With $150m in its pocket, new cancer startup will turn to CROs to ‘execute faster’

By Melissa Fassbender

- Last updated on GMT

(Image: Getty/alphaspirit)
(Image: Getty/alphaspirit)

Related tags Management occupations Corporate governance Management

Cullinan Oncology has launched with $150m in funding, a focus on risk, and a business model through which it will rely on a global network of third-party vendors, says CEO.

The Series A financing was co-led by the UBS Oncology Impact Fund (OIF), managed by MPM Capital, and F2 Ventures. MPM Capital created Cullinan to develop oncology therapeutics through a cost-efficient business model, according to the early-stage life sciences venture firm.

The Cambridge, MA-based oncology company’s assets will be sourced from its dry lab in addition to external collaborators and will be managed by a single team.

Owen Hughes, Cullinan CEO and MPM managing director, told Outsourcing-Pharma.com the company’s business model is to source one-off assets that otherwise would not be funded due to inherent overall risk. The company’s goal is to create a portfolio of these assets to diversify/reduce risk – it will have no wet labs and limited infrastructure.

Instead, Hughes said the company will rely on a global network of preferred vendors for all preclinical and clinical work. The network will be compromised of companies in MPM’s portfolio and those with which it has previously worked.

What CROs [contract research organizations] allow us to do is execute faster​,” Hughes explained. “Setting up labs and staffing is expensive and highly competitive in the Boston, MA area. We have the ability to flex our workforce and our experiments via third-party vendors, many of which are preferred vendors​.”

The team

Hughes joined Cullinan Oncology from Intarcia Therapeutics, where he was the chief business officer and head of corporate development.

Patrick Baeuerle, PhD, Cullinan’s co-founder and chief scientific officer, biologics, and MPM managing director, co-founded MPM oncology start-ups Harpoon, TCR², iOmx, and Maverick. Previously, he was vice president, research and general manager of Amgen Research Munich GmbH.

Chief Scientific Officer, Small Molecules, and MPM Managing Director, Leigh Zawel, PhD joins the new company from Pfizer, where she was vice president and east coast site head for Pfizer’s Centers for Therapeutic Innovation.

Briggs Morrison, MD, Clinical Advisor to Cullinan and MPM Managing Director is also the CEO of Syndax Pharmaceuticals, an MPM portfolio company.

Corinne Savill, PhD, Cullinan’s chief business officer was most recently at Novartis, and Kristen Laguerre, MBA, CFO and MPM Managing Director, Finance, was most recently partner and CFO at Flare Capital Partners.

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