Alk­er­mes pro­motes from with­in to find new CFO and COO in re­bound ef­fort; Mod­er­na vet Robert Dol­s­ki joins Check­mate as CFO

Iain Brown

→ Vow­ing to find a groove af­ter a string of bo­geys on the score­card, Richard Pops has shak­en up the C-suite at Alk­er­mes, stay­ing in-house by tap­ping Blair Jack­son as COO and Iain Brown as CFO. Jack­son, who be­gan his tenure at Alk­er­mes in 1999, moves up from the SVP post in cor­po­rate plan­ning he held for 18 years. Con­tin­u­ing a run with Alk­er­mes that dates to 2003, Brown was SVP and chief ac­count­ing of­fi­cer pri­or to the pro­mo­tion.

Brown re­places James Frates, who leaves Alk­er­mes af­ter more than 20 years as the tot­ter­ing biotech tries to re­gain its fi­nan­cial foot­ing and looks to bounce back from a CRL hand­ed down by the FDA in No­vem­ber for their an­ti-psy­chot­ic com­bo drug ALKS-3831. Alk­er­mes didn’t fare much bet­ter in 2019, cut­ting 160 jobs and get­ting their de­pres­sion drug ALKS-5461 brushed aside by the agency.

→ The new year brings two ap­point­ments to Art Krieg-found­ed Check­mate Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, start­ing with CFO Robert Dol­s­ki. Af­ter work­ing for Stéphane Ban­cel as Mod­er­na’s VP, head of fi­nan­cial plan­ning & analy­sis, Dol­s­ki heads to Cam­bridge, MA-based Check­mate af­ter a brief stint as VP, fi­nance at Akcea Ther­a­peu­tics and not long af­ter Check­mate closed on its $75 mil­lion IPO. Ad­di­tion­al­ly, Kather­ine Eade has ar­rived as Check­mate’s gen­er­al coun­sel. A mem­ber of Har­vard Bio­science’s board of di­rec­tors, Eade was pre­vi­ous­ly with Align Tech­nol­o­gy as VP, strate­gic com­mer­cial af­fairs.

Arti­va Bio­ther­a­peu­tics launched last sum­mer with a $78 mil­lion Se­ries A to fund their nat­ur­al killer cell tech­nol­o­gy and move it for­ward to the clin­ic. Now founder Tom Far­rell is tran­si­tion­ing out of the CEO role to chief strat­e­gy of­fi­cer, while Fred Aslan takes his place. Aslan moves over to Arti­va from his roles as pres­i­dent and CBO of Vi­vid­ion Ther­a­peu­tics, which just saw Diego Mi­ralles pass the CEO torch to Jef­frey Hat­field. Aslan al­so co-found­ed and was a board mem­ber of Re­cep­tos Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, pur­chased by Cel­gene in a 2015 deal worth $7.2 bil­lion.

Richard Fran­cis

Launched by Syn­cona back in No­vem­ber with a Se­ries A in the neigh­bor­hood of $60 mil­lion (£45 mil­lion), Uni­ver­si­ty of Bris­tol spin­out Pure­spring Ther­a­peu­tics has se­lect­ed Richard Fran­cis as CEO. Fran­cis ced­ed the top spot at San­doz in March 2019, not will­ing to wait on the glob­al re­vamp of No­var­tis’ gener­ics di­vi­sion: “As we an­nounced ear­li­er this year, San­doz is em­bark­ing on a sig­nif­i­cant trans­for­ma­tion. While I am ex­cit­ed by this, I re­al­ize that this is a mul­ti-year jour­ney which I can­not com­mit to and there­fore have de­cid­ed that now is the right time to step down,” Fran­cis said at the time.

Daphne Zo­har has wooed George Farmer from the an­a­lyst ranks to back to the biotech trench­es as CFO of PureTech. Farmer, who spent the past 15 years at BMO Cap­i­tal Mar­kets, had pre­vi­ous­ly served as CEO of Cor­tice Bio­sciences and VP of cor­po­rate de­vel­op­ment at Syn­ta Phar­ma, fo­cus­ing on brain ma­lig­nan­cies and can­cer, re­spec­tive­ly. He will now take over fi­nan­cial plan­ning and re­port­ing for PureTech, which has re­cent­ly start­ed list­ing on Nas­daq and ini­tat­ed three clin­i­cal tri­als.

Ai­da Habtezion

→ Fol­low­ing the au­tho­riza­tion of the Covid-19 vac­cine that was de­vel­oped with BioN­Tech, Mace Rothen­berg has de­cid­ed to move on from his CMO post at Pfiz­er, with Stan­ford’s Ai­da Habtezion re­plac­ing him. Be­fore tak­ing over as CMO in Jan­u­ary 2019, Rothen­berg spent the pre­vi­ous dozen years as the phar­ma gi­ant’s chief de­vel­op­ment of­fi­cer for on­col­o­gy. Habtezion, who ar­rived at “The Farm” in 2010 and has been an as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor of med­i­cine (gas­troen­terol­o­gy and he­pa­tol­ogy) at Stan­ford, has been giv­en a sec­ond ti­tle at Pfiz­er: head of world­wide med­ical and safe­ty.

