Arndt Rolfs steps aside as Centogene CEO, with Andrin Oswald named as his successor; João Siffert lands another CEO post at Design Therapeutics
→ There’s a change at the top at German rare disease biotech Centogene. Arndt Rolfs decided to step down as CEO, effective Tuesday, and Big Pharma vet Andrin Oswald will replace him starting Dec. 1. Oswald, the delegate for Covid-19 vaccines and immunotherapies for the federal government of Switzerland, recently spent 4 years with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as director of life science industry engagement and partnerships. He was also a business integration exec at GSK and division head of vaccines & diagnostics at Novartis.
Rolfs will stay as an advisor during the transition. Centogene and Evotec announced an expansion of their partnership in August that targets Gaucher disease, the most common lysosomal storage disorder.
→ Not even a month after exiting stage left from a teetering Abeona Therapeutics, João Siffert is now at the helm of San Diego startup Design Therapeutics, which launched with a $43 million round in March and is geared toward degenerative diseases brought about by nucleotide repeat expansions. Siffert, who was also Abeona’s head of R&D and CMO, was the headliner in a mass exodus at the gene therapy biotech that included 5 board members. Siffert will also be a board member at Design Therapeutics, which was co-founded by Pratik Shah and Aseem Ansari and has a lead program that targets Friedreich’s ataxia.
→ In the process of developing programs for pemphigus vulgaris and celiac disease, German biotech Topas Therapeutics has tapped Klaus Martin as CEO, a transition that actually took place in August after the resignation of Timm Jessen but was released nonetheless this week. Martin was president of Toronto-based Apobiologix the last 2 years before making the move to Topas. Among his other stops, he was also CSO of Polpharma Biologics and led business development & licensing and portfolio management during his 8 years at Sandoz.
→ Two new C-suite execs are on board at Vaccitech, the Oxford T cell vaccine and immunotherapy player co-founded by Sarah Gilbert, with Meg Marshall coming on as CMO and Georgy Egorov as CFO. Marshall has consulted at Vaccitech since June and has held clinical research directorships at Pfizer, Kite and Kyowa Kirin. Egorov bounces to Vaccitech from Exscientia, an AI drug discovery company also based in Oxford, spending 2 years as their CFO and as a board member.
→ Noubar Afeyan’s Flagship Pioneering has brought Christine Heenan on board as senior partner and chief communications officer. A former speechwriter and senior policy analyst in the Clinton administration, Heenan founded and is president of the Clarendon Group, which has advised the Broad Institute, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Harvard. Heenan has connections to Harvard, serving as the university’s VP of public affairs and communications from 2008-15.
→ After David Main took the helm as president and CEO in July, two more execs have joined Toronto biotech Notch Therapeutics, focused on creating allogeneic T cell therapies from renewable stem cell sources. EVP, finance and CFO Kamran Alam was interim CFO at Interleukin Therapeutics for a time after the company merged with Aquinox Pharmaceuticals, where he was an 8-year vet. Gregory Block, who steps in as SVP, corporate development, had just completed a year-and-a-half run at Astellas as their director of business development.
→ Mahboob Rahman, well-traveled in Big Pharma, has been installed as CSO of CytoDyn, which hit a snag in July to the tune of a refuse-to-file letter for its lead drug leronlimab in HIV. The drug is also in a Phase II trial for graft-versus-host disease and a Phase Ib/II trial for metastatic triple-negative breast cancer. An alum of Centocor/J&J, Pfizer and Novartis, Rahman spent the last year as Mesoblast’s global head of immunology development and pharmacovigilance. He was also president and CMO at Glenmark before he made his way to Mesoblast.
→ Third Rock-backed Rheos Medicines — focused on the field of immunometabolism — has picked up Dania Rabah as CSO. Rabah hails from Biogen, where she served as head of drug discovery incubator, research and early development.
→ Cambridge, MA microbiome player Seres Therapeutics continues to fill out its leadership team, with David Ege joining as chief technology officer and Jayne Gansler as chief people officer. In April, Lisa von Moltke was named CMO of Seres, which mounted a Phase III comeback in the summer for their C. difficile program SER-109 after a crushing Phase II fail. Ege held a variety of posts at Merck since 2003, exiting as the global lead for digital strategy in the pharma giant’s manufacturing division. A J&J and Genzyme vet, Gansler leaps to Seres from Ariad Pharmaceuticals, where she was SVP, head of human resources.
