Biotech vet Paul Brennan takes helm at regenerative med biotech; Axcella names CFO
→ Regenerative medicine company, NervGen Pharma — focused on the treatment of nerve damage — has tapped Paul Brennan to head the helm of the company as CEO and president. Brennan is the successor to Ernest Wong, who will continue to serve as a consultant to the company. In addition, the company has enlisted Lloyd Mackenzie in the newly created position of COO. Brennan’s previous stints include roles at Eupraxia Pharmaceuticals, Aquinox Pharmaceuticals, Arbutus Biopharma (formerly Tekmira Pharmaceuticals) and AnorMED among others. Brennan played roles in handling the sale of Aspreva to Vifor Pharma for $915 million, the sale of AnorMED to Genzyme for $580 million and the merger of Tekmira and OnCore Biopharma to form Arbutus Biopharma, valued at over $1 billion on the day of the transaction. Mackenzie hails from his recent role as chief development officer at Notable Labs and prior to that was the COO at Aquinox Pharmaceuticals.
→ Bill Henshaw-led Axcella Health — which closed its IPO earlier in May, bagging $71.4 million — has appointed Laurent Chardonnet as CFO and promoted VP of legal, Heidy King-Jones, to general counsel. Chardonnet joins the company after a 15-year stint at Incyte, where he helped build the company from a $500 million development-stage organization into a commercial biopharma company. Prior to Incyte, Chardonnet served as controller, VP of finance and acting CFO at DrugAbuse Sciences. King-Jones joined Axcella in January 2018 and prior to her time with the company, managed the corporate law department and was lead commercial counsel at Sarepta Therapeutics.
→ MiMedx — which yesterday had the feds add fraud charges to the piling accusations made against the company’s former execs — has welcomed William “Butch“ Hulse as its new general counsel and secretary. Most recently, Hulse served as a member of national law firm Dykema. Prior to that he served as chief compliance officer and SVP of quality, regulatory and enterprise risk management at Acelity LP.
→ Intersect ENT — focused on the treatment of ear, nose and throat conditions — has appointed Richard (Randy) Meier as EVP and CFO. Meier previously served in the same role as CFO, along with other exec positions, of Owens & Minor. Prior to that, he was the EVP and CFO of Teleflex and COO of Advanced Medical Optics.
→ Acorda Therapeutics — where CEO Ron Cohen restructured the company after reporting meager sales from its new drug — has elected former Tenax Therapeutics CEO John Kelley to serve as non-executive board chair. Kelley has been a member of the board since 2008.
→ IVERIC bio —focused on the treatment of retinal diseases — has welcomed the current president of the American Society of Gene and Cell Therapy (ASGCT), Guangping Gao — a pioneer in AAV gene delivery technology — as chief strategist, gene therapy. Gao will help shape the company’s strategy moving forward in his new role. In addition, Gao is the co-director, Li Weibo Institute for Rare Diseases Research and director, Horae Gene Therapy Center and Viral Vector Core.
→ Novo Seeds, the early-stage investment arm of Novo Holdings, has announced that several entrepreneurs will be joining its advisory unit, BiOrigin. Former execs Martin Bonde of Vaccibody, John Haurum of F-star and Anders Hinsby of Orphazyme have all hopped aboard as entrepreneurs-in-residence. In addition, the company has enlisted co-founder and former CEO of Plexxikon Peter Hirth and former Lundbeck exec Anders Gersel Pedersen as advisors.
→ As Rezolute gears up to start Phase IIb trials for its antibody, RZ358, for the ultra-orphan indication of congenital hyperinsulinism, the company has welcomed Nektar Therapeutics COO and CFO Gil Labrucherie to its board of directors as chairman of the audit committee.
→ La Jolla Pharmaceutical has to reconsider its future without CEO George Tidmarsh. He hit the exit after a 7-year stint at the company to pursue other opportunities, following a key trial failure. The company’s board directors Kevin Tang and Craig Johnson will step in to oversee the management team, along with being tasked with maximizing sales of Giapreza — a vasoconstrictor approved to increase blood pressure in adults with septic or other distributive shock in the US, and to treat refractory hypotension for the same population in Europe — and seek an FDA green light for the malaria therapy LJPC-0118. La Jolla has recently filed an NDA for the drug.