Sung Lee

→ Af­ter earn­ing the FDA’s ap­proval in Au­gust with Mon­ju­vi for re­frac­to­ry dif­fuse large B-cell lym­phoma (DBLCL), Mor­phoSys has re­cruit­ed Gilead alum Sung Lee as CFO. Lee, who leaves Sang­amo be­hind af­ter more than a year as their CFO, spent al­most 14 years at Gilead from 2005-19 in a se­ries of posts, even­tu­al­ly work­ing his way up to SVP, fi­nan­cial plan­ning & analy­sis and in­vestor re­la­tions.

→ San Diego-based eF­FEC­TOR Ther­a­peu­tics has snagged Mike Byrnes as CFO. Byrnes takes over from Alana Mc­Nul­ty, who served as both CFO and CBO and will re­main in her role as CBO. Byrnes hails from Prin­cip­ia Bio­phar­ma (ac­quired by Sanofi), where he served as SVP of fi­nance. Pri­or to that, he held roles at Alka­h­est, Ocera Ther­a­peu­tics (ac­quired by Mallinck­rodt) and Maxy­gen among oth­ers.

Lynn Seely has passed the CEO ba­ton to Am­gen vet David Marek, an­nounc­ing her res­ig­na­tion on Sun­day ac­cord­ing to My­ovant. Marek hops aboard from his most re­cent gig as CCO at Ax­some Ther­a­peu­tics. Dur­ing his time at Am­gen, Marek helped launch the mi­graine drug Aimovig, man­aged a pact with No­var­tis and led mar­ket­ing for Am­gen’s in­flam­ma­tion and nephrol­o­gy unit. His oth­er ex­pe­ri­ences span con­sumer ser­vice and ad­ver­tis­ing.

Ra­mona Doyle

→ Com­ing off a year in which it bagged a $239 mil­lion Se­ries D and forged a part­ner­ship with Bay­er, Re­cur­sion has made Ra­mona Doyle CMO. An ex-med­ical di­rec­tor at Gilead, Genen­tech and Roche, Doyle has al­so been CEO of tele­health non­prof­it The MAVEN Pro­ject and is the for­mer CMO at Blade Ther­a­peu­tics.

→ As Nicole De­Feud­is re­port­ed this week, Wei Lin has said farewell to Nek­tar, while im­munol­o­gy head Bri­an Kotzin has been named in­ter­im CMO and head of de­vel­op­ment. In his 11 years at Am­gen, Kotzin was VP, glob­al clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment and head of the in­flam­ma­tion ther­a­peu­tic area. He then moved to Nek­tar in 2017 to lead the im­munol­o­gy space at the San Fran­cis­co biotech, which dis­card­ed its opi­oid pro­gram NK­TR-181 and sold the roy­al­ties to Adyno­vate and Movan­tik last year.

Wei Lin

→ As for Wei Lin? He says hel­lo to Eras­ca, as­sum­ing the role of CMO at the Jonathan Lim-led on­col­o­gy biotech that coaxed Genen­tech alum Michael Var­ney to be their R&D chair­man last sum­mer. Lin is a Genen­tech vet in his own right, hav­ing been glob­al de­vel­op­ment lead in can­cer im­munother­a­py for lung can­cer and head and neck can­cer be­fore jump­ing to Nek­tar in 2018. Else­where at Eras­ca, CBO David Chacko will re­place Gary Ye­ung as their CFO. Chacko, who came to Eras­ca in Au­gust 2019, was for­mer­ly a prin­ci­pal at Ver­sant Ven­tures and chief of staff to the CEO at Al­con.

→ And what about Gary Ye­ung? To close the loop on this chain re­ac­tion of lead­er­ship changes, Ye­ung has head­ed to Am­brx to take on the dual roles of CFO and COO as the com­pa­ny moves its en­gi­neered pre­ci­sion bi­o­log­ics pipeline for­ward. As with Lin and Var­ney, Ye­ung brings ex­pe­ri­ence from Genen­tech, where he held mul­ti­ple ti­tles over a 12-year pe­ri­od from 2004-16. Af­ter wrap­ping up his time at Genen­tech as se­nior di­rec­tor of pro­gram man­age­ment, Ye­ung briefly oc­cu­pied the po­si­tion of VP, busi­ness and de­vel­op­ment op­er­a­tions for An­nex­on Bio­sciences.

William Kaelin

→ Along with cash and a promi­nent in­vestor, LifeM­ine Ther­a­peu­tics has reeled in No­bel lau­re­ate William Kaelin. Kaelin, who won the 2019 No­ble Prize in phys­i­ol­o­gy or med­i­cine for his work in un­der­stand­ing how cells sense and adapt to changes in oxy­gen, is join­ing the board of di­rec­tors at the com­pa­ny, co-found­ed by Rick Klaus­ner.

