Peer Review

Biotech Peer Review: Magenta onboards five new VPs; BioInvent is hunting for a new CEO

→ Following a $50 million series B in April, stem cell transplantation startup Magenta Therapeutics is filling some key roles in its leadership team. The company is taking on four new vice presidents and a senior vice president: Charlotte McDonagh, VP, biotherapeutics; Cindy Driscoll, VP, finance; Karen Nichols, VP, regulatory and quality; Manisha Pai, VP, investor relations and communications; and Zoran Zdraveski, SVP, chief legal officer and corporate secretary.

→ Hamburg, Germany-based Topas Therapeutics has appointed Rupert Sandbrink as chief development officer and chief medical officer – a new position. Sandbrink, who brings executive and clinical experience from Forward Pharma and Bayer, will lead clinical development and approval efforts at Topas. “[Sandbrink] brings the critical expertise and experience that will help us immensely as we advance and prepare to enter our first program into the clinic,” CEO Timm Jessen said in a statement.

→ Citing double-digit growth in Provenge sales, a hopeful Dendreon $DNDN is expanding its leadership team. The company announced the appointment of Chris Carr as chief financial officer, Kevin Helmbacher as general counsel and SVP of legal and compliance, and Beth Mueller as SVP of human resources. There were two internal promotions as well: Matt Kemp to chief commercial officer, and Christina Yi to chief operations officer.

Jak Knowles is joining CytoSen Therapeutics as CEO after a brief stint as president and interim CEO at Exonics. The small biotech, which focuses on natural killer cell therapy, also welcomes five new members to its scientific advisory board, including Michael Caligiuri, Zhijian “James” Chen, Todd Fehniger, Helen Heslop and Jeffrey Miller.

Selecta Biosciences $SELB has named John Leaman as the company’s new chief financial officer and head of corporate strategy, and Stephen Smolinski as their first chief commercial officer. This is an opportune time to grow the management team, said CEO Werner Cautreels, as “Selecta is advancing its first product candidate toward a pivotal Phase 3 program, has several others in development and sees much broader potential for its anti-drug antibody mitigation technology platform.”

→ Several senior personnel changes are underway at ProQR $PRQR, including the departure of chief medical officer Noreen Henig, who will however remain a special adviser. The task of leading clinical development will fall on David Rodman, chief development strategy officer. The Dutch biotech specializing in RNA is also promoting Peter Adamson to SVP of ophthalmology franchise and Robert Friesen to SVP of science and early development.

Aron Knickerbocker will be the president and CEO of Five Prime Therapeutics $FPRX starting Jan. 1, 2018. Currently serving as COO, Knickerbocker will succeed Lewis “Rusty” Williams, who will become the executive chairman of the board.

→ A confident Milestone Pharmaceuticals has hired Lorenz Muller as chief commercial officer in anticipation of its pivotal Phase III efficacy study of etripamil.

UroGen $URGN has appointed Jeffrey Bova as VP of commercial and James Ottinger as VP of regulatory affairs. The seasoned execs were most recently at Bayer Healthcare and Teva, respectively.

Paris Panayiotopoulos is the latest member of Corbus Pharmaceuticals’ $CRBP board of directors. In a statement, the former president and CEO of Ariad said he is largely motivated by Corbus’ “growing body of anabasum clinical data” that shows potential of helping rare disease patients.

Surface Pharmaceuticals, a new subsidiary of Imprimus charged with developing new drugs for eye diseases, has tapped Kamran Hosseini to run the operation as its CEO.

BioInvent International is hunting for a new CEO. Four years after the arrival of Michael Oredsson, the Swedish biotech says this is the right time for a transition, with a bigger focus now on clinical development. If no new CEO is in place by the beginning of next year, BioInvent plans to make CSO Björn Frendéus acting CEO.



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Research Scientist - Immunology
Recursion Pharmaceuticals Salt Lake City, UT
Director of Operations
Atlas Venture Cambridge, MA

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