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Former Merck Exec Joins Flagship to Helm AI Startup Generate Biomedicines

Former Merck Exec Joins Flagship to Helm AI Startup Generate Biomedicines

Published: Mar 31, 2021 By Mark Zipkin


Michael T. Nally became the latest Merck executive to join Flagship Pioneering, taking the reins of its machine learning protein therapy company Generate Biomedicines.

Nally was an executive vice present and chief marketing officer for Merck’s Human Health branch, and at one time was under consideration to replace its CEO and executive chairman Kenneth Frazier, who is retiring this year. Frazier will retain his board chair but will instead be replaced as CEO by Robert M. Davis, the company’s chief financial officer.

As one of at least six CEO-partners at Flagship, Nally will take over as CEO of Generate from Geoffrey von Maltzahn, a Flagship general partner who co-founded the biotech in 2018.

Generate used machine learning algorithms to design novel synthetic protein sequences for antibodies, peptides, enzymes, gene therapies and other modalities. The company does not yet have candidates in the clinic and has not disclosed a lead program or indication, but as it emerged from stealth last September, Generate announced its AI platform generated a portfolio of therapeutic candidates against SARS-CoV-2 in under three weeks.

Flagship has invested $50 million in Generate so far. Generate is based in Cambridge, Mass.

“Mike is a singular talent in life sciences and pharma, and our companies will benefit tremendously from his leadership, experience, and knowledge,” said Noubar Afeyan, founder and CEO of Flagship.

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