Amy Burroughs to lead Cleave Therapeutics; Cynthia Collins clinches Editas CEO job amid historic CRISPR move
→ After bagging $12 million to advance its lead drug candidate CB-5339 — a (VCP)/p97 inhibitor — through early clinical development, Cleave Therapeutics is beefing up its executive team. Amy Burroughs will be leading the helm as CEO while Scott Harris joins as COO. Burroughs was an executive-in-residence at 5AM Ventures, which led the recent financing, where she also served as a strategic commercial advisor to portfolio company Crinetics Pharmaceuticals. Given her early experience with the team at Genentech and background in life sciences consulting, Burroughs brings critical perspectives on “understanding market needs, building partnerships and attracting top-notch talent,” said board chairman and former Cleave CEO Laura Shawver.
Harris most recently served at two BridgeBio subsidiaries, including as executive vice president, corporate development and operations at Navire Pharma. He’s had a stint as executive vice president of regulatory affairs and technical operations at Adynxx and honed his cross-functional acumen across Corthera, BioMarin Pharmaceutical, Attenuon, Angstrom Pharmaceutical and Biosite.
→ Seven months after Katrine Bosley abruptly stepped down from Editas, Cynthia Collins has been confirmed as the official president and CEO. Collins — a board member and former CEO of Human Longevity — has presided over the recent initiation of Editas’ first human trial, and will now continue to steer the biotech along the historic CRISPR move. The dosing of EDIT-101 (or AGN-151587, as their partners at Allergan, call it) would mark the first test of in vivo editing using CRISPR/Cas9 — more specifically, to a genetic mutation that causes a rare form of blindness known as Leber congenital amaurosis 10 (LCA10). She will also work on “moving closer to the clinic with EDIT-301 for the treatment of sickle cell disease, expanding our portfolio through strategic business development, and building our organizational capabilities to scale for growth,” Collins added in a statement.
→ Aravive CEO and president Jay Shepard will be stepping down from his roles in the company “for family medical reasons.” The company’s board of directors is commencing a search for his successor, and in the meantime, Shepard plans to serve in his current role until a successor is appointed. Shepard’s departure comes as the company has initiated the Phase 1b portion of a Phase 1b/2 clinical trial for their lead drug candidate, AVB-500 — an affinity decoy protein that targets the GAS6-AXL signaling pathway — combined with standard of care therapies in patients with platinum-resistant ovarian cancer.
→ A Phase III ready Palladio Biosciences — with a lead drug, lixivaptan, lined up for polycystic kidney disease — has picked Alex Martin to lead their company as CEO. Martin had the top job at Realm Therapeutics before its acquisition by ESSA Pharma in July and has held the COO role at Intercept Pharmaceuticals. He began his career at SmithKline Beecham and later became vice president, business development & licensing at Novartis, gradually building a focus on BD, operations and fundraising.
→ Merck and Illumina-backed Serimmune has brought on Noah Nasser to oversee the commercialization of its “immune intelligence” technology platform mapping the range of antigens stimulating immunity. The new CEO, who hops over from the chief commercial officer position at Human Longevity, sees “remarkable opportunities” in infectious disease, oncology and autoimmune disease. Nasser has led similar functions at multiple genetic testing companies, including ones that were ultimately acquired by Myriad Genetics and Illumina. Serimmune’s founder, Patrick Daugherty, will continue to act as the company’s CSO and board member. Illumina Ventures partner Bill Welch is joining the board of directors.
→ Ribon Therapeutics, the biotech backed by Novartis, Celgene and J&J to go after new classes of enzyme families activated under cellular stress conditions, has named Sudha Parasuraman and Edward “Tad” Stewart its first-ever CMO and CBO, respectively. Well versed in hematology, oncology and pediatrics, Parasuraman held the same role at X4 Pharmaceuticals and prior to that was VP, global medical affairs at hemophilia player uniQure. Her career has also taken her to Novartis and Millennium Pharmaceuticals (now Takeda Oncology), as well as Harvard Medical School, Children’s Hospital of Boston, and Dana Farber Cancer Institute. Stewart, who spent over 15 years at Merrimack Pharmaceuticals, was the president and CEO of Commense and CBO of Crescendo.
→ Immodulon — a UK biotech developing immune-modulating bacterial add-on cancer therapies to checkpoint and chemo — has selected pharma vet Bams Abila as their CMO. Most recently, Abila served as the CMO of Cmed and as the principal consultant at Clintreq. His previous experiences include leadership roles at Aventis, Pfizer, Astellas, AstraZeneca and GSK. Abila was appointed as a visiting professor of biologics and advanced therapy drug development to the Faculty of Life Sciences & Medicine at King’s College London in 2015. He is a fellow of the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Medicine of the Royal College of Physicians in the UK.
→ The machine learning-driven drug discovery specialists at Daphne Koller’s startup insitro have welcomed Mary Rozenman to their ranks as CFO/CBO while tapping Keith James as SVP drug discovery. Their appointments highlight the company’s commitment to not just identify novel targets but to achieve its real goal of developing novel, better therapeutics faster while envisioning new types of collaborations. Rozenman was the SVP of corporate development at Aimmune Therapeutics; before that she learned the ins and outs of biotech investments and financing as a VP at Longitude Capital and a junior partner at McKinsey & Company. James, a Pfizer vet with multiple clinical candidates to his name, was the president of the Ferring Research Institute and a visiting investigator at The Scripps Research Institute.
