Humacyte, an innovator in biotechnology and regenerative medicine, has announced that Jeffrey Lawson has been appointed president and chief executive officer. The former chairman and chief executive officer, Carrie S Cox, has assumed the role of executive chairman.
Lawson, an innovator, scientist and vascular surgeon has been involved in the development of Humacyte’s vascular technologies, in collaboration with his career-long research partner and Humacyte founder Laura Niklason, over the past 20 years. Lawson has worked with Humacyte since its founding in 2004 to support the science, preclinical and clinical testing of Humacyte’s novel tissue engineered blood vessels, which are being developed for dialysis access and cardiovascular surgery. He was appointed chief medical officer of Humacyte in 2015 to oversee the clinical development of these vascular technologies as the company initiated phase III clinical trials for dialysis access and expanded clinical programmes in vascular repair and trauma.
Prior to joining Humacyte, Lawson served in leadership roles at Duke University Medical Center, including Professor of Surgery and Pathology, vice chair for Research in Surgery, and director of Clinical Trials for the Department of Surgery. Lawson earned his medical degree and his Ph.D. in Cell and Molecular Biology from the University of Vermont and completed his residency in General and Thoracic Surgery and his fellowship in Vascular Surgery at Duke University Medical Center. Lawson is also an American Board of Surgery certified Vascular Surgeon, a Fellow of the American Surgical Association and the current President of the Vascular Access Society of the Americas (VASA).
“Under Carrie’s leadership, the organisation has delivered remarkable progress in its first product candidate, catching the attention of research institutions, key opinion leaders, clinical sites, and investors all over the world,” says Lawson. “I look forward to continuing that work, along with the world-class team at Humacyte. It will be my honour and privilege to lead the Humacyte team into the future as we continue to develop transformative tissues to improve the lives of dialysis patients and expand our pipeline of product candidates, with the objective of helping patients in need of vascular repair and reconstruction.”
As executive chairman, Cox will serve as a senior, strategic advisor to Lawson and the executive team, helping to develop ongoing strategy for Humacyte as the company works toward regulatory approval and commercialisation for its flagship product, the investigational Human Acellular Vessel (HAV), HUMACYL.
Since joining Humacyte as chairman and CEO in 2010, Cox has led the company through significant business, clinical, regulatory and operational milestones. She has guided the company’s clinical review process, including its ongoing pivotal phase III clinical trials to evaluate the efficacy and safety of the bioengineered blood vessel as a conduit for haemodialysis in patients with End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD). Most recently, she led the negotiation of a strategic global commercialisation partnership with Fresenius Medical Care, to potentially make HUMACYL available to more patients worldwide following approval of the product.
“Leading Humacyte has been one the most fulfilling and rewarding experiences of my career. I’m impressed by and proud of the incredible achievements of our team, as we strive to make groundbreaking science a reality for patients and physicians,” says Cox. “Our work to transform vascular medicine and tissue therapy has only just begun, and under the leadership of Dr Lawson, I’m confident we are well positioned to further advance the boundaries of regenerative medicine and vascular therapeutics. With a track record of success in our own clinical development, Dr Lawson is uniquely positioned to lead Humacyte through our next stage of growth and pipeline development.”
Prior to serving as Humacyte’s chief medical officer, Lawson served as a consultant and advisor in the development of the investigational HAV. As an investigator in Humacyte’s phase II clinical research programme in haemodialysis, in 2013 he and Niklason, were the first to implant Humacyte’s investigational HAV for vascular access into a patient diagnosed with ESRD. “The development of Humacyte’s first-in-class therapeutics has always required a team that is committed, extremely talented, and visionary. With Jeff’s appointment to the CEO role, we are continuing our great tradition of outstanding leadership as we continue our work to develop transformative and meaningful tissues in the regenerative medicine space,” says Niklason.