Imara Inc., a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on sickle cell disease and other hemoglobinopathies, today announced it has appointed Michael P. Gray as Chief Financial and Chief Operating Officer. Mr. Gray brings nearly two decades of experience at both public and private biotechnology companies, where he developed strong investment community relationships and an in-depth understanding of capital markets, with a broad background in strategic corporate finance, business operations, business development and investor relations. He most recently served as President, Chief Executive Officer and Chief Financial Officer at public, global biotechnology company, Arsanis, Inc., leading a strategic process that consummated with the closing in March 2019 of a merger between Arsanis and X4 Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: XFOR) following a futility outcome of Arsanis lead clinical asset. Mr. Gray previously served as Arsanis Chief Operating and Chief Financial Officer from March 2016 until November 2018. In that capacity, he built the business and finance infrastructure of Arsanis U.S. global headquarters and successfully raised over $130 million, including completing two private financings and an initial public offering (IPO).
Mikes breadth of strategic business and financial operations expertise in both public and private settings is a rare combination and will be immensely important as we enter this next phase of growth for Imara, said Rahul D. Ballal, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer of Imara. Mike will play an important role in creating key partnerships, building an internal infrastructure, and putting us on secure financial footing, as we build out the clinical program for IMR-687 and other pipeline efforts.
Rahul and the existing Imara team and board of directors bring a deep scientific and business acumen to the company and are also able to intimately understand whats at stake for patients lacking effective treatments for rare diseases such as sickle cell disease, said Michael P. Gray, Chief Financial and Chief Operating Officer of Imara. With the recently completed $63 million Series B cross-over financing with top-tier healthcare investors, promising early data on the ongoing Phase 2a clinical trial of IMR-687, and Imaras overall growth trajectory, this is an exciting time to join the company and I look forward to building the company across several important functional areas.
Prior to Arsanis, Mr. Gray spent over a decade at Curis, Inc. (NASDAQ: CRIS), a publicly-traded oncology company, including 13 years as its Chief Financial Officer, while also holding dual roles as either Chief Operating Officer or Chief Business Officer during most of his tenure. At the company, he was responsible for financial strategy and business operations, business development, alliance management, corporate legal as well as all other administrative functions. Mr. Gray raised approximately $200 million in equity capital through a variety of transactions, including public offerings, at-the-market (ATM) offerings, registered direct offerings, PIPEs and other structures. He was the business development and finance lead for a potentially transformative collaboration agreement with Aurigene and led the 2012 in-licensing of a clinical-stage compound from Genentech and simultaneous $30 million structured debt transaction. Mr. Gray was also instrumental in Curis entry into and subsequent management of its collaboration with Genentech (Roche) that was focused on the Hedgehog signaling pathway, which resulted in a commercially approved drug for the treatment of advanced basal cell carcinoma. Previously, Mr. Gray was Controller and de Facto Chief Financial Officer at Reprogenesis, Inc., where he participated in various financings and managed all preclinical and clinical development financial activities. He began his career as an audit professional with Ernst & Young, LLP.
Mr. Gray earned his BS in Business Administration, Accounting Concentration from Bryant College in Smithfield, R.I., and his MBA, Finance and Entrepreneurial Management Concentration, from Babson College in Wellesley, Mass. He is a certified public accountant and a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and the Association of Biotech Financial Officers (ABFO).
About Sickle Cell Disease
Sickle cell disease is a rare, genetically inherited condition that alters hemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells that transports oxygen throughout the body. The altered hemoglobin distorts red blood cells into a sickle, or crescent, shape. Painful episodes can occur when sickled red blood cells, which are stiff and inflexible, get stuck in small blood vessels. These episodes deprive tissues and organs of oxygen-rich blood and can lead to vaso-occlusive crisis (VOC), acute chest syndrome (ACS), and permanent damage to organs including the liver, spleen, kidney and brain.
IMR-687 was designed to address the underlying pathology of sickle cell disease. An orally-administered, highly potent and selective phosphodiesterase 9 (PDE9) inhibitor, IMR-687 is a potentially disease-modifying therapeutic for sickle cell disease as well as other hemoglobinopathies. Pre-clinical data demonstrate IMR-687 reduces both the sickling of red blood cells and blood vessel occlusion that cause debilitating pain, organ damage, and early mortality in affected patients. A Phase 1 clinical trial in healthy volunteers showed IMR-687 to be safe and well-tolerated.
IMR-687 has been granted both U.S. Orphan Drug Designation and U.S. Rare Pediatric Designation by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Imara Inc. is dedicated to developing novel therapeutics for patients with sickle cell disease and other hemoglobinopathies. Imara is currently developing IMR-687, a highly selective, potent small molecule inhibitor of PDE9, to treat patients with sickle cell disease. IMR-687 was specifically designed to treat patients with sickle cell disease by both reducing red blood cell sickling and blockage of blood vessels that are underlying causes of the pathology of sickle cell disease. IMR-687 successfully completed a Phase 1 study in healthy volunteers and is currently being evaluated in a multi-national Phase 2a study in adult patients with sickle cell disease.