Plexxikon Announces Key Executive Appointments; Dr. Chao Zhang Named Chief Executive Officer and Marguerite Hutchinson, JD, Named Chief Operating Officer

Dr. Gideon Bollag to Step Down from CEO Role to Part-Time Position as Chief Biologist

Company Relocates to South San Francisco

BERKELEY, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Plexxikon, a member of the Daiichi Sankyo Group and a leader in structure-guided discovery and development of novel small molecule pharmaceuticals, today announced that Chao Zhang, PhD, has been promoted to chief executive officer from chief scientific officer. Dr Zhang will succeed Gideon Bollag, PhD, who will transition to a part-time position as chief biologist. In addition, Marguerite Hutchinson, JD, has been promoted to chief operating officer and general counsel. These changes are effective July 1, 2021.

Along with these management changes, Plexxikon announced that it will move its current headquarters from Berkeley to a newly renovated, 50,000-square-foot facility in South San Francisco. The state-of-the-art buildout reflects Plexxikon’s fully integrated drug discovery and development operation, with medicinal and process chemistry, protein engineering and structural biology, assay and screening, drug metabolism and pharmacokinetics, formulation, and translational medicine labs. Additionally, an “augmented reality” lab will enable visualization and exploration of protein and compound structures in 3-D. The new headquarters will be fully operational by August.

“I am honored to take the helm of Plexxikon and thank Gideon for his leadership over the past eight years. During his tenure as CEO and earlier as head of research, the team at Plexxikon led the discovery and early clinical development of two FDA-approved drugs, Zelboraf® and Turalio®,” said Dr. Zhang. “I look forward to the next phase of Plexxikon’s growth in South San Francisco, where we will continue to advance our robust portfolio of differentiated oncology and neurology compounds.”

Dr. Zhang has served as Plexxikon’s chief scientific officer since August 2018. He was previously senior vice president of research. Dr. Zhang, who joined the company in 2001, helped build the scaffold-based drug discovery platform at Plexxikon, and has been a leader and key contributor to the company’s wealth of discovery efforts, including the discovery of Zelboraf® and Turalio®.

Ms. Hutchinson will continue responsibility for all finance and operational aspects of the company, including IT, facilities, business development, legal affairs, intellectual property and project management. She joined Plexxikon in 2013.

Plexxikon is advancing a portfolio of clinical and preclinical small molecules for oncology and neurology indications, including PLX2853, a differentiated bromo/extraterminal domain (BET) inhibitor, and several preclinical candidates that will enter first-in-human studies by 2023.

About Plexxikon

Plexxikon, a member of the Daiichi Sankyo Group since April 2011, is a leader in the structure-guided discovery and development of novel small molecule pharmaceuticals to treat human disease. The company’s drug Zelboraf® (vemurafenib/PLX4032) was approved by the FDA in 2011, and Turalio® (pexidartinib/PLX3397) was approved by the FDA in 2019. Plexxikon is developing a portfolio of preclinical and clinical-stage compounds to address significant unmet medical needs in oncology and other therapeutic areas. Plexxikon’s Scaffold-Based Drug Discovery™ platform integrates multiple state-of-the-art technologies, including the use of X-ray crystallography as an early screening tool that provides a significant advantage over other drug discovery approaches. For more information, please visit

About Daiichi Sankyo

Daiichi Sankyo is dedicated to creating new modalities and innovative medicines by leveraging our world-class science and technology for our purpose “to contribute to the enrichment of quality of life around the world.” In addition to our current portfolio of medicines for cancer and cardiovascular disease, Daiichi Sankyo is primarily focused on developing novel therapies for people with cancer as well as other diseases with high unmet medical needs. With more than 100 years of scientific expertise and a presence in more than 20 countries, Daiichi Sankyo and its 16,000 employees around the world draw upon a rich legacy of innovation to realize our 2030 Vision to become an “Innovative Global Healthcare Company Contributing to the Sustainable Development of Society.” For more information, please visit


Susan Kinkead

Kinkead Communications

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