Alnylam’s John Maraganore isn’t the only CEO to leave his post; CRISPR’s chief commercial officer takes the helm at a protein degradation player
The departure of a number of CEOs is the prevailing theme that kicks off this week’s installment: In a stunner, Alnylam CEO John Maraganore announced that Yvonne Greenstreet will be his successor at the end of the year. Maraganore, the Cambridge, MA biotech’s founding chief executive since 2002 who has helped invigorate the RNAi space, will step into a consulting role until March 31 and maintain his presence in the company as a member of the scientific advisory board.
Maraganore told our John Carroll a couple years back that retirement wasn’t on the table, but instead Alnylam will be led by Greenstreet, who replaced current Sage CEO Barry Greene as the company’s president in August 2020 and is also COO.
This week, Alnylam unspooled positive data for what the biotech hopes will become its fourth RNAi approval with its drug vutrisiran for polyneuropathy associated with hereditary transthyretin-mediated (hATTR) amyloidosis. Lumasiran (marketed as Oxlumo) was approved in November 2020.
Meanwhile, the search is underway for a permanent CEO to replace Barry Labinger at cancer-focused Checkmate Pharmaceuticals, while board member Alan Fuhrman steps up to the plate on an interim basis. Labinger succeeded founder and current CSO Art Krieg in December 2018 and steered Checkmate to a $75 million IPO in July 2020 with a heavy reliance on its TLR9 agonist vidutolimod (CMP-001), but the stock price has dwindled significantly since its Nasdaq debut. Fuhrman, the CFO for Amplyx from 2017-20, is a member of the board of directors at SpringWorks Therapeutics and Esperion.
Starting Nov. 8, there will also be a change at the top of South San Francisco T cell engager biotech Harpoon Therapeutics, with Julie Eastland succeeding Jerry McMahon as CEO. McMahon, who announced his resignation this week, had been Harpoon’s chief executive since December 2016 and presided over a company in decline after its prostate cancer candidate HPN424 massively underwhelmed in a Phase I/IIa study, gutting the stock price. Before accepting her first CEO job, Eastland held dual roles as COO and CFO at ReCode Therapeutics and currently has board seats at Graybug Vision and Dynavax.
Lastly in this group, Jed Latkin has resigned from his three-pronged responsibilities of CEO, CFO and COO at Dublin, OH-based Navidea Biopharmaceuticals, a biotech concentrating on precision immunodiagnostic agents. Navidea has set up an Office of the CEO until a successor is named, comprised of three board members and two execs: chairman Alexander Cappello, vice chair John Scott, Thomas Farb (who was just appointed to the board with Agnieszka Winkler effective Oct. 7), CMO Michael Rosol, and VP of finance and administration Erika Eves.
→ CRISPR Therapeutics chief commercial officer Philippe Drouet has exited stage left to take on the CEO job at BioTheryX, a protein degradation outfit based in San Diego that gathered up a Series E round in May. Drouet didn’t stick around at CRISPR for very long — he was named CCO in February after five years at Merck, where he had been integral to the launch of Keytruda as the drug giant’s SVP, oncology global marketing & market access. While with Novartis, Drouet wore several hats, from head of oncology marketing in Canada to VP of the US hematology franchise.
→ Swedish oncology player Medivir has tapped AstraZeneca alum Jens Lindberg as CEO while Magnus Christensen stays on as interim CEO until Lindberg takes over “within six months,” according to the release. Lindberg, the acting CEO and VP of commercial at Sedana Medical, held a series of posts in nearly a quarter century at AstraZeneca that culminated in his role as VP of oncology in the Nordic-Baltic region. There’s been a revolving door lately at the top spot at Medivir after Uli Hacksell replaced Christine Lind in 2018 and the company slashed 60 other jobs in the process. In September 2020, Yilmaz Mahshid became Medivir’s CEO but bolted abruptly to take the CFO job at Egetis Therapeutics.
