A Pfizer partner welcomes ex-ADC Therapeutics CMO Jay Feingold to the team; Amid tough sledding, Immunovant chooses Eli Lilly alum as CFO
→ Last week we told you about the CMO revolving door at ADC Therapeutics, as Joseph Camardo replaced the departing Jay Feingold. The next opportunity for Feingold in the CMO slot has opened up at antibody-drug conjugate and mAb developer Pyxis Oncology, which has added several new execs and scientific advisory board members in recent months, including ex-Immunovant CFO Pamela Yanchik Connealy. Before his tenure at ADC, Feingold was Daiichi Sankyo’s VP of US medical affairs and chairman of the Global Medical Affairs Oversight Committee. Within weeks in March, Pyxis struck a licensing deal with Pfizer for two of its ADCs and raked in $152 million from a Series B round.
→ Meanwhile, Immunovant has found Connealy’s replacement, selecting Renee Barnett as finance chief a month after Roivant decided to pump $200 million into a member of Vivek Ramaswamy’s Vant family that has wrestled with trial suspensions and freefalling stocks. Until now the chief integration officer at telemental health provider AbleTo, Barnett has spent a large portion of her career at Eli Lilly, rising to CFO of Austria & Switzerland and later director of financial planning & analysis. LDL levels (the bad cholesterol) shot up considerably in patients on the high and low doses of Immunovant’s antibody IMVT-1401 for thyroid eye disease in February, and new data in June did little to quell concerns even as Immunovant also forges ahead with IMVT-1401 in myasthenia gravis and warm autoimmune hemolytic anemia (WAIHA).
→ Robert Hariri has a new president working alongside him at New Jersey-based Celularity, another biotech that chose the SPAC route to gallop into Nasdaq — doing so here with GX Acquisition Corp. A hematologist and oncologist, Andrew Pecora was president of the Physician Enterprise and chief innovation officer at Hackensack Meridian Health, and he co-founded, chaired and helmed Progenitor Cell Therapy. When the merger closed in July, Hariri told our Amber Tong that Celularity had waved the white flag on its Covid-19 efforts with its NK cell therapy approach: “The change in management of patients at the hospital setting made it very very difficult to find patients who met the inclusion criteria,” he said.
→ One month separates big hires at San Francisco’s AltruBio, with Jesse Hall joining Judy Chou’s squad as CMO following the introduction of CFO Jeroen Grasman in early August. Since 2018, Hall was CMO for Sublimity Therapeutics before taking on the same role at AltruBio, which brought in a $63 million Series A haul in the spring and has a Phase Ib study underway for graft-versus-host disease with its lead drug neihulizumab. From 2009-13, Hall was a medical director at Amgen before becoming an executive medical director at Ardea Biosciences.
→ San Diego precision oncology biotech Lengo Therapeutics — where Dave Johnson and Enoch Kariuki have reunited as chairman and CEO respectively after their VelosBio days — has three new execs on the roster, including another familiar face. Ingrid Simms (SVP and principal accounting officer) held the same title at VelosBio and from 2013-20 was the VP of finance for Alder BioPharmaceuticals. Paul Pearson (chief of development) was executive director of preclinical drug metabolism during his years at Merck Research Laboratories, and later became Amgen’s global head of pharmacokinetics and drug metabolism. And the 11 years at Pfizer’s La Jolla Laboratories for Eric Gruff (SVP of CMC) culminated in his role as research team leader in development of diabetes and frailty (muscle wasting) therapies.
→ By raising a substantial chunk of change for its Series B in August, Jeffrey Bluestone’s Sonoma Biotherapeutics has 265 million reasons to grab everyone’s attention, and this week Sonoma has pulled in Doug Sheehy as chief legal officer and secretary. The ex-general counsel and secretary at Aimmune, Sheehy also devoted nine years to Codexis, where he was EVP, chief administrative officer, general counsel and secretary.
→ CNS disease-focused Autobahn Therapeutics out of San Diego, lifting the lid in June 2020 with a $76 million round headlined by ARCH and Cowen, has tapped Gudarz Davar as CMO and promoted Chan Beals to SVP, chief of translational medicine. Davar — who can sing his own verses of Johnny Cash’s “I’ve Been Everywhere” with stints at Amgen, Allergan and Biogen under his belt — just led R&D for a year at Acadia Pharmaceuticals after he was in charge of global neurology clinical development at Eli Lilly. Beals sped into Autobahn in January 2020 as SVP of translational medicine, and earlier he was CMO at Abide Therapeutics, which Lundbeck bought to boost a scuffling pipeline in the spring of 2019.
