Zhenkun Ma, PhD Named Head of Research by the Global Alliance for TB Drug Development

NEW YORK -- The Global Alliance for TB Drug Development (TB Alliance), a public-private partnership accelerating the discovery and development of more effective and affordable tuberculosis (TB) medicines, announced the appointment of Dr. Zhenkun Ma as Head of Research today. An expert in medicinal chemistry, Dr. Ma was formerly Director of Chemistry at Cumbre Inc., a Dallas-based biotechnology firm that specializes in anti-bacterial drug discovery research.

"We warmly welcome Dr. Ma to the R&D enterprise at the TB Alliance," said Dr. Maria C. Freire, CEO of the TB Alliance. "Dr. Ma's keen knowledge of drug discovery will be a major asset as we continue to expand the portfolio and drive promising anti-TB compounds through preclinical development."

Prior to his experience at Cumbre, Dr. Ma worked at leading pharmaceutical companies. During his eight-year career at Abbott Laboratories, Dr. Ma directed anti-bacterial programs as a senior group leader. In this capacity, he oversaw the medicinal chemistry for the macrolide and novel anti-bacterial programs. While there, Dr. Ma received the 1997 Chairman's Award for the discovery of Cethromycin, a novel ketolide antibiotic currently in late-stage clinical development.

"Dr. Ma is an expert in the discovery aspects of antibacterial medicinal chemistry and in managing development programs of preclinical antibacterial candidates," said Dr. Christopher Lipinski, Pfizer Global R&D (retired) and member of the TB Alliance Scientific Advisory Committee. "Having a scientist of Dr. Ma's caliber on board will be of tremendous benefit in advancing the TB Alliance's strong portfolio of pipeline projects."

Reporting to Dr. Mel Spigelman, director of research and development, Dr. Ma will manage the selection of new drugs for the TB Alliance portfolio and oversee preclinical development programs.

"I am eager to devote my expertise and focus my energies on developing an improved treatment for TB," said Dr. Ma. "With the TB epidemic worsening, especially in the developing world, I see an urgent need for faster-acting drugs. I am pleased to join this innovative effort vital to global health."

A native of northeastern China, Dr. Ma studied chemistry and organic chemistry at Beijing University and holds a PhD in organic chemistry from the University of Connecticut, Storrs. The inventor on more than 40 U.S. patents and patent applications, Dr. Ma has also authored and co-authored more than 80 peer-reviewed articles and meeting presentations.

Source: The Global Alliance for TB Drug Development

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