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ROME Therapeutics Appoints Heike Keilhack, Ph.D., as Chief Scientific Officer

Dr. Keilhack has a 20-year track record of translating novel biological targets into first-in-class therapeutics for a range of diseases

 BOSTON January 4, 2024 – ROME Therapeutics, a biotechnology company harnessing the power of the dark genome to develop breakthrough medicines for serious diseases, today announced the appointment of cancer biology and immunology expert Heike Keilhack, Ph.D., as Chief Scientific Officer. Dr. Keilhack brings to ROME more than 20 years of experience leading target validation and preclinical and translational efforts for multiple first-in-class therapeutics at both small biotechnology companies and large pharmaceutical companies.

“Heike is an incredible addition to our experienced leadership team, bringing with her an extensive history of leading translational efforts for previously unproven targets, resulting in first-in-class clinical candidates and an FDA-approved treatment,” said Rosana Kapeller, M.D., Ph.D., President, CEO and Co-founder of ROME. “Heike’s appointment comes at a pivotal time for ROME as we continue readying our lead program, a novel LINE-1 reverse transcriptase inhibitor for autoimmune disease, for clinical entry. Our LINE-1 program is just one example of how we are applying our unique understanding of the dark genome’s role in disease pathology to develop new treatments. We look forward to drawing on Heike’s insights and expertise as we continue to advance and build our pipeline of novel programs to treat a range of serious diseases.”

Dr. Keilhack joins ROME from Ribon Therapeutics, where as Chief Scientific Officer she led the research and development of two PARP inhibitors currently in clinical development for inflammatory disease and solid tumors. Dr. Keilhack was instrumental in building Ribon’s research organization and contributed to the company’s fundraising and business development efforts. Prior to Ribon, Dr. Keilhack held roles of increasing responsibility at Epizyme (acquired by Ipsen), including as project leader for tazemetostat (Tazverik®), a first-in-class EZH2 inhibitor that received FDA approval for the treatment of relapsed or refractory follicular lymphoma and for metastatic or locally advanced epithelioid sarcoma. Before Epizyme, Dr. Keilhack was a research fellow at Merck and the biology project lead for the company’s clinical-stage AKT inhibitor.

Dr. Keilhack earned her Ph.D. in biochemistry at Friedrich Schiller University of Jena in Germany and completed postdoctoral training at Harvard Medical School. She earned a B.S. in biochemistry at Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg in Germany. Dr. Keilhack served on the Board of Directors of Civetta Therapeutics and is an author of more than 40 manuscripts in leading journals.

“I was drawn to ROME because of its compelling scientific approach to drug discovery and development, as well as its highly talented team of business and scientific leaders,” said Dr. Keilhack. “I am impressed with the rigor and dedication of this team, which is systematically validating untapped drivers of disease and designing novel development candidates that address underlying causes of autoimmune and other diseases. ROME has forged a path to developing a first-in-class LINE-1 reverse transcriptase inhibitor and built an unparalleled platform enabling breakthrough discoveries in dark genome biology that represent opportunities for new therapeutic approaches. I am excited to work as part of the ROME team as we uncover and advance this science toward helping patients who need new options.”

About ROME

ROME Therapeutics is developing novel therapies for a range of serious diseases, including autoimmune disease, cancer, and neurodegeneration, by illuminating the role of the dark genome — the vast genomic expanse beyond the traditional genes, which includes virus-like repetitive elements and non-coding sequences — in human health and disease. Leveraging the company’s unprecedented data sciences platform, ROME has built a deep pipeline of therapies targeting the dark genome. To lead this exploration, ROME has assembled a team of world-class leaders in drug discovery and development across immunology, oncology, chemistry, and machine learning. ROME is based in Boston, Mass. For more information, please visit www.rometx.com.

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