Juno Therapeutics Inc (NASDAQ:JUNO), a biopharmaceutical company focused on re-engaging the body’s immune system to revolutionize the treatment of cancer, announced the appointment of Hyam I. Levitsky, M.D., as executive vice president, research and chief scientific officer, effective immediately. Prior to joining Juno, Dr. Levitsky was at Roche, where he was head of cancer immunology experimental medicine.

“Hy is a terrific addition to the world-class scientific team we are building, one with the knowledge and experience to deepen our understanding of the immune system as well as expand and diversify our pipeline,” said Hans Bishop, Juno’s chief executive officer and president. “By leveraging scientific leaders, both inside and outside the company, we have the capabilities to develop fundamental insights into T cell biology and take compounds from discovery to commercialization.”

While at Roche, in the Pharma Research and Early Development organization, Dr. Levitsky was responsible for guiding research and early development programs focused on the immunotherapy of cancer, overseeing experimental medicine studies and projects in collaboration with internal and external partners. He also was involved in the selection and validation of targets, the selection of clinical candidates and the establishment of alliances and partnerships with leading research and academic institutions.

“I look forward to building and expanding upon Juno’s foundational work to create one of the most scientifically considered and robust immunotherapy programs focused on advancing chimeric antigen receptor and T-cell receptor technologies towards potentially curative therapies for patients with cancer,” said Dr. Levitsky.

During his tenure at Roche, Dr. Levitsky continued to serve as professor of oncology, medicine and urology at The Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at The Johns Hopkins Hospital, while maintaining his ongoing research program. His laboratory research focuses on basic studies of antigen processing and presentation, T cell co-stimulation, T cell priming versus tolerance, and the evolution of tumor-specific immunity during immune reconstitution. He is a co-inventor of genetically modified GM-CSF secreting tumor cell vaccines (GVAX). He has been a pioneer in the integration of therapeutic cancer vaccines during immune reconstitution following high-dose chemotherapy and stem cell transplantation. Dr. Levitsky holds five patents.

Dr. Levitsky will report to Mr. Bishop. Mark Frohlich, M.D. will continue to report to Mr. Bishop in his new position as executive vice president, development and portfolio strategy. Ken Mohler, Ph.D., who was serving as chief scientific officer, will become senior vice president, research, working closely with Dr. Levitsky.

“Hy is one of the most respected experts in the field of cancer immunotherapy. His extensive academic and medical research background and his many contributions to the field will be invaluable to Juno as we continue to advance our immunotherapy pipeline,” said Dr. Frohlich.

Dr. Levitsky received his B.S. degree from the University of Pennsylvania School of Engineering and Applied Science and his M.D. from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. He completed his internship and residency in internal medicine at Johns Hopkins Hospital and trained in medical oncology as a senior clinical fellow at Johns Hopkins Oncology Center. (Original Source)

Shares of Juno Therapeutics closed today at $50.50, up $3.66 or 7.81%. JUNO has a 1-year high of $62.50 and a 1-year low of $34.71. The stock’s 50-day moving average is $50.71 and its 200-day moving average is $48.99.

On the ratings front, Juno Therapeutics has been the subject of a number of recent research reports. In a report released yesterday, J.P. Morgan analyst Cory Kasimov reiterated a Buy rating on JUNO, with a price target of $66, which implies an upside of 40% from current levels. Separately, on May 12, Leerink Swann’s Howard Liang reiterated a Buy rating on the stock and has a price target of $74.

According to TipRanks.com, which ranks over 7,500 financial analysts and bloggers to gauge the performance of their past recommendations, Cory Kasimov and Howard Liang have a total average return of 13.8% and 32.9% respectively. Kasimov has a success rate of 63.0% and is ranked #238 out of 3610 analysts, while Liang has a success rate of 67.9% and is ranked #79.

Juno Therapeutics Inc is a biopharmaceutical company. The Company is engaged in revolutionizing medicine by re-engaging the body’s immune system to treat cancer.