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Synta appoints Sanofi veteran Anne Whitaker as new chief executive

Photo included with the company’s press release

Anne Whitaker

Synta Pharmaceuticals Corp., a Lexington company that looks to develop small-molecule drugs for severe conditions such as cancer and chronic inflammatory diseases, said Wednesday that Anne Whitaker will assume the posts of president and chief executive on Sept. 2.

Whitaker’s most recent job was that of president of North America pharmaceuticals at Sanofi SA, the French drug giant that acquired Cambridge-based Genzyme in 2011 for $20.1 billion. She has also worked for GlaxoSmithKline.

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In a statement included in the Wednesday press release, Synta chairman Keith Gollust said: “Anne brings a wealth of experience to Synta, gained over a distinguished career in executive roles with two of the world’s top pharmaceutical companies. Her knowledge and experience in business strategy, product development, regulatory affairs, leadership and organizational development and commercialization will be invaluable to the company as we continue to advance ganetespib through late stage development.”

Ganetespib is the company’s experimental cancer drug. Ganetespib is in Phase 3 trials for non-small cell lung cancer, the company said. On its website, Synta says one of its missions is “targeting the molecular chaperone in cancer.”

In March, Synta announced that Safi R. Bahcall had resigned as president, chief executive, and a member of the company’s board, effective immediately. Synta did not give a reason for Bahcall’s departure, Bloomberg News reported.

Chris Reidy can be reached at
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