Shares of Verastem (NASDAQ:VSTM) sank Wednesday, trading down by 10% as of 2:30 p.m. EST after the company announced that Chief Medical Officer Dr. Frank Neumann is departing. He has decided to accept a position at an unspecified company.
The surprise news comes just two weeks after Neumann joined Verastem from Bluebird Bio, where he had served as head of oncology clinical research. The stock had been trending higher since that announcement, as investors viewed his hiring optimistically. Neumann, an industry veteran, was expected to be instrumental in Verastem's development of VS-6766 and defactinib, a pair of oral small-molecule inhibitors that are currently undergoing clinical trials as potential cancer treatments.
"Given my respect for the people and leadership at Verastem and the truly exciting data and strategy I have seen, this decision to leave is difficult and based solely on continuing my work in cell therapy," Neumann said in a statement. "I am confident that Verastem will continue to make a positive impact on patients' lives."
The biotech company will now need to push forward without Neumann. Verastem did not indicate whether or not it plans to search for a new chief medical officer.
"Our team is making significant advances in achieving the Company's strategic goals, including maximizing the broad potential of our development programs," CEO Brian Stuglik commented. "Dr. Neumann's tenure was brief, and we expect his departure will have no impact on our continued progress."