New Infectious Disease, Vaccines Head brings clinical, philanthropic experience

Anne Kasmar.jpgAnne G. Kasmar, M.D., M.Sc., joined Parexel June 13 as Senior Vice President and Global Therapeutic Area Head — Infectious Disease and Vaccines. Anne brings to Parexel more than 15 years’ experience in clinical and translational research spanning academia, philanthropy and biotech.

In her new role, Anne will lead an 11-member global team in the development of new treatments for infectious diseases.

What is your background in healthcare and clinical research?

Prior to joining Parexel, I was a Lead Medical Director at Genentech (South San Francisco, California). In this role, I oversaw a cross-functional team researching new therapies for graft-versus-host disease and contributed to the clinical development of novel antibiotics. Prior to joining Genentech, I was a Program Officer at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (Seattle, Washington) where I built and managed a multi-million-dollar portfolio of investments in next-generation tuberculosis vaccines. My experience also includes serving as an Instructor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School as well as a Clinical Assistant in Medicine at the Massachusetts General Hospital.

What drew you to focus on infectious disease and vaccines?

The field of infectious disease is full of great stories of discovery and adventure. In addition, clinical syndromes in infectious disease often present as mysteries that can be solved, frequently with very good outcomes. While I truly believe in medicine’s ability to cure disease, I am equally inspired by vaccines’ power to prevent illness at both the individual and the population level.

What are your priorities over the next six months?

I have three priorities: 

  1. To get to know my team and to meet with our key external partners.
  2. To become fully fluent in both the current portfolio of our work and the emerging pipeline.
  3. To maximize the impact of COVID-related momentum on progress for the field of infectious disease as a whole and on vaccines in particular.
What are the largest areas of opportunity for drug development in infectious disease and vaccines?

Historically, product development in infectious disease has focused on targeting infecting microorganisms. Recent experience with COVID-19, however, has highlighted that appropriate response by the immune system (not too little, not too much and at the ‘right time’ in the ‘right place’) is a crucial determinant of infection outcome. Expanding our toolkit to include interventions that modify the immune response has the potential to offer promising new opportunities both to prevent and treat existing as well as emerging infectious diseases.

At Parexel, we do everything With HeartTM. How are you thinking about that in terms of your new role?

I believe that “putting our hearts into it” brings us personal joy while also providing a focused framework that minimizes distractions.

What do you enjoy doing outside of work? 

I love trail running, sea kayaking, adventure travel and volunteering.

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