Sanofi vet Kather­ine Bowdish named CEO of PIC Ther­a­peu­tics; As the world Terns: Liv­er dis­ease biotech makes ex­ec­u­tive changes

Kather­ine Bowdish

PIC Ther­a­peu­tics hasn’t raised much mon­ey, yet. But the fledg­ling biotech has at­tract­ed a high-pro­file play­er to the helm.

The Boston-based biotech has hand­ed the reins to Kather­ine Bowdish as its pres­i­dent and CEO. Bowdish will al­so join the board of di­rec­tors of PIC. Bowdish joins from Sanofi where she served as VP and head of R&D strat­e­gy, as well as help­ing launch and lead Sanofi Sun­rise, a ven­ture in­vest­ment and part­ner­ing ve­hi­cle at Sanofi. Be­fore that, Bowdish held sev­er­al ex­ec roles at Per­me­on Bi­o­log­ics, Anaphore, Alex­ion Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals and Pro­li­faron (ac­quired by Alex­ion).

PIC, in its own words, is fo­cused on trans­form­ing the treat­ment of can­cer through the se­lec­tive mod­u­la­tion of onco­gene trans­la­tion, which you can think more broad­ly about as con­trol­ling the ex­pres­sion of large banks of genes at a time in or­der to si­mul­ta­ne­ous­ly mod­u­late mul­ti­ple onco­genic dri­vers — a very am­bi­tious goal for a com­pa­ny that just raised a $5 mil­lion seed round.

Back in April Ad­vent Life Sci­ences led the launch round, with Be­lin­da Ter­meer, wid­ow of leg­endary Gen­zyme CEO Hen­ri Ter­meer, as well as “sev­er­al bio­phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal in­dus­try ex­ec­u­tives and oth­er in­di­vid­ual in­vestors” chip­ping in. We’re like­ly to hear more on that score in the not-too-dis­tant fu­ture.

Senthil Sun­daram

→ The C-suite has shuf­fled con­sid­er­ably at liv­er dis­ease-fo­cused Terns Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals out of Fos­ter City, CA. Senthil Sun­daram now as­sumes the CEO post, re­plac­ing Wei­dong Zhong, who was at the helm since Terns was found­ed and is now mov­ing in­to two new roles: CSO and chair­man of the board. Sun­daram makes his way to Terns af­ter 2 years as CFO of Night­star Ther­a­peu­tics, which would lat­er be ac­quired by Bio­gen. He was al­so VP and head of busi­ness de­vel­op­ment at NASH play­er In­ter­cept af­ter 13 years in in­vest­ment bank­ing.

Else­where at Terns, Erin Quirk has added pres­i­dent to her CMO ti­tle and Mark Vi­g­no­la is their new CFO. A for­mer clin­i­cal re­search ex­ec at Gilead and Mer­ck, Quirk has been CMO since Jan­u­ary 2019. Vi­g­no­la comes to Terns from his CFO gig at Ap­plied Ther­a­peu­tics and, like Sun­daram, was an ex­ec at In­ter­cept.

→ There’s a change at the top at Is­raeli-based En­tera Bio, which fo­cus­es on oral­ly-de­liv­ered macro­mol­e­cule ther­a­pies, with Sanofi vet Roger Garceau get­ting the call as in­ter­im CEO af­ter Adam Gri­d­ley re­signed “to pur­sue an­oth­er op­por­tu­ni­ty.” Garceau, En­tera’s chief de­vel­op­ment ad­vi­sor since De­cem­ber 2016, will al­so con­tin­ue as a di­rec­tor. Pri­or to join­ing the board at En­tera in March 2016, he was CMO and EVP of R&D at NPS Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals. Garceau filled sev­er­al ex­ec­u­tive roles at Sanofi, in­clud­ing VP of US new prod­uct mar­ket­ing.

