San Diego-based Escient Pharmaceuticals launched with a $40 million Series A round, which will go toward a pipeline of novel drugs.

Escient’s leadership includes names familiar in San Diego biotech. Escient’s CEO, Alain Baron, is the co-founder, president and CEO of San Diego’s Elcelyx Therapeutics. Marcus F. Boehm, Escient’s chief scientific officer, co-founded Receptos, and he was the chief technology officer until Celgene acquired the San Diego company for $7.2 billion.

The Series A financing comes courtesy of The Column Group, 5AM Ventures and Osage University Partners. The funds aim to advance G-protein coupled receptor (GPCR) drugs, with an initial company focus on neuro-immuno-inflammatory and autoreactive diseases.

“GPCR-targeted drugs account for a large percentage of today’s best-selling medicines. And, yet, this broad success has hinged upon exploiting a relatively small set of GPCRs, leaving significant opportunity to mine the potential of numerous unexplored GPCRs, including the specific receptors we are focused on at Escient,” said Baron.