmaceuticals Inc., where he played an instrumental role in the company being acquired by Pfizer in 2010. He also served as senior vice president of business development for ViaCell Inc., vice president of business development for Transkaryotic Therapies Inc., and director of business development for the pharmaceutical division of Ciba-Geigy Limited, in Basel, Switzerland. Chris also serves on the board of directors of Cydan NewCo, Tiburio Therapeutics, which launched in 2019.

He holds a PhD in organic chemistry and a diploma in organic chemistry and biochemistry from the University of Zurich, and an MBA from INSEAD of Fontainebleau, France.

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Imran Babar, PhD

Chief Business Officer

Imran has over 10 years of experience in the healthcare industry, including public and private investing experience and rare disease nonprofit management. He comes to Cydan from the private equity team at OrbiMed Advisors, which is a leading healthcare investment firm. While at OrbiMed Imran was involved with a range of companies including Audentes Therapeutics (public), True North Therapeutics (acquired), Neurogastrx, NeRRe Therapeutics, Arvinas, Synlogic Therapeutics (public), and others. Prior to joining OrbiMed, Imran was a Biotechnology Associate at Cowen & Company where he covered over 20 therapeutics companies.

Imran is also co-founder and chief scientific officer for Rare Genomics Institute (RG), a nonprofit dedicated to helping rare disease patients since 2011. Under his leadership, RG has implemented numerous initiatives to accelerate research for rare diseases and shorten patients’ diagnostic odyssey.

Imran completed his PhD in Molecular Biology at Yale University, where he researched microRNAs as both causes and treatments for cancers.

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ShiYin Foo, MD, PhD, MMSC

Chief Medical Officer

Shi Yin brings 20 years of experience both as a practicing physician and as a catalyst in advancing innovative new programs through the various stages of drug development. She has expertise in a breadth of disease areas, including cardiorenal, immunology/inflammation and rare diseases, as well as an interest in novel and adaptive clinical trial designs.

Prior to joining Cydan, Shi Yin was the chief medical officer of Cardioxyl Pharmaceuticals and a translational medicine expert at the Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research, where she was responsible for the establishment and development of multiple novel programs in heart failure and the cardiorenal space, including rare disease indications. Shi Yin is the founder of Orchard Biomedical Consulting, which serves a variety of biotech and pharma partners in broad disease indications.

She is acting chief medical officer for Cydan NewCos, Imara and Tiburio Therapeutics, which launched in 2016 and 2019, respectively.

Shi Yin received her MD and PhD in immunology from Stanford University, and a MMSc in clinical science from the Clinical Investigator Training Program at Harvard Medical School. She was clinical faculty at the Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, and a dual Diplomate of the American Board of Internal Medicine and in Cardiology.

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Heather Halem, PhD

Fellow

Heather brings more than 17 years of pharmaceutical experience to Cydan with strong expertise in rare diseases, endocrinology, metabolic disorders, oncology and in preclinical pharmacology. A senior, cross-functional project team leader, Heather has direct experience leading research programs that have taken molecules from early identification to clinical candidates. 

Prior to joining Cydan, Heather spent 15 years at Ipsen Bioscience, serving most recently as director, endocrine modeling. In the role, she led research project teams from early-stage target identification and concept assessment through lead optimization and into the clinic. She also led the research group focused on developing and utilizing models, both for the elucidation of disease mechanisms and for the screening and optimization of therapeutic compounds. Previously, she was a senior scientist at Genome Therapeutics identifying novel gene targets for neurodegenerative diseases and served as a research assistant at Boston University, Massachusetts General Hospital and New England Medical Center.

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Yongchang Qiu, PhD

Vice President, Preclinical Development

Yongchang is a 20-year veteran of drug discovery and development at pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, specializing in translational research, DMPK and immunogenicity risk assessment. He has contributed directly to many successful IND and BLA/NDA filings in the rare disease space for a variety of drug modalities, including small molecules, biologics and gene therapies. Prior to joining Cydan, Yongchang was Head of DMPK and Bioanalytical Science at Tesaro and a Senior Director and Global Head of Bioanalytical and Biomarker Development at Shire, leading a team of 40+ scientists responsible for design, development, and implementation of biomarker strategy, immunogenicity risk assessment, as well as safety and diagnostic testing strategies to support numerous development programs. Prior to Shire, he was a Director in Translational Research at Genzyme focusing on MOA elucidation and biomarker development for multiple rare disease programs. Yongchang began his career in discovery research at Wyeth in 1998, eventually serving as Head of Protein Chemistry and Proteomics.

