New Haven’s Rib-X gets new chair and CEO

Rib-X, the New Haven-based antibiotics development pharmaceutical, announced new leadership this week, appointing a representative of  a big investor Vatera Holidngs as chairman and a former Abbott Labs executive as CEO.

Rib-X is creating antibiotics to treat bacteria affecting the skin. The company was planning an IPO late last year but withdrew its registration in December, shortly after getting an large injection of cash from Vatera, ABS and Warburg Pinkus.

The new leadership of Rib-X includes:

CEO Mary Szela, a 25-year pharma veteran.  Szela most recently served as AbbieVie, the former Abbott Labs, senior vice president Global Strategic Marketing and Services of the Pharmaceutical Products Group. Previously, she served as Senior Vice President of U.S. Pharmaceuticals, an $8 billion business.  For over seven years, she directed the development, launch and growth of eight new pharmaceutical products, including leadership of AbbVie’s flagship product, Humira.

Prior to 2001, Ms. Szela held a series of senior positions in Abbott’s hospital products division where she was responsible for the peri-operative, intensive care and pain management pharmaceutical business, the global One-2-One outsourcing business, the critical care device business and the vascular medicine pharmaceutical business.

Thomas Koestler, Ph.D., an executive Director of Vatera Holdings LLC, joined the Rib-X Board in 2012 and was made chairman this month.

In his nearly 30-year career in the pharmaceutical industry, Dr. Koestler established a track record of building high-performance teams that drove global success in research and development.  Most recently, he served as Executive Vice President of Schering-Plough Corporation and President of Schering-Plough Research Institute (SPRI), the pharmaceutical Research and Development arm of Schering-Plough Corporation.  Under his leadership, the company developed an industry-leading pipeline that contributed to the turnaround of the business.  Dr. Koestler’s accomplishments include over 80 product approvals including over 30 New Molecular Entities/BLAs. Before joining Schering-Plough, Dr. Koestler was Senior Vice President and Head of Global Regulatory Affairs for Pharmacia Corporation.  Prior to joining Pharmacia, he was Senior Vice President and Global Head, Drug Regulatory Affairs, Compliance Assurance, Clinical Safety and Epidemiology for Novartis.  Before that appointment, he was Senior Director, Drug Regulatory Affairs, at Ortho McNeil and a Director of Regulatory Affairs at Bristol-Myers Squibb, Westwood Pharmaceuticals.

Dr. Koestler is also a member of the Board of Directors of Novo Nordisk A/S, Momenta Pharmaceuticals Inc., Pearl Therapeutics Inc., ImmusanT Inc., and Arisaph Pharmaceuticals Inc.  Dr. Koestler also chairs the Scientific Advisory Board of Bausch & Lomb.  Dr. Koestler has a Bachelor of Science, Biology, from Daemen College and a Ph.D. in Medicine & Pathology from the Roswell Park Memorial Institute.Kevin Ferro, CEO of Vatera Holdings LLC, said, “The experience and expertise that Mary, Eugene, Mike and Tom bring to Rib-X is impressive and represents a new beginning for the Company.  We are committed to ensuring that the novel and much needed antibiotics being developed by a dedicated team of scientists at Rib-X are appropriately resourced and brought to patients as soon as possible.”

“Rib-X is a highly energized biopharmaceutical company developing the right products at the right time,” commented Ms. Szela.  “Never has there been more of a need for novel drugs to combat the proliferation of resistant pathogens emerging worldwide.  Rib-X has an exciting broad spectrum antibiotic poised to enter multiple pivotal studies as well as a discovery platform based on Nobel Prize-winning science that utilizes unprecedented structural insights to target the vulnerabilities of pathogens.”

Rib-X also hired a new head of research and development and a new chief of commercial development.

Rob Varnon