RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – Precision cancer drug startup GeneCentric Therapeutics has a new CEO with its founder taking on the role as executive chairperson of the venture capital-backed startup’s board.

Dr. Myla Lai-Goldman, a founder and CEO of GeneCentric, will replace Clay Thorp of Hatteras Venture Partners as head of the board.


Taking over as CEO is Michael Milburn, the company announced Thursday.

“Michael brings a broad range of expertise that spans drug development, biomarker discovery and diagnostic development and commercialization, along with a strong track record commercial execution that built significant value,” Thorp said in the announcement.  “We look forward to his new leadership role at GeneCentric as they expand their cancer technology and expertise with pharmaceutical partners.”

Milburn has worked at GeneCentric as chief science officer since last September. He previously served as chief science officer at Metabolon, which also is based in the Triangle.

“GeneCentric is at the forefront of developing RNA-based informatics and data science which will be key to developing the next generation cancer immunotherapies and chemotherapies,” said Milburn in a statement. “Myla and the scientific founders and team have been instrumental in building a technology that is highly valued by our pharmaceutical partners to get the right cancer treatment to the right patient. This is a very exciting time for GeneCentric as we begin to deploy our cancer tests alongside cancer drugs.”

Earlier in his career, Milburn was Senior Vice President of Research and Corporate Development at Sirtris Pharmaceuticals and Senior Vice President of Research at Plexxikon in addition to roles at Structural Genomix and GlaxoWellcome. He received a PhD in Biophysical Chemistry from the University of California at Berkeley and also was a post-doctoral research fellow at Harvard Medical School, according to GeneCentric.

Dr. Myla Lai-Goldman

Lai-Goldman also serves on the Board of Directors at West Pharmaceutical Services and Qvella Corporation and is a Venture Partner with Hatteras Venture Partners.

“We founded GeneCentric, with UNC researchers Chuck Perou and Neil Hayes, with a vision to develop cancer tests to match a drug to an individual patient in order to maximize the efficacy of cancer treatments and reduce adverse events,” said Lai-Goldman in the announcement. “We have made great progress in establishing a subtyping platform built around an expanding array of pan-cancer tests, applying the platform to lung, head and neck, bladder, and pancreatic cancer, and entering initial partnerships with pharmaceutical companies to enable precision drug development in oncology. Michael is well positioned to build on the scientific base we have established and drive our commercial efforts with pharmaceutical companies.”