→ Michael Carruthers and Behrad Derakhshan have headed to musculoskeletal disease-focused Edgewise Therapeutics as CFO and CBO, respectively, three months after the Boulder, CO biotech made another C-suite move by bringing in CMO Kirsten Gruis. Edgewise’s lead candidate, EDG-5506 for Duchenne and Becker muscular dystrophy, is in clinical development. Carruthers was CFO at 2 other Boulder companies, Array BioPharma and Nivalis Therapeutics, where he was also interim president. Derakhshan, an Alexion vet, was most recently CBO at VectivBio and led business development at Therachon from 2017-19.
→ Focused on sepsis-associated acute kidney injury and in the midst of a Phase III pivotal clinical trial, Dutch biotech AM-Pharma has welcomed Maarten Kraan as CMO and Teun van de Laar as VP, manufacturing and supply chain management. Kraan has been around the R&D block with Bristol Myers Squibb, Roche and AstraZeneca, primarily in inflammatory diseases, and most recently led R&D at French pharma Pierre Fabre Pharmaceuticals. A 10-year vet of Merck, van de Laar moves on to AM-Pharma from his post at Aduro Biotech as VP, CMC technical operations.
→ Co-founded by Bob Langer and focused on oral sustained-release therapies, Watertown, MA-based Lyndra Therapeutics has named George Eldridge as their CFO. Eldridge has been a CFO at a bushel of biotechs in the past, including Proteon Therapeutics (his previous gig), Targanta Therapeutics and Therion Biologics. This marks the third senior management position to be filled at Lyndra since February, with Eldridge joining chief technology officer Örn Almarsson and CMO Richard Scranton.
→ Charlottesville, VA-based Diffusion Pharmaceuticals, looking to treat diseases where hypoxia plays a big role, has recruited Chris Galloway as CMO. A former medical affairs director in Merck’s immunotherapy division, Galloway has spent the last 2 years as senior medical director in critical care for San Diego biotech La Jolla Pharmaceutical.
→ Swiss topical eye drug developer Oculis SA has brought on David Jacobs as chief development officer of its US office, where Sylvia Cheung was appointed CFO last month. Jacobs had been VP, clinical development and medical affairs at Osmotica Pharmaceuticals for the last 3 years and held drug development roles at J&J, Daiichi Sankyo, Aptalis Pharmaceuticals and King Pharmaceuticals.
→ Mereo BioPharma has made a couple of new personnel moves with Christine Fox as CFO and Heidi Petersen as SVP, regulatory affairs. Starting in January 2021, Fox will replace interim CFO Michael Wyzga, who will stay on as a board member. A KPMG vet, Fox had been group financial controller and treasurer for Travelport. Petersen, who starts Nov. 2, has been in regulatory affairs for 25 years and jumps over to Mereo from Kartos Therapeutics. She’s also been a regulatory exec at Pharmacylics and Immune Design, which was scooped up by Merck in March 2019.
→ After raking in $28.5 million to dive into Phase II earlier this month, Sensei Biotherapeutics has named Anu Hoey as CBO. Hoey joins the company after having served in roles at Second Genome, Invenra, Arcus Biosciences and Sutro Biopharma.
→ While developing the first blood-based test of early onset Alzheimer’s disease, Diadem has plucked up Paul Kinnon as CEO. Paul jumps to the helm with stints at PredictImmune, Transgenomic, ZyGem and Life Technologies (now Thermo Fisher) among others under his belt.
→ Sam Whiting has breezed into Versant-backed South San Francisco oncology player Tempest Therapeutics, which is developing their small molecule pipeline to treat tumors, as EVP and CMO. Whiting, who was in clinical research early in his career at Fred Hutch, was with Calithera since 2016 and had been their SVP of clinical development prior to his arrival at Tempest.
→ Speaking of Versant-backed biotechs, neuroregeneration startup Pipeline Therapeutics has handed the CFO reins to Peter Slover. He’s an alum of 2 other biotechs in the San Diego area — at Sophiris Bio, where he was their CFO since 2013, and before that at Anadys Pharmaceuticals, where he was VP, finance and operations among several management roles during his 8 years.
