Management Team

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

We are team of drug hunters with 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., VP of business development for Transkaryotic Therapies Inc., and director of business development for the pharmaceutical division of Ciba-Geigy Limited, in Basel, Switzerland.

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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James McArthur, Founder and Chief Scientific Officer

James McArthur, PhD

Founder and President, R&D

With expertise in genetic diseases, gene therapy, immunology, oncology, vascular biology and other areas, James ensures Cydan’s orphan drug development efforts are data driven and rooted in science. He brings the same scientific focus to the Friedreich’s Ataxia Research Alliance (FARA) as a member of its Board of Directors and Scientific Advisory Board. James also serves as CEO of Imara (www.imaratx.com), a spinout of Cydan and as a member of the Board of Directors of NightstaRx (www.nightstarx.com) in the UK.

Before co-founding Imara in 2016, Vtesse in 2015 and Cydan in 2013, James founded and served as chief scientific officer of Synovex Co., where he led the development of treatments for rheumatoid arthritis and fibrotic diseases. 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.

James was a postdoctoral fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of California, Berkeley. He received his PhD in molecular oncology and BSc in biochemistry from McGill University in Montreal.

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Dione Kobayashi, PhD

Vice President, Preclinical Translation

Dione leverages experience in neurodegenerative, neuromuscular, metabolic and ocular diseases from working in non-profit organizations and biotech companies. She is a member of the Cure Congenital Muscular Dystrophy (Cure CMD) Scientific Advisory Board and Board of Directors.

Prior to joining Cydan, Dione was Vice President of Preclinical at PhotoSwitch Biosciences, and Director of Neurology Models at Alector, where she played key roles in research and pharmacology. Previously, she was a Director at the Spinal Muscular Atrophy Foundation, involved in numerous drug development collaborations with biotech and pharmaceutical company partners. At Rinat Labs, which was acquired by Pfizer, she led Alzheimer’s and Age-related Macular Degeneration research programs, and she held research roles at Elan Pharmaceuticals and Genentech.

Dione received her PhD in Neuroscience from the University of Edinburgh and BSc in Brain and Cognitive Sciences from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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Niels Svenstrup, PhD

Vice President, Development

Niels Svenstrup 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 stint 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.

Niels’ academic training includes postdoctoral research at The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, CA.  Niels received his Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry in 1998 after research in Denmark and Australia.  Additionally, he received a Master in Cell Biology and Chemistry from the University of Birmingham and the University of Southern Denmark, after thesis work with J. Fraser Stoddart, who was awarded the Nobel prize in Chemistry, 2016.

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Laura Alessio, Office Manager

Laura Alessio

Office 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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