Synthekine Appoints Internationally Recognized Cancer Immunotherapy Leader Naiyer Rizvi, M.D., as Chief Medical Officer

May 3, 2021 / MENLO PARK, Calif. – Synthekine Inc., an engineered cytokine therapeutics company, announced that it has appointed Naiyer Rizvi, M.D., as Chief Medical Officer, effective today. Dr. Rizvi is an internationally recognized leader in cancer immunotherapy drug development whose clinical research has helped deliver FDA approvals of several landmark immunotherapies, including nivolumab in squamous lung cancer and pembrolizumab in non-small cell lung cancer. He will lead Synthekine’s efforts in advancing its maturing pipeline through clinical investigation.

“Naiyer is a physician scientist with a track record of success in the development of breakthrough oncology treatments. We are thrilled to have him join as our CMO as we move our first cytokine therapeutics into clinical development later this year,” said Debanjan Ray, CEO of Synthekine. “Naiyer’s leadership and exceptional track record in immuno-oncology clinical development complement our deep cytokine expertise and will enable Synthekine to advance our broad pipeline of cytokine therapeutics and cytokine enabled cell therapies to clinical proof of concept.”

As a medical oncologist and expert in clinical immuno-oncology, Dr. Rizvi’s research into mechanisms of sensitivity and resistance to immunotherapy has laid the foundation to the understanding of clinical responses to immune checkpoint inhibitors. Dr. Rizvi conducted clinical studies of novel immunotherapy drugs and immunotherapy combinations, including the landmark study to demonstrate a correlation between mutations and neoantigens with durable benefit to immune-checkpoint blockade. His work has been published in leading journals including Science, Nature, and the New England Journal of Medicine.

“Synthekine has assembled an impressive portfolio of cytokine therapeutic candidates that has the potential to address a spectrum of diseases, and I look forward to leading our clinical development and strategy to advance these promising medicines,” said Dr. Rizvi. “I’ve treated patients with cytokine drugs and understand both the promise but also the toxicity that these potent therapeutics can deliver. Synthekine’s two lead programs, an IL-2 partial agonist (STK-012) and a CD-19 CAR-T with orthogonal IL-2 (SYNCAR-001 + STK-009), have demonstrated compelling efficacy, safety, and selectivity in preclinical models and I look forward to advancing them to clinical studies.”

Dr. Rizvi most recently served as the Price Family Professor of Medicine, Director of Thoracic Oncology and Co-Director of Cancer Immunotherapy at Columbia University Medical Center. In addition, Dr. Rizvi was recently Research Director of the Price Family Comprehensive Center for Chest Care at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. Dr. Rizvi received his medical doctorate from the University of Manitoba Faculty of Medicine and completed his residency training at the University of Manitoba Affiliated Hospital and fellowship at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center/Harvard Medical School. He was a co-founder of Gritstone Oncology.

About Synthekine

Synthekine is an engineered cytokine therapeutics company developing disease-optimized treatments. The company uses immunological insights to guide targeted protein engineering to generate transformative medicines for cancer and autoimmune disorders. Using the principles of cytokine partial agonism and immunological specificity, Synthekine designs differentiated therapeutics to be both safe and efficacious. Its lead programs have shown promising efficacy and tolerability in preclinical studies, and it is developing additional cytokine partial agonists that selectively modulate key pathways of the immune system. For more information, visit

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