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BlueSphere Bio Names Dr. Alan Korman to Board of Directors

October 29, 2020

Immuno-oncology startup BlueSphere Bio, a company developing its novel T cell receptor search and capture platform, TCXpress, to create rapid personalized T cell therapies for cancer and blood and marrow transplantation, has named immunotherapy pioneer Alan Korman, Ph.D., to its board of directors.

Korman brings more than three decades of immunotherapy and biotechnology experience to his role with BlueSphere Bio. During his 20-year tenure at Medarex and Bristol-Myers Squibb, Korman led the discovery of a revolutionary approach to cancer immune therapy, immune checkpoint blockade. Two of these therapies, Yervoy and Opdivo, alone and in combination, have had an enormous impact on the lives of cancer patients and the direction of cancer therapy research. Korman’s collaboration with Jim Allison, Ph.D., contributed to Allison’s Nobel Prize-winning research for the discovery of checkpoint inhibition.

Korman currently is senior vice president of human immunology at Vir Biotechnology in San Francisco.

“Alan has dedicated his career to creating treatments for patients battling cancer, recognizing early on the critical role their immune systems could play in the fight against this disease,” said David Apelian, M.D., Ph.D., M.B.A., BlueSphere Bio chief executive officer. “At BlueSphere Bio, we strive to use our T cell receptor search and capture technology to harness the power of the human immune system for the creation of personalized therapies to treat cancer, and Alan’s drug development expertise, deep industry experience and guidance as a director will undoubtedly accelerate our work.”

Korman received his Ph.D. in cellular and developmental biology from Harvard University, and he has more than 30 patents to his name.

BlueSphere Bio is one of five translational sciences companies established by UPMC Enterprises, the innovation, commercialization and venture capital arm of Pittsburgh-based health system UPMC. The company’s innovative TCXpress platform, developed in the University of Pittsburgh laboratory of cofounder and chief scientific officer Mark Shlomchik, M.D., Ph.D., is an efficient and cost-effective approach for procuring and characterizing T cell receptors, the key component for any T cell immunotherapy.

Along with Apelian and Shlomchik, Korman will serve on BlueSphere Bio’s board of directors with Jeanne Cunicelli, UPMC Enterprises executive vice president, and Tal Heppenstall, UPMC executive vice president and treasurer and UPMC Enterprises president.

Through UPMC Enterprises, UPMC has committed to investing $1 billion in drugs, diagnostics and devices by 2024 that dramatically improve care for patients. That includes its original $200 million commitment to the Immune Transplant and Therapy Center, which provided initial funding for BlueSphere Bio.