→ With its lead product candidate for refractory angina now in the clinic, XyloCor Therapeutics has recruited Rickey Reinhardt as their CMO. Having led the European approval for GSK’s Strimvellis and directed clinical R&D at Regenxbio, Reinhardt will now apply his expertise in gene therapy to the cardiovascular niche. Most recently he was CMO at Comet Therapeutics, where he channeled his deep experience in metabolism.
→ Synaptic-focused biotech Rodin Therapeutics has appointed Ajim Tamboli as CFO. A longtime healthcare investor, Tamboli comes on board after a stint at Asymmetry Capital Management. He was an analyst at Lehman Brothers, Credit Suisse and Lazard Freres, with a number of IPOs and follow-on offerings under his belt, before founding Endurant Capital Management.
→ Just a few weeks after taking his $1.1 million severance check from Gilead, John McHutchison has re-emerged as the new CEO of Assembly Biosciences, which has seen its share price swoon as investors lost confidence in its ability to compete with Gilead with its experimental hepatitis B drug. McHutchison will be joining Steven J. Knox in the new job. Knox left as head of clinical development at Gilead, where he also played a big role in the development of the hep B drug Vemlidy, to join Assembly in the same role.
→ Josh Bilenker didn’t just gain a personal windfall by selling Loxo to Eli Lilly for $8.1 billion. He got a new, if temporary, job out of the deal as well. Bilenker will now head oncology research and early phase development as they look for a replacement for Levi Garraway, now headed off in pursuit of “other opportunities.” In addition, Longtime BD chief Darren Carroll is headed to retirement after 22 years at the pharma giant. Heather Wasserman has been promoted to vice president of corporate business development, with responsibility for business development transactions, emerging technologies and innovation, and venture capital, SVP/treasurer Phil Johnson will be in charge of M&A and Frank Cunningham has been promoted to senior vice president of managed healthcare services.
→ Cell therapy player SQZ Biotech has wooed senior Merck exec Teri Loxam to become its CFO. The pharma giant said that Loxam, who’s been managing investor relations and global communications, “will be missed personally and professionally.” Peter Dannenbaum has been promoted to fill her shoes.
→ Veravas — a medical diagnostic company focused on biotin — has tapped Carroll Streetman Jr to head the company as CEO. During his 45-year career in the industry, Streetman has been in management positions at medical services company Full Spectrum Behavior Analysis, DiaSorin, CSHC Consultants and HCA Healthcare Corporation. It was at DiaSorin that he first worked with Veravas’ CSO, Josh Soldo.
→ As Orthofix Medical CEO Brad Mason steps into retirement, he’s passing the baton to seasoned medical device exec Jon Serbousek. Aside from leading the whole musculoskeletal operation, Serbousek has also been named president of the spine unit.
→ Aprea Therapeutics, a cancer biotech with headquarters in both Boston and Stockholm, has appointed Scott Coiante as the company’s senior vice president and CFO, joining from Agile Therapeutics where he held the same roles. Prior to his time at Agile, Coiante served as the vice president of finance and treasurer at Medarex before its acquisition in 2009 by Bristol Myers Squibb.
→ Emalex Biosciences has enlisted Atul Mahableshwarkar on their mission to develop ecopipam for pediatric Tourette Syndrome and childhood-onset fluency disorder. As SVP of drug development, Mahableshwarkar is tasked with everything from clinical affairs, pharmacovigilance, regulatory matters to quality assurance. The new role will draw on both his training in psychiatry and years of development experience accrued at Takeda, BlackThorn and most recently Revance.
→ Novo Nordisk vet Lars Green is switching ship after 27 years to take charge of finance, IT, legal and investors relations as CFO of Novozyme — the enzyme shop split off from the Novo conglomerate almost two decades ago. In his last role at the Danish insulin maker, he headed up business services and compliance after a stint leading finance and operations. In conjunction with his appointment, he’s resigning from Novozyme’s board, where he’s served as a director since 2014.
→ Christoph Rentsch has resigned from the CFO post at Swiss specialty pharma Santhera. Rentsch, whose career has spanned Credit Suisse, Lonza, Roche and Polyphor, was credited for several corporate finance transactions at Santhera, which has been on a bumpy ride with its Duchenne muscular dystrophy drug.
→ Leading cancer immunotherapy pioneer Alan Korman, who is credited for his work at BMS and Medarex that led to the development of two of the first approved cancer immunotherapy drugs, ipilimumab (anti-CLTA-4) and nivolumab (anti-PD-1) and their combination, has joined the scientific advisory board of Dragonfly Therapeutics.
→ New York-based HiberCell has appointed ex-OSI Pharma CEO Colin Goddard to the board of directors. Goddard will serve under newly minted chairman Steven Gillis, a managing director at Arch who is probably best known as founder of Immunex.