BlueSphere Bio Appoints Drug Development Leader Dr. Michael Geffner as Chief Medical Officer

BlueSphere Bio, which was established by UPMC Enterprises, uses its novel TCXpress platform to obtain and characterize T cell receptors, the key component for any T cell immunotherapy. This technology, developed at the University of Pittsburgh, is an efficient, cost-effective alternative to conventional methods of using a person’s own T cells to create individualized treatments.

In his new role, Geffner will build and manage all clinical functions necessary to leverage BlueSphere Bio’s research and development efforts using TCXpress, creating world-class clinical development programs that lead to innovative and cost-effective treatments.

Prior to joining BlueSphere Bio in July, Geffner served as senior vice president at Achillion Pharmaceuticals, a wholly owned subsidiary of Alexion Pharmaceuticals. He led the hematology clinical development efforts in paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH) and oversaw global medical affairs for all Achillion programs. He previously spent 15 years at Schering-Plough and Merck.

“As BlueSphere Bio continues to grow, we are excited to bring a physician-leader of Michael’s caliber into the chief medical officer role,” said David Apelian, M.D., Ph.D., M.B.A., BlueSphere Bio’s chief executive officer. “His extensive experience and expertise in drug development, clinical operations and medical affairs will be critical in advancing our clinical development programs in bone marrow transplant and solid tumors.”

A graduate of Albany Medical College, Geffner completed his undergraduate education at Franklin & Marshall College and holds an M.B.A. from Fairleigh Dickinson University. He is dually board-certified by the American Board of Pediatrics and the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology with special competency in child neurology.

Geffner will work closely with Apelian, company co-founders Mark Shlomchik, M.D., Ph.D., Warren Shlomchik, M.D., Constantinos Panousis, Ph.D., and Alex Rowe, Ph.D., and the recently established scientific advisory board, which held its first meeting earlier this month.

Over the last two years, UPMC Enterprises, the commercialization arm of UPMC, has formed five translational sciences companies — including BlueSphere Bio — and invested in external research projects and biotech companies focused on drastically improving care for patients while generating a financial return for UPMC. UPMC has committed to investing $1 billion in drugs, diagnostics and devices by 2024, which also includes the health system’s original $200 million commitment to the Immune Transplant and Therapy Center, a concentrated effort between UPMC and Pitt to treat and cure a wide range of diseases using the power of the human immune system.