→ Novo Seeds led a modest financing round in October 2020 for Finnish cancer startup Rappta Therapeutics, focused on protein phosphatase 2 (PP2A) inhibitors. Founding CEO Mikko Mannerkoski is sliding into the CFO role at Rappta as Sunjeet Sawhney steps into the spotlight in his place, effective immediately. Sawhney hails from Ipsen, where the new chief executive was global head of the oncology franchise, and his Big Pharma experience started early at Roche and Sanofi before rising to oncology head of marketing & commercial excellence, emerging growth markets to conclude his nine years at Novartis Oncology.
→ Starting Monday, Erik Skullerud will be CEO at Oslo, Norway-based Nordic Nanovector, which takes aim at hematological cancers with its radioimmunoconjugate (RIC) Betalutin. Skullerud succeeds Malene Brondberg after she had held the top spot on an interim basis since July. From 2000-16, Skullerud scaled the sales and marketing peaks at Amgen, leaving as the Big Pharma’s marketing director, Europe, oncology/hematology.
→ Staying in Europe, Dutch biotech AM-Pharma has brought on Lars Boesgaard to be its CFO. The first AM-Pharma executive to be based in the US, the Novo Nordisk and Alexion vet joins the company from Columbia Care just a week after Kyowa Kirin paid the biotech more than $23 million upfront for development and commercialization rights in Japan on kidney drug ilofotase alfa.
→ Proof-of-concept data from a single patient were released in June from ViaCyte’s stem cell treatment for type 1 diabetes, and CEO Michael Yang has found a new CSO with the requisite stem cell background in this indication. Timothy Kieffer was in charge of the Laboratory of Molecular and Cellular Medicine at the University of British Columbia, where he was also part of the Diabetes Research Group at the school’s Life Sciences Institute. The enGene co-founder replaces Kevin D’Amour, now the chief scientist at Brooklyn ImmunoTherapeutics.
→ Kyverna Therapeutics has recruited two new faces with the appointments of former Genentech CEO Ian Clark as chair of its board of directors and Karen Walker as chief technology officer. Prior to his seven-year tenure at the helm of Genentech, Clark was serving as the company’s EVP of commercial operations and SVP and general manager of bio-oncology. Earlier in his career, Clark served in a variety of roles at Novartis, Sanofi, Ivax and Searle. This is far from Clark’s first board seat; he currently sits on the boards of Takeda, Agios Pharmaceuticals, Guardant Health, Olema Pharmaceuticals, Corvus Pharmaceuticals and Avrobio.
Meanwhile, Walker comes to Kyverna after stints at Roche/Genentech, Seagen, Novartis, Amgen, Bayer and Bristol Myers Squibb. Walker most recently served as senior advisor, cell and gene therapy manufacturing at Roche/Genentech.
→ Founded by Bob Langer and heading into Phase III with its lead drug for chronic rhinosinusitis, Lyra Therapeutics has locked in Jason Cavalier as CFO. After stops at Bear Stearns, Barclays and RBC Capital Markets, Cavalier was Cantor Fitzgerald’s managing director, head of life sciences mergers & acquisitions.
→ Han Lee will depart from his CFO position at Arcellx to perform the same role at Neogene Therapeutics. Prior to Arcellx, Lee served as senior director in the corporate development and ventures group at AstraZeneca. Over the summer, the Southern California TCR biotech also added Brent Pfeiffenberger as COO.
→ David Liebowitz is stepping over to Houston-based DNAtrix as CMO. Liebowitz most recently served as VP of clinical oncology at Xencor. Prior to that stint, Liebowitz was the CMO for Vaxart and CSO and CMO of Vivaldi Biosciences. Earlier in his career, Liebowitz was with Galileo Pharmaceuticals, Amgen and Immunex.
→ The sun shone brightly over South San Francisco pediatric cancer player Day One Biopharmaceuticals when it started trading on Nasdaq with the ticker $DAWN after an upsized IPO hit $160 million in May. CEO Jeremy Bender continues to piece together the C-suite with Jaa Roberson climbing on board as chief people officer, pivoting from her role as a human resources exec at Bellicum. After six years at Genentech as an HR business partner, Roberson spent a year leading HR at Achaogen.