→ Al­most two decades af­ter start­ing Cell­tri­on, co-founder Seo Jung-jin has re­tired from his chair­man role. Seo — the sec­ond rich­est man in Ko­rea — is leav­ing the com­pa­ny, as re­port­ed by Ko­rea Bio­med­ical Re­view, for a stab at en­tre­pre­neur­ship be­fore he re­tires, this time fo­cus­ing on blood test­ing.

→ In con­nec­tion to se­cur­ing an $80 mil­lion Se­ries C, DiCE Mol­e­cules has made the ad­di­tion of Jake Sim­son to its board of di­rec­tors. Sim­son is a part­ner at RA Cap­i­tal Man­age­ment and has served on the boards of Xenikos, Tyra Bio­sciences and Aa­van­tiBio.

→ San Diego pro­tein degra­da­tion out­fit Bio­Th­eryX has en­list­ed Robert Williamson as their new pres­i­dent and CEO, suc­ceed­ing Cel­gene co-founder David Stir­ling. Williamson helmed old Cel­gene part­ner Phar­mAkea, which merged with Galec­to a year ago at this time, as well as Phar­mAkea spin­out ATX­Co. A for­mer board mem­ber at Phar­mas­set, Williamson has oth­er CEO ex­pe­ri­ence at Ar­ri­va Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals. Bio­Th­eryX an­nounced their $35 mil­lion Se­ries D round last sum­mer to ad­vance their acute myeloid leukemia drug BTX-A51.

→ An­ti-in­flam­ma­to­ry-fo­cused Bio­mar­ck Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals has snagged Mer­ck vet Gra­ham Lums­den as pres­i­dent and CEO. Pri­or to join­ing the Durham, NC com­pa­ny, Lums­den was CEO of Mo­tif Bio. In ad­di­tion, Lums­den found­ed and was CEO of Tiemed.

Pamela Hol­land

Re­my Du­rand has been pro­mot­ed to CBO and Pamela Hol­land is on board as SVP, re­search at Seat­tle’s Alpine Im­mune Sci­ences, Mitch Gold’s crew that part­nered with Ab­b­Vie on an $865 mil­lion deal for ALPN-101 in June. Du­rand gets bumped up from SVP of busi­ness de­vel­op­ment and cor­po­rate strat­e­gy, the po­si­tion he took on when he joined Alpine in 2018. Hol­land worked in on­col­o­gy re­search at Am­gen from 2002-14, and since 2014 she’s held a se­ries of roles at Sur­face On­col­o­gy, in­clud­ing the last 4 years as VP, can­cer bi­ol­o­gy.

Io­n­is has pro­mot­ed Eu­gene Schnei­der to chief clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment of­fi­cer, hav­ing him lead clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment of an­ti­sense med­i­cines through­out the com­pa­ny’s ther­a­peu­tic fran­chis­es (Spin­raza is one of the fore­most ex­am­ples of a drug de­vel­oped with Io­n­is’ an­ti­sense tech­nol­o­gy). Schnei­der joined Io­n­is in 2013 as ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor, clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment, neu­rol­o­gy and rare dis­eases af­ter be­ing Synage­va’s se­nior med­ical di­rec­tor, clin­i­cal R&D.

An­ish Mehta

An­ish Mehta has tak­en the CEO job at Dutch biotech Syn­thon and al­so oc­cu­pies a spot as a board mem­ber. The Bax­ter vet had pre­vi­ous­ly been chief ex­ec­u­tive at women’s health phar­ma Ther­amex from 2017-20, and be­fore that, he logged 2 years as an ex­ec at Al­ler­gan, serv­ing as VP, in­ter­na­tion­al busi­ness de­vel­op­ment through­out Eu­rope, the Mid­dle East and Africa be­fore leav­ing for Ther­amex.

→ A cou­ple months af­ter nab­bing Bri­an O’Callaghan as CEO, Ob­sE­va has tapped David Re­nas as CFO. He re­places Fa­bi­en de Ladon­champs, who had been CFO on an in­ter­im ba­sis for Ob­sE­va, the Swiss biotech jostling for po­si­tion in the uter­ine fi­broid race with Ab­b­Vie and My­ovant. Like his boss O’Callaghan, Re­nas comes from Pe­tra Phar­ma, where he filled the same CFO role. He’s al­so been CFO and gen­er­al coun­sel at San­gart from 2002-14.

Scott For­rest

→ Rais­ing the cur­tain in June with a $76 mil­lion round and backed by ARCH, Au­to­bahn Ther­a­peu­tics out of San Diego — fo­cused on CNS dis­eases such as mul­ti­ple scle­ro­sis — has pro­mot­ed Scott For­rest to CFO. Ea­gle-eyed Peer Re­view read­ers may re­mem­ber For­rest took on the CBO job at the biotech in Ju­ly. Be­fore speed­ing in­to Au­to­bahn, he was COO and CFO at In­cep­tion Ther­a­peu­tics and co-found­ed Black­Thorn Ther­a­peu­tics. Mean­while, GW Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals CFO Scott Gi­a­co­bel­lo has joined Au­to­bahn’s board of di­rec­tors.

