Biotech en­tre­pre­neur Saurabh Sa­ha moves to trans­la­tion­al re­search chief at Bris­tol-My­ers; Ex-GSK phar­ma chief Hus­sain switch­es to pri­vate eq­ui­ty

Saurabh Sa­ha

→ Bris­tol-My­ers Squibb $BMY has hired Saurabh Sa­ha to run their trans­la­tion sci­ence group, which is re­spon­si­ble for triag­ing pre­clin­i­cal work of in­ter­est and steer­ing the most promis­ing pro­grams to­ward the clin­ic. Sa­ha — a 40-year-old Johns Hop­kins grad, where he worked in Bert Vo­gel­stein’s lab — once up­on a time la­bored in­side No­var­tis’ glob­al ops, be­fore leav­ing for a string of new jobs in biotech. Nine years ago he set up a trans­la­tion­al re­search and de­vel­op­ment or­ga­ni­za­tion called Bio­Med Val­ley Dis­cov­er­ies. Then his role as a ven­ture part­ner at the pro­lif­ic At­las Ven­ture led him to be­come chief med­ical of­fi­cer at Syn­log­ic, fol­lowed by a brief but wild­ly suc­cess­ful stint as CEO of Delinia. Sa­ha is stay­ing in the Boston area, where Bris­tol-My­ers is build­ing a new R&D cen­ter.

→ Near the be­gin­ning of this year, Ab­bas Hus­sain an­nounced plans to leave his role as Glax­o­SmithK­line’s phar­ma chief, hand­ing over the job to Luke Miels as new CEO Em­ma Walm­s­ley be­gan to as­sem­ble her own top team. And now Hus­sain has land­ed at C-Bridge Cap­i­tal, a pow­er­house Chi­nese pri­vate eq­ui­ty group which has in­vest­ed heav­i­ly in some promi­nent Asian biotechs. Hus­sain spent eight years at GSK, build­ing the phar­ma gi­ant in­to the lead vol­ume op­er­a­tion in the drug in­dus­try and rolling out a quo­ta-free sales mod­el in dozens of coun­tries around the world. He start­ed as emerg­ing mar­kets chief, with a big role in clean­ing up a bribery scan­dal in Chi­na capped with a $500 mil­lion fine. His shift to se­nior part­ner at C-Bridge — af­ter be­ing tapped as a pos­si­ble re­place­ment for GSK CEO An­drew Wit­ty — says a lot about the fast-chang­ing bio­phar­ma world we live in now and Chi­na’s grow­ing role in the in­dus­try.

→ Jeff Hat­field is be­ing giv­en the lead­ing role at Zaf­gen, which is mak­ing a come­back bid af­ter its lead drug proved un­safe. Hat­field, com­ing off his role as CEO of Vi­tae, which was sold to Al­ler­gan, will take the helm as Tom Hugh­es moves in­to a new role as chief sci­en­tif­ic of­fi­cer. Hugh­es is al­so re­tain­ing the pres­i­dent’s ti­tle in the shift at Zaf­gen. Hugh­es says he’s hap­py with the change-up, not­ing: “We are ramp­ing up our clin­i­cal ac­tiv­i­ties with ZGN-1061 now in Phase 2, and have two pre­clin­i­cal can­di­dates that are ad­vanc­ing to­ward the clin­ic. We al­so have ex­cit­ing new in­sights in­to the MetAP2 path­way that war­rant an in­creased com­mit­ment to ad­vance our un­der­stand­ing of its ther­a­peu­tic po­ten­tial and de­vel­op new drugs lever­ag­ing its im­pact.”

→ Am­gen CEO Robert Brad­way was named chair­man-elect of PhRMA ef­fec­tive im­me­di­ate­ly. Sanofi CEO Olivi­er Brandi­court will be­come chair­man-elect and James Robin­son, pres­i­dent, Astel­las Amer­i­c­as, will as­sume the role of board trea­sur­er ef­fec­tive Feb­ru­ary 7, 2018.

→ Roche vet Nico­la Thomp­son is tak­ing the CEO post at Viri­on­HealthLau­ra Lane is on board as  COO. Abing­worth has hand­ed over a £13 mil­lion Se­ries A to the com­pa­ny for its work on new drugs for res­pi­ra­to­ry vi­ral in­fec­tions.  “We are de­light­ed to re­ceive this sup­port and will use the funds to ad­vance our nov­el pro­grammes in­to the clin­ic,” said Jef­frey Al­mond, who just joined as chair­man of Viri­on­Health. “Up­per res­pi­ra­to­ry tract in­fec­tions re­main an im­por­tant un­met need which in­cludes an es­ti­mat­ed 1 bil­lion cas­es of in­fluen­za across the globe each year.”