→ Thomas Jefferson University spinout Imvax, led by ex-Spark COO John Furey, has locked in John Limongelli as chief legal officer. Limongelli was general counsel at Neos Therapeutics and then at Travena, where he tacked on the chief administrative officer title. Imvax revealed positive Phase Ib data on its glioblastoma multiforme drug IGV-001 in January and has brought COO Sean Hemingway and CFO Josh Muntner into the fold this year.
→ Pittsburgh’s Krystal Biotech has added Laurent Goux as their general manager for Europe. Goux comes from Swiss dermatological pharma Galderma, where he was in charge of global strategic marketing and market access. Krystal Biotech is in the middle of a Phase III trial for epidermolysis bullosa.
→ NeuBase Therapeutics resurfaces in Peer Review yet again, as the Pittsburgh genetic medicine biotech waves in Anthony Rossomando as chief technology officer. A staff scientist at Bayer in the 1990s, Rossomando has roamed the landscape extensively, from his nine years at Biogen to his three years at Alnylam as senior director of siRNA bioprocessing. The Anokion and Alexion vet heads to NeuBase after a brief stay as chief process development officer at Pinetree Therapeutics. Within a year’s time, NeuBase has also bolstered its C-suite with a new COO, CSO, CMO and chief business and strategy officer.
→ Just a week after tapping Jeff Hackman as president and CEO, ReForm Biologics is bringing in Neal Muni as EVP and COO. Prior to joining ReForm, Muni most recently served as the CEO of Azurity, which issued a national recall of one lot of Firvanq last week.
→ Viva LaFrance: Partnering with RadioMedix on the production of its radiopharmaceuticals, Plus Therapeutics out of Austin, TX has appointed Norman LaFrance as CMO effective “on or around” Dec. 8. Before joining the radiotherapeutic developer, LaFrance was SVP and CMO of Jubilant Pharma, and in the mid 2000s the former member of the Johns Hopkins medical faculty was Bausch + Lomb’s VP, global pharmaceutical development.
→ Sema4, the J&J and Sanofi-partnered patient data, testing and genomics platform that merged with Eli Casdin’s $450 million SPAC, has pulled in Gustavo Stolovitzky as CSO. Stolovitzky has spent the last two decades at IBM Research, where he was appointed IBM fellow. Prior to his appointment as fellow, Stolovitzky was the director of the translational systems biology and nanobiotechnology program.
→ Resolve Biosciences has named Erik Wiberg as CFO. Wiberg comes aboard from REVA Medical, where he also served as CFO. Prior to his stint at REVA, Wiberg served at Gyros Protein Technologies, Thermo Fisher Scientific, AlliedSignal and the Chamberlain Group.
→ Saniona has brought on Wendy Dwyer as CBO. Dwyer joins the company from Surface Oncology, where she served in the same role as CBO. Dwyer brings with her experience from her time at Portal Instruments, Ipsen Bioscience, AstraZeneca, Antigenics (now Agenus), Endo Pharmaceuticals and Indevus Pharmaceuticals.
In addition, the Saniona has given a seat to Robert Hoffman on its board of directors. This isn’t Hoffman’s first board appointment, he currently sits on the boards of ASLAN Pharmaceuticals, Kintara Therapeutics and Antibe Therapeutics. Most recently, Hoffman served as CFO of Heron Pharmaceuticals. Hoffman jumpstarted his career at Arena Pharmaceuticals.
→ Xenter has welcomed Mark Turco aboard as president of its Xenter Medical Technologies business unit. Turco hails from Sirtex Medical, where he served as EVP of research & development and global CMO. In addition, Turco previously served as CMO of Covidien and later VP and CMO of Medtronic’s aortic, peripheral and vascular divisions.
→ Norbert Bischofberger at Kronos Bio has looked to his old stomping grounds at Gilead to welcome Marni Kottle as SVP of corporate communications and investor relations. Kottle joined Gilead in 2013, overlapping with Bischofberger’s 28-year run with the California pharma, and was VP of corporate communications after a career in media where she was a reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle, Bloomberg and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Kronos got in on the 2020 IPO craze last fall, topping $250 million in an upsized offering.
