CoLucid Pharmaceuticals, a startup launched by venture capital firm Pappas Ventures, is gearing up for combat in the drug business with a former Apache combat helicopter pilot as its chief executive officer.

Thomas Mathers, who has extensive experience in the life sciences industry and also is an inventor, replaces James White, the firm’s founding CEO.

White will remain with the company as scientific director.

CoLucid raised $1.5 million in new funding last month.

Mathers, 44, flew AH-64 Apaches in Desert Storm as part of the XVIII Airborne Corps, which is based at Fort Bragg. A graduate of West Point with an engineering degree, Mathers left the Army with the rank of captain. He also was a three-year starter for the Army’s football team as a defensive end and made the Dean’s List, according to his bio published at the CoLucid website.

He earned “several medals” for his Army service, the bio says.

Mathers takes over CoLucid with 19 years of experience in the life sciences industry already. He most recently was CEO of Peptimmune from 2003-2011. Mathers is chairman of Declion Pharmaceuticals, which he co-founded, and is a member of the Biotechnology Industry Organization.

“Tom has extensive leadership skills and brings valuable strategic, operational and transactional experience to our team at a key inflection point in the company’s growth and development,” said Art Pappas, chairman of theCoLucid board. He also is managing partner at Pappas Ventures.

CoLucid, which has raised more than $41 million in venture funding since its launch in 2005, disclosed a $2 million round of funding in February. The firm wants to raise $9 million total in the current round, according to the filing.

Pappas Ventures launched the company in 2005.

CoLucid is developing a migraine compound called COL-144. CoLucid is also pursuing developing of potential drugs to treat neurological and psychiatric disorders.

CoLucid touts its lasmiditan compound as a “first-in-class neurally acting anti-migraine agent” that avoids side effects of blood vessel constriction associated with other migraine therapies.

Mathers also has worked at Cell Based Delivery, where he was CEO, Genzyme, and Pfizer.

He holds several patents and has other patents pending.

“I am excited to join the CoLucid team and complete the development of lasmiditan, our breakthrough first in class treatment for acute migraine,” Mathers said. “This is an area of significant unmet need since many of the currently approved therapies have unwanted side effects and are contraindicated in some patients.”

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