→ The FDA’s approval of Fabrazyme in March forced lentiviral gene therapy outfit Avrobio to go back to the drawing board with its own Fabry disease drug, so it would seem the promotion of Essra Ridha to CMO is an important step toward giving AVR-RD-01 the sturdy footing it needs. Prior to her previous responsibilities as Avrobio’s VP, clinical development, Ridha was senior medical director, clinical sciences, gene edited cell therapy during almost two years at Sangamo. She also had a three-year run at GlaxoSmithKline, taking on the role of clinical development director, cell & gene therapy, rare diseases.
→ In another case of the band getting back together, Loretta Itri has been named CMO at Aadi Bioscience, which reverse merged with Aerpio Therapeutics in May and where ex-Immunomedics CEO Behzad Aghazadeh is a board member. Like Aadi’s newly-arrived COO, Brendan Delaney, Itri is an Immunomedics alum, having been CMO when Gilead opened up the pocketbook to purchase the biotech for $21 billion last year. She’s also served as EVP of global health sciences and regulatory affairs at The Medicines Company.
→ Beginning its odyssey to solve the transcription factor puzzle with an $82 million Series A in May, Third Rock biotech Flare Therapeutics has selected Daphne Karydas as COO and CFO, while Michaela Bowden gets the nod as SVP of biology and translation. Karydas is an Allergan alum in corporate financial planning and investor relations who just completed a year as CFO of Syndax Pharmaceuticals, and Bowden spent the last three years at Bristol Myers Squibb, leaving the drug giant as executive director of translational biology.
→ Lowell, MA neuro biotech Alcyone Therapeutics broke through in June with a $23 million Series A and a game plan to tackle Rett syndrome out of the gates. CEO PJ Anand has now surrounded himself with four new execs in this effort, with CMO and global head of R&D Ottavio Vitolo leading off. The former head of neuromuscular clinical research at Pfizer, Vitolio co-founded Vitem Therapeutics and was CMO and R&D chief at Relmada Therapeutics from 2018-20.
Who else is joining Vitolo? Credit Suisse and Cowen vet Ravi Mehrotra (CFO and head of strategy) recently worked with Umer Raffat and Josh Schimmer as senior managing director of Evercore’s healthcare research team. Susan D’Costa (EVP and global head of technology) comes to Alcyone from Thermo Fisher, where she was senior director, technical program design. And Rachel Salzman (EVP of portfolio, external affairs & development) founded and was president and CEO of CNS gene therapy outfit SwanBio.
→ Making its push into the European market, Amylyx has appointed Stéphanie Hoffmann-Gendebien as head, general manager in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA). Hoffmann-Gendebien, a longtime Genzyme staffer, was a managing director and founding partner at GH Partners since 2019, when she left rare disease biotech Clementia Pharmaceuticals as VP, general manager, EMEA after Ipsen snapped it up for $1.3 billion. Co-led by Justin Klee and Josh Cohen, Amylyx said in April that they planned on submitting a marketing application to the EMA by the end of the year for its ALS candidate AMX0035, and after the FDA initially balked at an NDA, the agency did a 180 on the request in September.
→ Focusing on the blood-brain barrier, Travecta Therapeutics named Charles Ryan president and CEO in June after helming Neurotrope. Ryan has now fleshed out his leadership team with a big batch of execs and board members, starting with CMO and head of R&D Donald Manning, a Novartis and Celgene vet who was CMO at Shionogi and then Adynxx from 2012-20. Peter Milligan (CFO) was previously the finance chief at Exelis, G&W Laboratories and most recently Melinta, a role currently held by Susan Blum. Peter Tate (head of Singapore operations and senior director, business development), a one-time Pfizer scientist, wrapped up a 10-year association with EMD Serono in 2020 as the Merck KGaA sub’s associate director, pharmaceutical technologies. Peter Honig jumps to Travecta’s scientific advisory board after retiring from Pfizer as head of global regulatory affairs and group head of development for China and Japan.
