Bill Lund­berg takes over the reins at Merus; For­mer Akcea COO Jef­frey Gold­berg takes the helm of Im­mu­ni­tas

Bill Lund­berg

→ Dutch biotech Merus, who struck up a $200 mil­lion bis­pe­cif­ic de­vel­op­ment deal with In­cyte in 2016,  is los­ing their CEO Ton Logten­berg. Mean­while, the com­pa­ny has nom­i­nat­ed Sven (Bill) Ante Lund­berg to be Logten­berg’s suc­ces­sor. Lund­berg, most re­cent­ly served as CSO at CRISPR Ther­a­peu­tics — help­ing es­tab­lish the com­pa­ny in Cam­bridge, MA and lead­ing the de­vel­op­ment of the com­pa­ny’s first clin­i­cal tri­al ap­pli­ca­tion. Pri­or to CRISPR, Lund­berg was the head of trans­la­tion­al med­i­cine at Alex­ion Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals and CMO of Tal­i­gen Ther­a­peu­tics. His oth­er stints in­clude roles at Xan­thus/Anth­so­ma, Wyeth and Gen­zyme.

→ Ear­li­er this year, Hep B vac­cine mak­er Dy­navax Tech­nolo­gies was look­ing to un­load its im­muno-on­col­o­gy pro­gram, slash­ing jobs and de­vot­ing its re­sources to its vac­cine Hep­lisav-B. Now, the com­pa­ny has an­nounced the pro­mo­tion of Ryan Spencer to the role of CEO and David No­vack to the po­si­tion of pres­i­dent and COO. Spencer hopped aboard the com­pa­ny in 2006, and most re­cent­ly served as com­mer­cial vice pres­i­dent and since May 2019 has served as in­ter­im co-pres­i­dent with No­vack. No­vack joined Dy­navax in 2013. He pre­vi­ous­ly served in var­i­ous roles at No­var­tis

Jef­frey Gold­berg

→ Af­ter be­ing swept out with two oth­er top ex­ecs at Akcea, Jef­frey Gold­berg has found a new home at the helm of Im­mu­ni­tas Ther­a­peu­tics, where he will serve as the com­pa­ny’s CEO and di­rec­tor. Gold­berg will suc­ceed found­ing CEO, Christoph West­phal, who is mov­ing to the role of chair­man of the board of di­rec­tors. Dur­ing his time at Akcea, Gold­berg served as COO. Pri­or to that, he was the VP of busi­ness op­er­a­tions at Pro­teosta­sis Ther­a­peu­tics. His oth­er roles in­clude stints at Sanofi and Gen­zyme.

Ac­cel­er­a­tor Life Sci­ences start­up Lo­do Ther­a­peu­tics has tapped Dale Pfost to head the com­pa­ny as CEO and chair­man. Pfost draws from his ex­pe­ri­ence of pre­vi­ous­ly run­ning five biotech com­pa­nies — Mi­cro­Bio­me Ther­a­peu­tics, Acu­ity Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals (lat­er merged to form OP­KO Health), Ox­ford Gly­co­Sciences, Or­chid Bio­Sciences and Re­cep­tor Bi­oLogix (lat­er ac­quired by Sym­phogen). Pfost was al­so a gen­er­al part­ner at VC firm Ad­vent Life Sci­ences. In ad­di­tion to Pfost’s ap­point­ment, Lo­do wel­comed Mer­ck vet Steve Col­let­ti as SVP of R&D, co-founder of Bloom Sci­ence An­tho­ny Co­lasin as SVP of busi­ness de­vel­op­ment, prin­ci­pal at BLL Part­ners Bar­bara Lind­heim as con­sult­ing vice pres­i­dent of strate­gic com­mu­ni­ca­tions and in­vestor re­la­tions and pres­i­dent of The Macken­zie Con­sult­ing Group Sara­jane Macken­zie as con­sult­ing vice pres­i­dent of hu­man re­sources and or­ga­ni­za­tion de­vel­op­ment.

