Sonata Therapeutics appointed Francesco Marincola as its chief scientific officer, the company announced Tuesday.

Marincola previously served as SVP and global head of cell therapy research at Kite Pharma. While at Kite, he spearheaded research efforts across several areas, including hematologic malignancies and solid tumor indications.

Before Kite, Marincola was president and chief scientific officer at Refuge Biotechnologies, and served as distinguished research fellow in immune oncology at AbbVie. He also previously held the role of chief research officer at Sidra Medical and Research Centre.

Marincola also has two decades at the National Institutes of Health and the National Cancer Institute under his belt, where he was chief of infectious disease and immunogenetics.

“We are excited to welcome Franco to Sonata as its new CSO,” Sonata CEO Volker Herrmann, said in a statement. “Throughout his successful career across academia and industry over the last few decades, Franco has stood at the forefront of discovery and drug development. Having been a pioneering contributor to our collective understanding of the role of tumor microenvironments, Franco’s unique expertise in that field and in the development of cell therapies will be invaluable as we pursue strategies to reprogram entire cellular networks.

Marincola joining Sonata’s ranks is a major development for the organization.

Flagship Pioneering launched Sonata last May as it set out to start a new company that would focus on cell signaling treatments for cancer and autoimmune diseases. Sonata develops therapies that reprogram cancer cells, making them send out signals that reverse immune cell suppression — ultimately triggering the immune system to fight the cancer. 

At the time of its launch, Sonata had six preclinical programs across several oncology indications.

“The company’s strategy represents the first systematic approach to reprogramming diseased multicellular networks to deliver holistic therapeutic solutions for cancer and a broad range of diseases,” Marincola said in a statement. “Sonata’s vision to transform drug development from a trial-and-error process to one guided by actionable insights into how cellular networks propel biological dysfunction could shift the paradigm of our industry. I look forward to working with the Sonata team to pioneer this new approach to drug development.”