A pair of Bayer execs land promotions in the US; Energized by lenzilumab data, Humanigen taps AstraZeneca alum as CMO
→ Bayer has handed out two promotions in its US operations, with Nelson Ambrogio and John Berrios both getting the bump. Ambrogio becomes SVP, general manager of oncology, while Berrios take Ambrogio’s place as SVP, general manager of women’s healthcare. Ambrogio is a longtime Bayer vet who’s held such titles internationally as general manager in Australia and New Zealand and managing director in Portugal. Berrios, who joined Bayer in 2016 after 15 years at AstraZeneca, takes on his new responsibilities after a year as VP, commercial operations.
A 30-year makeover is now in the works for Bayer’s Berkeley campus that would add 918,000 square feet of building space.
→ Late last month, Humanigen inched another step closer to its hopes of filing an emergency use authorization, trotting out positive Phase III lenzilumab data for Covid-19 patients. This week Cameron Durrant’s crew has poached Adrian Kilcoyne from AstraZeneca to be CMO. Kilcoyne was the wobbling pharma giant’s VP of oncology global medical affairs, head of evidence generation and external alliances, and he led the launch of Calquence, which along with Farxiga saw no significant benefit when repurposed for Covid-19. Prior to AstraZeneca, Kilcoyne was Celgene’s executive medical director, global lymphoma program lead, clinical R&D.
→ A shining beacon has arrived at Jeremy Levin‘s Ovid in the form of Robert Langer. Langer comes on after the company’s lead drug was a bust in a late-stage test. Langer, a fabled MIT investigator and serial entrepreneur, has signed on as chair to the scientific board — offering guidance a day after Levin officially tossed both programs for OV101. In his career, Langer has helped start more than 30 biotechs, often steered by one of his postdocs. In addition, he was an early backer of Moderna, serving as an academic co-founder of the company. Langer had an early stake in Moderna, which led him to billionaire status.
→ While she was with Goldman Sachs, Jami Rubin liked to put biotech execs under the microscope with tough lines of questioning. Rubin’s latest challenge takes her to EQRx, where as CFO she’ll be in the driver’s seat to further the company’s vision of rewriting the rule book for drug pricing. After a decade at Goldman Sachs, Rubin then became a partner at PJT Partners, lending her expertise to biotechs and pharmaceutical companies. Rubin isn’t the only new face at EQRx, with Kent Rogers getting the nod as chief customer officer following his time at UnitedHealth Group’s OptumRx as SVP of industry relations.
→ Genentech’s very own Sushil Patel is hitting the exit after a 20-year stint and hopping aboard tiny oncolytic virus biotech Replimune as their CCO. Known as the former Tecentriq ‘CEO’ at Genentech, Patel served as global oncology franchise head for lung and skin cancer and rare/agnostic tumor types.
→ Christian Itin has stepped down as chairman of the board at Autolus and has been replaced by Syncona CEO Martin Murphy. Itin will remain CEO at Autolus, the London-based T cell therapy biotech that jettisoned 20% of its staffers at the start of the year. Itin had chaired Autolus, and Murphy had been a non-executive director, since the start of the company in 2014.
→ Just after ex-Moffitt Cancer Center CEO Alan List took his place at Precision BioSciences, Christopher Heery has landed at Arcellx as CMO. Heery held the post at Precision for nearly two years and was also CMO at Bavarian Nordic. Before stepping into biotech, he was the National Cancer Institute’s head of the clinical trials group of the Laboratory of Tumor Immunology and Biology. Elsewhere at Arcellx, which raised $115 million in a Series C last week to develop CAR-T therapies, Neeraj Teotia wrapped up his time as Nevro’s VP of finance and has been chosen as chief commercial officer. Prior to Nevro, Teotia worked in R&D and new business development at J&J.
→ Luisa Salter-Cid is resigning as CSO of San Diego-based Gossamer Bio, and Laura Carter has been promoted from within to replace her, starting April 30. Carter, the SVP, research & translational biology at Gossamer since 2019, was previously the SVP, biology at Lycera. Salter-Cid devoted 13 years to Bristol Myers Squibb before making the leap in 2018 to Gossamer, led once again by Faheem Hasnain after its lead drug flopped — prompting his old Receptos colleague Sheila Gujrathi to step down in November.
