Keith Gottesdiener, M.D., is Chief Executive Officer of Rhythm Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a Boston based biotech company that specializes in the development of peptide therapeutics for the treatment of metabolic diseases, such as diabetes, obesity and functional GI disorders. Rhythm currently has completed two successful Phase 2 studies with its first compound (relamorelin or RM-131; ghrelin agonist) for the treatment of diabetic gastroparesis and chronic constipation. Their second program, RM-493 (melanocortin-4 receptor agonist) for the treatment of obesity, is currently in Phase 2 trials for general obesity, and genetic subsets of obesity (such as Prader-Willi Syndrome). Rhythm completed two full rounds of fund-raising from an outstanding group of venture partners, raising $73M for its activities. In addition, Rhythm had completed all steps to do an Initial Public Offering (Oct 2014), but prior to completion, Rhythm instead signed a partnership deal with Actavis/Forest for relamorelin and withdrew its public offering.
Dr. Gottesdiener also brings great depth and breadth of experience in pharmaceutical development to his leadership role at Rhythm. Previously, he spent 16 years at Merck Research Laboratories in positions of increasing responsibility, with more than 18 approved drugs (new chemical entities, or NCEs) where he had major program responsibilities or played the lead role to approval. He joined Merck in early clinical development in 1995, and in that role he helped transition compounds from the bench to the bedside and through to proof of concept. During the next 10 years at Merck, he rapidly moved to the leadership role in early clinical development/clinical pharmacology at Merck from 2001 through early 2006. Then for 3 years, he was leader of the Clinical Infectious Diseases and Vaccines area, overseeing the development of Merck’s infectious diseases and vaccine products from early clinical studies through late clinical development, registration, and life cycle management. He was responsible for more than 40 clinical programs and products, including Gardasil™ (HPV Vaccine), Rotateq™ (rotavirus vaccine), Zostavax™ (zoster vaccine) and Isentress™ (HIV integrase inhibitor), among others. In 2008, Dr. Gottesdiener was appointed Late Stage Therapeutic Group Leader for Merck & Co., Inc., and in that role led all later stage (Phase 2b thru patent expiry) clinical development efforts of Merck Research Laboratories. This included responsibility for clinical research programs in infectious diseases and vaccines; cardiovascular diseases; diabetes and obesity; neurosciences; oncology; bone, respiratory, allergic, gastrointestinal, and endocrine diseases; immunology; arthritis; analgesia; and urology. After the merger with Schering Plough in 2009, he was appointed co-lead of late development.
Dr. Gottesdiener received his B.A. from Harvard College and his M.D. from the University of Pennsylvania. He completed his residency in internal medicine at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital of Harvard Medical School. He also completed an infectious diseases fellowship at the combined Brigham and Women’s Hospital-Beth Israel Medical Center-Dana Farber Cancer Institute Children’s Hospital program. After his fellowship, Dr. Gottesdiener did post-doctoral research in the laboratory of Dr. Jack Strominger at Dana Farber Cancer Institute working on the molecular immunology of the T-cell receptor. In 1986, he joined the faculty as an assistant professor at Columbia University, working on gene transcriptional control in parasites. He started his independent laboratory at Columbia in 1991 with NIH RO-1 funding, focusing on gene transcription. In 1995, before leaving for MRL, Dr. Gottesdiener was appointed Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine at Columbia University.