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Spark Therapeutics Names Dr. Rogerio Vivaldi to Board of Directors

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SOURCE Spark Therapeutics

Former head of rare diseases at Genzyme, a Sanofi company, adds extensive orphan drug expertise to company leadership

PHILADELPHIA, Jan. 21, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Spark Therapeutics, a late-stage company developing gene-based medicines for a wide range of debilitating diseases, announced today that it has named Rogerio Vivaldi, M.D., MBA, formerly the senior vice president and head of rare diseases at Genzyme, a Sanofi company, as its first independent board member effective April 1, 2014. Rogerio joins the company as it prepares to complete clinical development of its Phase 3 program to address inherited retinal dystrophies caused by mutations in the RPE65 gene, which has the potential to be the first approved gene therapy in the U.S.

"While at Genzyme, Rogerio embodied a patient-centered approach while building a business around disruptive technologies, which aligns with our core mission of delivering treatments with the potential to transform patients' lives in a single therapeutic dose," said Jeffrey D. Marrazzo, co-founder, president and CEO of Spark. "We are elated that an accomplished industry leader, and important voice in the rare disease community, will advise us as we prepare to redefine the treatment of debilitating diseases through gene therapy."

Rogerio added, "I'm pleased to be joining the board at such an exciting time in the evolution of Spark, as the company has a rare opportunity to establish a new paradigm for the treatment of severe diseases and diseases once thought to be incurable. I look forward to contributing to the Spark team to deliver meaningful therapies to patients in need." 

Dr. Rogerio Vivaldi is CEO and president of Minerva Neurosciences, Inc., a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on the development and commercialization of a portfolio of product candidates to treat patients suffering from neuropsychiatric diseases. He previously held a variety of senior roles at Genzyme, ultimately leading the company's rare disease business and earning a reputation as a passionate advocate for patients. Bringing his medical and professional expertise to rare diseases and endocrinology as senior vice president of Rare Diseases at Genzyme, Rogerio first served as president of the Rare Diseases business and the Renal & Endocrine group, and as senior vice president and general manager of the company's Latin America group. Rogerio began his career as a physician and spent 18 years in private practice in the clinical specialty area of diabetes and endocrinology. He received his medical degree from Universidade do Rio de Janeiro (UNIRIO) Medical School, and completed his residency in endocrinology at Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro (UERJ) and his fellowship at Mount Sinai Hospital Center in New York in the department of genetics with emphasis on Gaucher disease. He received his MBA degree from COPPEAD, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ).

About Spark Therapeutics    

Spark Therapeutics is developing potentially curative, one-time gene therapy products to transform the lives of patients and re-imagine the treatment of debilitating diseases. Spark's lead gene therapy candidate, for RPE65-related blindness, is currently in Phase 3 clinical trials with the potential to be the first approved gene therapy in the U.S., and the first treatment to address the significant unmet needs of patients living with blindness due to inherited retinal dystrophies.

Spark's founding team includes scientists who led the movement to develop gene therapy as a new treatment paradigm, establishing clinical proof of concept in the eye and liver and contributing key insights to the field that have resulted in a resurgence of industry interest in gene-based medicines. In addition to the Phase 3 program in RPE65-related blindness, the company has a Phase 1/2 program in hemophilia B and preclinical programs to address neurodegenerative diseases and other inherited retinal dystrophies and hematologic disorders. Spark has rights to a proprietary manufacturing platform that has an unparalleled track record of success in supporting clinical studies across diverse therapeutic areas and routes of administration. The company's expertise across research, clinical, regulatory and manufacturing builds on a legacy of innovation and excellence in gene therapy established by Spark's team while at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia Center for Cellular and Molecular Therapeutics. To learn more visit www.sparktx.com.

Media Inquiries:
Jessica Rowlands
202-729-4089
Jessica.Rowlands@fkhealth.com

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