→ Tre­vana chief sci­en­tif­ic of­fi­cer Michael Lark is head­ed to the ex­it in mid-De­cem­ber. Twen­ty-one staffers large­ly from the re­search arm are al­so be­ing cut — 30% of its to­tal work­force.

Dublin-based Ma­lin is tap­ping more of An­drew von Es­chen­bach’s time. The for­mer FDA chief has signed on as chief med­ical ad­vis­er to the biotech in­vestor, af­ter a stint in the some­what less for­mal po­si­tion of ad­vi­so­ry part­ner. Von Es­chen­bach was head of the Na­tion­al Can­cer In­sti­tute for the four years pri­or to tak­ing the reins at the FDA from 2006 to 2009 un­der Pres­i­dent George W. Bush. He’s now al­so a se­nior fel­low at the Milken In­sti­tute and pres­i­dent of Samar­i­tan Health Ini­tia­tives.

→ Ex-JP­Mor­gan ex­ec and new­ly mint­ed ven­ture ex­ec Stephen Beren­son is join­ing the board at Mod­er­na, where Flag­ship chief Noubar Afeyan is chair­man of the board. Beren­son joined Flag­ship as an ex­ec­u­tive part­ner last sum­mer af­ter wrap­ping a stint as vice chair­man of in­vest­ment bank­ing.

→ Michael C. Diem is Am­i­cus Ther­a­peu­tics’ new SVP of cor­po­rate de­vel­op­ment. His pre­vi­ous gigs in­clude As­traZeneca and Glax­o­SmithK­line. “I am pleased to wel­come Dr. Mike Diem to our se­nior lead­er­ship team at Am­i­cus,” said Am­i­cus CEO John Crow­ley. “Mike will be a key leader for Am­i­cus as we eval­u­ate strate­gies to en­hance our port­fo­lio of lead­ing edge rare dis­ease med­i­cines and tech­nolo­gies. He will be ex­treme­ly valu­able to Am­i­cus as we con­tin­ue to build a top glob­al biotech­nol­o­gy com­pa­ny fo­cused on dev­as­tat­ing rare dis­eases.”

→ Amyris has tak­en on Ed­uar­do Al­varez as their chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer.

→ Men­lo Ven­tures has added Greg Yap as a part­ner, he will be fo­cus­ing on life sci­ence, health and med­ical in­vest­ing.

 

Novotech CEO Dr. John Moller

Novotech CRO Award­ed Frost & Sul­li­van Best Biotech CRO Asia-Pa­cif­ic 2019

Known in the in­dus­try as the Asia-Pa­cif­ic CRO, Novotech is now lead CRO ser­vices provider for the grow­ing num­ber of in­ter­na­tion­al biotechs se­lect­ing the re­gion for their stud­ies.

Re­flect­ing this Asia-Pa­cif­ic growth, Novotech staff num­bers are up 20% since De­cem­ber 2018 to 600 in-house clin­i­cal re­search peo­ple across a full range of ser­vices, across the re­gion.

Novotech’s ca­pa­bil­i­ties have been rec­og­nized by an­a­lysts like Frost & Sul­li­van, most re­cent­ly with the pres­ti­gious Asia-Pa­cif­ic CRO Biotech of the year award for best prac­tices in clin­i­cal re­search for biotechs for the fifth year. See oth­er awards here.

Fol­low­ing news of job cuts in Eu­ro­pean R&D ops, Sanofi con­firms it’s of­fer­ing US work­ers an 'ear­ly ex­it'

Ear­li­er in the week we learned that Sanofi was bring­ing out the bud­get ax to trim 466 R&D jobs in Eu­rope, re­tool­ing its ap­proach to car­dio as re­search chief John Reed beefed up their work in can­cer and gene ther­a­pies. And we’re end­ing the week with news that the phar­ma gi­ant has al­so been qui­et­ly re­duc­ing staff in the US, tar­get­ing hun­dreds of jobs as the com­pa­ny push­es vol­un­tary buy­outs with a fo­cus on R&D sup­port ser­vices.

Evotec CEO Werner Lanthaler, File Photo

Ox­ford, Evotec ramp up LAB10x with AI ex­perts at Sen­syne — fo­cused on biotech spin­outs

Ox­ford is al­ly­ing it­self with Evotec and ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence out­fit Sen­syne Health to ramp up some new biotech spin­outs while look­ing to “ac­cel­er­ate da­ta-dri­ven drug dis­cov­ery and de­vel­op­ment.”