Chris­t­ian Hen­ry

→ Men­lo Park, CA gene se­quenc­ing com­pa­ny Pa­cif­ic Bio­sciences, which Il­lu­mi­na at­tempt­ed to buy out un­til the deal fiz­zled at the start of this year, has cho­sen Chris­t­ian Hen­ry to lead the way as pres­i­dent and CEO, ef­fec­tive next month. Michael Hunkapiller, who an­nounced his re­tire­ment in June, has been at the helm since 2012 and will be­come a se­nior fel­low fo­cused on tech­nol­o­gy de­vel­op­ment once Hen­ry takes over. Hen­ry has been on PacBio’s board of di­rec­tors since 2018 and board mem­ber John Mil­li­gan will suc­ceed him as chair­man of the board, where Hen­ry had served since March. Hen­ry spent 12 years at Il­lu­mi­na and was both their CCO and CFO at sep­a­rate junc­tures.

In oth­er PacBio news, Su­san Barnes has re­tired from her CFO post, as Ben Gong has been named to re­place her on an in­ter­im ba­sis. Gong has been at PacBio for the past decade as their VP, fi­nance and trea­sur­er.

Janet Ham­mond

Janet Ham­mond has been in­stalled in the new­ly-cre­at­ed po­si­tion of chief de­vel­op­ment of­fi­cer at Jean-Pierre Som­ma­dos­si’s vi­ral dis­ease com­pa­ny Atea Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, which threw their hats in the Covid-19 ring and scored a $215 mil­lion fi­nanc­ing round in May. An ex-SVP at Roche, Ham­mond comes over from Ab­b­Vie, where she was their VP, in­fec­tious dis­eases and gen­er­al med­i­cine. She’s al­so been CMO, SVP and head of med­ical af­fairs at Valeant Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals.

→ Nor­we­gian hema­tol­ogy and on­col­o­gy play­er Nordic Nanovec­tor has se­cured Chris­tine Wilkin­son Blanc as their CMO a few months af­ter sev­er­al oth­er ex­ec­u­tive changes. Wilkin­son Blanc, who got her start at Roche as a clin­i­cal re­search physi­cian, had been med­ical di­rec­tor of PhiMedics for the last decade and, from 2013-16, was CMO of Psioxus Ther­a­peu­tics.

Punit Dhillon

→ Fo­cused on cannabi­noid-based ther­a­pies, Cal­i­for­nia-based Emer­ald Bio­science has changed CEOs, vault­ing for­mer On­coSec CEO Punit Dhillon to the top spot af­ter Bri­an Mur­phy re­signed both as CEO and a board mem­ber. Dhillon, who al­so co-found­ed On­coSec in 2011, had been Emer­ald’s chair­man and is their found­ing di­rec­tor. Be­fore his time at On­coSec, he was In­ovio’s VP of fi­nance and op­er­a­tions.

Col­lab­o­rat­ing with Roche on im­muno-on­col­o­gy ther­a­pies, with mile­stones po­ten­tial­ly to the tune of $1.7 bil­lion, Bi­cy­cle Ther­a­peu­tics has steered to­ward a new CMO with Do­minic Smethurst, who has his share of ex­pe­ri­ence in the same po­si­tion at sev­er­al oth­er biotechs. Smethurst heads to UK-based Bi­cy­cle af­ter a few months as in­ter­im CMO at Nordic Nanovec­tor. He briefly held the CMO post at BerGen­Bio, and be­fore that, had a 2-year tenure as CMO at Tusk Ther­a­peu­tics.

Gal­lia Levy

→ As not­ed ear­li­er in the week, Gal­lia Levy has left her post at Genen­tech to be­come CMO of Roche sub­sidiary Spark Ther­a­peu­tics, whose he­mo­phil­ia A gene ther­a­py SPK-8011 is one of four pro­grams in clin­i­cal tri­als. Levy led glob­al de­vel­op­ment on Hem­li­bra for he­mo­phil­ia A, and was al­so Genen­tech’s VP, prod­uct de­vel­op­ment and glob­al head of the rare blood dis­or­ders fran­chise.

