Atlas-backed Dyne taps Joshua Brumm as CEO; Sekar Kathiresan woos cardiologist to gene editing startup
→ Romesh Subramanian’s new biotech startup, Dyne Therapeutics, which is using oligonucleotides to degrade RNA responsible for disease has brought on Joshua Brumm as president and CEO. Subramanian will now take on the CSO role after launching the biotech as entrepreneur-in-residence at Atlas Venture. Brumm makes the leap after a stint as COO and CFO of Kaleido Biosciences, where he led the company’s IPO and helped bring its lead program into Phase II development. Prior to Kaleido, Brumm was the COO and CFO at Versartis. His other previous roles span Pharmacyclics, ZELTIQ Aesthetics, Proteolix, Citigroup Global Markets and Morgan Stanley.
→ Sekar Kathiresan has wooed a veteran cardiologist and seasoned biotech entrepreneur to his mission to protect the world from heart disease via gene editing. Andrew Bellinger is the new CSO at Verve Therapeutics, taking up the same role he occupied at Lyndra, a biotech he co-founded based on drug delivery tech invented by Bob Langer. He will now direct the research and translational skills accrued there (and Cocoon Biotech before that) to safely edit genes to lower the risk of coronary artery disease.
“In my cardiology practice, I’ve seen firsthand the limitations of our present-day approach to cardiovascular disease,” Bellinger, who sees patients at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, said in a statement. “With Verve, we have a profound opportunity to change the dynamic of healthcare delivery for people living with or at risk for coronary artery disease — conferring lifelong resistance with a gene-editing treatment given once in life.”
→ Jnana Therapeutics has brought on Alnylam vet Caroline Stark Beer as CBO in search of new partners for its SLC transporter tech, which has spawned treatments for inflammatory and neurological diseases. During her time at Alnylam, Stark Beer served in a variety of positions, including vice president and head of business development — where she helped facilitate partnerships and licensing deals with Sanofi Genzyme and Regeneron. Prior to her time at Alnylam, Stark Beer held roles at Amicus Therapeutics and Bain & Company.
→ Following recent big changes at Vor Biopharma — the appointment of Robert Ang as CEO, the company’s recent move into an integrated headquarters in Cambridge, MA and a $42 million Series A round — the biotech has enlisted two more cell therapy experts to the team. Sadik Kassim and Tirtha Chakraborty have been named chief technology officer and VP of research, respectively. Kassim joins the company after a stint as executive director at Kite Pharma and previous roles at Mustang Bio, Novartis (where he contributed to the BLA and MAA filings for Kymriah), the National Cancer Institute and Janssen. Chakraborty joins the company from Sana Biotechnology, where he served as VP of cell therapy research. Prior to his time at Sana, Chakraborty was the head of hematology at CRISPR Therapeutics and served a stint at Moderna Therapeutics.
→ Sangamo has selected Bettina Cockroft as the company’s SVP and CMO. Cockroft draws from experience from her time at Cytokinectics, where she was responsible for the clinical development of fast skeletal muscle troponin activators in diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and spinal muscular atrophy. In her new role, Cockroft will shift focus to gene-editing programs, including one for hemophilia A partnered with Pfizer. In addition, Cockroft has served as CMO of Auris Medical and previously worked at Merck Serono, Novartis Consumer Health and Menarini Ricerche.
→ Ascletis Pharma — a company that paved the way in developing and commercializing China’s first home-cultivated hepatitis C drug — has announced that its CFO Lindi Tan is departing. Tan’s departure comes weeks after the Hangzhou-based biotech lost Zhengqing Li, a former top Merck exec who jumped to the company as its CMO and president of R&D just months prior to help extend its global reach.
→ Seven years into a tumultuous tenure at Teva — in which he was charged with downsizing and closing out manufacturing operations while the company faced a probe into generic drug price hikes in the US — Carlo de Notaristefani, EVP of global operations, is stepping down to retire. Eric Drapé has been chosen as his successor and will be based out of the company’s global headquarters in Israel. Drapé joined the company in 2014 and has since served various roles, including as EVP and chief quality officer and SVP, technical operations steriles, respiratory and biologics. Notaristegani’s exit comes in the wake of two other top exec exits — CFO Michael McClellan and EVP global brand and communications Iris Beck-Codner.
→ After it was announced last week, in a surprise twist, that Akcea president Sarah Boyce along with her two top exec colleagues, CEO Paula Soteropoulos and COO Jeffrey Goldberg were leaving the Ionis spinoff, Boyce has found a new home at Avidity Biosciences. The company is working on antibody-oligonucleotide conjugates (AOCs), and as their new CEO Boyce will draw from experience from her previous stints at Ionis, Forest Laboratories, Alexion Pharmaceuticals, Novartis Oncology, and Roche.