→ Last month, Rand Sutherland was named president of Lexington, MA-based mRNA player Translate Bio, and more leadership moves have been made once again with Brendan Smith on board as CFO along with two other appointments. Before his most recent gig as a partner at Boston Consulting Group, Smith was Pfizer’s VP, head of business operations for worldwide R&D. Translate Bio also liked what they saw in Greg Troiano enough to promote him to chief manufacturing officer. Another Pfizer vet (VP, nanomedicine development and engineering), Troiano came on the scene as Translate Bio’s SVP of technical operations almost a year ago. Finally, 12-year Vertex alum Jim Sullivan became SVP, pulmonary discovery in January after being executive director, head of translational biology at Sana.
→ With NovaQuest and previous backer Bain plunking down $125 million in non-dilutive funding to propel its Phase III tavapadon program for Parkinson’s, Tony Coles-led Cerevel has appointed Abraham Ceesay president of the company. The Genzyme vet makes the transition to Cerevel after leading Tiburio Therapeutics as the Cydan spinout’s first CEO. Ceesay was also COO of scPharmaceuticals and VP of marketing at Ironwood.
→ Global quality, compliance and regulatory consulting group Validant has acquired Greenleaf Health. As part of the acquisition, Validant has placed Patrick Ronan, the founder and former CEO of Greenleaf, at the helm of Validant as CEO. Before his stint at Greenleaf, Ronan was VP of regulatory policy & external affairs at Novartis. In addition, he has served as chief of staff and assistant commissioner of legislation on Capitol Hill.
→ Jeff Aronin’s cell and gene therapy crew at Pennsylvania-based Castle Creek Biosciences has tapped Matthew Gantz as president and CEO, while his predecessor, John Maslowski, won’t stray too far at all as he slides into the COO post. Gantz had helmed Stockholm-based Primary hyperoxaluria biotech OxThera since 2017, when he succeeded Elisabeth Lindner in the top spot. Since 2012, Gantz has served on the board of directors at another Stockholm company, Sobi, which forked over $250 million upfront for commercialization of Apellis’ rare disease drug pegcetacoplan outside the US.
→ While we’re on the subject of Pennsylvania biotechs, Corleen Roche has signed on to Immunome, which netted a Department of Defense contract to develop biosynthetic convalescent plasma, as CFO. Although she shares a name with a pharma giant, Roche instead was the US CFO at Biogen the last two years and held financial leadership titles at Sanofi, Wyeth (now Pfizer) and Sandoz. Her arrival follows that of chief development officer Dennis Giesing at Immunome, which is using its human memory B cell platform for therapies in the oncology and infectious disease arenas in addition to Covid-19.
→ Another domino has fallen at Intercept now that David Chung has joined OrbiMed-backed Biohaven spinout BioShin out of Shanghai, which scored a $60 million round back in September. The stampede out the door at Intercept shows few signs of abating, with Chung leaving to be BioShin’s chief strategy officer and head of business development after three years as VP, head of business development at the NASH biotech that can’t seem to get off the struggle bus. The Bristol Myers vet was senior director, strategy & corporate development at Jazz Pharmaceuticals before moving to Intercept.
→ We now head for the mountains of Boulder, CO, where NASH and Wilson’s disease biotech Enveda Biosciences has plucked Sotirios Karathanasis from NeoProgen to be CSO. Karathanasis, the ex-CSO of endocrine and cardiovascular research at Lilly Research Laboratories, brings further Big Pharma experience from AstraZeneca (with such positions as VP and head of biosciences) and Pfizer (as director of cardiovascular pharmacology at Pfizer Global Research & Development). Karathanasis was VP of R&D at NeoProgen, which is developing exosome-based therapies and has offices across the street from Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore.
→ Ameet Nathwani’s biomolecular condensate shop Dewpoint Therapeutics, which has sealed deals with Merck, Bayer and Pfizer, has recruited Isaac Klein as CSO. Klein was at MIT’s Whitehead Institute as a researcher in Rick Young’s lab — placing his emphasis on “understanding the role of condensates in cancer, transcription, and drug activity” — and he’s a medical oncologist at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
→ New York cancer and rare disease biotech Protara Therapeutics has tapped Martín Sebastian Olivo as CMO. Olivo comes to Protara from Gilead, where he was VP, breast cancer clinical development lead, sliding over from Immunomedics after the $21 billion buyout. Olivo was in the oncology business group at Eisai for six years and then spent the next year at the Daiichi Sankyo Cancer Enterprise as global clinical lead.
