Editor’s note: This story is part of our 2022 PharmaVoice 100 feature.
Our honoree: Dr. Amy Peterson
Title: President and chief operating officer, CytomX Therapeutics
The company’s focus: CytomX Therapeutics is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company that uses its Probody platform to destroy tumor cells without affecting the neighboring healthy tissue. Peterson, who has made significant contributions to changing the course of cancer over her long career, has positioned CytomX to realize its goal of transforming lives with safer, more effective medicines.
Currently, the company has seven identified therapies in clinical trials focused on three treatment modalities: antibody drug conjugates, immuno-oncology and T cell-engaging bispecifics. Three of these potential oncology treatments are in phase 2 studies across multiple cancer types: CX-2029, with partner AbbVie; praluzatamab ravtansine; and BMS-986249, in partnership with Bristol Myers Squibb.
Peterson’s biggest wins: Before joining CytomX as chief development officer in 2019 — later being named president and COO in February 2022 — Peterson served as chief medical officer for the biotech company BeiGene, where she navigated more than 30 global trials across a wide range of oncology indications focusing predominantly on immune-oncology development.
Before that, one of her nominators says she drove development of two now-approved cancer therapies while at Medivation — Xtandi for prostate cancer and Talzenna for breast cancer.
“[Peterson] began her biotech career at the oncology powerhouse, Genentech,” one of her nominators says. “[Peterson] allowed us to take our company to the next level as we apply our proprietary, conditional activation technology to destroy cancer cells while minimizing harm to neighboring healthy cells. Her insights and leadership have been critical in advancing our broad clinical-stage platform towards key data readouts that have the potential to point the way to registrational studies as we push toward our goal of becoming a fully integrated oncology company.”
At CytomX, Peterson has focused on approaching oncology drug development in a new way.
“She embodies the CytomX obsession with pioneering new approaches to destroying cancer differently,” a nominator says.
Her impact: Peterson’s focus on changing the trajectory of cancer treatments extends beyond the clinic. She lends her time and talents as a board member at Conquer Cancer, The American Society of Clinical Oncology’s nonprofit foundation that funds breakthroughs in lifesaving research, supports education and shares information with patients and families.
Why she is inspiring: Colleagues say Peterson’s “commitment to patients, creative approaches and natural research curiosity, collaborative teamwork, integrity and accountability,” create an infectious enthusiasm for her teams to follow.
“She is dedicated to, and deeply motivated by, her passion for helping patients conquer their cancer. She is not someone who is content to stand by when there is something she can do. Her unwavering values also serve as a living example of CytomX’s own values for all our employees,” a nominator says.
Colleagues say Peterson recognizes that “no one cures cancer alone” and she is generous in recognizing the collective power of her teams. In fact, Peterson encourages her teams to “give a penny of gratitude” to each other in appreciation for the work they do.
“There is tremendous satisfaction that comes from getting a single drug approved.”
Dr. Amy Peterson
President, chief operating officer, CytomX Therapeutics
“[Peterson] is a transformational leader who drives high performance and collaboration, both within the company and beyond our doors,” one nominator says. “In driving partnership efforts with our four collaborative therapeutic development partners and our study site investigators, researchers, and leaders in the academic medical community, she is thoughtful and strategic, maintaining an intricate balancing act across our clinical-stage programs and preclinical programs.”
In her own words: “I have always been fascinated by biology and devoted to translational research,” she says. “After training in hematology/oncology at the University of Chicago, I had the opportunity to join industry, where instead of getting satisfaction from treating the one patient in front of me, I have been able to drive the approval of novel therapies that will help hundreds of thousands of patients — there is tremendous satisfaction that comes from getting a single drug approved.”
Editor’s note: As of Sept. 12, Peterson will step down from her positions at CytomX.