David Richards

David Richards has tak­en the helm at Na­tion­wide Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tal spin­out Claram­e­tyx Bio­sciences, which tar­gets biofilm-as­so­ci­at­ed in­fec­tions. Richards re­places Michael Triplett, who keeps his seat on the com­pa­ny’s board of di­rec­tors. Richards gets bumped up to CEO af­ter start­ing as the CFO of Colum­bus, OH-based Claram­e­tyx, which launched last year, and he was pre­vi­ous­ly VP of cor­po­rate op­er­a­tions and gen­er­al coun­sel for Aclipse Ther­a­peu­tics. Ad­di­tion­al­ly Lar­ry Ed­wards, who took the CEO job at La­Jol­la Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal af­ter the Tetraphase deal, has joined Claram­e­tyx’s board of di­rec­tors.

Mar­tin Bren­ner, who has an abun­dance of Big Phar­ma drug dis­cov­ery and de­vel­op­ment ex­pe­ri­ence with Eli Lil­ly, Pfiz­er, As­traZeneca and Mer­ck, has joined Bryan, TX-based con­tract man­u­fac­tur­ing or­ga­ni­za­tion iBio as their CSO. Bren­ner had been the chief sci­en­tist at Pfenex since March 2019, and al­so held the CSO post at Re­cur­sion for a short time. Else­where, he was the VP and head of R&D at Stoke Ther­a­peu­tics.

Ke Liu

Steve Harr has boost­ed his lead­er­ship crew at Sana Biotech­nol­o­gy — one of the End­points 11 for 2020 — by bring­ing on long­time FDA vet Ke Liu as head of reg­u­la­to­ry af­fairs & strat­e­gy. Liu spent 17 years at the agency, in­clud­ing the last 3 years as as­so­ciate di­rec­tor for cell and gene ther­a­py at the On­col­o­gy Cen­ter of Ex­cel­lence. He had al­so been chief of on­col­o­gy branch at the CBER’s Of­fice of Tis­sues and Ad­vanced Ther­a­pies (OTAT) since 2011. Else­where, Sana an­nounced a trio of new board mem­bers, head­lined by Loxo On­col­o­gy CEO Josh Bilenker. Join­ing Bilenker are Tec­ton­ic Ther­a­peu­tic pres­i­dent and CEO Alise Re­icin, and Rus­sell In­vest­ments chair­man and CEO Michelle Seitz.

→ Nav­i­gat­ing the chop­py wa­ters of NASH, San Diego-based Viking Ther­a­peu­tics is pro­mot­ing Greg Zante to CFO and Mar­i­anne Manci­ni to COO. Zante, who came to Viking in 2016 as VP of fi­nance and op­er­a­tions, has ex­pe­ri­ence as a fi­nan­cial ex­ec with Sang­amo and, more re­cent­ly, Dance Bio­pharm. Manci­ni start­ed out with Viking as their VP of clin­i­cal op­er­a­tions in 2015, and her ex­per­tise in clin­i­cal op­er­a­tions has tak­en her to Bax­ter, Are­na Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals and just be­fore Viking, Am­bit Bio­sciences.

Bren­dan De­laney

→ Cam­bridge, MA can­cer biotech Con­stel­la­tion Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals has pegged Bren­dan De­laney to be­come its chief com­mer­cial of­fi­cer, ef­fec­tive Jan 11. De­laney is com­plet­ing his three-year tenure in the CCO gig at Im­munomedics, which was ac­quired by Gilead this past fall for $21 bil­lion. His pre-Im­munomedics stops in­clude mar­ket­ing roles with No­var­tis and Genen­tech, along with six years as a mar­ket­ing ex­ec with Cel­gene.

Robert Habib-led Mi­NA Ther­a­peu­tics, four months re­moved from pock­et­ing a $30 mil­lion Se­ries A round, has in­stalled Robin Wright as CFO. Wright is the non-ex­ec­u­tive chair­man of Ox­ford spin­out Vac­citech, which co-de­vel­oped the Covid-19 vac­cine that As­traZeneca li­censed. Wright’s CFO trav­els have al­so tak­en him to Pharm­ing Group, Karolin­s­ka De­vel­op­ment and Orexo.

Craig Tooman

→ Lon­don-based Si­lence Ther­a­peu­tics con­tin­ues its lead­er­ship re­tool­ing in 2021 af­ter last year saw Mark Rothera take the helm as pres­i­dent and CEO. Si­lence has found Craig Tooman as CFO to re­place Rob Quinn, who an­nounced his de­par­ture in Oc­to­ber. Tooman is on Cure­Vac’s su­per­vi­so­ry board and au­dit com­mit­tee and he hails from Vy­ome Ther­a­peu­tics, where he was CFO and COO. Pri­or to Vy­ome, he was CFO and lat­er pres­i­dent and CEO of Aratana Ther­a­peu­tics.

