Biotech CEO placed on leave, under review for research conducted at WSU

Leen Kawas earned molecular pharmacology doctorate at WSU in 2011; Athira Pharma stock fell 40 percent following leave announcement



Leen Kawas, pictured here, got her doctorate in molecular pharmacology from WSU in 2011.

EMMA LEDBETTER, Evergreen news editor

Leen Kawas, Athira Pharma Chief Executive Officer and WSU alumna, was placed on administrative leave pending review of research she conducted during her doctoral studies at WSU. 

Kawas will remain on Athira’s Board of Directors while a special committee reviews the matter, according to a news release. Chief Operating Officer Mark Litton has assumed leadership of the Bothell, Washington-based biotech company in her absence. 

Kawas earned her doctorate in molecular pharmacology from WSU in 2011, according to Athira’s website

Athira is currently conducting clinical trials on an investigational treatment for Alzheimer’s disease, which Kawas helped pioneer during her time at WSU, according to a Daily Evergreen article

Athira stock fell nearly 40 percent Friday following the company’s announcement.

The company has not disclosed why Kawas’s research is under review, and it will not comment further until the review is complete, according to the news release.