Company: Sirtris, a GSK Company, Cambridge, MA
Entry Submitted By: Pure Communications Inc.
Company Description: Sirtris, a GSK company, is focused on creating revolutionary new medicines to treat diseases of aging, such as Type 2 Diabetes. Our research focus is on modulating the sirtuins, a recently discovered class of enzymes involved in the aging process. Sirtris is based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and employs 71 people.
Nomination Category: Company Categories
Nomination Sub Category: Best Overall Company of the Year
Nomination Title: Sirtris: Creating Revolutionary Medicines for Diseases of Aging
1. Tell the story about what this nominated company achieved since January 1 2008 (up to 500 words). Focus on specific accomplishments, and relate these accomplishments to past performance or industry norms. Be sure to mention obstacles overcome, innovations or discoveries made, and outcomes:
Sirtris, a GSK company, is a recognized leader in the research and development
of medicines that target the sirtuins, a recently discovered family of enzymes
that control the aging process. A pioneer in its field, Sirtris’ drugs under
development could potentially address a broad range of diseases of aging, such
as Type 2 Diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease and neurodegeneration. The
hot area of sirtuin research caught the world’s attention with the discovery
that resveratrol — a natural ingredient in red wine — activates the sirtuins and
could yield the positive health effects of calorie restriction (previous
research has shown that reducing normal caloric intake by a third can extend
Sirtris was founded in 2004 by Christoph Westphal, M.D., Ph.D., who has since
served as Chief Executive Officer, and Harvard researcher David Sinclair, Ph.D.
The relative rapidity with which Sirtris has advanced runs counter to the very
high-risk nature of biotechnology, where the odds are highly stacked against
Sirtris has made great strides since its inception only five years ago. The
excitement about the science of sirtuins enabled Sirtris’ successful IPO in May
2007. In 2008, the importance of the scientific developments at Sirtris
garnered the attention of GlaxoSmithKline, which acquired Sirtris in June of
2008 for $720 million – a “darling” deal in the eyes of Wall Street. Indicative
of his philosophy that people matter most, Dr. Westphal’s commitment to Sirtris
Pharmaceuticals’ employees and investors factored heavily into the agreement
with GSK. Sirtris Pharmaceuticals became Sirtris – an independent discovery
performance unit led by Dr. Westphal, with all employees and members of
management remaining in place. Sirtris’ employees and investors alike were
pleased with the $720 million cash acquisition of the Company by GSK priced at
$22.50 a share – a 125% premium to the company’s May 2007 initial public
offering price of $10 a share.
As evidence of a paradigm shift in the pharmaceutical industry toward an
improved acquisition model, Sirtris continues to operate autonomously and
maintain its unique, entrepreneurial culture. Sirtris leadership encourages
creativity and rewards the company’s values of People, Excellence, Trust,
Respect and Urgency. To that end, Sirtris offers a number of unexpected perks,
including free lunch daily, biweekly lunch seminars, spinning and yoga classes,
and company outings to Red Sox games.
In addition to the excitement of the acquisition, 2008 was a momentous year on
the scientific front with significant progress made with the clinical
development of Sirtris’ drug candidates to address diseases of aging. In
January 2008, Sirtris announced positive results from a human clinical study
showing that its proprietary formulation of resveratrol significantly lowers
glucose in patients with Type 2 Diabetes. Later in the year, Sirtris entered
into the first human clinical trial of one of its novel compounds, which are
structurally unrelated to resveratrol and up to 1,000 times more potent.
Now with the resources and muscle strength of GSK behind Sirtris, there’s an
even better chance of making the company’s drug candidates a reality, offering
the ability for people to live healthier, longer lives.
2. List hyperlinks to any online news stories, press releases, or other documents that support the claims made in the section above. IMPORTANT: Begin each link with http://, and enclose each link in square brackets; for example, [http://www.youraddress.com]:
60 Minutes, “Wine Rx,” January 25, 2009
Newsweek, “Never Say Die,” December 15, 2008
Discover, Is Wine What Flows Through the Fountain of Youth?, October 2008
New York Times, “Hoping Two Drugs Carry a Side Effect: Longer Life,” July 22, 2008
Wall Street Journal, “Glaxo to Buy Sirtris in Bet On Antiaging Research,” April
GlaxoSmithKline to acquire Sirtris Pharmaceuticals, a world leader in 'Sirtuin'
research and development, April 22, 2008
ABC News Special hosted by Barbara Walters, “Can You Live to be 150?,” March 28,
San Francisco Chronicle, “High hopes for diabetes drug that mimics healthy
lifestyle effects,” January 8, 2008
Sirtris Announces Positive Results with Proprietary Version of Resveratrol,
SRT501, in a Phase 1b Type 2 Diabetes Clinical Study, January 7, 2008
Fortune, “Drink Wine and Live Longer,” cover story, February 5, 2007
Sirtris media highlights clip on YouTube:
3. Provide a brief (up to 100 words) biography about the leader of this nominated company:
Christoph Westphal, M.D., Ph.D., co-founded Sirtris in 2004 and has since served
as Chief Executive Officer. In addition to leading Sirtris as an independent
discovery performance unit within GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), Dr. Westphal serves as
the Senior Vice President of GSK’s Centre of Excellence for External Drug
Dr. Westphal is a co-founder of Alnylam Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: ALNY), Momenta
Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: MNTA), CoNCERT Pharmaceuticals and Acceleron Pharma.
Dr. Westphal earned his M.D. from Harvard Medical School and Ph.D. in genetics
from Harvard University. He graduated with a B.A. summa cum laude and Phi Beta
Kappa from Columbia University.