Geron Corporation (Nasdaq: GERN), a late-stage clinical biopharmaceutical company, today announced the appointment of Michelle Robertson as Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and Treasurer, effective September 25, 2023. Ms. Robertson's appointment follows the retirement of Olivia Bloom, Geron's incumbent CFO, also effective September 25, 2023. Ms. Bloom's retirement brings to a close a remarkable career of nearly 30 years on Geron’s finance team, including serving the last twelve years as CFO.
“On behalf of the Board and our entire team, I would first like to express our deep appreciation and admiration for the countless contributions Olivia has made during her extraordinary tenure at Geron, from the Company’s early days as a discovery-focused organization through today when we are preparing for the potential commercialization of imetelstat in lower risk myelodysplastic syndromes. Olivia’s strategic vision, financial prowess and inspiring dedication have been foundational in making Geron what we are today,” said John A. Scarlett, M.D., Geron’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. “In the same breath, I am also thrilled to welcome Michelle Robertson to the Geron executive management team at this important moment in our history. Michelle's deep command of financial operations, her experience with managing the financial and organizational needs of a biotechnology company preparing to potentially launch its first commercial product, her prior experience with investors, analysts and investment bankers, and her hands-on experiences with commercial launches in the past will all be extremely valuable to our organization at this point in our corporate evolution.”
“It has been the privilege of my career to watch telomerase inhibition advance from a scientific hypothesis to a novel oncology approach that could potentially transform the treatment of hematologic malignancies,” said Ms. Bloom. “I have confidence in Michelle and the rest of the Geron team to deliver on Geron’s future milestones as the company enters a new era of potential commercialization.” Ms. Bloom will serve as a consultant to the company through March 1, 2024 to support a smooth transition of her role to Ms. Robertson.
Ms. Robertson brings to Geron over 30 years of financial and commercial operations experience. Prior to joining, she served as the Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer of Editas Medicine, a CRISPR genome editing company, where she raised $500M in capital over three years to support the company’s research transition into late-stage clinical development. Before that, she served as Chief Financial Officer of Momenta Pharmaceuticals, Inc. from 2018 until 2020, leading the finance team through a strategic restructure, before its acquisition by Johnson & Johnson. Prior to joining Momenta, Ms. Robertson held multiple finance roles of increasing responsibility, including Vice President, Oncology Finance for Baxalta Inc. following its spin-off from Baxter International Inc. where she worked on the acquisition and commercialization of their first oncology drug, Oncaspar®, and Head of Financial Planning and Analysis and Operations Excellence at Ironwood Pharmaceuticals Inc., positioning the finance organization to support the commercial launch of Linzess®. Before that, for 16 years, Michelle held various finance and commercial operations roles at Genzyme Corporation (acquired by Sanofi) where she led the integration of several acquired oncology assets, subsequently leading the buildout of the Commercial operations team to support five global commercial products. Ms. Robertson received her B.S. in Finance and A.S. in Accounting and Management from Bentley University. She also currently serves as a member of the board of directors and the chair of the audit committee for Verastem Inc.
Inducement Grants Under Nasdaq Listing Rule 5635(c)(4)
In connection with the commencement of Ms. Robertson’s employment with Geron on September 25, 2023, the Company plans to grant her non-statutory stock options to purchase an aggregate of 1,600,000 shares of Geron common stock. Stock options representing an aggregate of 1,350,000 shares will have a 10-year term and vest over four years, with 12.5% of the shares underlying the options vesting on the six-month anniversary of commencement of employment and the remaining shares will vest over the following 42 months in equal installments of whole shares, subject to continued employment with Geron through the applicable vesting dates. Stock options representing an aggregate of 250,000 shares will have a 10-year term and vest in full upon achievement of a certain regulatory milestone, subject to continued employment with Geron through the applicable vesting date. All of the stock options will be granted on her first day of employment, with an exercise price equal to the closing price of Geron’s common stock on that date, as a material inducement to employment in accordance with Nasdaq Listing Rule 5635(c)(4) and are subject to the terms and conditions of the stock option agreements covering the grants and Geron’s 2018 Inducement Award Plan, which was adopted December 14, 2018 and provides for the granting of stock options to new employees.
Geron is a late-stage clinical biopharmaceutical company pursuing therapies with the potential to extend and enrich the lives of patients living with hematologic malignancies. Our first-in-class investigational telomerase inhibitor, imetelstat, harnesses Nobel Prize-winning science in a treatment that may alter the underlying drivers of disease. The New Drug Application (NDA) for imetelstat in lower risk myelodysplastic syndromes (LR MDS), based on the results from the Phase 3 IMerge clinical trial, is currently under review by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) with a Prescription Drug User Fee Act (PDUFA) target action date of June 16, 2024. Additionally, Geron currently has an ongoing pivotal Phase 3 clinical trial evaluating imetelstat in relapsed/refractory myelofibrosis (MF). To learn more, visit www.geron.com or follow us on LinkedIn.
Use of Forward-Looking Statements
Except for the historical information contained herein, this press release contains forward-looking statements made pursuant to the “safe harbor” provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Investors are cautioned that such statements, include, without limitation, those regarding: (i) plans for the potential commercialization of imetelstat; (ii) the future of Geron and the potential impact it hopes to have on patients; (iii) the planned transition of the Company’s CFO; and (iv) other statements that are not historical facts, constitute forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties that can cause actual results to differ materially from those in such forward-looking statements. These risks and uncertainties, include, without limitation, risks and uncertainties related to: (a) whether regulatory authorities permit the further development of imetelstat on a timely basis, or at all, without any clinical holds; (b) whether any future safety or efficacy results cause the benefit-risk profile of imetelstat to become unacceptable; (c) whether imetelstat actually demonstrates that it alters the underlying drivers of disease and has disease-modifying activity in patients; and (d) whether the FDA will extend the PDUFA action date or approve imetelstat for the treatment of transfusion-dependent anemia in patients with lower risk MDS. Additional information on the above risks and uncertainties and additional risks, uncertainties and factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those in the forward-looking statements are contained in Geron’s filings and periodic reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission under the heading “Risk Factors” and elsewhere in such filings and reports, including Geron’s quarterly report on Form 10-Q for the quarter ended June 30, 2023 and future filings and reports by Geron. Undue reliance should not be placed on forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date they are made, and the facts and assumptions underlying the forward-looking statements may change. Except as required by law, Geron disclaims any obligation to update these forward-looking statements to reflect future information, events, or circumstances.