→ Back in July, AM-Pharma raised $113 million from a European syndicate to help fund its planned Phase III trial in patients with sepsis-associated acute kidney injury. Now the company is expanding its leadership team with the appointments of Juliane Bernholz as COO and Kristie Bass as VP clinical operations. Bernholz will draw upon experience from her roles at Janssen, Sanofi, Novartis and Actelion. Bass transitions to her new position after serving as senior director of project delivery at CRO PRA Health Sciences and director, project manager at PPD. Both Bernholz and Bass will move from the US to the Netherlands.
→ Neurocrine Biosciences — which, back in January, struck up a $1.8 billion gene therapy pact with Voyager Therapeutics to snag the rights of four of their gene therapy programs — has welcomed David Boyer aboard as chief corporate affairs officer. Boyer makes the jump after a stint at BGR Group as principal and head of the health & life sciences practice. Prior to his role at BGR, Boyer served as special assistant to the president for legislative affairs under President George W Bush, assistant commissioner for legislation at the FDA and special assistant to the secretary at the US Department of Health and Human Services. He’s also held positions at BIO and PhRMA.
→ Months after striking a reverse merger deal with struggling Histogenics, Malvern, PA-based Ocugen has appointed Sanjay Subramanian to the role of CFO. Subramanian joins the rare eye disease-focused biotech from the same position at Aralez Pharmaceuticals, where he helped the company close $350 million in financing. Prior to his stint at Aralez, Subramanian held positions at Bausch Health Companies and General Motors.
→ Retrophin has tapped Peter Heerma as CCO. Heerma will be in charge of the company’s commercialization strategy for approved products and pre-commercial planning of pipeline programs, which includes sparsentan — currently being evaluated in Phase III trials for focal segmental glomerulosclerosis and IgA nephropathy. But that group won’t include fosmetpantotenate, the drug that its notorious founder Martin Shkreli co-invented, after it flopped in a pivotal trial. Most recently, Heerma was the global product manager for oncology and cardiovascular products at Amgen and has also served roles at AbbVie and Abbott.
→ UK-based VC and life sciences company, Arix Bioscience — which recently co-led a $63 million round for drug developer Imara — has announced that their CFO, James Rawlingson is hitting the exit. Rawlingson is the current non-executive director and chairman of the audit and risk committee at Citibank UK. In addition, the company’s group financial controller, Marcus Karia, has been promoted to group finance director.
→ Neoantigen player PACT Pharma has wooed Tim Moore from Kite to run technical ops as the company’s president and chief technical officer. The prospect of tackling solid tumors by hitting neoantigens that form a unique signature on each — drew him to the new opportunity, Moore told Endpoints News.
→ Incoming Vertex CEO Reshma Kewalramani has selected her replacement as CMO, choosing to promote a member of the R&D team to the post. Carmen Bozic, who joined the company last May from Biogen, has been named EVP, Global Medicines Development and Medical Affairs today and gets to add the new title of CMO next April as Vertex cautiously transfers the reins to a new CEO who much to prove in order to win over some skeptical analysts. Bozic’s first job at Vertex was leading clinical development of the company’s cystic fibrosis and alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency programs, as well as clinical operations across the pipeline. In addition, Nia Tatsis, Vertex’s SVP, global regulatory affairs, is taking over as head of regulatory, effective immediately.
→ Just a little more than 3 years after Michael Ehlers took the job as global head of R&D for the now deeply troubled Biogen, he’s jumping ship. CEO Michel Vounatsos has appointed CMO Al Sandrock, a chief architect of the drugmaker’s deeply flawed pipeline strategy, as his replacement. Ehlers will go on to a new career opportunity as a venture partner and CSO at Apple Tree, which comes with a CEO job at a gene therapy startup named Limelight Bio. In addition, Vounatsos named Alphonse Galdes executive vice president, pharmaceutical operations and technology.
→ Former FDA Commissioner Robert Califf and his inimitable mustache will be on proud display as he makes his way to Alphabet to take a full-time role as head of medical strategy and policy across the Google Health and Verily units, come mid-November.
→ Therapeutic protein manufacturer AGC Biologics has appointed Jeffrey Mowery as site head/general manager of the company’s Copenhagen, Denmark facility. He will work with his colleagues in Seattle to combine the company’s global capabilities. Mowery’s previous stints include Juno Therapeutics, Lonza and Genentech.
→ PhRMA has named Jennifer Bryant as EVP of policy and research, succeeding Lori Reilly who was recently appointed COO. Bryant has been with PhRMA for 13 years and most recently served as SVP of policy and research. Prior to her time at PhRMA, Bryant served as vice president at healthcare consulting firm, The Lewin Group and worked at the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association.
→ Optinose has hired Michael Richardson as VP, business development to beef up its portfolio of potential treatments for ear, nose and throat. As the company begins to market its Xhance nasal spray for nasal polyps, Richardson will evaluate new opportunities to support long-term growth, the company said. He joins from a commercial role at Princeton Biopharma.