Adri­an Hep­n­er has been tapped as CMO of Pharnext, a French drug de­vel­op­er fo­cused on neu­rode­gen­er­a­tive dis­eases us­ing ge­nomics da­ta and AI. Be­fore head­ing to Pharnext, Hep­n­er was EVP and CMO of Ea­gle Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals from 2015-20, had a short stint at UCB at their se­nior med­ical di­rec­tor, and spent 6 years as a clin­i­cal re­search ex­ec at Avanir Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals.

Wilco Groen­huy­sen

→ UK-based on­col­o­gy play­er Novo­cure, which re­ceived an FDA OK in May 2019 with its NovoT­TF-100L Sys­tem for ma­lig­nant pleur­al mesothe­lioma, has an­nounced a hand­ful of per­son­nel moves, ef­fec­tive Sept 1. Wilco Groen­huy­sen is tran­si­tion­ing to COO af­ter 8 years as Novo­cure’s CFO, and as a re­sult, Ash­ley Cor­do­va has been pro­mot­ed from SVP, fi­nance and in­vestor re­la­tions to the CFO post. Frank Leonard has al­so been pro­mot­ed to the new­ly-cre­at­ed chief de­vel­op­ment of­fi­cer po­si­tion, as the 10-year Novo­cure vet moves on up from his pre­vi­ous role as their SVP, cor­po­rate strat­e­gy and health pol­i­cy.

→ AAV-based gene ther­a­py com­pa­ny Stride­Bio, part­ner­ing with Sarep­ta on four cen­tral ner­vous sys­tem tar­gets, has brought on William Mon­tei­th to be their COO. A pre-Pfiz­er deal Wyeth Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals vet and a Den­dreon ex­ec from 2009-15, Mon­tei­th heads over to Stride­Bio from Cel­lec­tis, where he spent the last year as EVP, tech­ni­cal op­er­a­tions.

→ Psy­che­del­ic-in­spired med­i­cine de­vel­op­er MindMed is ex­pand­ing its Eu­ro­pean hori­zons and has cho­sen Miri Halperin Wern­li to lead the clin­i­cal and sci­en­tif­ic team in Eu­rope as pres­i­dent. Halperin Wern­li, the co-founder of Aus­tralian med­ical cannabis com­pa­ny Cre­so Phar­ma, is an Acte­lion vet who was their VP, deputy head of glob­al clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment and glob­al head, busi­ness & sci­ence af­fairs.

Ellen Lub­man

Ellen Lub­man is on board as CBO of Long­wood-backed Cam­bridge, MA on­col­o­gy play­er Were­wolf Ther­a­peu­tics, which launched in No­vem­ber with a $56 mil­lion Se­ries A round. A Bris­tol My­ers Squibb vet well versed in M&A, Lub­man leaves her CBO post at Im­pel Neu­roPhar­ma, a role she filled for near­ly 2 years. Be­fore that, she was at Al­ler­gan from 2014-18 as their VP, ex­ter­nal sci­ence and in­no­va­tion.

→ On the rec­om­men­da­tion of prin­ci­pal in­ves­ti­ga­tor Manuel Hi­dal­go, La­gu­na Hills, CA-based Phar­ma­Cyte has brought in José Igle­sias as a con­sult­ing CMO for a Phase IIb clin­i­cal tri­al in lo­cal­ly ad­vanced, in­op­er­a­ble pan­cre­at­ic can­cer (LAPC). Igle­sias, who helped de­vel­op Abrax­ane while he was with Abrax­is and Cel­gene, is the cur­rent CMO at Sen­ti Bio­sciences.

Roger Sawh­ney

Flag­ship biotech Omega Ther­a­peu­tics, which hauled in $85 mil­lion a cou­ple weeks ago with its am­bi­tion to cre­ate an epi­ge­net­ic pro­gram­ming plat­form for what CEO Ma­hesh Karande calls the “con­trol room of hu­man bi­ol­o­gy,” has snagged Roger Sawh­ney as CFO. A for­mer SVP and head of glob­al cor­po­rate strat­e­gy at No­var­tis, Sawh­ney was most re­cent­ly di­rec­tor of KKR and Co’s health­care in­vest­ment team in the Amer­i­c­as.

