Former Lilly CEO Josh Bilenker & Former Novartis Head of Oncology Jeff Engelman Announce Treeline Biosciences

Ex-Lilly CEO Josh Bilenker & Ex-Novartis Head of Oncology Jeff Engelman Announce Treeline Biosciences


Two powerhouse executives have joined forces to form a brand new cancer Biotech company.

Josh Bilenker, M.D., and Jeff Engelman M.D., Ph.D., are tapping their combined considerable expertise to discover brand new solutions to old oncology analysis difficulties.

Bilenker was CEO at Loxo Oncology at Lilly from December 2019 through January of this year for a little over a year  as  Lilly’s cancer R&D lead. Prior to that he served as CEO for Loxo Oncology from July 2013 to February 2019 before Lilly’s acquisition for $8 Billion. He also spent time as a FDA Medical Officer from 2004  – 2006.

It would appear that Bilenker is eager to return to biotech with the move taking Engelman along who previously served as Novartis’ Institutes for BioMedical Research (NIBR) Global Head of Oncology since the summer of 2016. Engelman was a previous Director at Mass General Hospital and Hematology / Oncology Fellow at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

The pair have teamed up to form Treeline Biosciences which aims to “prioritize molecular targets in oncology that are validated but difficult to drug. If successful, we believe that our approaches could apply to other therapeutic areas as well,” according to the company’s website.

The move sees Jeff Engelman leaving Big Pharma as he takes the role of Chief Scientific Officer of Treeline Biosciences while Josh Bilenker was announced as Treeline Biosciences CEO.

Details are currently limited but based on the statement from the website, “Our efforts will incorporate both established and emerging technologies, across disciplines, including biology (big data genetics, CRISPR, cell biology), chemistry (covalent modifiers, molecular glues, degraders, allosteric approaches), structural biology (Cryo-EM, NMR, X-ray crystallography) and computation (in silico docking, molecular dynamics, machine learning/AI),” as posted on

Treeline Biosciences has raised capital with a Series A round led by Arch Venture Partners, GV and OrbiMed with help from Access Industries, Ajax Health/Zeus and Casdin Capital. It’s also very early-stage and limited information is currently available.

Our team at BioTech Health X is working to secure an interview and has reached out to both individuals for comment.

“There is a ton of work to do, both in building a team and launching the science,” the twosome said. “Please forgive us in advance for keeping a low profile. We’ll report back from the tree line once we’ve marked some new trails.” 

Keep your eyes posted to BioTech Health X for more details as they emerge regarding Treeline Biosciences and the work from Josh Bilenker, M.D. and Jeff Engelman M.D., Ph.D.

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