December 12, 2023

Welcome Aboard Chris, Matthew, Rebecca, and Wen-Chen!

December 12, 2023

Welcome Aboard Chris, Matthew, Rebecca, and Wen-Chen!

Over the past few years, Octant’s platform has matured to start driving important new drug programs toward the clinic. In particular, we’ve used our platform to discover and optimize multiple small molecule correctors to treat diseases caused by misfolding and mistrafficking mutations. As these programs have advanced, we’ve been adding experienced leaders to our team that will help us realize bringing impactful new drugs to patients. We’re excited to welcome Rebecca Frey, Christopher Sinz, Matthew Albert, and Wen-Chen Yeh to join us on the Octant voyage. In addition to bringing seasoned drug development experience and business/scientific/medical expertise, each of these leaders has also committed to and quickly integrated into Octant’s culture. You can read about each of them below to see why we’re so excited to have them onboard!

Rebecca Velez Frey

Rebecca Velez Frey is the newest member of our Board of Directors. She currently serves as President and CEO of Siduma Therapeutics and as a board member of Halda Therapeutics. She has also held key leadership roles at EvolveImmune Therapeutics, Cardurion Pharmaceuticals and Prevail Therapeutics. Prior to these roles, she spent many years working in operations, program/portfolio management, medical affairs, drug development, and manufacturing at Alexion Pharmaceuticals and Novartis Pharmaceuticals. Since joining us in May, Rebecca has already been invaluable as a Board Member and in helping us understand and prioritize our rare disease portfolio. 

Why is Rebecca excited about Octant?

“Octant has built a transformative discovery platform that can overcome many challenges associated with traditional small molecule discovery. They are harnessing the power of synthetic biology, high throughput chemistry and computation to generate exciting therapeutic leads for complex biological pathways. I am thrilled to be partnering with this incredibly talented team and board to advance Octant’s mission.”

Chris Sinz

Chris Sinz started as our first VP of Chemistry this October. Responsible for our high throughput chemistry platform and medicinal and computational chemistry efforts, we’ll be leaning heavily on Chris’s expertise as we progress programs into the clinic. Chris’s command in bringing together platform, medicinal, structural, and computational chemistry approaches to build drugs is already paying dividends across our programs. 

Prior to Octant, Chris was VP of Chemistry and Molecular Sciences at Maze Therapeutics. Prior to Maze, Chris spent more than 15 years at Merck, most recently as a Director of Discovery Chemistry at the SSF site. 

How is Chris feeling about Octant?

"I'm thrilled to join a remarkably talented and highly motivated team of scientists at Octant.  Octant has a culture of learning and growth - I've learned a lot in my first few weeks as an Octonaut and I've enjoyed conversations with colleagues eager to discuss my perspectives and experience. The team has demonstrated that our platform has powerful applications to many areas of unmet medical need, and we're excited to advance these discoveries to patients."

Matthew Albert

Matthew Albert came onboard Octant late October as our VP of Translational Sciences and Early Development. Most recently, Matthew served as Chief Translational Officer at Human Immunology Biosciences and as the Senior Vice President of Biology and Translational Genetics at Insitro. Before that, Matthew’s career served patients and the biomedical field in industry at Genentech, in academia as Director of the Department of Immunology at the Institut Pasteur, and in medicine as a clinical pathologist. Matthew is responsible for translational and early development of our programs as they drive towards the clinic, including making use of our Navigator platform for genomics-driven clinical trial design. We are especially looking forward to utilizing his experience as a physician-scientist, and his strength in genetics to inform our approach to precision medicine for misfolding and mistrafficking diseases.                                                                                          

Why is Matthew excited about Octant?

“I am delighted to join Octant because of its pioneering approach to drug development, leveraging cellular intelligence and high-throughput technologies. The collaborative spirit and the team’s shared commitment to making a real impact in patients’ lives resonates deeply with me. I’m particularly excited about advancing the current programs through regulatory processes and into clinical proof-of-mechanism and proof-of-concept studies, confident that our corrector therapeutics will significantly benefit patients with genetic diseases. The prospect of being part of this meaningful journey is incredibly motivating and aligns with my passion for finding the right patients for the drugs we have.”

Wen-Chen Yeh

Wen-Chen signed onto Octant as our first VP of Biology at the end of November. With nearly three decades making an impact in research and development, Wen-Chen is poised to drive our drug programs forward. In this role he will collaborate closely with our chemistry team to oversee Octant’s internal drug programs from early discovery through IND-enabling studies across several therapeutic areas.

Wen-Chen's most recent position was Chief Scientific Officer at Surrozen, a pioneering company in the field of regenerative medicine, where he contributed to the development of groundbreaking platforms using targeted antibodies to selectively activate the Wnt pathway. He previously served as a Scientific Executive Director at Amgen, leading research teams to create new therapies for heart disease, diabetes, dyslipidemia, and inflammation and contributing to the advancement of several drug programs to clinical trials. 

Before joining Amgen, Dr. Yeh led a productive research lab at the University of Toronto, where he focused on immunology and inflammatory signaling mechanisms. His medical background includes residency in internal medicine at Mackay Memorial Hospital in Taipei and a medical internship at the National Taiwan University Hospital.

What is Wen-Chen looking forward to?

“Octant has a very talented, dynamic and collaborative team. There have been a lot of heroes at Octant who created the super powerful platforms that facilitate drug discovery, identified targets that can serve patients of unmet need, and executed programs to the mature stage. I am excited to join Octant at this time. I look forward to contributing to delivery of lead candidate molecules and helping with career growth and development of the talented team.”

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