Faheem Hasnain, the president and CEO of Receptos, said he wants the biotech company to be a place where people are clamoring to work.

Faheem Hasnain, the president and CEO of Receptos, said he wants the biotech company to be a place where people are clamoring to work. Photo by Melissa Jacobs.

As Faheem Hasnain walks me through rooms of glass and metal, I can’t help but compare the Receptos headquarters to pictures I’ve seen of the Google complex.

Pingpong tables and shuffleboard tournaments are held frequently in the biotech’s break-room, and a king-sized chalkboard stands in the corner with winners and losers scratched in white chalk.

Rustic wood and industrial lighting are softened with bright colors and cozy seating — a setting fit for a coffee shop rather than a laboratory.

“Why does an office have to feel like an office?” asks Hasnain, president and CEO of Receptos, as he gestures to the wide open hallways and glass walls. “I wanted to create an environment that augmented the culture we built in the company. It’s about transparency, collegiality. It’s about having fun. It’s even a little whimsical.”

We walk through the busy lab space while the scientists attempt to work around us. They tease Hasnain for stepping on their turf, but he takes it well, joking with lab techs while poking around their shelves.

“What’s this?” Hasnain asks the scientists, pulling down a piece of graffiti from a shelf.

Sloppy text scrawled on Styrofoam reads, “Hold onto your stock!”

“That’s our motivation,” the scientist replies.

And it seems to be working. Receptos attracted global attention late last year when positive trial data boosted stock 41 percent overnight from $67 per share to $96. The stock has climbed steadily ever since, currently selling for $137.50 per share on the NasdaqGS under the stock symbol RCPT.

The company is developing a multipurpose drug called Ozanimod (formerly known as RCP1063) that may treat multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Experts are calling it a “pipeline in a product” due to the various potential applications and it’s quite possible that Ozanimod will debut as a blockbuster drug bringing in billions annually.

Hasnain joined Receptos in 2010, just a year after the company was founded. Prior to joining Receptos, Hasnain was the president and CEO of Facet Biotech Corp., a biology-driven antibody company with a focus on multiple sclerosis and oncology. He held that position until the company’s acquisition by Abbott Laboratories in 2010.

Before that, Hasnain served in executive roles at PDL BioPharma Inc., Biogen Idec Inc., Bristol Myers Squibb and GlaxoSmithKline.

Hasnain recently answered questions for the San Diego Business Journal. Here are some excerpts:

What makes Ozanimod a potential blockbuster drug?

In MS specifically, Ozanimod is a high-efficacy drug which will compete directly with Novartis’ Gilenya. Our drug has the same target as Gilenya, but the difference is the data suggests Ozanimod has a significantly improved safety profile — most notably with cardiac and liver toxicity.

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