Yongchang earned his Ph.D. in Pharmaceutical Chemistry and Biopharmaceutical Sciences at University of California at San Francisco, an M.S. in Organic Chemistry at New York University and a B.S. in Chemistry from University of Science and Technology of China. He has authored 50+ peer-reviewed research articles and 7 original patents.

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Ryan Tyler, PhD

Senior Director, Preclinical Research

Ryan brings more than 7 years of pharmaceutical and biotechnology discovery and translational biology experience to Cydan in the areas of rare and degenerative diseases. His expertise spans early- to late-stage discovery research, leading teams leveraging innovative cell pharmacology and molecular biology approaches to drive therapeutic development, including as part of collaborations with patient advocacy groups. Prior to joining Cydan, Ryan was Director of Biology and Drug Discovery at Amathus Therapeutics and Director of Biology at Proteostasis Therapeutics, where he led research teams in the establishment of new discovery programs and preclinical activities that enabled the initiation of clinical programs focused on cystic fibrosis therapies. He began his career at Pfizer in the Rare Disease Unit, where he was responsible for the development of assays for biomarkers and compound screening for cystic fibrosis drug discovery.

Ryan received his doctorate from the University of Michigan and completed his postdoctoral studies at Stanford University.

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James McArthur, Founder and Chief Scientific Officer

James McArthur, PhD

Founder and President, R&D

James brings 25 years of experience in drug development. He is a founder of 4 companies, has 25 publications in leading journals and over 15 patents in rare diseases, gene therapy, oncology and immunology.

James is a founder, a member of the Board of Directors and was CEO of Imara, the second spinout of Cydan, developing IMR-687 for the treatment or rare hemoglobinopathies. He was also a founder of Cydan’s spinout Tiburio, developing therapies for rare neuroendocrine diseases, and was also a founder of Cydan’s spinout developing therapies for Niemann Pick type C, Vtesse, which was acquired by Sucampo. James also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of Nightstar Therapeutics, a public company focused on developing gene therapies for rare retinal diseases and also serves as a member of the Board of Directors and Scientific Advisory Board of the Friedreich’s Ataxia Research Alliance (FARA) a leading patient advocacy group (www.curefa.com).

Before co-founding Tiburio in 2019, Imara in 2016, Vtesse in 2015 and Cydan in 2013, James was an entrepreneur-in-residence at HealthCare Ventures. There he helped create and then served as Chief Scientific Officer of Synovex Co., where he invented and led the development of SDP051 a treatment for rheumatoid arthritis. Synovex, renamed Adheron, was acquired by Roche.

Previously, he was vice president of preclinical development for Phylogix Inc, a stem cell biology company, and acting head of research and Principal Scientist at Cell Genesys Inc, a leader in gene therapy. He also was a Senior Scientist at Somatix Therapy, which was acquired by Cell Genesys Inc, a leader in gene therapy. James was a postdoctoral fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of California, Berkeley. He received his PhD in biochemistry from McGill University.

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Niels Svenstrup, PhD

Senior Vice President, Development

Niels brings to Cydan more than 15 years of experience in the pharma and biotech industry across a variety of scientific and managerial roles. He has dedicated his career to bringing new therapies to patients suffering from diseases with great and unmet medical needs. Niels specializes in CMC and discovery chemistry, but his deep experience spans many disciplines and the entire value chain of pharmaceutical R&D. His work has resulted in the invention of numerous drug candidates of which several are currently in clinical development.

Before joining Cydan, Niels served as director of CMC at Ascendis Pharma where he focused on rare diseases in the endocrinology space. Prior to his work at Ascendis he was head of the Department of Medicinal Chemistry at H. Lundbeck’s Neuroscience Drug Discovery center in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Niels began his career at Bayer Pharma in Germany where he served as a medicinal chemist and later as a leader on projects addressing viral and bacterial infection, hematology and cardiovascular disease.

 

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Laura Alessio, Office Manager

Laura Alessio

Operations Manager

Laura ensures that operations, administrative and marketing functions at Cydan are seamless, enabling the company to focus on accelerating the development of rare genetic disease therapies. Often, she is the one who provides the connection point between patients, scientists and business development.

Prior to joining Cydan, Laura was administrative director at Home Market Foods, a specialty provider in the retail and foodservice industry. Previously, she worked with the managing general partner of Highland Capital Partners, a global venture capital firm, where she focused on administrative coordination, fundraising and portfolio management, and she was investor relations manager at Ezenia! Inc., a secure collaboration solutions company, where she served as the company spokesperson for individual and institutional shareholders, brokers and analysts.

Laura received a BSBA from Middlesex College and an executive administration degree from the Burdett School of Business. She also holds degrees from The Financial Executives Institute and The National Investor Relations Institute.

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