Athira Pharma CEO Leen Kawas placed on leave, shares plummet

Leen Kawas, CEO of Athira Pharma, has been on a temporary leave until the Seattle area biotech company completes a review that “included Dr. Kawas emerged ”.

... Athira Pharma CEO Leen Kawas at the 2018 GeekWire Summit. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota)

Athira Pharma CEO Leen Kawas has been placed on temporary leave until the Seattle area biotechnology company completes a review “stemming from doctoral research Dr. Kawas conducted while at Washington State University.”

Shares fell sharply in after-hours trading, sinking more than 30%.


The 10-year-old company — which is developing drugs for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease — said that Chief Operating Officer Mark Litton will assume day-to-day responsibilities during Kawas' leave. She will remain on the board.

The company, which has formed a special committee to look into the matter, issued a statement from board chair Tachi Yamada.

“Athira is committed to the integrity of scientific research in its mission to restore neuronal health for those suffering from neurological diseases, so that patients can regain their memories, lives, and family relationships. ATH-1017 was discovered, developed, and patented by Athira on the basis of novel data generated within the company. The company is confident in the therapeutic potential of ATH-1017 for treating dementia.”

The company said it was not commenting on the matter until the review is completed, and Kawas was not immediately available for comment.

Last summer, Kawas told GeekWire that the ...

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