→ David Nichols has signed on to be chief technical officer at stem cell transplantation player and Beam’s ADC partner, Magenta Therapeutics. Nichols makes the transition to Magenta after five years at Kiniksa, the last two as SVP of technical operations, and he’s been head of CMC biologics at Tesaro. Magenta is also putting its stem cell platform and ADC development powers to the test as a means to block HIV, part of a $14.6 million grant from the NIH with partners such as USC and Fred Hutch.
→ Formerly Trucode Gene Repair, the revamped Vera Therapeutics — developer of the IgA nephropathy drug atacicept that raked in an $80 million Series C round in January — has made three new appointments: Celia Lin (CMO), Tad Thomas (head of product development and manufacturing) and Joseph Young (SVP of finance). Lin was a medical director in clinical development and medical affairs at Amgen, and then for the last six years she’s served as a senior medical director at Genentech. Thomas, who has filled process development and CMC positions at Alexion, Ipsen and Bayer, among others, was recently associate VP, technical operations at Codexis. And Young leaves Plexxikon after 14 years, starting out as controller and climbing the ladder to SVP, finance.
→ Alan Smith has gotten the call to be chief technology officer of South San Francisco-based Ambys Medicines, the cell and gene therapy startup backed by Third Rock and Takeda. Smith leaves Manny Simons’ squad at Akouos after less than a year as CTO, and before that he was Bellicum’s EVP of technical operations.
→ The leadership team is further taking shape — sorry, Peer Review couldn’t resist — at Seattle gene therapy outfit Shape Therapeutics, which has brought on Patrick Bigot as CBO after Gary Fortin took over as COO a few months ago. Bigot just had a short stay as Verily’s global head, strategic alliances, but prior to that he was with Genentech from 2006-19, a run that culminated in his duties as VP of alliance management.
→ Co-CEOs Justin Klee and Josh Cohen have a new staffer at ALS-focused Amylyx, and it’s Chris Aiello, who’s been selected as head of Canada and general manager. At Sanofi Genzyme Canada, Aiello was a dual business unit director of the rare disease and the rare blood disorders units. He had been general manager of Canada for Bioverativ, which Sanofi swept up for $11.6 billion in 2018.
→ Kymera Therapeutics co-founder Stuart Chaffee is moving on to be CBO of Affinivax, awash in funding after January’s $226 million round and striving to unseat Pfizer as the undisputed Prevnar 13 champion. Chaffee, a Biogen alum who was also Kymera’s head of business operations, just logged three years as CBO and CFO of Marcio Souza-led Praxis Precision Medicines.
→ Allakos — which added former Audentes Therapeutics CEO and president Natalie Holles to its board of directors last December — has tapped Baird Radford as CFO. Radford comes from Aimmune Therapeutics, where he served as SVP of finance.
→ Belgian CAR-T biotech Celyad Oncology has pegged Charles Morris as CMO in the first C-suite change since David Gilham was bumped up to CSO last spring. Morris cut his teeth at AstraZeneca with his involvement in developing Faslodex and in the early clinical development of Iressa. Morris comes to Celyad after his stint as CMO at Radius Health, now led by Kelly Martin.
→ Steven Cha has been named CMO of natural killer cell therapy-focused NKGen Biotech, following close behind CFO Philip Moody’s appointment two weeks ago. The ex-global clinical lead in early oncology development at Pfizer makes the switch to NKGen Biotech from Samumed, which just rebranded to Biosplice Therapeutics last week, where he was VP of oncology.
→ Himalaya Therapeutics has made the addition of Nicholas Desjardins as CFO and corporate development officer. Desjardins has experience from Cowen and Stifel, ASGARD Partners, Beijing RELTEC and PriceWaterhouse, Beijing.
→ Helmed by Jeff Hatfield for the last six months, Vividion out of San Diego has welcomed Xiaohu Deng as head of technical operations and Lisa Percival as head of regulatory. Deng moves on to Vividion after a couple years at Viracta Therapeutics as SVP, product development, and from 2014-19 he was Kura Oncology’s senior director, head of CMC. Percival, a 19-year regulatory vet at Bristol Myers, became an entrepreneur in residence, regulatory strategy at Atlas Venture after a short stint at Zafgen.