→ Try­ing to dig out from the mess of their con­tro­ver­sy over busi­ness prac­tices, Ma­ri­et­ta, GA-based wound care com­pa­ny MiMedX has ap­point­ed Robert Stein their EVP of R&D. Stein’s work in the area of R&D goes back 30 years when he was SVP of R&D and CSO of Lig­and Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals and lat­er at DuPont-Mer­ck Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals. The ex-pres­i­dent and CSO of In­cyte and the ex-CEO at KineMed, Stein’s most re­cent ex­ec­u­tive gig in R&D was at Agenus.

Jeff Aronin’s Paragon Bio­sciences has tapped Keren­sa Jimenez as the new CEO of the com­pa­ny’s cap­i­tal mar­kets group, Paragon Health. Jimenez hops aboard the com­pa­ny from Oc­ta­gon Cap­i­tal Group, where she served as man­ag­ing di­rec­tor. In ad­di­tion, she’s was a di­rec­tor at Far­lie Turn­er.

Michael Levitz has as­sumed the CFO role at Bed­ford, MA or­tho­pe­dic med­i­cines biotech Ani­ka Ther­a­peu­tics. Pri­or to his ar­rival at Ani­ka, Levitz, who got his start at Arthur An­der­sen, had been SVP, CFO and trea­sur­er of two oth­er com­pa­nies: In­sulet Cor­po­ra­tion and Ana­log­ic Cor­po­ra­tion.

Az­iz Mot­ti­wala

→ Af­ter nam­ing Se­sha Neer­van­nan and Leo Green­stein last month to the COO and CFO posts, re­spec­tive­ly, Irvine, CA-based Tar­sus Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals has fur­ther re­tooled its ex­ec­u­tive team with Az­iz Mot­ti­wala step­ping in as chief com­mer­cial of­fi­cer. Be­fore join­ing Tar­sus, whose lead drug TP-03 tar­gets the eye dis­ease De­mod­ex ble­phar­i­tis, Mot­ti­wala held the same role at Opi­ant Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals and be­fore that was SVP and head of com­mer­cial at Avanir Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals. He al­so spent more than a decade in nu­mer­ous po­si­tions at Al­ler­gan, leav­ing as their VP, US eye care mar­ket­ing.

Neil Bell has been se­lect­ed as chief de­vel­op­ment of­fi­cer at Avac­ta Life Sci­ences out of the UK. Bell start­ed out at Ei­sai and Pfiz­er be­fore as­sum­ing the role of ther­a­peu­tic area head for gas­troen­terol­o­gy and neu­rol­o­gy at Ipsen. Since then, he has led clin­i­cal op­er­a­tions at Te­va Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, Dai­ichi Sankyo and, most re­cent­ly, Au­to­lus.

Kevin Heller has signed on as EVP of R&D of Jasper Ther­a­peu­tics, which launched out of Stan­ford in De­cem­ber with a $50 mil­lion Se­ries A and is fo­cused on hematopoi­et­ic cell trans­plant ther­a­pies. Heller had pre­vi­ous­ly held the CMO post at NextCure and was al­so VP, head of an­ti­body clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment for In­cyte. He’s al­so a Big Phar­ma vet, fill­ing on­col­o­gy roles at Bris­tol My­ers Squibb and As­traZeneca.

Man­asi Sin­ha Jaiman

→ Long­time stem cell play­er Vi­a­Cyte has snagged Man­asi Sin­ha Jaiman as VP, clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment. Jaiman jumps from Co­v­ance Clin­i­cal De­vel­op­ment Ser­vices, where she served as se­nior med­ical di­rec­tor. She was al­so an at­tend­ing physi­cian at Har­vard Med­ical School and Mass­a­chu­setts Gen­er­al Hos­pi­tal.

