Argolyn Bioscience is expanding its management team and moving its headquarters to the Triangle from South Carolina.

M. Nixon Ellis, a former executive at Triangle Pharmaceuticals and Trimeris, is taking over as chief executive officer. He replaces Pearce Gilbert, who will remain with the firm, according to Suzanne Cantando, a spokesperson for Intersouth Partners, which is an investor in the company.

George Koszalka, another veteran of the life-science industry, is joining Argolyn as its chief development officer.

As part of the management team expansion, Argolyn will move its headquarters to RTP. However, the company’s research and development office will remain in Charleston.

The change in management had been planned for some time, Cantando explained. “Pearce has been part of the whole process,” she said. “It’s in no way a reflection on him.”

Ellis, who goes by Nick, is a well-known executive in the Triangle, having worked for nearly 30 years with Burroughs Wellcome, the Wellcome Foundation, Triangle Pharmaceuticals and Trimeris. He held the chief operating officer role at Triangle and was president at Trimeris.

Koszalka, who is known as Barney, also worked at Trimeris. His more than two decades of experience includes stints at Burroughs Wellcome, Glaxo Wellcome and GlaxoSmithKline. He has been involved in the development of numerous drugs.

“We are very pleased to recruit industry veterans like Nick and Barney to the Argolyn team,” said Tom Amick, chairman of the Argolyn. “The company is at a critical point, poised for growth as the development of key drugs moves forward. Nick has exactly the right experience and skills to set the direction for the business and to drive that growth. Similarly, Barney’s development and clinical experience will help Argolyn aggressively move its programs forward.”

Argolyn, a spinout from the Medical University of South Carolina, closed on $15.8 million in financing last year. Intersouth, which is based in Durham, N.C., and Quaker BioVentures led the round.

Argolyn is seeking to develop drugs based on peptides. Targets are pain and psychosis. Peptides are used for more effective drug delivery.

Funds will be used to take Argolyn’s drug candidates to human clinical trials.

Argolyn has a patent-protected drug development platform. The company was launched in 2002. Thomas Dix, who developed the platform while at the Medical University, is the firm’s founder and chief science officer. The company has announced the awarding of five patents.

Two drug candidates are currently in pre-clinical development, one for schizophrenia and the other for pain.

In 2003, Argolyn secured $975,000 in funding from The Stanley Medical Research Institute. The firm also has disclosed more than $1.7 million in federal grants since 2003.

Gilbert, who earned his MBA at the Kenan-Flager business school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, joined Argolyn after serving as program manager for technology transfer at the Medical University foundation.