BOSTON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Abata Therapeutics, a company focused on translating the biology of regulatory T cells (Tregs) into transformational medicines for patients living with severe autoimmune and inflammatory diseases, today announced that it has appointed Ellen Cahir-McFarland, Ph.D., as its Chief Scientific Officer. Cahir-McFarland brings more than 25 years of experience to Abata’s leadership team and will leverage her deep experience in immunology, neuroimmunology, and the development of multiple sclerosis (MS) therapies.
“Ellen’s experience and expertise make her the perfect fit to lead Abata’s research efforts. Her knowledge in immunology, MS, and translational medicine will be pivotal as we advance our Treg approach into the clinic, beginning with a breakthrough treatment for progressive MS,” said Samantha Singer, M.S., M.B.A., president and chief executive officer of Abata. “I would also like to thank Andrea Van Elsas, who has served as our interim CSO since we formed the company. His leadership, scientific insight, and company-building experience have been instrumental in our success to date, enabling us to build distinctive capabilities and rapidly advance our programs into the clinic.”
“I’m delighted to join the fantastic team at Abata. I am impressed by the team’s efforts to combine cutting-edge science in disease pathology, cell manufacturing, and Treg biology to develop a pipeline of programs in autoimmune disease,” said Cahir-McFarland. “I look forward to guiding our research team, our science, and our translational efforts as we advance into clinical studies.”
Ellen Cahir-McFarland has deep experience in drug discovery research and early drug development. Prior to joining Abata, Ellen was Senior Vice President of Research at Annexon Biosciences, a company focused on advancing inhibitors of classical complement in neurodegeneration, ophthalmology, and autoimmune indications. She joined Annexon in 2020 to lead research. During her time there, the team advanced two programs into first-in-human studies. Prior to Annexon, Ellen joined Biogen Discovery Research in 2011, where she held several positions of increasing responsibility, including as Interim Head of the MS and Neurorepair Research Unit. During her time at Biogen, she advanced programs in virology, immunology, neuroimmunology, and MS. She supported the Tysabri Asset team and was the research and development project leader for Phase 1 and Phase 2 programs for MS. Before moving to industry, Ellen was an accomplished academic, including her work running a postdoctoral fellowship and a research lab as an Assistant Professor at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, where she focused on how Epstein Barr Virus co-opts cellular signaling pathways to drive the transformation of B-lymphocytes. She earned her Ph.D. in Immunology at Washington University in St. Louis, studying T cell receptor signaling.
About Abata Therapeutics
Abata Therapeutics is focused on translating the biology of regulatory T cells (Tregs) into transformational medicines for patients living with severe autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. Founded by pioneers in Treg biology, T cell receptor, and antigen discovery, disease pathogenesis, and molecular and imaging biomarkers, Abata has developed a differentiated product engine to create engineered Treg cell therapies that are tissue-specific, robust, and durable. In addition to its lead program in progressive multiple sclerosis (MS), Abata has programs in Type 1 Diabetes (T1D) and inclusion body myositis (IBM) – two additional tissue-specific autoimmune diseases with substantial unmet need and a strong rationale for Abata’s Treg approach. The company was launched in 2021 by Third Rock Ventures, with participation from a diverse syndicate of investors, including ElevateBio, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Invus, Samsara BioCapital, and the JDRF T1D Fund. Abata is based in Cambridge, Mass. Please visit abatatx.com or follow us on Twitter or LinkedIn for more information.