Finally, Ryan will occupy a seat on Travecta’s board of directors alongside former Allergan exec June Bray, Ivan Gergel, Pascal Heberling and Bob Huang.
→ You may recall Triumvira’s leadership moves in April, when the Paul Lammers-led T cell biotech named Teresa McRoberts as CFO and promoted Andreas Bader and Jon Irvin to CSO and VP of finance, respectively. Triumvira has found a CMO this week, and it’s Deyaa Adib, who was just the acting CMO for Rain Therapeutics and has been VP of late-stage development at Blueprint Medicines. A Sanofi and Astellas vet, Adib served as Baxalta’s global therapeutics head for solid tumors. In August 2020, Triumvira nabbed $55 million in a Series A that “will give us a nice runway to do a lot of fun stuff,” as Lammers said at the time, with its T cell antigen coupler (TAC) technology.
→ Onchilles Pharma has hired a slew of new faces to its leadership team with the appointments of Christopher Twitty (CSO); Ingrid Joseph (SVP, preclinical development); and Sonia Feau (director of biology). Twitty brings with him experience from his time at Bayer, Cell Genesys, Tocagen and OncoSec Medical. Meanwhile, Joseph served as VP of pharmacology and toxicology at Synthorx; senior director of pharmacology and bioimaging at Astellas; and director of oncopharmacology at Biogen. Last, but not least, Feau joins from Oncorus, where she served as associate director of immunology. Prior to that stint, Feau was with Merck and Merrimack Pharmaceuticals.
→ German CDMO Rentschler Biopharma, which will have a presence at the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult in the UK by next year, has appointed Robert Panting as general manager of Rentschler ATMP, Center of Excellence for Cell and Gene Therapy. Prior to Rentschler, Panting spent a decade at Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies, where he most recently served as president for program management and sales & operations planning.
→ Bryan Jennings is making his way over to Noxxon Pharma as the company’s new CFO. Jennings brings aboard experience from his time as CFO at Peptilogics, KAHR Bio, Beren Therapeutics, Rational Vaccines and ChemomAb. In addition to those stints, Jennings was CFO and CEO at Vista Capital Advisors and was with Morgan Stanley as managing director, head of capital markets and risk management.
→ After just bringing aboard Mason Freeman as EVP, clinical development last week, CinCor Pharma has now added Terry Coelho to its ranks as EVP, CFO and chief business development officer. Coelho joins the Cincinnati-based biotech from BioDelivery Services International, where she served as EVP and CFO. Prior to that, Coelho was CFO of Balchem Corp, CFO and COO of Diversey, and held leadership roles with Novartis.
→ PepGen, the Boston-based Oxford spinout that received $112.5 million in Series B financing back in August for its lead programs in muscular dystrophy, has appointed Noel Donnelly as CFO. Donnelly has spent much of his career at Shire, where he has served as VP, R&D business and strategy and, most recently, as head of R&D finance.
→ Whole Lotta love: Lotta Ferm will be an interim CFO no more at Swedish cancer biotech Immunicum, taking over on a permanent basis starting Monday. Ferm initially took the interim job on Feb. 1 after a string of CFO posts at such Swedish companies as Medivir and Doktor24. In March, Immunicum filled its CMO vacancy with ex-Kiadis medical chief Jeroen Rovers.
→ Pfizer alum David Gray has signed on to be CSO at Inscopix, a company out of Palo Alto focused on treating neurodegenerative and neuropsychiatric diseases using its brain mapping platform. After 15 years at Pfizer, the last three of those as a senior director in neuro, Gray then moved to Cerevel as VP in charge of development for its Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s programs.
→ New Jersey drug discovery company Vyant Bio, focused on neurology and oncology, has pegged Robert Fremeau as CSO. Camp4 turned to Fremeau — a former scientific director in neuroscience during his decade at Amgen — to fill the role of senior director, translational sciences, neuroimmunology in 2019 and later became executive director, CNS discovery before his exit in January.
