CEO chosen for new Nationwide Children’s gene-therapy company

Nationwide Children’s Hospital chooses Mayo Pujols, most recently of Novartis Pharmaceuticals, for its new biotech subsidiary Andelyn.

As the new CEO for Andelyn Biosciences, a Nationwide Children’s Hospital-owned gene-therapy startup, Mayo Pujols will begin to assemble a diverse team of up to 200 scientists, biochemists, engineers and technicians.

The portfolio of gene-therapy products to be manufactured at its 100,000 square-foot building on Ohio State University’s West Campus could one day become treatments for muscular dystrophy, hemophilia, neurological disorders, or heart and eye diseases.

Pujols, 51, who will soon move to Columbus with his wife and two teenage sons, said he’s confident that central Ohio will be the perfect hiring ground. He officially takes over May 18.

“I’m excited about the location, the proximity with OSU and the greater area providing the skill sets that we need,” he said by phone Thursday.

In addition to high-tech jobs, there will be a need for those in purchasing, sales and regulatory roles.

The for-profit company will manufacture gene therapy products for the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries and will meet the backlog of demand locally and at Nationwide Children’s, said Dr. Dennis Durbin, chief scientific officer at the Abigail Wexner Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s.

The institute has about 80 employees who will automatically become Andelyn employees. They will remain at Children’s until the company’s manufacturing facility opens sometime in 2023, Durbin said.

The lease agreement for the company’s OSU facility is being negotiated, Durbin said.The valuation of Andelyn is being finalized, he said. Nationwide Children’s will make a significant investment in the company.

Pujols was previously vice president and global head of Cell and Gene Therapy for Novartis Pharmaceuticals, a Swiss company. He brings a 20-year track record of working with companies dealing in biologics, vaccines, immunotherapies and, more recently, cell and gene therapies, Durbin said.

Pujols said the new company will be highly regulated by the Food and Drug Administration and other agencies and, by design, less “think tank” and more facilitator in creating new drug treatments.

“Anything for human use is regulated. Once you license it you have a well-scripted, locked-down process on what you can use it for.”

Pujols joined the Novartis cell and gene team in 2018 and was responsible for manufacturing operations, strategy, product development, capacity expansion and technology innovation.

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