CAMBRIDGE, Mass.---ROME Therapeutics, a biotechnology company harnessing the power of the repeatome in drug development, today announced the appointment of Dennis Zaller, Ph.D., as Chief Scientific Officer. Dr. Zaller is a highly experienced drug discovery scientist and immunology expert with a successful track record of developing innovative medicines for patients in need across multiple therapeutic areas, including cancer and autoimmune disease. In this role, he will be responsible for ROME’s drug discovery and development efforts, including biology, chemistry and preclinical development.
“I am thrilled to welcome Dennis to ROME. His impressive record in drug discovery, deep understanding of early biotech dynamics and extensive experience in oncology and immunology will all be huge assets,” said Rosana Kapeller, M.D., Ph.D., CEO, President and Co-founder of ROME Therapeutics. “Importantly, Dennis has an insatiable curiosity and a passion for solving scientific mysteries to improve care for patients, which is foundational to ROME’s mission and culture.”
Dr. Zaller has more than 30 years of experience in the biopharma industry. Most recently, he spent five years as Executive Director, Integrative Sciences at Celgene (later Bristol Myers Squibb). In this role, he provided scientific leadership across a large portfolio of external collaborations with early stage biotechs in immunology, fibrosis and immuno-oncology. Dr. Zaller helped bring six novel molecules to the clinic through this distributed research model. Prior to Celgene, he spent 25 years at Merck Research Laboratories in a series of roles with increasing responsibility leading large drug discovery teams. While at Merck, Dr. Zaller helped advance 28 molecules into the clinic, resulting in eight marketed drugs. Before joining industry, he conducted academic research at the California Institute of Technology. Dr. Zaller has a B.S. from the State University of New York at Albany and an M.A., M.Phil. and Ph.D. from Columbia University. He is an author of more than 60 manuscripts in leading journals covering a variety of scientific discoveries and is an inventor on seven patents.
“ROME’s mission to explore the uncharted territory of the repeatome and bring forward a new class of medicines resonates with me at my core. This is such an important arena for drug discovery, and it holds great promise for patients suffering with serious debilitating diseases,” said Dr. Zaller. “I believe that by unlocking the repeatome, we will be able to drive hard-to-treat cancers and autoimmune diseases into sustained remission, and I look forward to working with the ROME team and our terrific network of collaborators to make that vision a reality.”
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ROME Therapeutics is developing novel therapies for cancer and autoimmune diseases by harnessing the power of the repeatome – vast stretches of uncharted genetic material that have long been dismissed as “junk DNA.” With several drug targets identified and multiple discovery programs underway, ROME is moving rapidly to leverage this new frontier in biology. To lead this exploration, ROME has assembled a team of world-class leaders across fields including oncology, immunology, virology and machine learning. ROME was launched in April 2020 and was incubated at GV, in collaboration with ARCH Venture Partners and Partners Innovation Fund. ROME is based in Cambridge, Mass.