Rocket Pharmaceuticals appoints 30-year veteran Pujols as CTO and strengthens manufacturing capabilities

Rocket Pharmaceuticals on Wednesday said it appointed Mayo Pujols as its executive vice president and chief technical officer. Pujols will oversee the technical operations function and the company’s state-of-the-art AAV manufacturing facility (located in Cranbury) that has recently achieved current good manufacturing practice readiness for a planned Phase 2 pivotal study in Danon disease, the potential first gene therapy for a cardiovascular condition.

Pujols brings nearly three decades of technical operations and manufacturing experience, of which the past five years have been exclusively focused on cell and gene therapy, from leading biopharma companies including Andelyn Biosciences, Novartis and Celgene.

“The arrival of Mayo, one of the leading cell and gene therapy technical operations experts in the industry, comes at an exciting time, as we have completed our in-house AAV manufacturing readiness plan and are progressing on the path toward a Phase 2 pivotal study and potential commercialization for our therapy for Danon disease,” Kinnari Patel, president and chief operating officer of Rocket Pharma, stated. “Mayo’s proven track record of success and leadership in gene therapy and CAR-T cell therapy at both Novartis and Celgene adds to our team’s rich experience as we prepare our first regulatory filings for our lentiviral platform and advance our AAV platform in our pursuit of gene therapy cures for patients living with rare and devastating diseases.”

Prior to joining Rocket, Pujols was CEO of Andelyn Biosciences, a contract development and manufacturing organization affiliated with Nationwide Children’s Hospital, where he led its expansion to a full-service gene therapy CDMO. Previously, he served as head of global cell and gene technical development and manufacturing for Novartis Pharmaceuticals, where he was responsible for the global development and internal and external manufacturing for the cell and gene therapy franchise. He also served as vice president of global CAR‐T operations and technology at Celgene, where he led global manufacturing and technical operations of CAR-T products and built the company’s commercial manufacturing capabilities. Throughout his career, he has also held key roles at Merck, Advaxis, MedImmune and Schering-Plough.

“Rocket’s progress moving four gene therapy programs to clinical proof of concept and achieving the primary endpoint for two of them in a short time is remarkable,” Pujols stated. “Additionally, its forward-looking approach to in-house AAV manufacturing will help ensure patients with rare genetic disorders, like Danon disease, have reliable access to quality therapies for which there are currently no other viable options. I’m grateful and excited to join this passionate group of visionaries who are dedicating their careers to making a difference in the lives of patients and family members facing these devastating diseases.”