→ Matthew Metivi­er has hopped aboard Is­raeli biotech Gami­da Cell as VP, hu­man re­sources. Metivi­er hails from Sage Ther­a­peu­tics, where he served in the same role. Pri­or to that, he held roles at In­fin­i­ty Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals and Idenix Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals (ac­quired by Mer­ck & Co).

→ Basel, Switzer­land biotech NBE-Ther­a­peu­tics just grabbed a new CEO in Bertrand Damour, and now Erich Schlick has been elect­ed chair­man of the board. Schlick is cur­rent­ly a gen­er­al part­ner and man­ag­ing di­rec­tor at Mu­nich VC Welling­ton Part­ners.

Suzanne Hoop­er

→ Bridge­Bio sub­sidiary Ei­dos Ther­a­peu­tics, which was near­ly re­claimed by Bridge­Bio un­til di­rec­tors spurned three of­fershas ap­point­ed Suzanne Sawochka Hoop­er and Duke Rohlen as in­de­pen­dent di­rec­tors to its board. Hoop­er is a for­mer EVP and gen­er­al coun­sel of Jazz Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, while Rohlen is CEO and man­ag­ing part­ner of Ajax Health.

→ Led by Kel­ly Mar­tin, Waltham, MA-based Ra­dius Health has giv­en Sean Mur­phy a spot on their board of di­rec­tors. Cur­rent­ly a board mem­ber at Po­sei­da Ther­a­peu­tics and Xenex Cor­po­ra­tion, Mur­phy was in cor­po­rate busi­ness de­vel­op­ment and M&A for more than 30 years at Ab­bott Lab­o­ra­to­ries.

John Jenk­ins

John Jenk­ins is now on the board of di­rec­tors at Proven­tion Bio. The cur­rent prin­ci­pal for drug and bi­o­log­i­cal prod­ucts at Green­leaf Health, the long­time FDA vet was di­rec­tor of the Of­fice of New Drugs at CDER from 2002-17.

Karuna Ther­a­peu­tics, fo­cused on neu­ropsy­chi­atric dis­or­ders, has wel­comed Lau­rie Ol­son to their board of di­rec­tors. A long­time Pfiz­er ex­ec, Ol­son was their EVP, strat­e­gy and com­mer­cial op­er­a­tions from 2012-18.

Secretary of health and human services Alex Azar speaking in the Rose Garden at the White House (Photo: AFP)

Trump’s HHS claims ab­solute au­thor­i­ty over the FDA, clear­ing path to a vac­cine EUA

The top career staff at the FDA has vowed not to let politics overrule science when looking at vaccine data this fall. But Alex Azar, who happens to be their boss’s boss, apparently won’t even give them a chance to stand in the way.

In a new memorandum issued Tuesday last week, the HHS chief stripped the FDA and other health agencies under his purview of their rule making ability, asserting all such power “is reserved to the Secretary.” Sheila Kaplan of the New York Times first obtained and reported the details of the September 15 bulletin.

Donald Trump, AP

Covid-19 roundup: Trump sug­gests Pfiz­er vac­cine could be first ap­proved; VBI Vac­cines inks de­vel­op­ment deal with Cana­da

President Donald Trump commented Monday morning that Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine candidate could be the first to win approval by regulators.

During an interview on a Fox News’ morning show, the president said Pfizer was doing “very well” when asked which candidate could be approved, according to a Reuters report. He added that J&J could follow up afterward, saying “they’ll probably be a little later.”

Is­raeli biotech rais­es $57M to go where cur­rent BRAF in­hibitors can't, with back­ing from No­var­tis, SR One

For the blockbuster potential of Novartis’ Tafinlar and Pfizer’s Braftovi, all the BRAF inhibitors on the market so far only target V600 mutations — which accounts for roughly 50% of patients.

Israeli biotech Novellus now has $57 million to develop a drug that they say can help the other 50% who have everything else.

The Series C will fund a Phase II trial for PLX-8394, a “paradox breaker” that could block RAF without activating MAPK signaling. In a Phase I trial, a patient with a BRAF fusion saw their tumor go away after taking the drug, allowing Novellus to hit the ground running.