Bone Ther­a­peu­tics — who saw their shares plum­met 26% af­ter hit­ting the brakes on a Phase III study of their cell ther­a­py for os­teonecro­sis — has snagged Miguel Forte to the helm of the com­pa­ny as CEO, suc­ceed­ing Thomas Lien­ard, who is hit­ting the ex­it. Forte makes the leap to the com­pa­ny af­ter serv­ing as the CEO of Zel­lu­na Im­munother­a­py and is cur­rent­ly serv­ing as CCO and chair of the com­mer­cial­iza­tion com­mit­tee of the In­ter­na­tion­al So­ci­ety of Cel­lu­lar Ther­a­py (ISCT). His pre­vi­ous ex­pe­ri­ence in­cludes roles at the EMA, UCB and Tx­Cell.

→ CRISPR-fo­cused Mam­moth Bio­sciences — co-found­ed by Jen­nifer Doud­na and backed by Tim Cook and Jeff Hu­ber — has ex­pand­ed its lead­er­ship team with the ap­point­ments of Pe­ter Nell to the role of CBO and head of ther­a­peu­tics and Ted Tisch as COO. Nell joins the with ex­pe­ri­ence from his time at Case­bia Ther­a­peu­tics and Bay­er Health­Care. Tisch joins the com­pa­ny af­ter a stint at Syn­thego, where he es­tab­lished the de­vel­op­ment, man­u­fac­tur­ing op­er­a­tions and com­mer­cial pro­gram of two CRISPR-based prod­uct lines.

Lantern Phar­ma — fo­cused on can­cer drug de­vel­op­ment with the help of AI and ge­nomics — has tapped David Mar­grave to the role of CFO and Kishor Gopal­das Bha­tia as CSO. Mar­grave joins the com­pa­ny af­ter serv­ing at BioN­u­merik Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, where he spent time in the roles of pres­i­dent, chief ad­min­is­tra­tive of­fi­cer and gen­er­al coun­sel. Bha­tia, whose re­search fo­cus­es on lym­phoma and EBV makes the hop over to Lantern from the di­rec­tor’s chair at Na­tion­al Can­cer In­sti­tute’s AIDS Ma­lig­nan­cy Pro­gram. 

Flag­ship-backed Cyg­nal Ther­a­peu­tics — which is fo­cused on ex­oneur­al bi­ol­o­gy — has ap­point­ed Elaine Caugh­ey to the role of CBO. Caugh­ey joins the com­pa­ny af­ter a stint as a con­sul­tant at The Black­stone Group. Her pre­vi­ous roles in­clude serv­ing as se­nior di­rec­tor of busi­ness de­vel­op­ment at Bio­gen and a role in busi­ness de­vel­op­ment and cor­po­rate ven­ture at CY­TYC Cor­po­ra­tion, lat­er ac­quired by Ho­log­ic

Joanne Beck Boston

Nim­bus Ther­a­peu­tics — who, back in Ju­ly, had Cel­gene, ahead of $74 bil­lion Bris­tol-My­ers buy­out, bag an op­tion for the com­pa­ny’s HPK1 in­hibitor pro­gram — has pro­mot­ed CMO An­nie Chen to be pres­i­dent of the com­pa­ny’s Tyk2 sub­sidiary, Nim­bus Lak­sh­mi. Along with her new role, Chen will still con­tin­ue her re­spon­si­bil­i­ties as CMO to the com­pa­ny. Chen has served in the role of CMO since 2015 and pri­or to her time at Nim­bus, was ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of clin­i­cal re­search and sec­tion head of vac­cines at Mer­ck. Be­fore that, Chen held stints at Genen­tech and Cel­era Ge­nomics.

Boston Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals — who, last Oc­to­ber, inked two big in-li­cens­ing deals with No­var­tis and GSK has wel­comed Joanne Beck as COO. Beck makes the hop over af­ter a stint as EVP of glob­al phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal de­vel­op­ment and op­er­a­tions at Cel­gene. In her new role, Beck will draw from ex­pe­ri­ence dur­ing her time at Shire — serv­ing as SVP of phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal de­vel­op­ment — Ab­bott’s Glob­al Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal Op­er­a­tions, Ab­bott Vas­cu­lar, Genen­tech and Am­gen

Im­muneer­ing — whose cur­rent pipeline fo­cus­es on dis­eases such as can­cer cachex­ia and metas­ta­sis — has tapped Scott Bar­rett as CMO. Pri­or to join­ing the com­pa­ny, Bar­rett was the glob­al med­ical af­fairs lead for Tar­get­ed Ther­a­peu­tics at In­cyte Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals. In ad­di­tion, he has al­so held stints at In­fin­i­ty Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, Ei­sai Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, and at the Janssen di­vi­sion of J&J.

