HOOKIPA Announces Key Hires to its Executive Team

Christine D. Baker has joined as Chief Business Officer

Roman Necina, PhD, will join as Chief Technology Officer

HOOKIPA Pharma Inc. (NASDAQ: HOOK, ‘HOOKIPA’), a company developing a new class of immunotherapeutics targeting infectious diseases and cancers based on its proprietary arenavirus platform, today announced that Christine D. Baker has joined HOOKIPA as Chief Business Officer (CBO) and Roman Necina, PhD, will join as Chief Technology Officer (CTO) in November.

Following the start of a Phase 2 Cytomegalovirus vaccine trial, the IND clearance for its first immuno-oncology trial in HPV+ cancers, a collaboration agreement with Gilead for HBV and HIV therapeutics, and the completion of its initial public offering in April 2019, HOOKIPA is starting the next phase of its strategic development. To grow its pipeline, to establish new and expand ongoing partnerships, and to broaden its GMP manufacturing network capabilities, HOOKIPA is now strengthening its Executive Team by adding Christine Baker as CBO and Roman Necina as CTO.

Christine has joined HOOKIPA from EpicentRx, an oncology-focused biopharma, where she was the CBO, and responsible for developing the company’s partnership strategy. Roman Necina will join in November from Takeda, where he is a Senior Vice President for Technical Development and Chief Strategist.

“Attracting highly talented individuals like Christine and Roman to our Executive Team is a testament to the quality of work that we are doing at HOOKIPA,” commented Joern Aldag, CEO of HOOKIPA. “Christine’s exceptional experience in managing business development strategies and alliance management, as well as commercial planning, will bring tremendous value to our strategic growth. Roman’s core expertise in technical operations and manufacturing will strongly support HOOKIPA’s strategy of bringing manufacturing in-house. Christine and Roman are great additions to our Executive Team and I am looking forward to working with them.”

Christine Baker, MBA, has more than 30 years of experience with biopharma innovation. Previously, she was Chief Business Officer at EpicentRx and Vice President at Novartis Oncology. At Novartis, she was a leader in oncology business development and M&A, driving diverse deals from early stage collaborations with start-up companies to multi-billion dollar asset swaps with large pharma. Christine began her career in Schering-Plough, where she made notable contributions in Research Licensing, Strategic Planning and multiple US and Global Commercial roles, including acting Vice President for Sales and Marketing. Christine earned her undergraduate Chemistry degree magna cum laude from Dartmouth College and an MBA from Rutgers University. She is also an independent director on the Board of TuHURA Biopharma, Inc., a start-up biotechnology company. At HOOKIPA, Christine will be responsible for the company’s business development, alliance management, and commercial planning, and will be based in HOOKIPA’s New York City office.

Roman Necina, PhD, will join HOOKIPA after 20 years in product development, manufacturing and global operations in biopharma. He will be based in Vienna and will be responsible for HOOKIPA’s manufacturing operations including analytical & process development. Roman currently serves as Senior Vice President (SVP), Chief Strategist at Takeda and is a member of its R&D Pharmaceutical Science Leadership Team. Previously, he served as General Manager of Shire Innovations Austria, and SVP Process Development & Technical Services where he led the development and implementation of an Adeno Associated Virus (AAV) gene therapy-manufacturing platform, as well as all CMC relevant aspects covering the whole production cycle. Previously, he held SVP level positions at Baxter, Intercell and Boehringer, leading plant expansions, establishing global manufacturing networks and leading change management processes. Roman obtained his PhD from the University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences in Vienna.


HOOKIPA Pharma Inc. (NASDAQ: HOOK) is a clinical stage biopharmaceutical company developing a new class of immunotherapeutics, targeting infectious diseases and cancers based on its proprietary arenavirus platform that is designed to reprogram the body’s immune system.

HOOKIPA’s proprietary arenavirus-based technologies, VaxWave®*, a replication-deficient viral vector, and TheraT®*, a replication-attenuated viral vector, are designed to induce robust antigen specific CD8+ T cells and pathogen-neutralizing antibodies. Both technologies are designed to allow for repeat administration while maintaining an immune response. TheraT® has the potential to induce CD8+ T cell response levels previously not achieved by other published immuno-therapy approaches. HOOKIPA’s “off-the-shelf” viral vectors target dendritic cells in vivo to activate the immune system.

HOOKIPA’s VaxWave®-based prophylactic cytomegalovirus vaccine candidate is currently in a Phase 2 clinical trial in patients awaiting kidney transplantation from living cytomegalovirus-positive donors. To expand its infectious disease portfolio, HOOKIPA has entered into a collaboration and licensing agreement with Gilead Sciences, Inc. to jointly research and develop functional cures for HIV and Hepatitis B infections. HOOKIPA is building a proprietary immuno-oncology pipeline by targeting virally mediated cancer antigens, self-antigens and next-generation antigens. 

TheraT® and VaxWave® are not approved anywhere globally and their safety and efficacy have not been established.

Find out more about HOOKIPA online at www.hookipapharma.com.

*Registered in Europe; Pending in the US.

HOOKIPA Forward Looking Statements 

Certain statements set forth in this press release constitute “forward-looking” statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, as amended. Forward-looking statements can be identified by terms such as “believes,” “expects,” “plans,” “potential,” “would” or similar expressions and the negative of those terms. Such forward-looking statements involve substantial risks and uncertainties that could cause HOOKIPA’s research and clinical development programs, future results, performance or achievements to differ significantly from those expressed or implied by the forward-looking statements. Such risks and uncertainties include, among others, the uncertainties inherent in the drug development process, including HOOKIPA’s programs’ early stage of development, the process of designing and conducting preclinical and clinical trials, the regulatory approval processes, the timing of regulatory filings, the challenges associated with manufacturing drug products, HOOKIPA’s ability to successfully establish, protect and defend its intellectual property and other matters that could affect the sufficiency of existing cash to fund operations and HOOKIPA’s ability to achieve the milestones under the agreement with Gilead. HOOKIPA undertakes no obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements. For a further description of the risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ from those expressed in these forward-looking statements, as well as risks relating to the business of the company in general, see HOOKIPA’s quarterly report on Form 10-Q for the quarter ended June 30, 2019 which is available on the Security and Exchange Commission’s website at www.sec.gov and HOOKIPA’s website at www.hookipapharma.com.

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