→ Erin Cowhig has been named as the first chief people officer of Cambridge, MA drug discovery pioneer Nimbus Therapeutics, which chose 4 new targets for its pipeline in June. Cowhig has left Vertex, where she had 2 separate tenures in human resources. Sandwiched in between, Cowhig was senior director, talent acquisition and talent management at Agios.
→ Effective last Friday, Jennifer Chien has stepped aside as chief commercial officer of Pittsburgh-based Krystal Biotech “to pursue another opportunity.” A group of members from the commercial team will fill in while the search gets underway for her replacement. Chien is a Sanofi alum who joined Krystal in January.
→ San Diego regenerative medicine developer Histogen has selected Moya Daniels as EVP and head of regulatory, quality and clinical operations. Daniels makes the move after being SVP of GMP quality at SanBio. She’s also held positions in regulatory affairs and quality assurance at Orchard Therapeutics, Fate Therapeutics and Osiris Therapeutics.
→ David Crist has been appointed VP of sales at Boston-based Aveo Oncology, whose NDA submission for tivozanib — a vascular endothelial growth factor receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitor (VEGFR-TKI) to treat relapsed or refractory renal cell carcinoma — was accepted for filing in June after repeated rebuffs and is now under review with an action date of March 31, 2021. Prior to Aveo, Crist was general manager of hematology oncology US franchise at argenx.
→ Seattle-based Neoleukin Therapeutics, whose lead candidate NL-201 is a de novo IL-2/IL-15 agonist for cancer, has named Holly Vance their general counsel. Vance was previously associate general counsel for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, lending guidance to the foundation’s Strategic Investment Fund.
→ PharmaEssentia has tapped Raymond Urbanski as head of clinical development and medical affairs for its US subsidiary. Urbanski hops aboard after stints at GT Biopharma — as CMO and president — Mannkind and Mylan.
→ Matthew Patterson is lending a hand on the board of directors to both PureTech Health — which late last month was gunning for a Nasdaq debut — and oncology player Vor Biopharma. Patterson is strategic advisor to Audentes, the company he co-founded and helmed until the Astellas acquisition closed in January.
→ After bringing in Bud Brigham as a board member last month, Austin immuno-oncology company Perseus Holdings has given Mark Corrigan a seat at the board of directors. Corrigan was recently CEO of Correvio and president of R&D at Tremeau Pharmaceuticals.
→ Digital health company Ariana Pharma has brought on Kia Motesharei to its board of directors. Currently, Mortesharei serves as SVP of business development & corporate strategy with Akcea Therapeutics. In the past, he held roles at Merck KGaA, Dyax, Genfit and ActivX.
→ Developing therapies to repair damaged tissues, Pittsburgh-based Noveome Therapeutics has chosen Michelle Berrey and Annamaria Kausz to be on the board of directors. Berrey, the ex-CEO of Chimerix, is now a scientific advisor for ViiV/GSK. Kausz has been CMO at Allena Pharmaceuticals since 2015.
→ John McHutchison-led Assembly Biosciences, which partnered on its hep B drugs with BeiGene in July, has made Gina Consylman a member of their board of directors. A Biogen and Verastem vet, Consylman is Ironwood Pharmaceuticals’ SVP and CFO.
→ Gilead-partnered Vienna-based immunotherapy company Hookipa has made the addition of Jean-Charles Soria to its board of directors. Soria is a professor of medicine and medical oncology at the University of Paris-Saclay and currently serves as director general of the Gustave Roussy Cancer Center.
→ Gregory Berk has been added to the board of directors at cancer-focused Inflection Biosciences out of Dublin. Berk is a longtime CMO at such biotechs as Vedantra Pharmaceuticals, Verastem and Sideris Pharmaceuticals.
→ Oncolytic immunotherapy developer Replimune out of Woburn, MA, has appointed Tanya Lewis to the board of directors. Lewis, a longtime regulatory exec, is Karyopharm’s EVP, chief regulatory strategy and strategic operations.
→ Bicycle Therapeutics has increased the membership in their scientific advisory board. It now includes University of Pennsylvania professor Garret FitzGerald, ArsenalBio CSO Jane Grogan, Cancer Research UK chief clinician Charles Swanton and Caetano Reis e Sousa of the Crick Institute.