Calistoga Pharmaceuticals has lured Carol Gallagher, the former chief executive of Atlanta-based Metastatix, to be its first CEO as the young Seattle biotechnology company expands its research on therapies for cancer and other ailments.

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Calistoga Pharmaceuticals has lured Carol Gallagher, the former chief executive of Atlanta-based Metastatix, to be its first CEO as the young Seattle biotechnology company expands its research on therapies for cancer and other ailments.

Gallagher has held top posts at Anadys Pharmaceuticals, CancerVax and Biogen Idec. She also headed global marketing planning for Pfizer’s oncology and ophthalmology business, the company said.

Founded in 2006 with technology licensed from Icos, Calistoga has been testing its compounds in a laboratory setting and has conducted two early clinical studies on humans — one in healthy volunteers and another in blood-cancer patients.

Now it plans to launch two additional clinical trials — one to test the safety of a new compound and another to test its lead drug candidate on inflammatory diseases.

“We’ve gone as far as we can go with preclinical data,” said Calistoga founder and President Mike Gallatin. “It’s the perfect time to have Carol come on board.”

Gallagher helped oversee Biogen Idec’s best-selling cancer drug Rituxan as sales grew past $1 billion, and her experience in drug development and commercialization will help Calistoga navigate the difficult waters of trial design and negotiations with potential partners, Gallatin said.

In addition to “hunkering down” to gather new data, Gallagher wants to see the company’s scientists present their research in peer-reviewed journals and medical conferences, she said.

“Fundamentally, we’re producing new science,” Gallagher said, and being recognized by the worldwide scientific community gives Calistoga’s research more “legitimacy.”

Calistoga has raised some $26 million and employs 19 — over half of whom are veterans of Icos. The company has enough funding to complete its initial clinical trials, Gallagher said.

Ángel González: 206-515-5644 or agonzalez@seattletimes.com