Bain's Orly Mishan joins Pfizer's neuro spinout Cerevel; Oncolytic virus biotech taps SillaJen exec Helena Chaye as CEO
→ Bain Capital is deploying one of its top investors to Cerevel Therapeutics, steering a $350 million-plus neuro play carved out of Pfizer. Orly Mishan — a co-founder and principal of Bain’s life sciences unit — was involved in the partnership that birthed the biotech spinout in the first place. As Cerevel’s first chief business officer, she is tasked with corporate development, program management as well as technical operations.
Cerevel launched last October after Adam Koppel and Chris Gordon at Bain spearheaded a deal to spin the neurosciences programs Pfizer had abandoned (alongside 300 staffers) out to a new, well-funded company. Since then it’s been building out its own team, filling the leadership ranks with alumni of Sangamo, Otsuka and Merck.
“Cerevel Therapeutics is purpose-built to progress neuroscience therapies in a sustainable way, and I look forward to working with the team to advance the science internally and through external collaborations,” she said in a statement. Before joining Bain, Mishan spent more than a decade at the frontline of healthcare business at Boston Scientific and Biogen.
→ In the wake of SillaJen’s devastating Phase III termination, chief business officer Helena Chaye is jumping to another oncolytic virus company. She is now the CEO of Western Oncolytics, a Pittsburgh biotech counting on the Western Reserve strain of the vaccinia virus to deliver multiple ways of triggering an immune response. In the new job, she rejoins Stephen Thorne, co-founder and CSO, who also helped create Jennerex — the SillaJen predecessor where Chaye was an early executive.
→ While their lead adenosine A2A receptor antagonist program, EOS100850, is currently in a Phase I/Ib study, Gosselies, Belgium and Cambridge, Massachusetts-based iTeos Therapeutics has announced the appointment of Matthew Call as COO. Call served in the same role at Endocyte — acquired last year for $2.1 billion by Novartis — where he was responsible for all business development and strategic transactions. iTeos hopes that their second program, a fully human ADCC-enabling anti-TIGIT antibody (EOS884448), will enter the clinic in the second half of 2019.
→ As it preps for a commercial pivot, Circassia has wooed Pfizer vet Jonathan Emms to the newly created role of COO and naming him a director while R&D chief Rod Hafner steps down from the board. Emms’ experience leading global commercial activities for Pfizer, as well as a stint with GSK, makes him well-positioned to oversee the British drugmakers’ upcoming moves. Chief of all will be the US launch of Duaklir, the COPD drug from AstraZeneca; there are also plans to establish a new sales team in China and grow Circassia’s presence in Europe. Meanwhile, Hafner will shift his focus to business development, supply chain, medical affairs, regulatory and quality matters.
→ Rare disease player Strongbridge Biopharma has reshuffled its C-suite, tapping Richard Kollender as COO and promoting CBO Robert Lutz to CFO. Kollender, a longtime healthcare investor, was a board director. Lutz, a Shire vet, replaces Brian Davis as he heads off to other opportunities.
→ Just a year after recruiting Celgene/Receptos exec John Farnam to be COO, Kura Oncology is bringing in Kathleen Ford to fill his shoes. Ford also brings impressive pharma credentials, having most recently headed global clinical operations at Merck KGaA’s Serono and previously held similar roles at Millennium and Alkermes. Kura situates itself in the nascent but popular field of precision medicine, targeting patients with particular genetic mutations, with one registration-directed study and more pipeline expansion underway.
→ Former Forest Labs CFO, Francis (Frank) Perier, Jr, is joining SpringWorks Therapeutics — which launched in the fall of 2017 with a whopping $103 million round and Pfizer $PFE assets — in the same capacity. Prior to his role at Forest, Perier served as the vice president of finance and operations planning – Americas Medicines Group at Bristol Myers Squibb. Previously, he served as an accounting and auditing partner at Deloitte.
→ Amid an ongoing shift of its center of gravity to the US, Daiichi Sankyo has consolidated all human resources functions and brought in Simon King to be the chief people officer. King — who brings high-level experience from Bristol-Myers Squibb and AstraZeneca attracting and managing R&D talent — will report directly to Koji Ogawa, head of the Japanese company’s US division.
→ MJ MedTech subsidiary, Wuhan General Group $WUHN, is wanting to become a major player in the US $166 billion medical cannabidiol space, as well as psilocybin and medicinal mushroom health sector. To help with that, the company has appointed Hyder Khoja — cannabinoid & psychedelic medicine scientist — as CSO. Previously, Khoja was a research faculty for Virginia-Tech, University of Wyoming & Texas-Tech University’s Health Science Center. Khoja co-founded InMed Pharmaceuticals and directed botanical drug research and development for their pre-clinical stage therapies into application and helped raise over $90 million for the venture.