→ Cambridge, MA-based Nimbus Therapeutics has three new execs, naming Avinash Phadke VP of CMC; Bhaskar Srivastava VP of early clinical development; and Ajay Upadhyay VP of clinical operations. Phadke spent 18 years in numerous capacities at Achillion — bought out by Alexion for $930 million — working his way up to VP, head of CMC. Srivastava pivots to Nimbus after a five-year tenure at Janssen that saw him become senior director, early development translational science and medicine in immunology. Finally, Upadhyay is the ex-chief of staff of GlaxoSmithKline’s US oncology business unit who later moved on to Astellas, leaving in 2018 as executive director of clinical and outcomes sciences.
→ With development of an antibody underway for Covid-19 after a modest $16 million Series B, Seattle’s Lumen Bioscience has revealed a string of hires with Carl Mason as senior medical director, Cristin Wagner as VP, head of legal, and Steven Landas as VP and controller. Mason had held the same title at Parexel; Wagner brings legal expertise in the Pacific Northwest from her time at Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt; and Landas is the former director of accounting at Seattle Genetics, now Seagen. Additionally, ex-Synthorx CSO Marcos Milla has joined Lumen’s board of directors.
→ Neximmune, which is working its way to an IPO and has the support of the LLS on its nanoparticles work, has enlisted Chad Rubin as SVP, corporate affairs. Prior to Neximmune, Rubin was with Solebury Trout.
→ Immunomodulation-focused biotech Cytocom, which merged with Cleveland BioLabs to grab a spot on Nasdaq, has pulled in Stephen Wilson as head of global innovation. Wilson hails from the La Jolla Institute of Immunology, where he spent nearly 25 years in biomedical research and served as the research facility’s EVP and COO.
→ Gilead partner Goldfinch Bio has made a board of directors triple play with Meryl Zausner, Mo Cowan and Tyrell Rivers. Zausner, a longtime Novartis exec, is also on the board at Seres; Cowan was interim Senator of Massachusetts before Ed Markey took the seat and is GE’s president, global government affairs and policy and developed markets; and since 2014 Rivers has been executive director of corporate development at AstraZeneca.
→ David Wheadon has made his way to the board of directors at Vaxart, which is aiming to advance its oral Covid-19 tablet vaccine to Phase II trials, after joining the board at Karuna Therapeutics a few months back. Wheadon, the former SVP, global regulatory affairs, patient safety and quality assurance at AstraZeneca, was also a regulatory exec at Abbott and GSK.
→ Just a short drive from the Stanford campus, Eiger BioPharmaceuticals — the recipient of the first FDA approval for premature aging disorder Progeria — has given Kim Sablich a seat on the board of directors. Sablich was in Peer Review almost a year ago when she took the job of EVP, general manager, North America at Jazz Pharmaceuticals.
→ Leila Alland and Donald Wuchterl are the latest members of Abeona’s board of directors. Alland, who has considerable Big Pharma experience in oncology development at Novartis, Bristol Myers and AstraZeneca, is CMO of PMV Pharmaceuticals. After five years at Audentes, Wuchterl just joined T-knife as chief manufacturing officer earlier this month.
→ PsyBio Therapeutics — which earlier this month appointed Mike Spigarelli as CMO — has made a new addition to its team with the appointment of Bob Oliver to its board of directors. This isn’t Oliver’s first board appointment, he formerly sat on the board of Immunomedics. Oliver brings with him his experience from his time as president and CEO of Otsuka America Pharmaceutical. Prior to that, he was with Wyeth and V ClinBio.
→ Third Rock-backed Cedilla, which reeled in $57.6 million for small molecule programs to fight cancer last October, has recruited Chris Bowden to its board of directors. Formerly, Bowden was CMO of Agios. Prior to that, he was with Genentech and Janssen.
→ Versant and venBio-backed RayzeBio has reeled in Yi Larson to its board of directors. Larson formerly served as managing director of healthcare investment banking at Goldman Sachs. In addition, Larson was CFO of Turning Point Therapeutics and currently serves as CFO of LianBio.
→ Drug discovery company C4X Discovery Holdings has named Simon Harford as non-executive director. Harford is the current CFO at Albireo Pharma and was the former CFO of Parexel International. Prior to that, he was with GSK and Eli Lilly.
In addition to Larson’s appointment, RayzeBio has brought on Derek Cole as head of discovery; Kathie Huynh as VP of finance; and Daniel Kim as senior director of radiopharmaceuticals.