Cerus Corporation (NASDAQ:CERS) announced that Richard J. Benjamin, MD PhD has been appointed as chief medical officer of Cerus, effective July 13, 2015. Dr. Benjamin joinsCerus from the American Red Cross where, as the chief medical officer, he oversaw the organization’s donor and patient safety issues related to blood collection and transfusion.

“We have been privileged to have Dr. Laurence Corash serving as both our chief medical officer and chief scientific officer since his co-founding of the company. Today, we enhance an already formidable scientific and medical team at Cerus with the addition of Dr. Benjamin, one of the world’s foremost experts on blood safety,” said William ‘Obi’ Greenman, president and chief executive officer of Cerus. “There is no one more capable than Dr. Benjamin to lead Cerus’ clinical research and medical affairs as we pursue commercialization of the INTERCEPT platelet and plasma systems in the United States and take steps to advance the INTERCEPT red blood cell system beyond clinical development.”

“The focus of my career has been to ensure the safety of both blood donors and patients who require blood transfusions. As we look to the future of blood safety and the needs of patients worldwide, it is imperative that we take the most innovative path toward securing the U.S. blood supply against new pathogens,” Benjamin said. “I believe pathogen reduction is critical in this new era and in my new position, I look forward to assisting hospitals and blood banks in taking a proactive approach to reducing the risk of transfusion transmitted infections through adoption of the world’s leading pathogen reduction system.”

The appointment of Dr. Benjamin, following the recent approval by the FDA of Cerus’ INTERCEPT Blood System for platelets and plasma, underscores Cerus’ mission to help protect the safety of the blood supply in the United States and globally, especially as several emerging blood-borne pathogens such as Chikungunya and dengue have become more prevalent.

Cerus’ INTERCEPT system is designed to reduce the risk of transfusion-transmitted infections by inactivating a broad range of pathogens, such as viruses, bacteria and parasites that may be present in donated blood. The system has been approved for over a decade in Europe for treatment of platelets and plasma, and is used by over 100 blood centers in Europe, the Commonweath of Independent States and the Middle East.

Benjamin served as Chief Medical Officer of the American Red Cross since 2006. He is a board member and regional director for North America for the International Society of Blood Transfusion, as well as an active member of the AABB. He is an adjunct associate professor of pathology at Georgetown University in Washington, DC, and has served on the US Department of Health and Human Service’s Advisory Committee on Blood Safety and Availability.

Prior to joining the Red Cross, Dr. Benjamin was a medical director at the Adult Transfusion Service at the Joint Program in Transfusion Medicine at Harvard University. He received his PhD in immunology from Cambridge University in England, and completed his post-doctoral research at Stanford University. Dr. Benjamin’s medical degree is from the University of Cape Town, South Africa.

Dr. Benjamin is well-versed in the INTERCEPT technology, having previously served as an investigator in US Phase III studies for INTERCEPT platelets, plasma and red blood cells. Recently he has been a sub-investigator on Cerus’ Investigational Device Exemption (IDE) study for treatment of convalescent plasma collected from Ebola disease survivors for passive immune therapy within the United States.

Laurence M. Corash, MD, will continue to serve as Cerus’ chief scientific officer as well as corporate director, focusing on continued advocacy for the role of pathogen reduction within international health care policy, supporting the expanding adoption of the INTERCEPT blood systems, and exploring new applications for the technology. (Original Source)

Shares of Cerus closed last Friday at $5.42 . CERS has a 1-year high of $7.03 and a 1-year low of $3.48. The stock’s 50-day moving average is $4.67 and its 200-day moving average is $4.90.

On the ratings front, Cerus has been the subject of a number of recent research reports. In a report issued on May 27, Cantor Fitzgerald analyst Caroline Corner reiterated a Buy rating on CERS, with a price target of $7, which represents a potential upside of 29.2% from where the stock is currently trading. Separately, on May 6, MLV & Co.’s Thomas Yip reiterated a Buy rating on the stock and has a price target of $10.

According to TipRanks.com, which ranks over 7,500 financial analysts and bloggers to gauge the performance of their past recommendations, Caroline Corner and Thomas Yip have a total average return of -9.0% and 5.6% respectively. Corner has a success rate of 43.8% and is ranked #3329 out of 3612 analysts, while Yip has a success rate of 66.7% and is ranked #1647.

Cerus Corp is a biomedical products company. It is engaged indeveloping andcommercializing the INTERCEPT Blood System to enhance blood safety.