The big idea here is that Ox­ford sci­en­tists — some of the best drug hunters in the world — can uti­lize Sen­syne’s AI plat­form for their work, re­ly­ing on the chemists and hands-on de­vel­op­ers at Evotec to push ahead to a crit­i­cal proof of con­cept mo­ment. And they’ll do it through a project leader called LAB10x, which gets £5 mil­lion over the next three years to fund the work.

How small- to mid-sized biotechs can adopt pa­tient cen­tric­i­ty in their on­col­o­gy tri­als

By Lucy Clos­sick Thom­son, Se­nior Di­rec­tor of On­col­o­gy Pro­ject Man­age­ment, Icon

Clin­i­cal tri­als in on­col­o­gy can be cost­ly and chal­leng­ing to man­age. One fac­tor that could re­duce costs and re­duce bar­ri­ers is har­ness­ing the pa­tient voice in tri­al de­sign to help ac­cel­er­ate pa­tient en­roll­ment. Now is the time to adopt pa­tient-cen­tric strate­gies that not on­ly fo­cus on pa­tient needs, but al­so can main­tain cost ef­fi­cien­cy.

Why would the FDA ap­prove an­oth­er con­tro­ver­sial drug to spur a woman’s li­bido with these da­ta? And why no ex­pert pan­el re­view?

AMAG Pharmaceuticals’ newly approved drug for spurring women’s sexual desire may never make much money, but it’s a big hit at sparking media attention.

The therapy — Vyleesi (bremelanotide) — got the green light from regulators on Friday evening, swiftly lighting up a range of stories around the world, from The New York Times to The Guardian. Several headlines inevitably referred to it as the “female Viagra,” invoking Pfizer’s old erectile dysfunction blockbuster.

But the two drugs have little in common.

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Maze in­ter­im chief Charles Hom­cy pass­es ba­ton to Ja­son Colo­ma; William Col­lier tapped as CEO of Ar­bu­tus

→ Four months in­to Maze Ther­a­peu­tics’ launch, Charles Hom­cy is pass­ing the start­up’s reins to an­oth­er Third Rock col­league. Ja­son Colo­ma, the cur­rent COO, is leav­ing his role at the VC firm to be­come full-time CEO on a mis­sion to trans­late ge­net­ic in­sights in­to new med­i­cines. Equipped with a whop­ping $191 mil­lion with sup­port from Arch, Maze’s big idea is to find and tar­get ge­net­ic mod­i­fiers that play a role in Mendelian dis­eases caused by an­oth­er gene. Colo­ma, a Roche/Genen­tech vet sea­soned in busi­ness de­vel­op­ment, was CBO at Corvus Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals be­fore join­ing Third Rock in 2017.

Which top 10 big phar­mas have the most to gain — or lose — over the next 5 years?

When Evaluate Pharma crunched the likely drug sales numbers for the big 10, 2 stood out. 

Takeda, with its big Shire buyout under its belt, is set to almost double its worldwide sales record for 2018 over 5 years, putting it in the big 10 — the 9th spot, to be exact — which is exactly where CEO Christophe Weber wants to be. 

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Roger Perlmutter. Merck via webcast

'Our lega­cy mat­ter­s': Mer­ck maps out Keytru­da king­dom while spot­light­ing ad­vances in vac­cines, hos­pi­tal care

“You can for the mo­ment stop tak­ing notes. You can put down your pens and your pad. I have no slides. I have no sub­stan­tive da­ta. I have no pitch.”

So be­gan Roger Perl­mut­ter’s brief ap­pear­ance on­stage at Mer­ck’s first in­vestor day in five years, where he dived in­to the com­pa­ny’s his­to­ry dat­ing back to 1933. The first em­ploy­ees at Mer­ck Re­search Lab­o­ra­to­ries, hand­picked by founder George W. Mer­ck, were crit­i­cal to Mer­ck’s abil­i­ty to achieve clin­i­cal and com­mer­cial suc­cess.

John Reed at JPM 2019. Jeff Rumans for Endpoints News

Sanofi's John Reed con­tin­ues to re­or­ga­nize R&D, cut­ting 466 jobs while boost­ing can­cer, gene ther­a­py re­search

The R&D reorganization inside Sanofi is continuing, more than a year after the pharma giant brought in John Reed to head the research arm of the Paris-based company.

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