China- and Somerset, NJ-based Legend Biotech experienced a significant leadership transition the first week of August. The Board of Directors named Dr. Frank Zhang as the company’s new Chief Executive Officer. The previous CEO, Dr. Yuan Xu, resigned earlier this week citing personal reasons.
Dr. Zhang will continue to serve in his role of Chairman of the Board of Directors while taking on CEO duties. He recently stepped down from his role as CEO of GenScript, the majority shareholder of Legend. Commenting on the company’s period of transition, Dr. Zhang noted: “Legend has a robust pipeline of promising cell therapies entering various stages of clinical development. We are confident that we can continue to help patients in need and create shareholder value by leveraging our strong R&D capabilities.”
The clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company has had a big year, including a $424 million IPO earlier this summer. Legend expects to file their leading cell therapy treatment, JNJ-4528, with the FDA by the end of this year, and submit a marketing authorization application to the European Medicines Agency early next year. Zhang takes the help as myriad promising cell therapies are reportedly flying down the pipeline and heading into clinical development.
Aside from being the Chairman and CEO of GenScript since 2015, he also co-founded the company in 2002. He went on to found Legend as a subsidiary of GenScript, to focus more on the R&D and commercialization of immunotherapy treatments. He was awarded Person of the Year at the 2018 China Healthcare Summit for his contributions to the field and has authored over 20 peer-reviewed research papers and holds 9 patents.
Legend Biotech employs over 700 people in China, the U.S., and Europe, and is in the midst of a strategic collaboration with Janssen Biotech to bring a BCMA-targeted therapy to market for patients living with multiple myeloma. Zhang’s deep involvement with the company and prior expertise will enable him to hit the ground running and propel Legend even further to the top of its game. With such a robust pipeline of oncology therapies and trials, Legend Biotech should continue to see a great year despite the quick shift of leadership.