ZielBio Appoints Maria Beconi as Chief Science Officer

Charlottesville, Va.Jan. 20, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — ZielBio, Inc., a clinical stage biotechnology company discovering new treatments for cancer and other serious diseases through its innovative ZielFind drug discovery platform, welcomes Maria Beconi, Ph.D., as the company’s chief science officer, and Ramesh Ramanathan, M.D., as vice president for clinical development.

Dr. Beconi brings more than 20 years of leadership experience to her new role, including supporting over 30 international regulatory submissions and registrations for both human and animal health drugs in multiple therapeutic areas and modalities. Dr. Ramanathan is a board-certified medical oncologist with more than 20 years of experience in new drug development.

“Maria and Ramesh’s combined expertise in research and development and clinical trials will further strengthen our team as we develop transformational therapies for patients suffering from serious diseases,” said Kimberly Kelly, Ph.D., founder and CEO of ZielBio. “Our expanded leadership team will provide critical guidance as we advance our lead candidate, ZB131, through the clinic.”

ZB131 is a proprietary humanized monoclonal antibody against cancer specific plectin (CSP), a target that is highly expressed on the plasma membrane of multiple types of cancer cells. With its ZielFind platform, ZielBio identified and validated CSP, revealing it as an actionable disease target. ZielBio has launched a multicenter study of ZB131, titled, “A Phase 1/2, First-in-Human, Open Label, Dose Escalation Study of a Cancer-Specific Plectin (CSP)-Targeting Functional Antibody in Solid Tumors That Are Likely to Express CSP (NCT05074472).”

“I am honored to join the impressive and passionate ZielBio team to help advance the ZielFind target discovery platform and our pipeline of additional candidates in development,” said Dr. Beconi.

“The next few months will be pivotal as we recruit and treat patients in our first clinical study,” said Dr. Ramanathan.

Prior to joining ZielBio, Dr. Beconi was a member of the senior leadership team at Disc Medicine and Goldfinch Bio, as well as the former chief scientific officer for Retrophin (now Travere Therapeutics), where she built the research and early development infrastructure and pipeline. She also hired and managed teams that, combined, resulted in the acquisition of three marketed products, licensing of one clinical stage compound, five orphan drug designations, four investigational new drug applications, and one successful End of Phase 2 trial. Before that, Dr. Beconi held leadership roles of increasing responsibility with the CHDI Foundation, Abbott Laboratories, Merck Research Labs, and Pharmacia & Upjohn. She was a key contributor to the elucidation of the mechanisms of toxicity of a chemical class of DPP-IV inhibitors, which led to the discovery of Sitagliptin. A native of Argentina, Dr. Beconi earned her doctorate in biochemistry from Michigan State University. She has authored and co–authored over 50 peer-reviewed articles and meeting presentations.

Dr. Ramanathan most recently served as executive medical director of global medical and scientific affairs for Merck Research Labs. He also held prior academic appointments at the Phoenix campus of the Mayo Clinic, where he was professor of Medicine at the Mayo Medical School (now Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine) with a joint appointment at the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGEN), Phoenix. Dr. Ramanathan has contributed to the development of several new drugs (PARP, PI3K inhibitors, hedgehog inhibitors, liposomal formulations, etc.) and had a pivotal role in development and approval of oxaliplatin and nab-paclitaxel.

About ZielBio
ZielBio is a clinical stage biotechnology company that identifies novel disease targets and develops therapeutic interventions to improve patient outcomes. Its proprietary drug discovery platform, ZielFind, combines the power of functional, high throughput screening with large content data analytics to identify high value targets. ZielBio has a promising pipeline of therapies and targets, including lead asset ZB131, a proprietary humanized monoclonal antibody against cancer specific plectin, a target identified through ZielFind.