Carolyn Compton, an internationally recognized cancer pathologist who previously led important units at the National Institutes of Health, has been hired as the new president and CEO of the Tucson-based Critical Path Institute.
Dr. Compton replaces Raymond Woosley, a longtime fixture in Arizona’s bioscience community, who founded C-Path in 2005 to help make development of health-care innovations safer, faster, and cheaper. Since it was established, C-Path has built substantial coalitions of drug makers, governmental regulatory bodies, and scientists that convene to share information–previously guarded jealously–about the development of therapeutics and diagnostics.
“With the creation of C-Path as a public/private partnership model, Dr. Woosley forever changed the way scientists share information and navigate the drug-development process,” said Jeff Jacob, CEO of Cancer Prevention Pharmaceuticals Inc., and a C-Path board member who led the CEO search. “We are thrilled that Dr. Compton will bring her internationally recognized expertise in molecular medicine to further C-Path’s mission and impact. She is the type of dynamic leader that will ensure C-Path continues to evolve as a global leader in redefining the way we treat and cure diseases.”
Most recently, Dr. Compton served as director of the Office of Biorepositories and Biospecimen Research and the executive director of the Cancer Human Biobank project at the National Cancer Institute, part of the NIH. Trained as a research scientist and physician, she has a long record of leadership in pathology and biobanking, key scientific domains involved in the development of personalized medicine, an area of growing strength within Arizona’s bioscience enterprise.
“Dr. Compton is a leader who is well known for her innovative ideas and collaborative style,” said Margaret Hamburg, commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. “As she works to fulfill the Critical Path mission to advance the science that will accelerate medical-product development, we very much look forward to working together on these issues that are so important to public health.”
The FDA describes the “Critical Path” as the historically lengthy and complicated process by which a potential drug, product, or medical device endures scientific scrutiny, earns approval from regulatory bodies, and reaches the marketplace. The Critical Path Initiative, launched in 2004 by the FDA, was an effort to modernize and shorten that process by incorporating new technological advances and discoveries. Since its founding, C-Path has positioned itself as a neutral facilitator of the initiative.
One example of C-Path’s accomplishments is its guidance of a coalition representing more than a dozen pharmaceutical firms that developed new methods for determining the potential toxicity of drug candidates. In June 2008, the FDA and the European Medicines Agency (EMA) approved the new methods, agreeing to accept data from seven new biomarker tests, measures of particular proteins found in urine that indicate damage to kidney cells.
More recently, C-Path announced last month that it had facilitated EMA approval of the use of magnetic resonance imaging of hippocampal volume as a biomarker for pre-dementia Alzheimer’s disease. With the ruling, manages of clinical trials for Alzheimer’s drugs will be able use MRI exams to help ensure that patients enrolled in trials are actually likely to progress to true Alzheimer’s dementia. This shift in trial administration could dramatically speed the development of Alzheimer’s drugs with therapeutic value.
“C-Path is an exceptional Arizona organization, and Dr. Compton is a scientist of the highest caliber,” said Arizona Governor Jan Brewer. “I am confident that Dr. Compton, through her leadership of C-Path, will work to expand key alliances and collaborative relationships so that Arizona bioscience continues to thrive.”
For more information:
“Noted cancer scientist takes helm at Tucson-based C-Path,” Arizona Daily Star, 02/01/2012
“Critical Path Institute Announces New CEO,” Critical Path Institute news release, 02/01/2012