Sunday, November 19, 2006

So far, it’s smooth sailing for Gary Horwith.

Dr. Horwith, a licensed pilot and avid sailor, has been named the new chief medical officer of Sequella Inc., a Rockville biopharmaceutical company.

As part of the executive team leading the company, his duties include organizing research and conducting clinical trials of drugs aimed at fighting diseases such as tuberculosis.

“It’s a huge problem worldwide. About a third of the world is affected by TB,” he said. “It’s here, and it’s not a problem that’s only Third World by any means.”

Dr. Horwith, who joined Sequella on Oct. 30, said he is comfortable in the new position, given his years of work in the area of infectious diseases.

“You have to remain focused, and you can’t do that if you scatter your resources in too many different directions,” he said.

Dr. Horwith earned a bachelor of science degree in biology from Union College in New York in 1971 and a degree in internal medicine from the Autonomous University of Guadalajara, Mexico, in 1975.

After completing studies in internal medicine at the University of Connecticut and in infectious disease at the University of California at Irvine in 1981, Dr. Horwith joined the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, where he worked for three years, mainly to combat “Q fever,” an airborne infectious disease.

After that, Dr. Horwith joined Wyeth, the global pharmaceutical company, where he spent 11 years as a researcher responsible for new advances in disease treatment.

Before he joined Sequella, Dr. Horwith was vice president of clinical research and medical affairs at the Rockville office of Nabi Biopharmaceuticals of Boca Raton, Fla. Dr. Horwith spent time at various biopharmaceutical companies before joining Nabi in 1999.

“Our capacity to develop antibiotics for all infectious diseases with unmet medical needs, including tuberculosis, is dependent upon knowledgeable and thoughtful strategists and meticulous tacticians,” said Carol A. Nacy, chief executive officer of Sequella. “Dr. Horwith has a quiet assurance about him that will be a positive influence on our development of innovative strategies for new drug development.”

Despite his level of comfort in the biotech industry, Dr. Horwith said staying on top of issues isn’t always easy.

“The regulatory climate has constantly shifted, so it’s always a moving target or at least a challenge,” he said.

Right now, he is working toward clinical trials of a tuberculosis drug that would enhance the effects of a treatment cocktail currently on the market, including a trial in conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s tuberculosis unit and the Program for Appropriate Technology in Health.

“The three clinical trials we have planned at the moment will be conducted in Peru, the Philippines, and we have a trial approved for the Ukraine,” he said.

“My personal goals are really no different than the goals the company has in getting these drugs developed and out there so that clinicians can use them,” he added.

When he’s not in the office or at the lab, Dr. Horwith takes time to fly and sail, things he says that allow him to focus on different tasks.

“They’re both, I guess, hobbies or diversions from what one does on a regular basis in the developing of the drugs and running of clinical trials that I’ve found to be rewarding and also challenging.”

Dr. Horwith, 57, and his wife, Shirley, live in Gaithersburg.

Jonathan Swigart

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