Chicago-based Avexis Inc., a company dedicated to the development of treatments for life-threatening neurological diseases, recently made some leadership changes.
The new appointments to Avexis' leadership team include Thomas J. Dee as senior vice president and CFO; James J. L’Italien as senior vice president and chief regulatory and quality officer; Andrew Knudten as senior vice president of manufacturing and supply chain; and Sukumar Nagendran as senior vice president and chief medical officer.
All will report to Sean P. Nolan, president and CEO of Avexis.
“The completion of our recent financing, combined with the diverse and significant experiences of this team, will help facilitate the execution of our spinal muscular atrophy Type 1 clinical program and strengthen our operating capabilities," Nolan said. “I am very pleased to have these proven industry leaders join the Avexis executive management team, and look forward to working together to build the company as we move forward on our mission to bring innovative treatments to patients suffering from rare genetic diseases."
In his new role, Dee will oversee all Avexis' financial functions. Before coming to Avexis, he worked for 24 years for Abbott Laboratories; by the end of his tenure there he was vice president of finance operations. During his time at Abbott he also served as vice president, controller of pharmaceutical products, controller of Abbott International, vice president of internal audit, controller of manufacturing operations, director of acquisition integration management and finance director for the Europe area.
Before working at Abbott, he was employed by Arthur Andersen LLP and Carson Pirie Scott.
Dee is presently a member of the board of directors of Altus Academy and serves on the board of trustees for Cristo Rey St. Martin College Prep. He is a founding member of the Impact Engine Angel Network in Chicago and is active at Northern Illinois University, where he serves on the board of the Alumni Executive Leadership Forum and as member of the Council for Social Entrepreneurship.
Dee is a graduate of Northern Illinois University, from which he earned a bachelor's degree in accounting. He went on to earn a master's degree in management from Northwestern University’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management.
He is also a Certified Public Accountant.
L’Italien is charged with the development of Avexis' regulatory filing strategies with regard to domestic and international filing initiatives as well as for making sure the company complies with regulatory requirements.
L’Italien previously served as senior vice president of Regulatory Affairs and Quality Assurance for InterMune, where he was in charge of global regulatory affairs and quality assurance. Before that, he was vice president of Regulatory Affairs and Quality Assurance for Geron. From 2007-09 he was senior vice president of Regulatory Affairs and Quality Assurance for Somaxon Pharmaceuticals; from 2002-07 he was senior vice president of Regulatory Affairs and Compliance at Ligand Pharmaceuticals.
He also previously held management positions at Baxter BioScience, Amylin Pharmaceuticals, Ortho Biotech and SmithKline Beecham.
L'Italien holds a doctorate of philosophy degree in protein biochemistry from Boston University and a bachelor’s of science in chemistry from Merrimack College.
Knudten worked for 23 years at an array of biopharmaceutical companies, including Amgen, CoDa Therapeutics, Novartis and most recently, Hospira. He served in a number of leadership roles at those companies as well as research, product development, finance and operations positions.
He earned a master’s degree in cell biology and genetics from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and a master’s degree in business administration from the Anderson School at the University of California-Los Angeles.
Nagendran will lead clinical development and medical affairs operations for Avexis. He brings to the company vast experience in clinical development, medical affairs and diagnostics, having worked at Pfizer, Novartis, Daiichi Sankyo, Reata and Quest Diagnostics.
Nagendran is a Mayo Alumni Laureate and founding member of the Robert Wood Johnson Legacy Society. He received his undergraduate degree in biochemistry from Rutgers University, his MD at Rutgers Medical School and trained in Internal Medicine at Mayo Clinic, Rochester.