→ Chaired by Cel­gene co-founder Sol Bar­er, Gaithers­burg, MD biotech Nex­Im­mune has wel­comed fel­low Cel­gene vet Jerome Zeld­is in­to the fold as EVP, R&D. At Cel­gene — which was bought out by Bris­tol My­ers Squibb for $74 bil­lion, leav­ing a CVR mess be­hind — Zeld­is was CMO and head of clin­i­cal re­search, med­ical af­fairs, and drug safe­ty, as well as the CEO of Cel­gene Glob­al Health. He’s al­so plied his CMO trade at Sor­ren­to Ther­a­peu­tics. In oth­er Nex­Im­mune de­vel­op­ments, Jef­frey We­ber, deputy di­rec­tor of the Lau­ra and Isaac Perl­mut­ter Can­cer Cen­ter at NYU Lan­gone Health, will serve as chief sci­en­tif­ic ad­vi­sor.

James Ku­piec

→ Austin, TX-based Alzheimer’s biotech Cas­sa­va Sci­ences has brought on James Ku­piec as chief clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment of­fi­cer. Ku­piec was at Pfiz­er for 17 years of his ca­reer (2000-17), serv­ing as the phar­ma gi­ant’s VP, glob­al clin­i­cal leader for Parkin­son’s dis­ease and clin­i­cal head of the neu­ro­science re­search unit. He’s most re­cent­ly been CMO at an­oth­er neu­rode­gen­er­a­tive dis­or­der biotech, ProMIS Neu­ro­sciences. In March 2019, Cas­sa­va put all their prover­bial cards on the ta­ble and re­cal­i­brat­ed ful­ly to Alzheimer’s, chang­ing their name from Pain Ther­a­peu­tics af­ter strik­ing out on their opi­oid Re­moxy.

Clin­i­genwhich bought the trou­bled IL-2 can­cer drug, Pro­leukin, sold by No­var­tis back in 2018, has named Sam Her­bert as COO.  He will be based in the UK. Pri­or to join­ing the com­pa­ny, Her­bert was at World Couri­er, where he start­ed as VP strat­e­gy, mov­ing on­to COO, be­fore fi­nal­ly be­com­ing pres­i­dent.

Brii Bio­sciences part­ner Qpex Bio­phar­ma, fo­cused on ES­BL en­zymes with an an­ti-in­fec­tive port­fo­lio sup­port­ed by BAR­DA, has cor­ralled Paul West­berg as CBO. West­berg has al­so been CBO at Ver­sar­tis, which merged with Ar­a­vive in 2018. Af­ter start­ing his ca­reer at Genen­tech, he would lat­er be a busi­ness de­vel­op­ment ex­ec at No­vacea and Bay­hill Ther­a­peu­tics.

Clare Grace

→ CRO Parex­el has cre­at­ed the new po­si­tion of chief pa­tient of­fi­cer, “fur­ther demon­strat­ing Parex­el’s com­mit­ment to el­e­vate the pa­tient per­spec­tive so that their unique needs can be used to shape the con­duct of fu­ture clin­i­cal stud­ies,” ac­cord­ing to the state­ment. It will be filled first by vet Clare Grace, who was pre­vi­ous­ly Sy­neos Health’s VP, site & pa­tient ac­cess. In the 2000s, Grace was a study de­liv­ery leader in non-small cell lung can­cer for As­traZeneca.

→ In the wake of the late De­cem­ber re­verse merg­er with Nan­tK­west, Cal­i­for­nia im­munother­a­py play­er Im­mu­ni­ty­Bio has ap­point­ed Fabio Benedet­ti as chief strat­e­gy of­fi­cer. Be­fore this lat­est en­deav­or at Im­mu­ni­ty­Bio — helmed by Patrick Soon-Sh­iong — Benedet­ti was CMO at Apol­lomics and glob­al CMO at Tai­ho Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal. He start­ed his bio­phar­ma ca­reer as a med­ical di­rec­tor for Bris­tol My­ers Squibb and Roche.

Di­anne Whit­field

→ Irvine, CA-based Tar­sus Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals had a busy 2020 with per­son­nel changes — a new COO, CFO and CCO among them — and they pick up right where they left off by ap­point­ing Di­anne Whit­field as chief hu­man re­sources of­fi­cer. Be­fore head­ing to Tar­sus, which is in Phase IIb/III with its lead drug for De­mod­ex ble­phar­i­tis, Whit­field was VP and head of hu­man re­sources at Botox com­peti­tor Evo­lus, and from 2007-19 she held mul­ti­ple HR roles at Al­ler­gan.

