GRI Bio (NASDAQ: GRI) Announces Appointment of Leanne Kelly as Chief Financial Officer


Financial executive bringing over 20 years of experience in accounting, finance and management with a foundation established from big four accounting firm

LA JOLLA, CA, April 25, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — GRI Bio, Inc. (NASDAQ: GRI) (“GRI Bio” or the “Company”), a biotechnology company advancing an innovative pipeline of Natural Killer T (“NKT”) cell modulators for the treatment of inflammatory, fibrotic and autoimmune diseases, today announced the appointment of Leanne Kelly as its Chief Financial Officer.

Ms. Kelly is an accomplished financial executive with over 20 years of experience leading private and publicly traded companies across life science, technology and e-Commerce sectors and a foundation in public accounting. Prior to her appointment at GRI Bio, Ms. Kelly served as the Chief Financial Officer of Vallon Pharmaceuticals, Inc., which recently announced the completion of its merger with GRI Bio.


Marc Hertz, Chief Executive Officer of GRI Bio commented, “We are incredibly pleased to welcome Leanne to the GRI team. As we have now made the pivot to a publicly traded entity following our merger with Vallon Pharmaceuticals, bringing on someone with public market expertise was a priority for us. As we have gotten to know the Vallon team and work with them through our transaction, Leanne stood out as a perfect fit for the role of Chief Financial Officer within GRI. We look forward to continuing our work with her and successfully executing on the evolution of GRI Bio.”

Over the course of her career, Ms. Kelly has served as Controller and Executive Director, Global Financial Reporting at OptiNose, Inc., a $74M revenue specialty pharmaceutical company, and held Senior Vice President of Finance, Controller and Chief Financial Officer positions in private and public companies such as Flower Orthopedics, Iroko Pharmaceuticals, LLC, and Genaera Corporation. She began her career as an auditor with KPMG LLP. While serving in those roles, Ms. Kelly’s work included multi-million dollar financings, M&A diligence and support. She also has experience in financial oversight, internal and external financial reporting, forecasting, and financial analysis, as well as investor and public relations.

“GRI represents an exciting opportunity for me as the Company shifts from the private to public markets. I believe the skills I have amassed over the course of my career, along with my intimate knowledge of and connection with the GRI story through Vallon’s recently completed merger transaction process well-positions me to help propel GRI to its next phase of growth. I look forward to working alongside the management team at GRI to establish the Company’s presence in the investment community and generate long-term value for all stakeholders,” added Ms. Kelly.

Ms. Kelly received her Bachelor of Science degree in Business Economics with a concentration in Accounting from Lehigh University, and is a licensed CPA (inactive status) in the state of Pennsylvania.

About GRI Bio, Inc.

GRI Bio is a clinical stage biopharmaceutical company focused on fundamentally changing the way inflammatory, fibrotic and autoimmune diseases are treated. GRI’s therapies are designed to target the activity of NKT cells, which are key regulators earlier in the inflammatory cascade, to interrupt disease progression and restore the immune system to homeostasis. NKT cells are innate-like T cells that share properties of both NK and T cells and are a functional link between the innate and adaptive immune responses. Type I invariant NKT (iNKT) cells play a critical role in propagating the injury, inflammatory response, and fibrosis observed in inflammatory and fibrotic indications. GRI’s lead program, GRI-0621, is an inhibitor of iNKT cell activity and is being developed as a novel oral therapeutic for the treatment of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), a serious disease with significant unmet need. The Company is also developing a pipeline of novel Type 2 NKT agonists for the treatment of systemic lupus erythematosus. Additionally, with a library of over 500 proprietary compounds, GRI has the ability to fuel a growing pipeline.

Forward Looking Statements

This press release contains “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of the “safe harbor” provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Forward-looking statements may be identified by the use of words such as “anticipate,” “believe,” “contemplate,” “could,” “estimate,” “expect,” “intend,” “seek,” “may,” “might,” “plan,” “potential,” “predict,” “project,” “target,” “aim,” “should,” “will,” “would,” or the negative of these words or other similar expressions. These forward-looking statements are based on the Company’s current beliefs and expectations. Forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, statements regarding: the Company’s expectations with respect to financial results, future performance, development and commercialization of products and services, the initiation or completion of clinical studies, the potential benefits and impact of GRI Bio’s products and services, potential regulatory approvals, anticipated financial impacts and other effects of the merger and any financing, the expected use of proceeds from any financing, the expected timing for the launch of Phase 2a biomarker study on GRI-0621 and Phase 1 study on GRI-0803, the listing of the Company’s common stock on Nasdaq, and the size and potential growth of current or future markets for the Company’s products and services. Actual results may differ from the expectations, estimates and projections expressed by the Company herein and consequently, you should not rely on these forward-looking statements as predictions of future events. These forward-looking statements are subject to inherent uncertainties, risks and assumptions that are difficult to predict, including, without limitation: (1) the inability to obtain or maintain the listing of the Company’s common stock on Nasdaq, as applicable, following the merger; (2) the inability to recognize the anticipated benefits of the merger, which may be affected by, among other things, competition and the ability of the combined Company to grow and manage growth profitably and retain its key employees; (3) costs related to the merger agreement; (4) changes in applicable laws or regulations; (5) the inability of the combined Company to raise financing in the future; (6) the success, cost and timing of the Company’s product development activities; (7) the inability of the Company to obtain and maintain regulatory clearance or approval for their products, and any related restrictions and limitations of any cleared or approved product; (8) the inability of the Company to identify, in-license or acquire additional technology; (9) the inability of the Company to compete with other companies currently marketing or engaged in the development of products and services that the Company is currently developing; (10) the size and growth potential of the markets for the Company’s products and services, and its ability to serve those markets, either alone or in partnership with others; (11) inaccuracy in the combined company’s estimates regarding expenses, future revenue, capital requirements and needs for additional financing; (12) the Company’s financial performance; and (13) other risks and uncertainties indicated from time to time in the Company’s definitive proxy statement/prospectus/information statement relating to the merger (as supplemented), including those under the heading “Risk Factors” in the proxy statement/prospectus/information statement and in the Company’s other filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Forward-looking statements contained in this announcement are made as of this date, and the Company undertakes no duty to update such information except as required under applicable law.

Investor Contact:
Jenene Thomas
(833) 475-8247
[email protected]

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