The Pleasure of Meeting Interim Cohbar CEO Dr. Philippe Calais

Philippe CALAIS, Pharm.D., Ph.D.

Dr. Philippe Calais is something you savor long after the moment has passed. We were glad to catch up recently with him in San Francisco. Long highly-regarded by CohBar insiders, Calais was appointed to its board of directors in June 2018. In December, he became interim CEO.

Educated in Tours, France, Calais during the last 30 years has occupied nearly every rung of the pharma ladder, beginning with early distinguished stints at ICI and Servier, with experience in both the EU and North America. His CV is a thickly-meated sandwich of titles, officerships, and advisory roles; for example, Calais has been an economic advisor to the French government since 2013. Skeptically, you might ask: Hmm, has he actually accomplished anything? Among the most productive phases of Calais’s career were his years in the anti-infectives unit at Hoffman-La Roche ($RHHBY). Ever heard of the antibiotic Rocephin? It’s among the most popular and durable antimicrobials ever devised, well-tolerated, vast in coverage spectrum (is there a physician anywhere who’s never prescribed Rocephin? Probably not….). Calais was instrumental in developing and getting Rocephin to market. Rocephin changed the way physicians thought about antibiotic therapy. Calais likes packing graceful wallops, leaving playing fields better than he found them,

Gallant, Gallic, radiant, extrovert, warm, comfortable in his own skin, he summons to mind a slightly grayer version of Francois Truffaut. Spend a few minutes with Calais and you recognize how false the stereotypes of French hauteur are: the French are the true masters of bonhomie. In easy conversation, he discloses mastery of the context of clinic, disease and drugs. Calais has been deeply indoctrinated in some of the edgiest quarters of modern therapeutics, including antisense RNA and mitochondrially-derived peptides. You get the sense of a supple intellect, of a highly versatile cosmopolitan man who’s seen much.

While Calais is clearly in awe of the therapeutic power of the mitochondrially-derived peptides (CohBar owns IP to all of them), he also seems to hint at a future, one perhaps he hopes to bring to the clinic, in  which those peptides will be, if not taken for granted,  a routine part of how we care for patients. Our sense is that he’s engrafted nicely into his new home in northern California, and that COO Jon Stern and board chairman Albion Fitzgerald are very at ease around Calais, that he’s one of them. They are clearly upbeat and enthused.

Is Calais the man to lead what may be the most interesting biotech company in the world into the future? Can he drive the architecture of radical paradigm shifts in approach to disease with mitochondrial peptides that will cause people to question all they’ve been taught? You get the sense that so long as Calais is driving the bus, the journey will be a fine one, and edifying, regardless of where it ends up. And that all will be better for the journey.

We suspect the CohBar board will be meeting again soon…..and would thrill to an announcement that white smoke is emerging from the parapets.

[Disclosure: The author has a long position in $CWBR shares, and will not trade in $CWBR shares for 7 days after this column appears. Copyright 2019 BioPub, all rights reserved. May not be reprinted without permission]

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