On June 2, 2021, CiRC Biosciences, Inc. announced that Dr. Sai Chavala, the company’s co-founder and chief scientific officer, had recently received a prestigious award—the Ludwig von Sallmann Clinician-Scientist Award—from the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO). Dr. Chavala was selected for the award based on his innovation and accomplishments early in his career as a vision and ophthalmology clinician and scientist.
Dr. Chavala spoke about his passion for achieving vision restoration for millions of people across the world who have some type of debilitative eye condition. He accepted the award from the ARVO Foundation for Eye Research and stated his plan to continue working with CiRC Biosciences to research cures for serious eye diseases such as geographic atrophy age-related macular degeneration and advanced retinitis pigmentosa.
Jeff Aronin is the co-founder of CiRC Biosciences, which operates as a portfolio company of Paragon Biosciences. The cell therapy company focuses on the development of treatments for serious eye diseases with high, unmet needs.
The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently granted CiRC Biosciences Orphan Drug Designation for an investigational therapy for advanced retinitis pigmentosa. One of the first symptoms of the genetic eye disorder is tunnel vision, but it can quickly progress to blindness. No FDA-approved treatments currently exist to restore vision in patients impacted by advanced retinitis pigmentosa or geographic atrophy age-related macular degeneration.
Jeff Aronin, who is also the CEO, chairman, and founder of Paragon Biosciences, spoke on behalf of the entire staff when noting the impressive cell therapy work by Dr. Chavala. Aronin also noted Dr. Chavala’s personal dedication and commitment to helping patients with progressive vision loss to improve their quality of life.
Aronin expressed confidence that the ARVO award would be the first of many for Dr. Chavala, stating that he is proud to have Dr. Chavala leading the scientific discovery for treatment of devastating eye diseases.
About Dr. Sai Chavala
Dr. Chavala completed an accelerated program at the University of Missouri where he earned both his medical degree and bachelor’s degree. During his studies, Dr. Chavala completed an ophthalmology residency at the Cole Eye Institute associated with the Cleveland Clinic Foundation.
He also completed a research fellowship at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute associated with the Weill Medical College at Cornell University. The fellowship gave Dr. Chavala the opportunity to study regenerative medicine, stem cells, and angiogenesis. A second research fellowship at Duke University focused on retina surgery. Dr. Chavala has participated in at least 75 research publications and scholarly presentations, so far, and has received several patents for his work.
His dedication to the prevention and treatment of eye diseases goes beyond his scientific career at CiRC Biosciences as he currently serves on the Prevent Blindness Texas board of directors. Some of Dr. Chavala’s other memberships and affiliations include:
- Founder of the North Carolina Institute for the Blind and the organization’s first chairperson
- Member of the American Academy of Ophthalmology
- Member of the American Society of Retina Specialists
- Member of the Retina Society and the Macula Society—one of the youngest members ever accepted
Dr. Chavala received the Ludwig von Sallmann Clinician-Scientist Award at its virtual annual meeting. After accepting the award, he gave a presentation on the topic of “Pharmacologic Engineering to Induce Retinal Plasticity.” Committee members for the Ludwig von Sallmann Clinician-Scientist Award identify accomplished doctors under the age of 45 working in the field of ophthalmology and vision for the annual award.
About Paragon Biosciences
Paragon Biosciences creates, invests in and builds life science companies specializing in advanced biotechnology, cell therapy, and synthetic biology. The company’s investments allow the portfolio of life science business under its portfolio to focus on specific research areas. The following companies are currently part of Paragon’s portfolio:
- Castle Creek Biosciences
- CiRC Biosciences
- Emalex Biosciences
- Harmony Biosciences
- Qlarity Imaging
- Skyline Biosciences
Several other companies receive support from the Paragon Innovation Capital model. The company identifies itself as a cross-section of company creation, human need, and life science.
About Jeff Aronin
Jeff Aronin has served as the chairman and CEO of Paragon Biosciences since August 2017. He is also the founder of Paragon Health Capital and currently serves as its chairman. In addition, Aronin has served on the board of directors for the Aspen Institute and Discover Financial Services since April 2019 and June 2007, respectively.
Since Jeff Aronin created Paragon Biosciences four years ago, the company and its partners have invested more than $1 billion to help develop life science companies. Aronin predicts ongoing investments equal to $500 million per year.
Throughout his career, Aronin has received several honors for his dedication to the improvement of patient lives by bringing new medicines and treatments to market and his entrepreneurship. Here are several examples of recent awards:
- Chicago Entrepreneur Hall of Fame Inductee
- EY Entrepreneur of the Year
- Entrepreneur Award and Executive of the Year Award from BIG Awards for Business
- Humanitarian Award from the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center
- Innovator of the Year from Best in Biz
- Leadership Award from Weizmann
- One of the Most Influential Leaders in Healthcare Award from Insights Care
- Pharma Voice Red Jacket Award
- Top 10 Inspiring CEOs from Insights Success Magazine
As Dr. Chavala’s recent award proves, Paragon Biosciences’ investment in its portfolio companies is valuable for patients and the life science community.