Pliant Appoints Katerina Leftheris, Ph.D., as Vice President of Chemistry and John Curnutte, M.D., Ph.D. to the Board of Directors

Redwood City, Calif. – September 26, 2017Pliant Therapeutics, Inc., a company focused on discovering, developing and commercializing breakthrough treatments for fibrotic diseases, announced today that Katerina Leftheris, Ph.D., will join the company as vice president of chemistry and John Curnutte, M.D., Ph.D., will be appointed to the board of directors.

“We are pleased to have Drs. Leftheris and Curnutte, who are both exceptional experts in their fields, join us at this critical time for our company and will be instrumental in our effort to better understand and treat fibrosis,” said Bernard Coulie, M.D., Ph.D., chief executive officer of Pliant Therapeutics. “With her broad scientific expertise and background in drug discovery and formulation, Katerina is ideally positioned to continue building Pliant’s pipeline of innovative fibrosis therapies. John is a recognized leader in the biopharmaceutical industry, and he will contribute significantly as we implement our strategy of transforming novel science into medicines to prevent, and even reverse, fibrotic diseases. I am confident that both Katerina and John will be crucial in our quest to advance truly differentiated and innovative fibrosis therapies to patients.”

Dr. Leftheris, Ph.D., brings more than 20 years of small molecule drug discovery and development experience to Pliant, previously focusing in immunology, oncology, metabolic disease and neurodegeneration. Prior to joining Pliant, Dr. Leftheris was sitehead of discovery chemistry for Celgene, San Diego, where she led the chemistry team to advance five novel clinical candidates in immunology and oncology. Prior to joining Celgene, Dr. Leftheris was the senior director of Vitae Pharmaceuticals and held positions of increasing responsibility in discovery chemistry at Bristol-Myers Squibb. Dr. Leftheris has more than 110 publications and issued patents. She holds a B.A. in chemistry from Smith College and a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from University of California, San Diego, with postdoctoral studies completed at the University of Pennsylvania.

“I am very excited to join the Pliant team and look forward to collaborating with my Pliant colleagues to develop new medicines for fibrosis patients who are in need of novel treatments,” said Dr. Leftheris.

Dr. Curnutte is currently the executive vice president of research and development at Portola Pharmaceuticals. At Portola, Dr. Curnutte oversees all of the company’s R&D operations, including discovery research, development, clinical operations and regulatory affairs. Prior to joining Portola, Dr. Curnutte served as chief executive officer of 3-V Biosciences and as president at Schering-Plough Biopharma (formerly DNAX Research Institute and now Merck Research Laboratories). While at Schering-Plough Biopharma, he led eight therapeutics entities into development, including five small molecules and one gene therapy construct. Before that, he held several senior management positions at Genentech and was a tenured faculty member at The Scripps Research Institute. Dr. Curnutte holds an A.B. in biochemistry and molecular biology from Harvard University and an M.D. and Ph.D. from Harvard Medical School.

About Pliant Therapeutics

Pliant Therapeutics is an early-stage biotechnology company harnessing the therapeutic capabilities of integrin biology and TGF-β signaling to develop breakthrough treatments for fibrotic diseases. By leveraging its powerful product engine, Pliant’s mission is to prevent or even reverse fibrosis, restoring organ function. The company also aims to build a patient registry for certain areas of fibrotic disease to both increase understanding of natural disease progression and fuel biomarker discovery for efficient clinical trial design. Founded by a group of seasoned experts in fibrosis biology and medicinal chemistry, Pliant Therapeutics was launched in 2016 by Third Rock Ventures and is headquartered in Redwood City, California. For more information, please visit

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