Imara Appoints Chief Medical Officer

25+-Year Veteran of Large Pharma, Willem H. Scheele, M.D., to
Progress Company’s Clinical Development Program for Sickle Cell Disease,
Thalassemia, and Pipeline

CAMBRIDGE, Mass.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Imara Inc., a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on sickle
cell disease and other hemoglobinopathies, today announced it has hired
Willem H. Scheele, M.D., as Chief Medical Officer. Dr. Scheele will
guide the advancement of Imara’s IMR-687, currently in a Phase 2a
clinical trial for the treatment of sickle cell disease, and manage the
strategy, direction, and execution of the company’s overall clinical
drug development efforts. Dr. Scheele replaces interim Chief Medical
Officer Shi Yin Foo, M.D., Ph.D., MMSC of Cydan, an orphan drug
accelerator that launched Imara in 2016.

“Imara is fortunate to bring Willem on board on the heels of raising a
$63MM Series B financing and at a time where we are thinking through
accelerated clinical development and regulatory interactions,” said
Rahul D. Ballal, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer of Imara. “His
background and broad experience in leading rigorous clinical development
for rare diseases like Gaucher disease and transthyretin amyloid
cardiomyopathy at leading pharmaceutical companies will be a tremendous
asset. We would also like to extend our gratitude to Shi Yin for her
invaluable leadership and guidance since our inception.”

“I believe Imara’s lead compound IMR-687 has real potential to both
reduce the red blood cell sickling and blockage of blood vessels that
are the underlying causes of the sickle cell disease pathology,” said
Willem H. Scheele, M.D., Chief Medical Office of Imara. “Imara is poised
for success and I’m confident through our shared vision and my deep
bench of experience in clinical development, we will be able to make
great strides in drug development for patients with sickle cell disease
and also advance novel programs that enhance fetal hemoglobin, a protein
critical in transporting oxygen, for other hemoglobinopathies.”

Willem H. Scheele, M.D., began his career ~30 years ago in internal
medicine at Spaarne Hospital in Haarlem, the Netherlands, affiliated
with the Vrije Universiteit Medical School in Amsterdam, the
Netherlands. Prior to joining Imara, he was Executive Director,
Clinician Group Lead, Rare Diseases, for Pfizer leading the clinical
development teams for the company’s rare disease portfolio, which
included programs for Gaucher disease, a lysosomal storage disorder and
transthyretin amyloid cardiomyopathy (ATTR-CM), a hereditary form of
heart disease. At the company, Dr. Scheele led the Clinical Development
and Operations team responsible for the successful submissions of New
Drug Applications (NDAs) for tafamidis for the treatment of ATTR-CM.
Previously, Dr. Scheele was Senior Director, Global Innovative Pharma,
Medicines Development for Pfizer responsible for clinical strategy
through delivery and reporting for clinical studies in patients with
Type 2 diabetes and chronic kidney disease. Earlier in his career, Dr.
Scheele was Director, Women’s Health and Bone (Global Medicine Monitor)
at Wyeth Research and Global Clinical Research Physician and Associate
Clinical Research Physician at Eli Lilly and Company in Indianapolis and
Nieuwegein, the Netherlands, respectively.

Dr. Scheele earned his Medical Doctor degree at Vrije Universiteit
Medical School and has been published in numerous peer-reviewed journals
and abstracts and presented at various congresses. Currently, he serves
as the Honorary Consul for the Kingdom of the Netherlands for New
England in Boston. He also serves as mentor for both the Global
Investor’s Forum (MERLN Institute, University of Maastricht, the
Netherlands) evaluating start-up and scale-up biotech companies and is a
mentor for the Boston Children’s Hospital Post-Doc Association.

About Sickle Cell Disease

Sickle cell disease is a rare, genetically inherited condition that
alters hemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells that transports oxygen
throughout the body. The altered hemoglobin distorts red blood cells
into a sickle, or crescent, shape. Painful episodes can occur when
sickled red blood cells, which are stiff and inflexible, get stuck in
small blood vessels. These episodes deprive tissues and organs of
oxygen-rich blood and can lead to vaso-occlusive crisis (VOC), acute
chest syndrome (ACS), and permanent damage to organs including the
liver, spleen, kidney and brain.

About IMR-687

IMR-687 was designed to address the underlying pathology of sickle cell
disease. An orally-administered, highly-potent and selective
phosphodiesterase 9 (PDE9) inhibitor, IMR-687 is a potentially
disease-modifying therapeutic for sickle cell disease as well as other
hemoglobinopathies. Pre-clinical data demonstrate IMR-687 reduces both
the sickling of red blood cells and blood vessel occlusion that cause
debilitating pain, organ damage, and early mortality in affected
patients. A Phase 1 clinical trial in healthy volunteers showed IMR-687
to be safe and well-tolerated.

IMR-687 has been granted both U.S. Orphan Drug Designation and U.S. Rare
Pediatric Designation by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

About Imara

is dedicated to developing novel therapeutics for patients with
sickle cell disease and other hemoglobinopathies. Imara is currently
developing IMR-687, a highly selective, potent small molecule inhibitor
of PDE9, to treat patients with sickle cell disease. IMR-687 was
specifically designed to treat patients with sickle cell disease by both
reducing red blood cell sickling and blockage of blood vessels that are
underlying causes of the pathology of sickle cell disease. IMR-687
successfully completed a Phase 1 study in healthy volunteers and is
currently being evaluated in a multi-national Phase 2a study in adult
patients with sickle cell disease.


Courtney Heath

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