→ New Jer­sey-based biotech Celldex has pro­mot­ed Fred­dy Jimenez to the po­si­tion of SVP and gen­er­al coun­sel. Jimenez joined the com­pa­ny in 2016 as VP, law and com­pli­ance. Pri­or to that, Jimenez had a 23-year stint at J&J.

Taysha Gene Ther­a­pies, which went pub­lic with a bang last year with a $157 mil­lion IPO just five months af­ter its Se­ries A fi­nanc­ing, has re­cruit­ed Greg Gara as SVP of man­u­fac­tur­ing and Kim­ber­ly Lee as SVP of cor­po­rate com­mu­ni­ca­tions and in­vestor re­la­tions. Gara hails from Sarep­ta, where he was VP of phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal en­gi­neer­ing. Pri­or to that, he served in roles at AveX­is and Am­gen. Mean­while, Lee comes from Lex­i­con Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, where she most re­cent­ly served as head of cor­po­rate strat­e­gy and in­vestor re­la­tions. Pri­or to that, she was at Rap­tor Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals and a sell-side an­a­lyst at Jef­feries and Wed­bush Se­cu­ri­ties.

→ Eye dis­ease play­er Oc­u­lar Ther­a­peu­tix out of Bed­ford, MA has pro­mot­ed Michael Gold­stein to pres­i­dent, oph­thal­mol­o­gy, while call­ing up­on Ra­bia Gurs­es Oz­den to be SVP, clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment. Gold­stein leaps in­to the new po­si­tion af­ter three years as Oc­u­lar’s CMO, a ti­tle which he will keep. Oz­den, who spent time at GSK as the phar­ma gi­ant’s VP and head of clin­i­cal oph­thal­mol­o­gy, had most re­cent­ly held the chief de­vel­op­ment of­fi­cer post at Ak­ou­os and is the ex-CMO of Night­star Ther­a­peu­tics.

Richard Law

Richard Law has been named EVP of strate­gic al­liances at UK-based AI drug dis­cov­ery biotech Ex­sci­en­tia, which just net­ted a $4.2 mil­lion grant from the Bill & Melin­da Gates Foun­da­tion last month and raised $60 mil­lion from a Se­ries C in May 2020. Law spent more than a dozen years at Evotec, in­clud­ing the last 7 ½ years as their SVP of busi­ness de­vel­op­ment.

→ Af­ter break­ing in a new CMO, CFO and com­mu­ni­ca­tions VP in 2020, per­son­al­ized T cell ther­a­py play­er Achilles Ther­a­peu­tics is ring­ing in 2021 with Ar­jan Roozen as VP, site head and gen­er­al man­ag­er. Roozen brings ex­pe­ri­ence as chief tech­nol­o­gy of­fi­cer at Zel­lu­na Im­munother­a­py the last two years, and pri­or to his tenure there, he was VP, GMP so­lu­tions/man­u­fac­tur­ing at Cel­lec­tis.

Ab­b­Vie part­ner Enan­ta Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals has fol­lowed up their De­cem­ber hire of Tara Ki­ef­fer with an­oth­er ap­point­ment: VP of trans­la­tion­al vi­rol­o­gy John DeVin­cen­zo. He hails from Le Bon­heur Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tal in Mem­phis and was med­ical di­rec­tor of the hos­pi­tal’s Mol­e­c­u­lar Di­ag­nos­tic and Vi­rol­o­gy Lab­o­ra­to­ries. DeVin­cen­zo has al­so been a pro­fes­sor at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Ten­nessee Col­lege of Med­i­cine.

Gre­go­ry Cos­grove

Pli­ant Ther­a­peu­tics, the South San Fran­cis­co fi­bro­sis spe­cial­ist that joined the mas­sive IPO pa­rade of 2020 with a $144 mil­lion raise in May, has sin­gled out Gre­go­ry Cos­grove to be their VP of clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment, IPF (id­io­path­ic pul­monary fi­bro­sis). Cos­grove was pre­vi­ous­ly CMO for the Pul­monary Fi­bro­sis Foun­da­tion since 2014.

William Roberts has been se­lect­ed as VP, in­vestor re­la­tions & cor­po­rate com­mu­ni­ca­tions at G1 Ther­a­peu­tics, the on­col­o­gy biotech out of the Re­search Tri­an­gle in North Car­oli­na that changed CEOs from Mark Vel­le­ca to Jack Bai­ley ef­fec­tive Jan 1. The PDU­FA date for G1’s tri­laci­clib is Feb 15. In the past, Roberts has been an in­vestor re­la­tions di­rec­tor with Med­Im­mune and an in­vestor re­la­tions VP with Adap­ti­m­mune and Zyner­ba Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals.

