Former Merck, Schering-Plough biotech guru appointed CEO for Hopewell-based genetic medicines firm

Hopewell-based Gennao Bio, a genetic medicines company developing first-in-class, targeted nucleic acid therapeutics, has appointed Christopher Duke as CEO, effective immediately. Duke succeeds Executive Chairman and founding CEO Dr. Stephen Squinto, who will transition to a scientific adviser.

“Chris has made significant contributions to the growth of Gennao since its inception in 2020, demonstrating strong leadership and strategic agility. As a seasoned biotechnology executive, Chris spearheaded the advancement of Gennao’s gene monoclonal antibody platform for cancer and skeletal muscle diseases, while managing the buildout of a talented team and core operations. His appointment as CEO is a testament to the strong pipeline progress and execution to date that enables Gennao to be well-positioned for its next chapter of innovation,” Dr. Julie Hambleton, independent member of Gennao’s board of directors, said.

Duke brings more than 25 years of global research & development, operational and commercial experience at several leading rare disease and immuno-oncology companies. He has served as Gennao’s interim CEO since 2022 and previously held the role of chief operating officer, where he established and led key corporate functions, including business development, program management, manufacturing, legal, business operations, human resources and information technology.

“I am honored to lead Gennao and accelerate the development of our next-generation, nonviral delivery system for nucleic acids,” Duke said. “The GMAB platform represents a potentially disruptive approach to delivering genetic therapies and treating devastating diseases such as cancer and rare, skeletal muscle disorders. I look forward to continuing to advance this differentiated and highly targeted technology closer to the clinic and ultimately to patients and families in need.”

Before Gennao, Duke led operations and the commercial team in Japan for Amicus Therapeutics, after previously serving as the company’s vice president of global commercial operations. He previously served as chief operating officer for Advaxis Inc., and executive director of international commercial operations for NPS Pharma. Earlier in his career, Duke held clinical and scientific positions at Merck & Co. and the Schering-Plough Corp.