Ajax Therapeutics Appoints Dr. David Steensma as Chief Medical Officer

A leading expert in hematologic malignancies with more than 25 years of oncology clinical and research experience, Dr. Steensma joins Ajax as its lead JAK2 inhibitor advances to the clinic


New York, NY, August 23, 2023 – Ajax Therapeutics, Inc., a biopharmaceutical company applying computational chemistry and structure-based technologies to develop next generation JAK inhibitors for patients with myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNs), today announced the appointment of David P. Steensma, MD, FACP, as Chief Medical Officer.  A renowned expert in hematologic malignancies, Dr. Steensma was formerly the Global Head of Hematology at Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research, where he led early clinical development in malignant and non-malignant hematology conditions.

“We are very fortunate to have such a veteran hematology drug developer as David join the Ajax team as we near the clinic with our next generation Type II JAK2 inhibitor program for MPNs,” said Martin Vogelbaum, CEO of Ajax Therapeutics. “His deep knowledge of hematologic malignancies and extensive experience leading clinical studies will be invaluable as we prepare to enter our first in human studies in myelofibrosis in 1H 2024.”

“I have collaborated with David for many years and consider him one of the top thought leaders in hematology oncology,” said Dr. Ross Levine, Chair of Ajax’s SAB and Deputy Physician-in-Chief, Translational Research, Laurence Joseph Dineen Chair in Leukemia Research and Member of the Human Oncology and Pathogenesis Program at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.  “We are very pleased to have David on board as his unique combination of translational and clinical skills will help us effectively design and execute clinical studies to demonstrate the unique and differentiating clinical properties of our lead Type II JAK2 inhibitor program.”

“I am excited to join Ajax at this pivotal stage of the company’s development,” said Dr. Steensma. “Patients with MPNs continue to have major unmet clinical needs as current therapies, including approved JAK inhibitors, such as ruxolitinib, often fail to provide adequate symptomatic relief and have no effect on the course of their disease.  Ajax’s Type II JAK inhibitor is a more selective and potent JAK inhibitor with the potential to significantly improve efficacy, overcome disease persistence and, more importantly, provide disease modification.”

Dr. Steensma has a more than 25-year distinguished career as a clinician, investigator and researcher in hematology-oncology. Prior to his R&D leadership role at Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research, he was a faculty member at Harvard Medical School and Institute Physician in the Adult Leukemia Program in the Division of Hematological Malignancies at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, where he cared for patients with hematological malignancies and bone marrow failure and served as the Edward P. Evans Chair in Myelodysplastic Syndromes (MDS). Earlier in his career, Dr. Steensma was a fellow and then faculty member in the Division of Hematology, Department of Medicine, at the Mayo Clinic. Since 2000, he has been on numerous committees and held several editorial roles for the American Society of Hematology and served as consultant editor for the Journal of Clinical Oncology. He was also a voting member of the Oncology Drug Advisory Committee (ODAC) for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and member of the Board of Directors of the MDS Foundation. Dr. Steensma has published over 200 original research papers as well as numerous reviews, editorials and book chapters. He received his medical degree from the University of Chicago’s Pritzker School of Medicine.


About Ajax Therapeutics

Ajax Therapeutics, Inc. is pursuing uniquely selective approaches to develop novel next generation JAK2 therapies for myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNs), including myelofibrosis. By combining the deep cancer and structural biology insights of our founding scientists with the industry’s most advanced computational drug discovery and protein structure platforms from our founding partner, Schrödinger, Inc., we aim to discover and develop more precisely designed therapies to address the significant unmet needs for patients with MPNs.

Please find more information at www.ajaxtherapeutics.com.


NOTE: Dr. Ross Levine serves on the board of directors of, has provided advisory services for, and has equity interests in Ajax Therapeutics. Dr. Levine also has intellectual property rights and interests that MSK has licensed to Ajax. MSK has intellectual property rights and other financial interests related to Ajax.


Media Contact:

Kathryn Morris, The Yates Network LLC



Back to Top