Seattle Genetics COO taking the reins at stealthy biotech startup Silverback Therapeutics

Eric Dobmeier, the longtime COO at public biotech company Seattle Genetics, is stepping down from his role to become CEO at stealthy biotech startup Silverback Therapeutics, GeekWire has learned. Dobmeier will leave Seattle Genetics effective Jan. 1.

“I’ve been at Seattle genetics for almost 16 years. I’ve learned a lot, it’s been a great experience,” Dobmeier told GeekWire. But he said he was interested in finding a CEO role, and the science and people at Silverback were enough to draw him away.

Silverback hasn’t shared what it is working on, but LinkedIn profiles indicate its executive team has extensive experience in developing immunotherapy treatments, many of them at other Seattle biotech companies.

The company is backed by Bay Area-based life science fund OrbiMed Advisors — Silverback raised $10 million from OrbiMed in 2016, listed in an SEC filing as part of a larger $60 million round.

OrbiMed partner and University of Washington nueroscience professor Peter Thompson co-founded the company and has served as its CEO since it was founded last year. He told GeekWire in a phone interview that he will continue to serve as chairman of the board of directors and advise the company as Dobmeier takes over that role.

“Eric is a perfect fit for the organization,” Thompson said.

Silverback has set up shop in Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood, a stone’s throw from the new headquarters of rising biotech star Juno Therapeutics, a public company working on immunotherapy treatments for cancer.

LinkedIn profiles show Silverback has roughly 30 employees, many of them with past experience in immunotherapy, immunology and oncology and many with backgrounds at public Seattle biotech companies like Juno and Seattle Genetics.

The company’s head of clinical development, Sam Blackman, was previously the senior medical director at Juno and the company’s SVP of research, Valerie Odegard, was Juno’s VP of research. Silverback also just hired Mike Sun as its VP of manufacturing — Sun was formerly the senior director of clinical manufacturing at Seattle Genetics.

Other LinkedIn profiles show senior scientists with backgrounds in immuno-oncology and bioinformatics have joined the company.

Dobmeier has been with Seattle Genetics since 2002 and has served as its COO since 2011. He is one of the longest-tenured executives at the company, second only to co-founder and CEO Clay Seigall.

As COO, he oversees a vast swath of the company’s functions, including “business development, corporate communications, investor relations, manufacturing and program/alliance management groups, as well as corporate strategy and operational initiatives,” according to the Seattle Genetics website.

A Seattle Genetics spokesperson told GeekWire that the company doesn’t plan to immediately fill the role, instead relying on its current executive team.

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