→ At the same time as completing its acquisition of Bayon Therapeutics, EyeGate Pharmaceuticals has tapped Bayon’s co-founder and director Eric Daniels as chief development officer. Daniels also comes aboard from OccuRx, where he was CEO. Prior to those roles, Daniels was co-founder and director of Okogen and served at Cytori Therapeutics among others.
→ Swiss-based Celonic has named Alexandre Pasini as COO, succeeding Vikalp Mohan — who will now be serving as CBO. Pasini joins the company after a stint as COO at SaniSure. Prior to that, Pasini spent over a decade at Lonza in roles ranging from site director to head of global bioscience operations.
→ Following the appointment of chief manufacturing officer Tushar Misra in August, Cambridge, MA antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) player Mersana Therapeutics has installed Mohan Bala as SVP, strategic product planning & program leadership. Fellow Tesaro alum Brian DeSchuytner, who once had strategic product planning duties, earns a promotion to SVP and CFO. Bala gets a fresh start here after less than a year as COO at Constellation Pharmaceuticals, and he also brings Big Pharma credentials from J&J (Centocor), GSK and Sanofi.
→ Doug Girgenti has taken over as VP of drug development at Melinta Therapeutics. Prior to joining Melinta, Girgenti led clinical development programs as senior medical director at Magenta Therapeutics. Girgenti has also supervised global development programs at Wyeth/Pfizer and Boehringer Ingelheim.
→ Exo Therapeutics has brought on Dorothy Lou Bailey as SVP, corporate development and strategy. Most notably, Bailey has served as head of corporate development at Blackthorn Therapeutics. With its roots in David Liu’s Harvard lab, Exo — the exosite-focused biotech led by CEO Michael Bruce — made the news earlier this month with its $78 million Series B round.
→ Penny stock kidney disease player Unicycive Therapeutics, which priced its IPO at $25 million after originally filing for a $36 million offering, has lined up pharma vet Douglas Jermasek as EVP, corporate strategy. Jermasek writes a new chapter at Unicycive after his time at Akebia (then Keryx after the merger) as SVP, marketing and strategy, and to close out 12 years at Genzyme from 2014, he was Sanofi’s SVP and general manager, head of renal global business unit.
→ Pascal Bamford is venturing off to Akoya Biosciences, which started a spatial biology partnership in June with AstraZeneca, as SVP, R&D and laboratory operations. Like Akoya’s COO, Frederic Pla, Bamford is a Genomic Health alum, serving as SVP of products and services R&D before and after Exact Sciences ponied up $2.8 billion to buy the company in the summer of 2019.
→ After nabbing regulatory affairs and CMC execs in March, San Diego oncology player Aptose has promoted Janet Clennett to VP, finance and picked up Roger Davies as VP, operations. Clennett originally moved on to Aptose as director of finance after her time in the same capacity and as acting CFO at ProMIS Neurosciences. With experience under his belt at CROs (Icon) and pharma giants (Novartis), Davies comes off a three-year stay with Intercept in clinical operations.
→ Lumicks, a Dutch provider of single molecule and cell avidity analysis, has pulled in Joshua Young as VP of investor relations, communications and strategy. Once the head of investor relations at Merck KGaA, Young comes to Lumicks after a short tenure as the VP of investor relations at Everbridge.
→ What’s next for Tal Zaks after leaving Moderna and joining the board at Teva? He’ll be rolling in the Deep as he gets a spot on the strategic advisory board at Deep Genomics, Brendan Frey’s Toronto-based AI and machine learning shop that has a boatload of new cash in the form of a $180 million Series C from July to push its batch of RNA therapies to the clinic. Since Zaks’ departure as CMO, Moderna has taken more heat for the lack of availability of its Covid-19 vaccine in lower- and middle-income countries, which the biotech tried to ameliorate this week by ramping up production for the African Union.
