Cydan Expands Team to Accelerate Development of Innovative Treatments for Patients Living with Rare Diseases

Cydan Expands Team to Accelerate Development of Innovative Treatments for Patients Living with Rare Diseases

March 20, 2019

Cydan Expands Team to Accelerate Development of Innovative Treatments for Patients Living with Rare Diseases

Yongchang Qiu, Ph.D., Named Vice President, Preclinical Development; Ryan Tyler, Ph.D., Named Senior Director, Preclinical Research; Niels Svenstrup, Ph.D., Promoted to Senior Vice President, Development

Heather Halem, Ph.D., Named a Cydan Fellow

Cambridge, Mass., March 20, 2019 – Cydan, an orphan drug accelerator dedicated to creating therapies that improve the lives of people living with rare genetic diseases, today announced that it has named Yongchang Qiu, Ph.D., Vice President of Preclinical Development and Ryan Tyler, Ph.D., Senior Director of Preclinical Research. Niels Svenstrup, Ph.D., was promoted to Senior Vice President of Development. Additionally, Heather Halem, Ph.D., will serve as a Cydan Fellow to help evaluate and advance new treatments. Dr. Halem is also Vice President of Research for Cydan’s recently launched NewCo, Tiburio Therapeutics.

“Since the launch of Cydan, the team has engaged with scientists, clinicians and entrepreneurs around the world to identify therapies to address the tremendous unmet need in rare diseases. Cydan has de-risked nearly 20 projects, launched three companies with novel clinical-stage compounds, and raised over $220 million in funding from our syndicate of leading investors to improve the lives of patients with rare diseases,” said James McArthur, Ph.D., Co-Founder and President of R&D of Cydan. “To continue this work and expand our impact on patients, we are adding individuals to our team with a proven track record of rare disease drug development. We are fortunate to be joined by Yongchang, Ryan and Heather and thrilled to expand Niels’ role in the company as we work toward reducing the number of rare diseases without treatments.”

In early 2015, Cydan launched its first new company, Vtesse, which collaborated with the NIH and launched a registration study to develop a new therapy for the fatal lysosomal storage disease Niemann-Pick Disease Type C (NPC). One year after launching Vtesse, Cydan created Imara to develop IMR-687, a novel treatment for people living with sickle cell disease, which is currently in a multi-national phase 2 clinical trial. Tiburio, a clinical-stage company developing new treatments for rare endocrine disorders, was launched at the start of 2019.

Yongchang Qiu, Ph.D., Vice President, Preclinical Development

Yongchang Qiu, Ph.D., 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, Dr. Qiu 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. Dr. Qiu began his career in discovery research at Wyeth in 1998, eventually serving as Head of Protein Chemistry and Proteomics.

He 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. Dr. Qiu has authored 50+ peer-reviewed research articles and 7 original patents.

Ryan Tyler, Ph.D., Senior Director, Preclinical Research

Ryan Tyler, Ph.D., 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, Dr. Tyler 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. Dr. Tyler 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.

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

Niels Svenstrup, Ph.D.; Promoted to Senior Vice President, Development

Niels Svenstrup, Ph.D., 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. Dr. Svenstrup 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, Dr. Svenstrup 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.

Dr. Svenstrup 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.

Heather Halem, Ph.D., Cydan Fellow

Heather Halem, Ph.D., 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, Dr. Halem has direct experience leading research programs that have taken molecules from early identification to clinical candidates.

Prior to joining Cydan, she spent 15 years at Ipsen Bioscience, serving most recently as Director, Endocrine Modeling. In the role, Dr. Halem 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.

About Cydan
Cydan is an orphan drug accelerator dedicated to delivering therapies that will significantly improve the lives of people living with rare genetic diseases. The company evaluates new experimental therapies and advances those with the highest potential to be disease modifying treatments. Cydan’s goal is to launch new companies focused on developing promising therapies for rare genetic diseases with high unmet medical need. Cydan was founded in 2013 by a management team with extensive drug discovery, clinical development, and business development experience and is currently financed by leading life sciences investors including New Enterprise Associates (NEA), Pfizer Venture Investments, Lundbeckfonden Ventures, Longitude Capital, and Alexandria Venture Investments. Cydan is based in Technology Square in Cambridge, Mass.

For more information, visit or contact the company at