Appointment of Christina Coughlin, M.D., Ph.D. as Head of Research and Development

Appointment marks the transition from a research organization to a clinical stage biotechnology company

 Avacta Group plc (AIM: AVCT), a life sciences company developing innovative, targeted oncology drugs and powerful diagnostics, is pleased to announce that Christina Coughlin, M.D., Ph.D. will take up the position of Head of Research and Development, overseeing all clinical development and pre-clinical research activities of the Therapeutics Division.

Dr. Coughlin has served as a Non-executive Director of Avacta Group plc since March 2022 and has recently acted as Consultant Medical Adviser to the Therapeutics Division. Chris trained as an oncologist and immunologist and has been pivotal in driving the clinical development strategy for AVA6000, Avacta’s lead pre|CISION™ tumour targeted therapy, and the broader drug pipeline strategy at the Company. Dr. Coughlin will take up the permanent post of Head of Research and Development on 1st February, responsible for all pre-clinical research and clinical development activities and pipeline strategy. Dr. Coughlin will remain on the Avacta Board as an Executive Director.

Her early career began in large pharmaceutical companies including Wyeth, Pfizer and Novartis. Christina has since held several senior leadership roles in biotech companies including Immunocore (NASDAQ: IMCR), Tmunity and Rubius where she was Chief Medical Officer, leading clinical development, translational medicine and regulatory efforts across the pipelines of those companies. Most recently she served as the Chief Executive Officer of Cytolmmune Therapeutics, a clinical-stage biotechnology company focused on the development of novel cancer immunotherapy products.

Dr. Coughlin earned her M.D. and Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania and trained in haematology and oncology at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.  Her post-doctoral research was under Robert Vonderheide, M.D., D.Phil. in the Translational Research Group at the University of Pennsylvania under the direction of Carl June, M.D.

Avacta also announces that Dr. Fiona McLaughlin will step down as Chief Scientific Officer of the Therapeutics Division after three years in the role, during which she has contributed significantly to the development of the Therapeutics Division and its programmes. Fiona will continue to work with the Company through a transitionary period.

Dr Alastair Smith, Chief Executive of Avacta Group commented:

“I am delighted that Chris will assume the full-time role of Head of Research and Development. Chris brings deep oncology research and development expertise combined with trans-Atlantic C-level experience from which the entire business will benefit as we evolve from a research organisation to one led by a strong clinical focus.

“The outstanding safety data from the AVA6000 clinical study that we recently presented validates the pre|CISION™ platform’s ability to deliver cancer drugs specifically to the tumour microenvironment. This opens up tremendous opportunities to develop truly innovative cancer medicines that improve outcomes for patients and grow shareholder value.

“The Board and I would like to thank Fiona for her outstanding contribution over the past few years. She has added significant value to the therapeutic programmes and played a key role in building the Therapeutic Division’s operations. We all wish her the very best in her future endeavours.”

Dr Christina Coughlin, commented:

“I have dedicated my career to leading the development of transformative and novel therapies for the treatment of patients with cancer.

“The pipeline of cancer therapies at Avacta represents the next frontier in oncology innovation and includes the potential to help patients across multiple diseases, leveraging the tumour microenvironment as a target.

“I am thrilled to join the team during such a pivotal time for the company as we move our game-changing pipeline forward for the benefit of patients.”