→ Running alongside its $100 million Series C from earlier in the week, New York anti-aging biotech Cambrian Biopharma has welcomed one of its investors, ex-Allergan CEO Brent Saunders, to the board of directors. Saunders, who chairs the board at little-known OcuTerra, “hit it off” with CEO James Peyer, as our Jason Mast notes. Paul Farr, a partner at Anthos Capital — which co-led the round with SALT Fund — also takes a seat on Cambrian’s board.
→ Scott Myers is having himself a week. Not only has he been named chairman at Harpoon, he has replaced Andrew Hack as chairman of the board at Dynavax — since May 2020, Hack had chaired the vaccine biotech on an interim basis. Myers, the CEO of AMAG Pharmaceuticals for a hot second until it was acquired by Covis last fall, is on the boards of Selecta Biosciences and Trillium Therapeutics, which Pfizer bought out for $2.3 billion in August.
→ Neil Kumar’s crew at BridgeBio, which is partnering with Bristol Myers to explore a drug combo involving Opdivo and SHP2 inhibitor BBP-398, has named Hannah Valantine to the board of directors. Valantine, a professor at the Stanford University School of Medicine, was the first chief officer for scientific workforce diversity at the NIH from 2014-20.
→ Bristol Myers’ global R&D chief Rupert Vessey has been elected to the board of directors at Nereid Therapeutics, part of a biomolecular condensate field that also includes Dewpoint and Faze Medicines. NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital EVP and COO Laura Forese is joining Vessey on Nereid’s board.
→ Boston-based BYOMass has recruited Declan Doogan and Stephen Hoffman to its board of directors. Doogan is the CMO and co-founder of Juvenescence, while Hoffman most recently served as CRO of Aerpio Pharmaceuticals. Besides his stint at Juvenescence, Doogan is the chairman and co-founder of Biohaven Pharmaceuticals and previously worked with Pfizer and Amarin. Meanwhile, this isn’t Hoffman’s first board appointment. He also sits on the boards of AcelRx Pharmaceuticals, Dicerna Pharmaceuticals, Danforth Advisors, and Apic Bio.
→ Verastem Oncology has made room for Michelle Robertson on the board of directors. Robertson, the CFO for Jim Mullen at Editas Medicine, has also been CFO for Momenta before it was sold to J&J in 2020.
→ Speaking of Editas, Bernadette Connaughton has joined the board of directors — one that also includes C4 CEO Andrew Hirsch and the newest board member at Werewolf Therapeutics, Legend SVP Meeta Chatterjee. Connaughton, a longtime Bristol Myers exec who left in 2017 as president, intercontinental, has board seats at Syneos Health, Zealand Pharma and Halozyme.
→ Hanmi Science CEO Jong-yoon Lim has been tapped as a registered director of Oxford Vacmedix. Prior to his current role at Hanmi Science, Lim was CEO of Hanmi Pharmaceuticals and head of Beijing Hanmi Pharm.
→ HCW Biologics has brought on Lisa Giles and Gary Winer to its board of directors. Giles is the managing director and CEO of Giles & Associates Consultancy and currently sits on the board of Milestone Pharmaceuticals. Earlier in her career, Giles served at Abbott Laboratories. Meanwhile, Winer previously served as president and CEO of Orgentec Diagnostika. Earlier in his career, Winer held stints at Abbott and was VP of global commercial strategies at AbbVie and president and CEO of AbbVie Japan.
→ Jonathan Arnold, Catalent’s president, oral and special delivery, has joined the board of directors of ANGUS Chemical Company. Prior to his current position at Catalent, Arnold served as VP and general manager of the company’s drug delivery solutions business unit. Prior to Catalent, Arnold was with Pantheon.
→ Synendos Therapeutics has appointed the following members to its scientific advisory board: Karl-Heinz Altmann, Anahita Bassir Nia, Graeme Bilbe, Jürg Gertsch, and Kirsten Müller-Vahl. In November of last year, the Swiss-based startup raised $21.85 million in Series A financing to develop therapies for neuropsychiatric disorders.