Cases / Investigations

Athira Pharma, Inc.

Company Name:         Athira Pharma, Inc.

Securities:                   NASDAQ: ATHA

Class Period:               September 18, 2020 to June 17, 2021

IPO Date:                     September 17, 2020

Lead Plaintiff
Motion Deadline:          August 24, 2021

Court:                           Western District of Washington

Athira Pharma is a late clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on developing small molecules to restore neuronal health and stop neurodegeneration. Athira Pharma’s lead drug candidate is ATH-1017 which is used to treat Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s dementia. Athira Pharma conducted an initial public offering of its common stock on September 17, 2020 at $17.00 per share.

On June 17, 2021, at approximately 5:00p.m. EST, after trading markets had closed for the day Athira Pharma issued a press release that disclosed that the Board of Directors of Athira Pharma had determined “to place Leen Kawas, PhD, President and Chief Executive Officer of Athira, on temporary leave pending a review of actions stemming from doctoral research Dr. Kawas conducted while at Washington State University.” Athira Pharma also announced that its Board had formed an independent special committee to review this matter.

Also on June 17, 2021 after the trading markets had closed for the day, STAT, a biotech news website, published an article that revealed that the investigation of Dr. Kawas related to allegations that she altered images in four separate research papers concerning hepatocyte growth factor (HGF), a protein with the potential to treat Alzheimer’s disease and other neurological disorders.  The article noted that although Athira Pharma “has since moved on to a different molecule than the one [Dr.] Kawas was working on, it still aims to target HGF.  And so [Dr.] Kawas’s doctoral work laid the biological groundwork that Athira continues to use in their approach to treating Alzheimer’s.”

On June 17, 2021, the price of Athira Pharma common stock closed at $18.24 per share.  On June 18, 2021, after Athira Pharma announced it was putting Dr. Kawas “on leave” and STET published its article, the price of Athira Pharma common stock fell $7.09 per share, or nearly 39%, and closed at $11.15 per share on unusually heavy trading volume.

The Athira Pharma securities class action litigation alleges, among other things, that the Defendants made false and misleading public statements and failed to disclose that (1) the research conducted by Dr. Kawas, which was foundational to Athira Pharma’s efforts to develop treatments for Alzheimer’s, was tainted by Dr. Kawas’s scientific misconduct; and (2) as a result, Athira Pharma’s intellectual property and product development for the treatment of Alzheimer’s was based on invalid research.  The litigation also alleges that Defendants’ positive statements about the Company’s business, operations, and prospects, were materially misleading and/or lacked a reasonable basis. 

The Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 permits any investor who purchased Athira Pharma securities pursuant or traceable to Athira Pharma’s IPO or during the Class Period to ask the court to be appointed as lead plaintiff in the Athira Pharma securities class action litigation.  A lead plaintiff acts on behalf of all other class members in directing the class action lawsuit, and can select a law firm of its choice to litigate the class action lawsuit.  A court will generally appoint as lead plaintiff the movant with the greatest financial interest in the relief sought by the proposed class of investors and that is also typical and adequate of the proposed class.  An investor’s ability to share in any potential future recovery obtained in the litigation is not dependent upon serving as lead plaintiff.

If you wish to serve as lead plaintiff in the Athira Pharma securities class action litigation or have questions concerning your rights regarding the Athira Pharma securities class action litigation, please contact Joshua Ruthizer at (212) 451-9668, (877) 370-7703, or

The deadline for Athira Pharma investors to file a motion for appointment as lead plaintiff is August 24, 2021.

For further information about this case, contact:

Robert C. Finkel

Joshua W. Ruthizer

Related Practice Area