→ It’s been a steady stream of new hires and promotions at South San Francisco-based Sutro Biopharma, and this week is no different with the introductions of Nicole Chieffo (VP of clinical operations) and Werner Rubas (VP of preclinical development). Sutro poaches Chieffo from Janssen, holding such posts as senior director, oncology global operations head and lead oncology clinical scientist. Rubas spent the last nine years at Nektar and was executive director in non-clinical pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics. Along with Trevor Hallam’s promotion to president of research and CSO, Sutro’s other leadership moves in 2021 include appointing CCO Jane Chung, promoting David Pauling to general counsel and elevating Robert Kiss to SVP of process and analytical development.
→ jCyte just keeps on growing too — its latest newcomer is Victor Chao as the California biotech’s first VP of CMC operations, appointed late last week. Chao arrived at jCyte after leaving Santen Pharmaceuticals as its head of commercial operations in North and Latin America. The new jCyte staffers under first-year CEO Shannon Blalock run the gamut from CFO Adam Walsh to general counsel John Sholar, among several others.
→ After adding Daniela Drago from Biogen as chief regulatory officer last month, Aurion Biotech appoints Tim Largen as VP of manufacturing. Largen oversaw manufacturing at Lykan Bioscience after spending nearly a decade climbing the ranks at Dendreon. Aurion, which has headquarters in the US and Japan, is focused on pushing forward its first candidate, a cell therapy to treat corneal endothelial dysfunction.
→ Aetion, the New York health tech startup that has former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb sitting on its board of directors, has named Marla Kessler its first chief customer officer. Kessler comes to the company from IQVIA, where she served as SVP, strategy, marketing and communication. In addition to her role at IQVIA, Kessler has served at Pfizer and McKinsey. Kessler currently sits on the board of Ironwood Pharmaceuticals.
→ Rational Vaccines, focused on the treatment and prevention of herpes, has welcomed Kerstin Westritschnig as CMO. Westritschnig hails from Apeiron Biologics, where she also served in the role of CMO. Prior to that, she was SVP and member of the executive committee of Valneva.
→ Running in parallel with the news of a third and largest venture fund — $375 million, to be exact — Lightstone Ventures has also named Christina Isacson as partner and Young Kwon as operating partner. The ex-Third Rock principal and interim head of business development and strategy at Decibel, Isacson had been CBO at Magenta Therapeutics until this March. Kwon spent a decade with Momenta, initially as VP of business development and then working his way up to chief financial and business officer.
→ London-based VC Abingworth has named Jay Cui and Lucille Conroy principals, while Diya Malhotra jumps ship from LEK Consulting to be an investment manager. Cui was most recently a director at AbbVie Ventures, while Conroy was a senior associate at F-Prime Capital after almost two years at McKinsey.
→ Churning out biotechs at its usual steady clip, Flagship Pioneering has brought on Kathy Biberstein as general counsel and will officially join the team on Monday. In 2018 Biberstein wrapped up a 15-year association with Alkermes in which she wore a number of executive hats — EVP, chief administrative officer, chief compliance officer, chief risk officer, and chief legal officer. She’s also left the board of Nessan Bermingham-chaired Triplet Therapeutics after only serving less than a year in that capacity.
→ No yellow cards for Icosavax as the Seattle-based vaccine biotech pushes forward with Neil King’s VLP “soccer ball” technology — and Elizabeth Bekiroğlu intends to keep it that way as general counsel. Bekiroğlu stays in Seattle after being Seagen’s associate general counsel, and once upon a time she was general counsel at Emergent BioSolutions. Icosavax ended up raising $182 million in an upsized IPO this summer.
→ HexTransforma has reeled in Kevin Morris as chief technology officer. Morris previously served as VP of engineering at Medidata Solutions. Morris also brings with him experience from his roles at Rovi Europe (now TiVo), Macrovision and Shalbourne Technology.
→ Neurodegenerative disease-focused Alzheon has brought on two new hires with the appointments of Adem Albayrak as head of operations and Earvin Liang as VP of clinical development. Albayrak comes from Health Catalyst’s life sciences business, where he served as SVP for technology. Earlier in his career, Albayrak worked at Knome and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
Meanwhile, Liang brings with him experience from his time at Elan Pharmaceuticals, Janssen, Alzheimer’s Immunotherapy and Transition Therapeutics.
→ Jim Wilson‘s new startup iECURE, which came from his work with Tachi Yamada, has reeled in Brian Di Donato to its board of directors. Di Donato is currently CFO and head of strategy at Immunocore. Prior to his work with Immunocore, Di Donato was SVP and CFO at Achillion.
