RQ Bio Strengthens Board with Industry-leading Infectious Disease Experts Joining as Non-Executive Directors
- Dr W. Ripley Ballou, previously Vice President and Head at GSK Global Vaccines and Dr Jacques Cholat, previously President of Merck Vaccines, join the RQ Bio Board of Directors
- Appointments confirm RQ Bio’s ambition to become the world-leading company in passive immunisation for infectious disease
LONDON, UK, 9 February 2023 -- RQ Bio is scaling up at speed, with the appointment of Non-Executive Directors, Dr W. Ripley (“Rip”) Ballou and Dr Jacques Cholat to its Board of Directors. Both new Non-Executive Directors have extensive scientific and leadership experience in vaccines and infectious diseases in the United States, Europe and around the world. They take up their position with immediate effect and will support the strategic, business and scientific direction of the company.
The appointments come after RQ Bio last month announced the first of its discovered monoclonal antibodies to prevent COVID-19 in vulnerable patients, has entered clinical trials. Less than 12 months after discovery, AstraZeneca started the SUPERNOVA Phase I/III trial1[i]. Just six months before, RQ Bio was launched following a $157m licencing deal for Covid-19 antibodies with AstraZeneca.
These appointments add significant expertise to the team. Hugo Fry, CEO of RQ Bio, comments: “We are charging ahead. We have the funding to match our ambition, and now we are announcing two non-executive appointments that match the scale of our ambition. There is no time to waste in protecting millions of vulnerable patients, so being joined by such highly experienced and talented leaders in the industry will further accelerate our progress.”
Fry adds: “We are seeking pharmaceutical industry partners to develop our antibody discoveries for patients, so it’s a great vote of confidence to have acquired such senior level experience with Rip and Jacques joining the board. Both will be invaluable in supporting the rapid growth of RQ Bio and helping us make the case for our innovations to our colleagues in the pharmaceutical industry.”
Dr Ripley Ballou is a senior R&D leader with a wealth of experience in vaccines and infectious diseases. His experience includes research, technical and clinical development, quality and regulatory activities involved in taking vaccines and monoclonal antibodies targeting infectious diseases, from discovery through to the clinic. He also has experience of start-up companies including being instrumental in the launch of Univax Corporation which was developing a monoclonal antibody programme against sepsis targets.
Dr Ballou said: “It is a real privilege to join the RQ Bio Board of Directors. The company is at the forefront of pharmaceutical discovery, discovering monoclonal antibodies to protect the most vulnerable patients from infectious diseases. I am excited to be able to work with, and guide their expert teams, to further expand their development programme. Our pharmaceutical industry partners will also play a crucial role in allowing us to create access for these treatments.”
Dr Jacques Cholat has long been inspired by the combined aspects of public health and commercial considerations in the infectious disease/vaccines arena. While working at Merck & Co he was instrumental in securing the roll out of several life saving vaccination programs, to the lowest income countries of the world: Human Papillomavirus (HPV), Rotavirus and Ebola vaccination in Africa.
Dr Cholat comments: “Whilst we know that the global Covid-19 pandemic devastated communities, we learnt from it and it has provided rich insights which have helped to advance cutting-edge scientific research. Now, as I join the Board of Directors at RQ Bio, an innovative and forward-thinking company, together we are committed to further that scientific understanding and to prevent a recurrence of healthcare systems being overwhelmed by preventable illness, as we witnessed during the pandemic.”
About our Non-Executive Directors
Dr Ballou currently serves as a Senior Scientific Advisor to the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) where he works on monoclonal antibody programs targeting HIV. He was previously Vice President and Head at GSK Global Vaccines, based in Maryland, US where he led programs developing vaccines for Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV), Dengue, Ebola and Cytomegalovirus (CMV). Prior to that he was Vice President and Head, Clinical Research and Translational Science, Vaccine Discovery and Development at GSK Vaccines in Rixensart, Belgium. He has also served as Deputy Director for Vaccines, Infectious Diseases Development, Global Health at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and as a Vice President, Clinical Development at MedImmune where he worked on early and late-stage vaccine and monoclonal antibody programs. Dr Ballou received his MD from Emory University School of Medicine, trained in Medicine and Infectious Disease at the Walter Reed Army Medical Centre and began his research career in vaccine development at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research where he led a team that, with GSK, co-developed a malaria vaccine that was recently recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) for widespread use in sub-Saharan Africa.
Dr Cholat was previously President of Merck Vaccines and before that Vice President of the company’s Global Commercial Vaccines. Prior to joining Merck, he was Vice President Commercial Operations International for Sanofi Pasteur and Vice President Commercial Operations Asia Pacific for Aventis. He gained his MD at Genoble University’s Medical School.
About RQ Bio
RQ Bio was founded in May 2021 by scientific experts previously involved with the UK BIA Antibody Taskforce. This Taskforce built a community of infectious disease antibody experts focussed on the development of rapid and efficient delivery of highly potent neutralising antibodies to help support the UK COVID-19 response.
RQ Bio is extending the concept beyond SARS-CoV-2, combining deep knowledge of virus and antibody evolution to engineer potent neutralising antibodies that are future-proofed against common escape mutations, even in highly variable viruses like influenza.
RQ Bio’s mission has been to develop medicines based on potent broad-spectrum monoclonal antibodies to provide instant and long-lasting immunity for vulnerable people at risk of severe disease or death from current and future variants of viral infections. RQ Bio has achieved this by combining innovative excellence in core areas to create a smarter approach to antibody generation. RQ Bio has multiple sources of leads and a deep collaboration with the University of Oxford.
1[i] ClinicalTrials.gov. A Study for Immunocompromised Patients for Pre Exposure Prophylaxis of COVID-19 With AZD5156. (SUPERNOVA). ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT05648110. Available at: https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT05648110. Accessed: February 2023.
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