DURECT, which re­ceived a split ad­vi­so­ry pan­el vote on their non-opi­oid drug to man­age post-sur­gi­cal pain last year — has added two new mem­bers to its board of di­rec­tors. The Cu­per­ti­no, CA-based com­pa­ny wel­comed Gail Maderis and Mo­ham­mad Az­ab to the fold. Maderis comes aboard af­ter serv­ing as pres­i­dent and CEO of An­ti­va Bio­sciences. In ad­di­tion, she served as pres­i­dent and CEO of Five Prime Ther­a­peu­tics and held roles at Gen­zyme. Mean­while, Az­ab hails from As­tex Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, where he for­mer­ly served as pres­i­dent and CMO. Az­ab has al­so pre­vi­ous­ly served in roles at As­traZeneca and Sanofi.

David Meek­er

David Meek­er, who signed on as CEO of Rhythm Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals last sum­mer, has added chair­man of Phar­varis to his list of ti­tles. Else­where at Phar­varis, which back in No­vem­ber gath­ered up $80 mil­lion in a Se­ries C used to tar­get hered­i­tary an­gioede­ma, Or­biMed part­ner Robert Glass­man has al­so been added to the board.

En­tra­da Ther­a­peu­tics — the start­up launched by 5AM and MPM Cap­i­tal to de­vel­op ther­a­pies based on a fam­i­ly of cell-pen­e­trat­ing small cyclic pep­tides that Ohio State pro­fes­sor De­hua Pei dis­cov­ered — has made the ad­di­tion of Pe­ter Kim to its board of di­rec­tors. Cur­rent­ly, Kim serves as a pro­fes­sor of bio­chem­istry at Stan­ford Uni­ver­si­ty, in­sti­tute schol­ar at Stan­ford ChEM-H and lead in­ves­ti­ga­tor of the in­fec­tious dis­ease ini­tia­tive at the Chan Zucker­berg Bio­hub. Pre­vi­ous­ly, Kim was pres­i­dent of Mer­ck Re­search Lab­o­ra­to­ries.

Sel­wyn Vick­ers

For­ma Ther­a­peu­tics, which went pub­lic this year and raised $320 mil­lion in large part on the strength of their Phase I/II sick­le cell pro­gram, has ap­point­ed Sel­wyn Vick­ers to its board of di­rec­tors. Vick­ers cur­rent­ly serves as SVP of med­i­cine and dean of the School of Med­i­cine at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Al­aba­ma at Birm­ing­ham.

Dave John­son

→ Chaired by George Golumbes­ki, on­col­o­gy play­er Au­ra Bio­sciences out of Cam­bridge, MA has wel­comed ex-Ac­er­ta Phar­ma CEO Dave John­son to the board of di­rec­tors. John­son found­ed and is CEO of Velos­Bio, which Mer­ck bought for $2.75 bil­lion two months ago in one of Roger Perl­mut­ter’s vale­dic­to­ry moves.

→ Neu­ro­log­i­cal and liv­er dis­ease-fo­cused gene ther­a­py de­vel­op­er Apic Bio has made Stephen Hoff­man chair­man of the board. The ex-CEO of Aer­pio Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals has oth­er board seats at Dicer­na and Acel­Rx to his cred­it.

Jing Marantz

→ Pitts­burgh gene ther­a­py play­er Krys­tal Biotech has ex­pand­ed its board of di­rec­tors with Chris Ma­son and Jing Marantz. Ma­son found­ed Avro­bio in 2015 and is their CSO, while Marantz is Ac­celeron’s SVP and head of med­ical af­fairs.

James Su­lat is now on the board of di­rec­tors at Ex­i­cure, the gene ex­pres­sion biotech chaired by Tim Wal­bert that us­es SNA (spher­i­cal nu­cle­ic acid) tech­nol­o­gy. Su­lat, the for­mer CEO of Maxy­gen and Mem­o­ry Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, is a board mem­ber at Val­ne­va and Arch Ther­a­peu­tics.

Kath­leen La­Porte

Kath­leen La­Porte has re­served a seat on the board of di­rec­tors at Red­wood City, CA im­muno-on­col­o­gy out­fit Bolt Bio­ther­a­peu­tics, which last sum­mer col­lect­ed $93.5 mil­lion in a Se­ries C led by Sofinno­va In­vest­ments. La­Porte was the CEO of Nodal­i­ty and is a board mem­ber at such com­pa­nies as Ely­si­um Ther­a­peu­tics and Pre­ci­pio Di­ag­nos­tics.

Jnana Ther­a­peu­tics — the biotech that billed it­self as the first to fo­cus sole­ly and sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly on the solute car­ri­er, or SLC trans­porter, fam­i­ly — has wel­comed An­nie Chen and Katal­in Susz­tak to its sci­en­tif­ic ad­vi­so­ry board. Chen cur­rent­ly serves as CMO at Nim­bus Ther­a­peu­tics, while Susz­tak is a pro­fes­sor of med­i­cine at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Penn­syl­va­nia Perel­man School of Med­i­cine.