→ Ex-Nimbus CEO Don Nicholson has been elected independent chairman of the board at Danish-Belgian neurodegenerative disease biotech Muna Therapeutics. Nicholson, who’s on the boards of Kymera and Generation Bio, also chairs Disc Medicine, Jnana Therapeutics and NodThera.
→ ROME if you want to: Upon the news of the Series B financing at Rosana Kapeller’s ROME Therapeutics, Steven Kafka and Jim Trenkle have taken seats on the board of directors. Kafka is managing partner at Section 32 and Trenkle leads investments at Sanofi Ventures, two VCs that factored heavily into the $77 million round.
→ Deborah Dunsire has been appointed to the board of directors at Syros, which is presenting Phase I data for its cancer drug SY-5609 at ESMO. Formerly a board member at Alexion and Allergan, Dunsire has helmed Lundbeck since 2018 and is on the board of directors at Ultragenyx.
→ Christian Itin’s crew at CAR-T outfit Autolus has named longtime biotech exec John Johnson chairman of the board. The Big Pharma vet chaired the board at Strongbridge Biopharma until he took over as CEO in July 2020, but Johnson has retained his board seat after Garheng Kong succeeded him as chairman.
→ Gaithersburg, MD-based Adaptive Phage Therapeutics, which scored a Series B that exceeded $40 million in May, has appointed Georgetown professor Jesse Goodman to the board of directors. From 2009-14, Goodman was chief scientist at the FDA, and for three years within that period he took on the role of deputy commissioner for science and public health.
→ Two days before reaching a licensing deal with Vifor Pharma, former Martin Shkreli company Travere Therapeutics added Ruth Williams-Brinkley to its board of directors. Williams-Brinkley oversees Kaiser Permanente’s operations in DC and surrounding areas, and was the CEO for multiple hospital systems in her career.
→ Ex-Kymab CEO Simon Sturge’s next endeavor will be as executive chairman of fibrosis biotech Mediar Therapeutics out of Cambridge, MA. Sturge helmed Kymab until it was sold for close to $1.5 billion in one of several M&A deals Paul Hudson has made at Sanofi this year.
→ ADC Therapeutics SVP and chief commercial officer Jennifer Herron has joined the board of directors at Chip Clark-led cancer biotech Genocea Biosciences. The 10-year Bristol Myers vet has also been CCO at ImmunoGen and Ariad Pharmaceuticals.
→ Gilead and Pfizer vet Roger Mills has made his way to the board of directors at Philadelphia-based Enterin. Mills was EVP of development and then CMO at Acadia Pharmaceuticals after his tenure as Pfizer’s VP of global R&D.
→ Jigar Raythatha becomes a member of the board of directors at Jounce Therapeutics as Third Rock partner Cary Pfeffer resigns from the board on Dec. 31. Raythatha helmed Constellation Pharmaceuticals from 2017 until its $1.7 billion sale to MorphoSys, which was announced in June.
→ Owlstone Medical has appointed Mark Capone to its board of directors as an independent non-executive director. Capone is the former president and CEO of Myriad Genetics and previously held a 17-year stint at Eli Lilly.
→ Cumulus Neuroscience’s own founder and director, Ruth McKernan, will be adding on the role of chair to her duties. McKernan, who is a neuroscientist, is also a venture partner at the Dementia Discovery Fund. Additionally, McKernan has previously served as SVP at Pfizer and head of the Merck Neuroscience Research Centre.
→ Fungal disease-focused F2G has added Camilla Soenderby to its board of directors. Soenderby most recently served as chief patient value & product strategy officer at Takeda after its acquisition of Shire. Prior to that, Soenderby was SVP, head of global product strategy for Shire, and held roles at Roche, Abbott (now AbbVie) and Schering-Plough.
→ PhaseBio Pharmaceuticals has brought on William Humphries to its board of directors. Humphries is currently the CEO of Isosceles Pharmaceuticals and previously served at Ortho Dermatologics, the North American business of Merz and Stiefel Laboratories.
In addition, another director at PhaseBio, Justin Klein, is stepping down.
→ Snapdragon Chemistry has appointed Donna Blackmond to its scientific advisory board. Blackmond, a chemical engineering professor, is currently the John C. Martin endowed chair in chemistry at the Scripps Research Institute.
Paul Schloesser also contributed to this edition.