New Morphogenesis CEO Aims for IPO • St Pete Catalyst
The new CEO of Morphogenesis, a Tampa-based clinical-stage company developing new therapies to treat cancer, is determined to take the company public within two years.
James Bianco, a serial healthcare entrepreneur who has led several companies to raise millions, never planned to uproot his life from Seattle to Tampa until a recruiter on LinkedIn reached out to him. last year to ask him to become the CEO of Morphogénèse. The company, founded in Tampa by Patricia Lawman, is developing drugs that fight deadly skin cancer in patients and works closely with the Moffitt Cancer Center.
“It seemed like a great opportunity, but it wasn’t enough for me to leave Seattle until I started meeting the team between February and June. I saw the fire in their stomachs and the wonderful immunotherapies cutting edge that they were developing that would give people another chance at life,” he said.
Bianco founded Seattle biotech company CTI BioPharma and spent $2.1 billion developing cancer drugs. He stepped down as CEO in 2016. Prior to founding CTI BioPharma, he was part of the research division of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. He also previously served as director of the bone marrow transplant program at the Veterans Administration Medical Center.
Since officially assuming the new role of CEO of Morphogenesis in July 2021, he and the team have been focused on the Food and Drug Administration process and securing funding for their research.
Today, the company has raised $21.6 million in its Series B round. Local philanthropist Dr. Kiran Patel and his family’s office have been the lead investors, with Patel investing more than $5 million. dollars and his family’s office investing over $15 million. However, the company has several new investments in the hopper that will officially close the round.
The funding will go towards a new, incremental study for a skin cancer drug in hopes that it will receive FDA approval.
Bianco said Morphogenesis also prepared an S1.
“The reason we want to make Morphogenesis public is access to capital,” he said. “Tampa isn’t known as a biotech hub, so it’s hard to attract institutional funding here. We were lucky that the Patels had a successful track record and believed in us.
Bianco is confident that Morphogenesis can go public by the end of this year or the first quarter of 2023.
He said there was a SPAC (Special Purpose Acquisition Company) option he was pursuing. However, the SPAC market has skyrocketed, but there is a reverse takeover option, allowing Morphogenesis to potentially partner with a public company – an option Bianco is keeping in mind.
While Bianco helps run Morphogenesis, Lawman continues to play a major role in the company, serving on the board and staying on as a consultant.