→ A sci­en­tif­ic ad­vi­so­ry board has been as­sem­bled at Con­nect Bio­phar­ma, which scored a $115 mil­lion Se­ries C in Au­gust 2020 that aids in de­vel­op­ment of CBP-307 (in Phase IIs for ul­cer­a­tive col­i­tis and Crohn’s dis­ease) and CBP-201 (in Phase II for atopic der­mati­tis). The septet in­cludes John Fahy, Bri­an Fea­gan, Em­ma Guttman-Yassky, Ed­ward Ker­win, David Ru­bin, Bruce Strober and Stu­art Swiedler.

At the In­flec­tion Point for the Next Gen­er­a­tion of Can­cer Im­munother­a­py

While oncology researchers have long pursued the potential of cellular immunotherapies for the treatment of cancer, it was unclear whether these therapies would ever reach patients due to the complexity of manufacturing and costs of development. Fortunately, the recent successful development and regulatory approval of chimeric antigen receptor-engineered T (CAR-T) cells have demonstrated the significant benefit of these therapies to patients.

All about Omi­cron; We need more Covid an­tivi­rals; GSK snags Pfiz­er’s vac­cine ex­ec; Janet Wood­cock’s fu­ture at FDA; and more

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Merck's new antiviral molnupiravir (Quality Stock Arts / Shutterstock)

As Omi­cron spread looms, oral an­tivi­rals ap­pear to be one of the best de­fens­es — now we just need more

After South African scientists reported a new Covid-19 variant — dubbed Omicron by the WHO — scientists became concerned about how effective vaccines and monoclonal antibodies might be against it, which has more than 30 mutations in the spike protein.

“I think it is super worrisome,” Dartmouth professor and Adagio co-founder and CEO Tillman Gerngross told Endpoints News this weekend. Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel echoed similar concerns, telling the Financial Times that experts warned him, “This is not going to be good.”

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Lisa Deschamps, AviadoBio CEO

Ex-No­var­tis busi­ness head hops over to a gene ther­a­py start­up — and she's reeled in $80M for a dash to the clin­ic

Neurologist and King’s College London professor Christopher Shaw has been researching neurodegenerative diseases like ALS and collaborating with drugmakers for the last 25 years in the hopes of pushing new therapies forward. But unfortunately, none of those efforts have come anywhere close to fruition.

“So, you know, after 20 years in the game, I said, ‘Let’s try and do it ourselves,’” he told Endpoints News. 

In­cor­po­rat­ing Ex­ter­nal Da­ta in­to Clin­i­cal Tri­als: Com­par­ing Dig­i­tal Twins to Ex­ter­nal Con­trol Arms

Most drug development professionals are familiar with the nerve-racking wait for the read-out of a large trial. If it’s negative, is the investigational therapy ineffective? Or could the failure result from an unforeseen flaw in the design or execution of the protocol, rather than a lack of efficacy? The team could spend weeks analyzing data, but a definitive answer may be elusive due to insufficient power for such analyses in the already completed trial. These problems are only made worse if the trial had lower enrollment, or higher dropout than expected due to an unanticipated event like COVID-19. And if a trial is negative, the next one is likely to be larger and more costly — if it happens at all.

Ab­b­Vie tacks on a new warn­ing to Rin­voq la­bel as safe­ty frets crimp JAK class

The safety problems that continue to plague the JAK class as new data highlight some severe side effects are casting a large shadow over AbbVie’s Rinvoq.

As a result of a recent readout highlighting major adverse cardiac events (MACE), malignancy, mortality and thrombosis with Xeljanz a couple of months ago, AbbVie put out a notice late Friday afternoon that it is adding the new class risks to its label for their rival drug.

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Biospec­i­men M&A: Dis­cov­ery ac­quires Al­bert Li's he­pa­to­cyte project; PhI­II tri­al on Bay­er's Nube­qa reached pri­ma­ry end­point

Discovery Life Sciences has acquired what claims to be the Maryland-based host of the world’s largest hepatocyte inventory, known as IVAL, to help researchers select more effective and safer drug candidates in the future.

The combined companies will now serve a wider range of drug research and development scientists, according to Albert Li, who founded IVAL in 2004 and is set to join the Discovery leadership team as the CSO of pharmacology and toxicology.

Pfiz­er, Am­gen and Janssen seek fur­ther clar­i­ty on FDA's new ben­e­fit-risk guid­ance

Three top biopharma companies are seeking more details from the FDA on how the agency conducts its benefit-risk assessments for new drugs and biologics.

While Pfizer, Amgen and Janssen praised the agency for further spelling out its thinking on the subject in a new draft guidance, including a discussion of patient experience data as part of the assessment, the companies said the FDA could’ve included more specifics in the 20-page draft document.

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Re­searchers move clos­er to de­ci­pher­ing blood clots from As­traZeneca, J&J's Covid-19 vac­cines

Researchers may be nearing an answer for the mysterious and life-threatening blood clots that appeared on very rare occasions in people who received the J&J or AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine.

The new work builds on an early hypothesis researchers in Norway put forward last spring, when the cases first cropped up. They proposed the events were similar to blood clots that can occur in a small subset of patients who receive heparin, one of the most commonly used blood thinners.