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Ultragenyx Appoints Tom Kassberg as Chief Business Officer and Announces Management Team

NOVATO, Calif., Nov. 21, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Ultragenyx Pharmaceutical, Inc., a biotechnology company focused on developing treatments for rare and ultra-rare genetic disorders, today announced that Tom Kassberg has joined the company as Chief Business Officer. Mr. Kassberg will be responsible for leading the company's business development and corporate strategic planning activities, as well as the human resources and legal affairs functions. Mr. Kassberg brings to Ultragenyx more than twenty years of experience in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries.

Before joining Ultragenyx, Mr. Kassberg consulted with Corium International, Inc. and Rib-X Pharmaceuticals, Inc., and previously served as Executive Vice President of Corporate Development at Proteolix, Inc.  He has also held management positions at InterMune, Inc., Plexxikon, Inc. (a company he co-founded), and SUGEN, Inc.  Mr. Kassberg started his career at Bristol-Myers Squibb where he held a variety of positions in finance, product and market analysis, and sales. Mr. Kassberg received his M.B.A. from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University and his B.A. from Gustavus Adolphus College in Minnesota.

"Tom joins Ultragenyx at an exciting time in our company's growth, as our clinical pipeline is advancing and expanding, and our talented management team is in place," said Emil D. Kakkis, M.D., Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer of Ultragenyx. "Tom brings to Ultragenyx a wealth of industry and operational experience and a successful track record of value-creating transactions that will help Ultragenyx become a successful biopharmaceutical business."

The appointment of Mr. Kassberg complements the Ultragenyx management team, which is comprised of rare disease development experts with broad experience in early-stage as well as established pharmaceutical companies. The management team includes the following key management personnel:

  • Steven Jungles, Senior Vice President, Technical Operations;
  • Cordelia Leonard, Vice President, Regulatory Affairs and Quality Assurance;
  • Vimal Srivastava, Vice President, Program Development;
  • John Ditton, Vice President, Commercial Planning; and
  • Mari Maurer, Senior Director, Clinical Operations

With more than 18 years of experience in supply chain and contract manufacturing, Mr. Jungles was previously the Vice President, Supply Chain and Contract Manufacturing at BioMarin Pharmaceutical.  He will be responsible for manufacturing and quality control.  Mr. Jungles received his B.S. from the University of Iowa.

Ms. Leonard heads up the company's Regulatory Affairs and Quality Assurance departments, whose members collectively have 30 years of regulatory experience working with the FDA, EMA, PMDA, and other worldwide Regulatory Agencies.  Approximately twenty of those 30 years were spent working to develop drugs for Orphan indications at BioMarin Pharmaceutical.  Ms. Leonard received bachelor degrees in Chemistry and Biological Science from the University of California, Irvine and holds both US and EU Regulatory Affairs Certifications.

Mr. Srivastava will oversee the program development activities at Ultragenyx.  With more than 10 years of project and portfolio management experience from research to commercialization stage programs, Mr. Srivastava held positions recently at Elan/Janssen Alzheimer Immunotherapy, Amgen and BioMarin.  He holds a B.S. in Pharmacy from Banaras Hindu University, a M.S. in Medicinal Chemistry from St. Johns University and a M.A.S. in Management from Johns Hopkins University.

Mr. Ditton was most recently the Chief Operating Officer at EveryLife Foundation for Rare Diseases.  He will be responsible for Commercial Planning.  Mr. Ditton brings over 15 years of marketing, business development and managed care experience from Merck/Dey, BioMarin, Diamics and Health Plan of the Redwoods.

Heading up the Clinical Operations function, Ms. Maurer has over 25 years of clinical research experience with Poniard Pharmaceuticals, Eli Lilly and BioMarin.  She started with Ultragenyx as a consultant and assisted with the company's first pre-IND filing.  Ms. Maurer is a Registered Nurse, and received a B.S. in Nursing from Seattle Pacific University.

Ultragenyx has also retained Barbara Kosacz, Head of the Life Sciences practice at Cooley LLP, as Legal Counsel. Ms. Kosacz' experience and prominence in biotechnology deal-making should help drive the growth of Ultragenyx as a top tier rare disease company.  

About Ultragenyx

Ultragenyx is a privately held, developmental stage biotechnology company committed to bringing life-enhancing therapeutics for patients with rare and ultra-rare genetic diseases, also known as orphan diseases, to market.  The company focuses on metabolic and rare diseases that may affect small numbers of patients, but for which the medical need is high and there are no effective treatments. Ultragenyx intends to build a sustainable pipeline of safe and effective therapies to address these clinically underserved diseases.  Ultragenyx' lead program, UX001, is being evaluated as a potential treatment for GNE Myopathy, also known as hereditary inclusion body myopathy (HIBM).

The company is led by Emil Kakkis, M.D., Ph.D., a recognized industry leader in rare disease research and development, and has assembled an experienced management team in rare disease therapeutics.  Ultragenyx' investors include TPG Biotech and Fidelity Biosciences, HealthCap and Pappas Ventures.  Ultragenyx is creating an improved model for successful rare disease drug development that has the potential to increase efficiency and effectiveness by changing the way the process is organized and conducted. The company believes that it can deliver significant value to patients by building a diverse and high quality pipeline of rare disease therapeutics and efficiently transforming good science into great medicine.

For more information on Ultragenyx, please visit the company's website at

SOURCE Ultragenyx Pharmaceutical, Inc.
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