→ Biolog-id — whose mission is to ensure safe delivery of health products from donor to patient with the help of their patented smart storage kits — has slated Omnicell vet, Troy Hilsenroth, to head the helm of their company as CEO. Hilsenroth will be taking over for current CEO, Pierre Parent, who will remain as the company’s president. Prior to hopping on board, Hilsenroth was the general manager of the medication adherence division at Omnicell.
→ Gearing up towards further developing their ongoing pivotal Phase III clinical, AGENT study of their drug candidate arfolitixorin, Isofol Medical AB announced the appointment of Roger Tell as CMO, in addition to his current role as CSO. Current CMO, Karin Ganlöv will transition to a new role of senior medical director, where she will focus on safety and regulatory. Tell joined the company after a stint at Aprea Therapeutics as vice president of clinical development. Tell has served as an advisor and oncologist at Eli Lilly, AstraZeneca and Merck Serono.
→ Caroline Dircks has been promoted from SVP, R&D operations to COO at Bioasis Technologies — a company developing the xB³ platform, technology for the delivery of therapeutics across the blood-brain barrier (BBB) and the treatment of central nervous system (CNS) disorders. Dircks spent 13 years at Bristol Myers Squibb in research and development operations — most recently serving as head of regional R&D operations and schedule management. Prior to that, she had an 8-year stint at Vion Pharmaceuticals.
→ Aperiomics, a company focused on identifying infections, has added Alexander Valencia, the former molecular laboratory director at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and PerkinElmer Genomics, to their team as CCO. In his new role, Valencia will oversee clinical test development, validations, regulatory affairs and operations on behalf of the company.
→ Now at the center of a storm of controversy over its decision to keep its knowledge of manipulated data hidden from regulators during an FDA review, Novartis CEO Vas Narasimhan has found a longtime veteran in the ranks to head the scientific work underway at AveXis, as CSO, where the incident occurred. Page Bouchard is taking the place of the two top scientists at AveXis — Brian Kaspar and his brother Allan Kaspar — who “have not been involved in any operations at AveXis since early May 2019 and are no longer with the company.” There’s no word about why they left, but several news reports surfaced soon after the statement was released — including one from Meg Tirrell at CNBC — quoting sources at Novartis saying that the Kaspars and several other scientists were terminated in connection with the data manipulation.
→ The slow-moving overhaul of the leadership and strategy at GSK is taking a fresh turn, and bringing another woman to the top ranks of the industry. GlaxoSmith
Kline said that US pharmaceuticals president Jack Bailey “has decided to step down” at the end of the year. And GSK CEO Emma Walmsley has recruited Merck KGaA’s Maya Martinez-Davis for the role. She’ll be working with global pharma chief Luke Miels, an AstraZeneca veteran wooed to a senior spot shortly after Walmsley made her move to the top at GSK. Currently the head of Latin America and former chief of global oncology at Merck KGaA, Martinez-Davis will fit in well with GSK’s commercial and R&D strategy involving the development of new cancer drugs. R&D chief Hal Barron has made cancer research a top priority over the past year.
→ Novartis announced that Fabrice Chouraqui is stepping down from his role as US pharma president and will be replaced by Victor Bulto, who has championed Cosentyx in the US. In picking Bulto for the promotion, Novartis is going with a proven in-house exec, currently in charge of the US immunology, hepatology and dermatology franchise. The 14-year Novartis exec will be reporting to Marie France Tschudin, who runs the global pharma group at the Swiss giant. Tschudin herself is a recent addition to the top team at Novartis. The former president of Advanced Accelerator Applications came in a couple of years ago when Novartis acquired the company and added radiopharmaceuticals to its oncology portfolio. Bulto started as a senior brand manager at Novartis in 2005.
→ With the brief stint at Acceleron behind him, Robert Zeldin has found his next CMO role at Roivant’s new autoimmune-focused offshoot, Immunovant. The appointment brings Zeldin back to his roots in immunology and leverages his more recent experience with clinical development to advance IMVT-1401, an antibody that facilitates the degradation of pathogenic IgG. Bradford Middlekauff, a Medarex alum and biotech vet, is also joining Pete Salzmann’s team as general counsel.
→ Hep B vaccine maker, Dynavax Technologies, has welcomed Bain Capital Life Sciences managing director, Andrew Hack to its board of directors. Hack previously served as the CFO of Editas Medicine.
→ Ritter Pharmaceuticals — who is expecting Phase III data on its lead product candidate, RP-G28, for lactose intolerance in Q4 Ritter Pharmaceuticals — has appointed Anthony Lembo to its medical advisory board. Lembo is the director, GI motility and functional bowel disorder center at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and is a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.