Clay Siegall (Life Science Washington via YouTube)

#ES­MO20: Seat­tle Ge­net­ics eyes 4th ap­proval with new da­ta in a crowd­ed field

Does Seattle Genetics have another approval on its hands?

The last 12 months, not so great for the world, has been great for Seattle Genetics. The company landed two separate FDA approvals, signed a $4.5 billion deal with Merck and watched antibody-drug conjugates — the technology they spent years developing to broad industry skepticism — emerge suddenly as one of the most popular approaches in oncology. And on Monday at ESMO, the company and their partners at Genmab unveiled the data behind the ADC it hopes will provide its next major FDA approval.

Norbert Bischofberger, Kronos CEO

Three more biotechs look to jump on­to Nas­daq amid IPO boom, in­clud­ing Nor­bert Bischof­berg­er's Kro­nos

Three drug developers announced plans to go public on Friday, a sign that the IPO window for biopharma is wide open.

First up is Daly City, CA-based Spruce Biosciences. They filed for an $86 million IPO to develop their pipeline for classic congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH). Currently, only steroids are available to treat the condition, which affects the adrenal glands above the kidneys. Spruce’s tildacerfont, a non-steroidal option, is in a Phase IIb trial in adults with classic CAH and poor disease control. The company expects a topline readout here in the next 12 to 15 months. The small molecule is also in a Phase IIb study in adults with classic CAH and good disease control. Spruce expects topline data here in the first half of 2022.

UP­DAT­ED: Two wild weeks for Grail end in $8B Il­lu­mi­na buy­out

Grail’s whirlwind two weeks have ended in the wealthy arms of its former founder and benefactors.

Illumina has shelled out $8 billion to reacquire the closely-watched liquid biopsy startup they spun out just 5 years ago and sold off much of its shares just 3 years ago. The deal comes nearly two weeks after the well-heeled startup filed for a potentially massive IPO — one that was disrupted just a week later when Bloomberg reported that Illumina was in talks to buy their former spinout for up to $8 billion.

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Roche vaults to the front of the NL­RP3 clin­i­cal race, pay­ing $448M up­front to bag In­fla­zome

Roche is going all in on NLRP3.

The pharma giant is putting down $448 million (€380 million) upfront to snatch Novartis-backed Inflazome, which makes it a clinical player in the space overnight.

Dublin and Cambridge, UK-based Inflazome is the second NLRP3-focused biotech Roche has acquired in less than two years, and although no numbers were disclosed in the Jecure buyout, this is almost certainly a much larger deal.

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Jonathan Rigby, Immune Regulation group CEO

Im­mune Reg­u­la­tion, tak­ing two clin­i­cal pro­grams to 're­set' the im­mune sys­tem, nets $53M+ Se­ries B

A little under two years after a company rebranding, Immune Regulation is taking an even bigger step toward advancing its goals.

Formerly known as Peptinnovate, the British biotech announced a $53.4 million Series B early Monday morning, helping to further advance two clinical programs in rheumatoid arthritis and asthma. Though those are the two initial indications the company is focusing on, CEO Jonathan Rigby told Endpoints News he hopes the candidates can be applied to a broad swath of autoimmune disorders.

News brief­ing: Bausch Health clos­ing in on deal to ac­quire Al­le­gro as­sets; PharmAbcine strikes deal with Sam­sung Bi­o­log­ics to de­vel­op an­ti­body pro­gram

Bausch Health is closing in on a deal that would allow it to buy out all of Allegro Ophthalmics’ eye-related assets — including the rights to lead candidate risuteganib — for $50 million.

The payment would be made in two tranches: $10 million at signing, and $40 million in 2021.

Risuteganib is in clinical development for intermediate dry Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD). It’s expected to enter two concurrent Phase III trials for that indication in the next year. The drug is also being tested in patients with diabetic macular edema (DME), and last year met the primary endpoint in a Phase II study, with 48% of patients gaining 8 or more letters in visual acuity from baseline at week 28, compared to 7% in the control group at week 12.