Scott Bar­rett Im­muneer­ing

→ Neu­rode­gen­er­a­tive dis­ease-fo­cused E-Scape Bio has named Tony Ri­mac as CFO and Ann Ka­poun as SVP of R&D. Ri­mac joins the com­pa­ny from Chrono Ther­a­peu­tics, where he served as CFO and CBO. Pri­or to that, he served as CFO of Aldea Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, Adamas Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals — lead­ing the com­pa­ny’s IPO — and Aerovance. Most re­cent­ly, Ka­poun served as SVP of trans­la­tion­al med­i­cine at On­coMed Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals and has pre­vi­ous­ly held roles at ALZA and Scios, a bio­phar­ma unit of J&J.

→ Cell en­gi­neer­ing ser­vice provider Max­cyte — who re­cent­ly inked a deal with KSQ Ther­a­peu­tics has named Shru­ti Ab­ba­to as EVP of busi­ness de­vel­op­ment as the com­pa­ny con­tin­ues with a Phase I tri­al of its can­cer drug, MCY-M11. Pri­or to his new role at Max­cyte, Ab­ba­to was the VP of busi­ness de­vel­op­ment at treat­ment de­vel­op­er Cel­dara Med­ical and was the own­er of Per­spicere.

→ Not long af­ter seal­ing a li­cens­ing deal with Emory Uni­ver­si­ty, Neu­ro­trau­ma Sci­ences has wel­comed Todd Ver­doorn as VP of re­search and de­vel­op­ment. Ver­doorn, most re­cent­ly, served as CSO of Di­aMed­ica.

→ Months af­ter the FDA lift­ed its par­tial hold on Xen­cor’s CD123 x CD3 bis­pe­cif­ic, XmAb14045 — af­ter the drug caused one of two deaths —  the com­pa­ny has ap­point­ed Allen Yang to the role of SVP and CMO. In his new role, Yang will be re­spon­si­ble for lead­ing clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment and strat­e­gy and over­see­ing op­er­a­tions for Xen­cor’s port­fo­lio of XmAb an­ti­body drug can­di­dates. Yang joins the com­pa­ny from Jazz Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, where he served as VP, head of clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment and act­ing CMO. Be­fore Jazz, Yang held roles at Spec­trum Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals and Am­gen — where he was the glob­al de­vel­op­ment leader for Arane­sp in on­col­o­gy and clin­i­cal re­search med­ical di­rec­tor for Blin­cy­to.

→ Af­ter re­cent­ly bag­ging an $85 mil­lion round, Zen­tal­is Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals has tapped Melis­sa Ep­per­ly as CFO. Ep­per­ly makes the jump to Zen­tal­is af­ter a stint in the same role at PsiOxus Ther­a­peu­tics. Pri­or to that, she was the CFO and head of busi­ness de­vel­op­ment at R-Pharm US. Pre­vi­ous­ly, Ep­per­ly has held stints at An­chor­age Cap­i­tal Group, Gold­man Sachs, Bain & Com­pa­ny and Mor­gan Stan­ley

Michael Hef­fer­nan In­da­lo

Pfiz­er and My­lan an­nounced that for­mer CEO and pres­i­dent of Pfiz­er Ian Read and for­mer chair­man and CEO of The Gillette Com­pa­ny James Kilts will join the Vi­a­tris board of di­rec­tors up­on the com­ple­tion of the planned merg­er of My­lan and Up­john — which is ex­pect­ed to oc­cur mid-2020. 

Jen­nifer Cook — who was the CEO of can­cer test­ing start­up Grail, but stepped down for fam­i­ly health rea­sons — has joined the board of di­rec­tors of Neil Ku­mar-led Bridge­Bio.

Mil­len­do Ther­a­peu­tics — who, last Au­gust, merged with strug­gling fer­til­i­ty com­pa­ny Ova­Sciencehas wel­comed cur­rent CMO of Bio­Marin Ge­off Nichol to the com­pa­ny’s board of di­rec­tors. 

In­da­lo Ther­a­peu­tics — fo­cused on the de­vel­op­ment of in­te­grin an­tag­o­nists for pa­tients suf­fer­ing from se­ri­ous fi­brot­ic dis­eases such as id­io­path­ic pul­monary fi­bro­sis (IPF) and non­al­co­holic steato­hep­ati­tis (NASH) — has ap­point­ed for­mer CEO of Col­legium Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal Michael Hef­fer­nan as chair­man to the board of di­rec­tors.

