L.E.A.F. Pharmaceuticals LLC, a global pharmaceutical company located in the historic area of Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, USA, with a mission to discover, develop and commercialize innovative and safe therapies for cancer, today announced the establishment of L.E.A.F. Rwanda Ltd. (L.E.A.F. Rwanda), a biotechnology company, headquartered in Kigali, Rwanda.
L.E.A.F. Rwanda, a fully owned subsidiary of L.E.A.F. Pharmaceuticals, will focus on establishing Rwanda as a hub for biotechnology Research and Development (R&D) as well as pharmaceutical manufacturing in Africa.
This Kigali headquartered company will work to attract and retain highly skilled biotechnology scientists and clinical researchers from Africa and beyond, in a quest to discover and develop innovative medicines against diseases that predominantly afflict the health of the African population.
L.E.A.F. Rwanda will partner with L.E.A.F. Pharmaceuticals to facilitate advanced skills transfer to the continent, for long term sustainability of a robust biotechnology industry in Africa.
“Historically, innovative lifesaving medicines have taken too long to reach the African population, if at all. A key component of L.E.A.F. Rwanda’s mission is to focus on expeditiously making available such medicines to the African population,” says Founder, President, and CEO of L.E.A.F. Pharmaceuticals, Dr. Clet Niyikiza.
Since L.E.A.F. Pharmaceuticals began operations in August 2014, the company has filed nearly a dozen patent applications to protect its intellectual property. L.E.A.F. Rwanda, in partnership with L.E.A.F. Pharmaceuticals, anticipates making available its first anticancer medicine in Africa starting in 2019.
L.E.A.F. Pharmaceuticals is a global pharmaceutical company with a mission to discover, develop and commercialize innovative and safe therapies for cancer, autoimmune and infectious diseases. L.E.A.F. Pharmaceuticals does also harness scientific advances and breakthroughs in molecular biology and biochemistry, and re-engineers failed, or non-effective but yet promising molecules, with the goal to discover new, safer or more effective medicines.
Who is Dr. Clet Niyikiza?
He is the Founder, President and CEO of L.E.A.F. Pharmaceuticals LLC (L.E.A.F.) after serving as the Executive Vice President of Development at Merrimack Pharmaceuticals, Inc. from 2009 until 2014 where he was involved in the development and approval of ONIVYDE®, for the treatment of advanced pancreatic cancer.
In October 2016, Dr. Niyikiza and his team at L.E.A.F. received the 2016 Health Care Innovator Award in recognition of the company’s leadership and innovation in the fight against cancer.
The award honors the people and companies who are disrupting the health care and biotechnology industries and solidifying Greater Philadelphia’s reputation as a center for innovation.
Dr. Niyikiza also served from 2005 to 2009 as a Vice President and Medicine Development Leader at GlaxoSmithKline where he oversaw global anti-cancer assets medicine development strategy.
Prior to that, Dr. Niyikiza joined the pharmaceutical industry in January 1991 with Syntex Corporation (since acquired by Roche Holding AG), in Palo Alto, California, working on the discovery and development of the pain medication, ALEVE®.
He then held multiple high level positions at Eli Lilly from 1993 to 2005. At Lilly, Dr. Niyikiza was credited for groundbreaking research in the field of antifolates.
He developed, over those years, a strong international network of investigators and regulatory authority policy makers that resulted in effective development and efficient registration of 10 New Drug Application indications on many of Lilly medicines, including EVISTA® and the two popular anticancer drugs GEMZAR® and ALIMTA®.
Dr. Niyikiza’s landmark scientific achievements that led to the successful development of ALIMTA® were the subject of a front page Wall Street Journal article on April 21, 2004.
Since 2005, Dr. Niyikiza has been a member of President George H. W. Bush’s C-Change national forum dedicated to the advancement of cancer research, treatment and prevention.
He is a member of the American Association for Cancer Research and the American Society of Clinical Oncology. A native of Rwanda and father of three children, Dr. Niyikiza holds a doctorate in Mathematics from Indiana University-Bloomington, Indiana, U.S.A., and is currently a member of Kagame’s Presidential Advisory Council of Rwanda.
In addition to his passion for cancer research, Dr. Niyikiza’s other interests are designing and building homes for his family, and empowering and developing young scientists through research and collaborative initiatives.