Emory Picks Chief for New Drug Innovation Venture

Emory University has launched DRIVE, a new drug research center.

George Painter has been named chief executive officer of Drug Innovation Ventures at Emory, LLC (DRIVE) and director of the Emory Institute for Drug Development (EIDD).

Painter is an authority on the development of antiviral drugs and brings 30 years of pharmaceutical/biotechnology industry experience to DRIVE, according to a statement.

DRIVE is a new academic drug research company wholly owned by Emory, but with the independence to run like a biotechnology company.

Painter is listed as an inventor or a co-inventor on more than 45 patents, six of which have led to approved, commercially available drugs or combinations of drugs for the treatment of HIV and hepatitis B. He has led international drug development teams that generated data for nine investigational new drug applications and three new drug applications.

Painter has been a member of the founding management teams of two biotechnology companies, Triangle Pharmaceuticals, Inc., where he served as executive vice president of R&D, and Chimerix, Inc. (NASDAQ: CMRX), where he served as president and CEO.

Triangle was acquired by Gilead Sciences, Inc. in 2002 for $550 million. Chimerix recently became publicly traded and is advancing its lead antiviral compound CMX001 into Phase 3 clinical trials.

Prior to entering the biotechnology sector, Painter served as director of chemistry and director of virology at Burroughs Wellcome Co., and after its merger with Glaxo in 1995, became worldwide director of research process and deputy therapeutic head for antiviral research at GlaxoWellcome.

DRIVE hopes to advance to drugs through lead optimization and pre-clinical testing –– a stage of drug development often termed the “Valley of Death” –– and into proof-of-concept clinical trials.

Technologies with added value will be out-licensed to pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, partnered with foundations or government entities, or spun-out into newly formed companies financed by venture capital firms, the statement noted.