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Imara Expands Management Team and Strengthens Expertise Across Strategic Functions as it Advances IMR-687 for Sickle Cell Disease and Beta Thalassemia

CAMBRIDGE, Mass.–()–Imara Inc., a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company dedicated to developing and commercializing novel therapeutics to treat patients suffering from rare inherited genetic disorders of hemoglobin, known as hemoglobinopathies, today announced the expansion of its management team across key functional areas. These appointments come as the company continues to advance IMR-687, a highly selective, potent small molecule PDE9 inhibitor that is being developed as an oral, once-a-day, potentially disease-modifying treatment for sickle cell disease (SCD) and beta thalassemia.

The five new members of Imara’s management team include: Eleanor Lisbon, M.D., M.P.H., Vice President of Clinical Development; Farah Natoli, M.S., Vice President of Program Management; Dora Rau, Vice President of Quality Assurance; Anita Treohan, M.P.H., Vice President of Development Operations; and Frank Waligora, Vice President of Technical Operations. They join Rahul Ballal, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer; Willem Scheele, M.D., Chief Medical Officer; Michael Gray, Chief Financial and Chief Operating Officer; and Kevin Johnson, Ph.D., Senior Vice President of Regulatory and Quality.

“As we work to advance IMR-687 to benefit patients, Imara has assembled a leadership team that brings an important depth of expertise across clinical and quality functions that will be critical to the next stages of this important product’s development, as well as future program plans,” said Dr. Ballal. “In addition to our ongoing Phase 2a clinical trial in sickle cell disease, we intend to broaden our clinical development of IMR-687 with the planned initiation of a Phase 2 clinical trial in patients with beta thalassemia in the first half of 2020, as well as continue to advance IMR-687 in further clinical studies in patients with sickle cell disease. We believe that the skills of this accomplished and well-rounded group will prove invaluable in delivering on our existing programs and expanding indication efforts.”

Dr. Lisbon served as the Senior Medical Director within the Hematology and Oncology Division of the Data Sciences, Safety and Regulatory Team at IQVIA for four years. In that position, Dr. Lisbon served as a Global Medical Advisor on Phase 1-3 clinical trials, including pediatric, adolescent and adult patients in sickle cell anemia and other benign hematologic disorders. For eight years, she was a Principal Investigator in Phase 1 trials, and her area of expertise is high-risk biologics, dose escalation and first-in-human trials. Prior to IQVIA, Dr. Lisbon was on the faculty at the University of Kansas for 10 years. She has co-authored several publications in peer-reviewed journals, including in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2012. Dr. Lisbon earned her M.D. and B.S. in zoology from Howard University. She also completed her residency training and M.P.H. at the University of Kansas.

Ms. Natoli brings to Imara more than 20 years of experience in drug development, with a focus on cross-functional program management. Previously, Ms. Natoli served as the Executive Director of Program and Alliance Leadership and the Humanitarian Aid Program at Bioverativ Inc., a multinational biotechnology company specializing in therapies for the treatment of hemophilia. Prior to that, she led strategic and operational teams as Director of Program Management at AMAG Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and as Associate Director of Program and Alliance Management at FORUM Pharmaceuticals and Shire plc. Ms. Natoli earned her M.S. in natural sciences from the State University of New York at Buffalo and bachelor’s degrees in biology-chemistry and medical technology from Elmira College.

Ms. Rau is an accomplished quality executive with 20 years of leadership experience guiding drug development from early-stage R&D through commercialization. Previously serving as Vice President of Global Quality at Sucampo Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Ms. Rau led the quality management system across the company’s domestic and international sites to support product development activities and commercial products. Prior to that, she held roles of increasing responsibility at Prometheus Laboratories, Inc., before moving on to develop and lead the execution of quality strategy at Auspex Pharmaceuticals, Inc. as Vice President of Quality and Quality Assurance. Ms. Rau earned her B.A. in biology from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and completed a regulatory affairs certification in medical devices and pharmaceuticals from the Regulatory Affairs Professional Society.

Ms. Treohan brings extensive and diverse drug development experience to Imara. Most recently, she served as Senior Director of Portfolio and Program Management at Axcella Health, Inc., leading strategic, portfolio and product development for all company assets. In prior program management and clinical operations roles at ImmusanT, Inc., and FORUM Pharmaceuticals, she advanced programs through development to robust decision points. Ms. Treohan also served as an Associate Director of Clinical Project Management at Pfizer, Inc., leading the operational delivery of Phase 1-4 global programs and clinical trials from concept to submission. She earned a M.P.H. in epidemiology/biostatistics and social behavioral sciences from Boston University and a B.S. in biology from Emory University.

Mr. Waligora comes to Imara from Curis, Inc., where he served as Vice President of Chemistry, Manufacturing and Controls (CMC) since 2015. In this role he led the development, manufacturing and distribution of several small molecule oncology products for the company’s clinical trials. In previous roles, Mr. Waligora held positions of increasing responsibility for chemical development and production of drug substances and drug products. He earned his M.B.A. from Northeastern University and his B.S. in chemistry from Rochester Institute of Technology.

About Imara

Imara Inc. is a clinical-stage biotechnology company dedicated to developing and commercializing novel therapeutics to treat patients suffering from rare inherited genetic disorders of hemoglobin, known as hemoglobinopathies. Imara is currently advancing IMR-687, a highly selective, potent small molecule inhibitor of PDE9 that is an oral, once-a-day, potentially disease-modifying treatment for sickle cell disease and beta thalassemia. IMR-687 is being designed to have a multimodal mechanism of action that acts on red blood cells, white blood cells, adhesion mediators and other cell types. For more information, please visit

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