Axial Biotherapeutics Announces Appointment of Srinivas G. Rao, M.D., Ph.D., as Chief Medical Officer

Ryan Barrett joins as Vice President, Corporate Development and Intellectual Property, Bridget M. Cole, Ph.D. joins as Vice President of Medicinal Chemistry.

BOSTON and Pasadena, Calif., August 22, 2017 – Axial Biotherapeutics, a biotechnology company building a unique class of microbial-targeted therapeutics for neurological diseases, today announced that Srinivas G. Rao, M.D., Ph.D. has joined Axial Biotherapeutics and will serve as its Chief Medical Officer (CMO). With his broad expertise in developing therapeutics for neurological indications, he will oversee Axial’s clinical development and regulatory strategy as the company prepares to enter the clinic with its first program. In addition, Axial Biotherapeutics also announced the appointment of Ryan Barrett as Vice President, Corporate Development and Intellectual Property and Bridget M. Cole, Ph.D. as Vice President of Medicinal Chemistry. All three will report to Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) David H. Donabedian, Ph.D. and will be based in Axial’s Boston office.

“We are delighted to welcome Srini, Ryan and Bridget to the team and look forward to their guidance and proven track records as we continue to build-out our pipeline and advance our programs into clinical studies,” said David H. Donabedian, Ph.D., Co-founder & CEO of Axial Biotherapeutics. “Srini’s breadth of experience in advancing therapeutics through the clinic and towards regulatory approval in important neurological conditions, especially in Autism Spectrum Disorders, makes him a great fit and an invaluable resource to Axial.”

“Axial Biotherapeutics is at the forefront of the gut-brain axis and leveraging the gut microbiome to tackle neurological diseases. I am thrilled to become a part of the company and its transformative approach to treating some of society’s largest healthcare challenges,” stated Srinivas Rao, M.D., Ph.D. “This is a tremendous opportunity to create a novel array of therapeutics designed to treat disorders of the central nervous system using the rapidly accumulating knowledge of the gut microbiome. I look forward to working with David, Sarkis and the rest of the Axial team.”

Dr. Rao joins Axial Biotherapeutics with over 17 years of professional experience in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries. Most recently, he served as Senior Vice President and CMO at DepoMed, Inc. (NASDAQ: DEPO), where he oversaw the company’s entire clinical and regulatory development activities. He was responsible for designing and implementing the complete development program for DepoMed’s next generation analgesic, cebranopadol. Prior to this, Dr. Rao was the founder and CEO of Kyalin Biosciences, a privately held biotechnology company developing a potential breakthrough therapy for autism. Before joining Kyalin, Dr. Rao served as CMO and Chief Scientific Officer (CSO) of three companies through his association with Avalon Ventures. For 10 years, Dr. Rao was the CSO of Cypress Bioscience with broad responsibilities ranging from business development, intellectual property portfolio management, clinical trial execution and oversight of the company’s diagnostic and chemical formulation programs. He was the innovator behind Savella™, postulating that this drug’s unique pharmacology would be effective for fibromyalgia.   Savella™ was approved by the FDA for this indication in 2009.  Dr. Rao received his Ph.D. in neurobiology from Yale Graduate School and his M.D. from Yale School of Medicine. He holds both a Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from Yale College and Yale Graduate School respectively.

Prior to joining Axial, Mr. Barrett was Vice President and Senior Corporate Counsel at OvaScience, responsible for a wide-range of strategic and operational functions, including leading the company’s licensing and business development efforts, managing and expanding the company’s global intellectual property portfolio and devising and directing the company’s international legal operations. Over the course of his career, Mr. Barrett has held various financial and business development positions, including Senior Business Development Associate at BioEnterprise Corp. He holds a B.S. in biochemistry and a B.A. in Italian language from Trinity College (Hartford, CT), and a J.D. from Case Western Reserve University School of Law (Cleveland, OH).

Dr. Cole joined Axial Biotherapeutics in July 2017 as Vice President of Medicinal Chemistry bringing 20 years of experience in small molecule drug discovery and development. Prior to Axial, Dr. Cole held the position of Vice President at Flatley Discovery Lab, where she led small molecule discovery programs to identify, optimize and advance lead compounds for the treatment of cystic fibrosis including clinical candidates FDL169 and FDL176. She held various leadership roles in the pharmaceutical and biotech industry during her career, including Vice President at Surface Logix, Associate Director of Chemistry at the Pfizer Research Technology Center and Project Leader in the Veterinary Medicine Research and Discovery Division in Groton, CT, advancing compounds from high throughput screening through Phase 2 clinical trials. Dr. Cole holds a B.S. in chemistry from Boston University and a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from Brandeis University.

About Axial Therapeutics

Axial Therapeutics is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on the discovery and development of gut-restricted, small molecule therapeutics for central nervous system (CNS) disorders. The company is leveraging its expertise in the gut-brain axis and its unique drug development platform to advance novel therapies that have the potential to transform the treatment paradigm in neurological diseases. Axial is advancing a pipeline of small molecule product candidates with lead clinical programs that address underlying pathology and resulting symptoms in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Parkinson’s Disease (PD), and additional preclinical initiatives in small molecules in other areas of autism and PD, as well as oncology and rare CNS diseases.

Contacts for Axial Therapeutics


Mike Beyer
Sam Brown, Inc.


Jeffrey Young, CFO