Pharma Focus Europe

Ovid Therapeutics Expands Epilepsy Development Expertise with New Appointments

Thursday, February 09, 2023

Ovid Therapeutics Inc., a biopharmaceutical company developing medicines designed to conquer epilepsies and meaningfully improve the lives of people affected by brain disorders, is expanding its medical and development team with the respective appointments of industry veterans, Manoj Malhotra, M.D., as its Chief Medical Officer and Toshiya Nishi, D.V.M., as its Head of Epilepsy Research.

“Our goal is to have an industry-leading pipeline and R&D team in the area of seizures. Dr. Malhotra brings to Ovid deep expertise from his career serving as a clinical trialist, a treating epileptologist, and a senior medical affairs executive within biopharmaceutical companies. He joins us from senior roles at global pharmaceutical companies where he contributed to the development and approval of multiple neurological medicines,” said Jeremy Levin, D. Phil, MB BChir, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Ovid Therapeutics. “His experience complements our team, and we believe will help propel our current programs and facilitate new areas of growth within Ovid.”

“We are equally thrilled that Dr. Nishi, a long-time collaborator with Ovid and the co-inventor of soticlestat, is joining our Company,” added Dr. Levin. “Dr. Nishi is a talented translational scientist who will support our novel epilepsy pipeline. His efforts will include a focus on our unique library of direct KCC2 transporter activators, which we believe may represent an exciting new mechanism of action for mitigating neuronal hyperexcitability.”

Dr. Malhotra is a neurologist with a specialty in epilepsy. He completed his residency in neurology and his fellowship in neurophysiology at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation and served as the Chief of Neurology at Kaiser Permanente. Immediately prior to joining Ovid, Dr. Malhotra served in the Neurology Business Group at Eisai Pharmaceuticals. During his tenure, he led Global Medical Affairs for their epilepsy and multiple sclerosis businesses. Dr. Malhotra was also a Global Senior Medical Director at Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals Autoimmune and Rare Disease Unit, and he held senior roles at Takeda Pharmaceutical supporting its Alzheimer’s disease program, and within Novartis Medical Affairs. Throughout his career, Dr. Malhotra has led or supported multiple mid-to-late-stage epilepsy clinical trials and holds strong relationships with leading academic centers of excellence in epilepsy care.

“I am excited to join Ovid and contribute to shaping a pipeline of unique mechanisms of action for seizures. If our programs prove successful, I believe they could be potentially game-changing for people with resistant seizures,” said Dr. Malhotra.

Dr. Nishi is a pharmacologist and translational scientist who has led multiple drug discovery programs in neurological disorders and other therapeutic areas. He joins Ovid from Takeda Pharmaceuticals, where he played a critical role in the invention and development of soticlestat, a small molecule inhibitor of cholesterol 24-hydroxylase. Dr. Nishi collaborated with Ovid throughout the early clinical development of soticlestat. Soticlestat is now being evaluated by Takeda in two Phase 3 global clinical trials for the potential treatment of Dravet and Lennox-Gastaut syndromes. Dr. Nishi’s work in epilepsy, Alzheimer’s disease and other therapeutic areas is widely published. At Ovid, he will support preclinical development, including a dedicated focus on the KCC2 program.

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