→ Life sci­ences in­dus­try group RI Bio has ap­point­ed cur­rent CEO, pres­i­dent and co-founder of Med­ley Ge­nomics Patrice Mi­los as chair­man of the board of di­rec­tors. In ad­di­tion, the board ap­point­ed two new mem­bers, Bank of Amer­i­ca SVP and pri­vate client ad­vi­sor with Guy Asado­ri­an and VP of busi­ness de­vel­op­ment for The Al­lied Group Bri­an But­ler.

Patrice Mi­los Ri Bio

Pathios’ search for small mol­e­cule drugs that hit “or­phan” GCPR has been backed by Canaan. The com­pa­ny bagged $8.8 mil­lion in Se­ries A fi­nanc­ing and brought on Stu­art Hugh­es as the com­pa­ny’s CEO. Pri­or to join­ing Pathios, Hugh­es served as a se­nior di­rec­tor at Ver­tex and be­fore that held a stint at Eli Lil­ly

David Meeks has hand­ed in his res­ig­na­tion as CEO to Ipsen and is mak­ing the leap across the At­lantic to head start­up Fer­Gene. The 30-year bio­phar­ma vet­er­an has trav­eled the world through­out his ca­reer. He spent a lit­tle more than 3 years at the helm of Paris-based Ipsen, ar­riv­ing af­ter a stint run­ning the on­col­o­gy di­vi­sion at Bax­al­ta be­fore it was snapped up by Shire (which was lat­er bought by Take­da). Be­fore that, he was the top com­mer­cial of­fi­cer at En­do­cyte and ear­li­er he com­plet­ed a glob­al stint at No­var­tis.

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.

President Donald Trump (via AP Images)

Signs of an 'Oc­to­ber Vac­cine Sur­prise' alarm ca­reer sci­en­tists

President Donald Trump, who seems intent on announcing a COVID-19 vaccine before Election Day, could legally authorize a vaccine over the objections of experts, officials at the FDA and even vaccine manufacturers, who have pledged not to release any vaccine unless it’s proved safe and effective.

In podcasts, public forums, social media and medical journals, a growing number of prominent health leaders say they fear that Trump — who has repeatedly signaled his desire for the swift approval of a vaccine and his displeasure with perceived delays at the FDA — will take matters into his own hands, running roughshod over the usual regulatory process.

#ES­MO20: Push­ing in­to front­line, Mer­ck and Bris­tol My­ers duke it out with new slate of GI can­cer da­ta

Having worked in parallel for years to move their respective PD-1 inhibitors up to the first-line treatment of gastrointestinal cancers, Merck and Bristol Myers Squibb finally have the data at ESMO for a showdown.

Comparing KEYNOTE-590 and CheckMate-649, of course, comes with the usual caveats. But a side-by-side look at the overall survival numbers also offer some perspective on a new frontier for the reigning checkpoint rivals, both of whom are claiming to have achieved a first.

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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Anthony Fauci (AP Images)

A press of­fi­cer at An­tho­ny Fau­ci’s NI­AID was un­masked as a hard-right Covid troll. He just re­tired to­day

William B Crews had been a public affairs specialist at the NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

That ended today when he informed the agency of his decision to retire, after he was identified as the managing editor at RedState, a prominent Trump loyalist website.

Crews’ RedState duties are performed under the alias streiff. While enjoying the benefits of pseudonymity, he disparaged and worked against NIAID with an incendiary level of rhetoric in the midst of a pandemic.

#ES­MO20: Bris­tol My­ers marks Op­di­vo's sec­ond ad­ju­vant win — eye­ing a stan­dard of care gap

Moving into earlier and earlier treatment lines, Bristol Myers Squibb is reporting that adjuvant treatment with Opdivo has doubled the time that esophageal or gastroesophageal junction cancer patients stay free of disease.

With the CheckMate-577 data at ESMO, CMO Samit Hirawat said, the company believes it can change the treatment paradigm.

While a quarter to 30% of patients typically achieve a complete response following chemoradiation therapy and surgery, the rest do not, said Ronan Kelly of Baylor University Medical Center. The recurrence rate is also high within the first year, Hirawat added.

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.