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CAMBRIDGE, Mass., May 20, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Voyager Therapeutics, Inc. (NASDAQ: VYGR), a clinical-stage gene therapy company focused on developing life-changing treatments for severe neurological diseases, today announced the retirement of Dinah Sah, Ph.D. as Voyager’s chief scientific officer, and the appointment by Voyager of Omar Khwaja, M.D., Ph.D., currently Voyager’s chief medical officer, to the expanded role of chief medical officer and head of research and development. Both changes will be effective June 28, 2019. Dr. Sah has agreed to serve as a consultant to Voyager and become a member of its scientific advisory board.
“We are grateful to Dinah for all of her contributions to Voyager since its inception. We are pleased that she intends to stay actively involved in our future and that we will continue to benefit from her scientific insight as a consultant and key scientific advisor,” said Andre Turenne, president and chief executive officer of Voyager. “Omar is well positioned to assume leadership for our research efforts. His broad management experience and translational medicine expertise will be critical strengths as he assumes this additional role and continues to drive forward our gene therapy programs and platform.”
“I am very pleased to have had the opportunity to provide scientific leadership for Voyager. Most of all, I am proud to have built and worked with a great research team which has made tremendous progress in establishing and advancing Voyager’s multiple AAV gene therapy programs and novel platforms since we launched the company approximately five years ago,” said Dr. Sah. “I look forward to actively working with the team as a consultant and as a member of the scientific advisory board to identify and assess new opportunities.”
Dr. Khwaja’s background includes extensive research, discovery, translational, and clinical therapeutic development experience in neuroscience, neurogenetics and rare disease in both industry and academic roles. Dr. Khwaja joined Voyager from F. Hoffmann-La Roche AG (Roche) where he most recently served as global head of neuroscience translational medicine and global head of rare diseases. Before joining Roche, Dr. Khwaja was director of the clinical neurogenetics program at Boston Children’s Hospital and on the faculty of Harvard Medical School. Dr. Khwaja received his M.D. and Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK. He trained in pediatrics and clinical genetics in London, UK and Melbourne, Australia and completed his neurology training at Massachusetts General Hospital and Boston Children’s Hospital, where he was chief resident. He is a member of the Royal Colleges of Physicians of the United Kingdom and a member of the Royal College of Pediatrics and Child Health.
“I welcome the opportunity to work with the talented research team Dinah has assembled to help drive our existing pipeline and identify new programs in the rapidly evolving gene therapy landscape,” said Dr. Khwaja. “The ability to discover, develop and manufacture AAV gene therapies for severe neurological diseases is a core expertise of Voyager and will continue to be our focus.”
Voyager recently granted a restricted stock unit award for 30,000 shares of Voyager common stock and a non-qualified stock option to purchase 170,000 shares of Voyager common stock to Dr. Khwaja as inducements material to his entering into an employment agreement with Voyager to serve as its chief medical officer. The inducement awards were approved by the Compensation Committee of Voyager’s Board of Directors in accordance with Nasdaq Stock Market Listing Rule 5635(c)(4) and became effective upon the commencement of Dr. Khwaja’s employment on May 20, 2019.
The restricted stock units vest annually in equal installments over three years beginning on the first anniversary of the effective date of grant. The stock option has a ten-year term and an exercise price of $21.86 per share, which is equal to the closing price of Voyager’s common stock on May 20, 2019. The stock option vests over a four-year period, with 25% of the shares underlying the option vesting on the first anniversary of the effective date of grant and the remaining 75% of the shares underlying the option vesting in 36 equal monthly installments following the first anniversary of the effective date of grant. Vesting of the restricted stock units and the stock option is subject to Dr. Khwaja’s continued employment with Voyager. The restricted stock units and the stock option are subject to the terms and conditions of a restricted stock unit agreement and a stock option agreement, respectively.
About Voyager Therapeutics
Voyager Therapeutics is a clinical-stage gene therapy company focused on developing life-changing treatments for severe neurological diseases. Voyager is committed to advancing the field of AAV gene therapy through innovation and investment in vector engineering and optimization, manufacturing, and dosing and delivery techniques. Voyager’s wholly-owned and partnered pipeline focuses on severe neurological diseases in need of effective new therapies, including Parkinson’s disease, a monogenic form of ALS called SOD1, Huntington’s disease, Friedreich’s ataxia, Alzheimer’s disease, and other neurodegenerative diseases related to defective or excess aggregation of tau and alpha-synuclein proteins in the brain. Voyager has strategic collaborations with Sanofi Genzyme, AbbVie and Neurocrine. Founded by scientific and clinical leaders in the fields of AAV gene therapy, expressed RNA interference and neuroscience, Voyager is headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts. For more information on Voyager, please visit the company’s website at www.voyagertherapeutics.com or follow @VoyagerTx on Twitter and LinkedIn.
Voyager Therapeutics® is a registered trademark of Voyager Therapeutics.
This press release contains forward-looking statements for the purposes of the safe harbor provisions under The Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 and other federal securities laws. The use of words such as “may,” “might,” “will,” “would,” “should,” “expect,” “plan,” “anticipate,” “believe,” “estimate,” “undoubtedly,” “project,” “intend,” “future,” “potential,” or “continue,” and other similar expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements. For example, all statements Voyager makes regarding the initiation, timing, progress, activities, goals and reporting of results of its preclinical programs and clinical trials and its research and development programs, the potential benefits and future operation of the collaboration agreements with Sanofi Genzyme, AbbVie and Neurocrine, including any potential future payments thereunder, its ability to advance its AAV-based gene therapies into, and successfully initiate, enroll and complete, clinical trials, the potential clinical utility of its product candidates, its ability to continue to develop its gene therapy platform and its TRACER system, its ability to perform under existing collaborations with, among others, Sanofi Genzyme, AbbVie and Neurocrine and to add new programs to its pipeline, the regulatory pathway of, and the timing or likelihood of its regulatory filings and approvals for, any of its product candidates, its anticipated financial results, and its ability to manage organizational changes and to complete the successful transition of senior management positions, are forward looking. All forward-looking statements are based on estimates and assumptions by Voyager’s management that, although Voyager believes such forward looking statements to be reasonable, are inherently uncertain. All forward-looking statements are subject to risks and uncertainties that may cause actual results to differ materially from those that Voyager expected. Such risks and uncertainties include, among others, those related to the initiation and conduct of preclinical studies and clinical trials; the availability of data from clinical trials; the expectations for regulatory communications, submissions and approvals; the continued development of the gene therapy platform and its TRACER system; Voyager’s scientific approach and general development progress; the sufficiency of cash resources; the possibility or the timing of the exercise of options under collaborations; the availability or commercial potential of Voyager’s product candidates and the skills and experience of Voyager’s management team. These statements are also subject to a number of material risks and uncertainties that are described in Voyager’s Annual Report on Form 10-K filed for the year ended December 31, 2018 with the Securities and Exchange Commission, as updated by its subsequent filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. All information in the press release is as of the date of this press release, and any forward-looking statement speaks only as of the date on which it was made. Voyager undertakes no obligation to publicly update or revise this information or any forward-looking statement, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, except as required by law.
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