Brett Zbar to lead life sci­ences in­vest­ing at Gen­er­al At­lantic; Michael Ka­vanaugh plans re­tire­ment as Cy­tomX pro­motes Genen­tech vet Mar­cia Belvin

Brett Zbar

→ Growth eq­ui­ty firm Gen­er­al At­lantic has reeled in Brett Zbar as man­ag­ing di­rec­tor to lead its new life sci­ences fo­cus. Zbar hops aboard from Fore­site Cap­i­tal where he served as man­ag­ing di­rec­tor and ad­vised on the boards of com­pa­nies such as Kin­nate Bio­phar­ma, ORIC Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals and Sig­nant Health among oth­ers. Pri­or to his role at Fore­site, Zbar was a part­ner at Ais­ling Cap­i­tal.

Michael Ka­vanaugh has an­nounced his re­tire­ment ef­fec­tive Dec. 1 as CSO, head of re­search and non-clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment of Cy­tomX. Ac­cord­ing to the re­lease, he’s tran­si­tion­ing to an ad­vi­so­ry role. Ka­vanaugh had been with the on­col­o­gy biotech since 2015 af­ter hold­ing the same ti­tles at Five Prime Ther­a­peu­tics. VP of on­col­o­gy re­search Mar­cia Belvin, who came to Cy­tomX 2 years ago, has been pro­mot­ed to SVP, head of re­search. Belvin pre­vi­ous­ly held mul­ti­ple po­si­tions lead­ing can­cer pro­grams and pre­clin­i­cal pipeline teams dur­ing 13 years at Genen­tech and got her start at Ex­elix­is.

→ Co-found­ed by Har­vard pro­fes­sor Kevin Eggan, who start­ed a new chap­ter this week lead­ing R&D at Bio­Marin, Q-State Bio­sciences has tapped Paul Medeiros to helm the start­up as pres­i­dent and CEO.

Paul Medeiros

Medeiros, who cut his teeth at Mer­ck in the ear­ly 1990s and then moved on to Scher­ing-Plough, heads to Q-State from his gigs as pres­i­dent at both Im­bri­um Ther­a­peu­tics and Green­field BioVen­tures. From 2011-18, Medeiros was SVP, cor­po­rate and busi­ness de­vel­op­ment at Mundiphar­ma In­ter­na­tion­al.

Naveed Shams

Naveed Shams is re­plac­ing David Rod­man as CSO of Dutch biotech Pro­QR, whose RNA ther­a­pies look to treat ge­net­ic eye dis­eases. Shams hails from oph­thal­mol­o­gy-fo­cused San­ten, where he spent more than a decade in a num­ber of ca­pac­i­ties — in­clud­ing pres­i­dent and CEO for a time — leav­ing as their chief sci­en­tist and head of glob­al R&D. Shams al­so was in­stru­men­tal in the de­vel­op­ment and ap­proval of Lu­cen­tis while he was Genen­tech’s head of oph­thalmic med­ical af­fairs.

Re­na­to Skerlj

Re­na­to Skerlj is now on board as pres­i­dent and CEO of San Diego-based RNA-me­di­at­ed dis­ease biotech Ex­pan­sion Ther­a­peu­tics, suc­ceed­ing co-founder Kevin For­rest, who had been at the helm since its launch in Jan­u­ary 2018.  One of the sci­en­tif­ic founders at X4 Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, Skerlj was al­so the com­pa­ny’s CSO, co-in­vent­ing its lead drug ma­vorix­afor. He was al­so a drug dis­cov­ery and de­vel­op­ment ex­ec at Lyso­so­mal Ther­a­peu­tics, and be­fore that, he led small mol­e­cule dis­cov­ery at Gen­zyme.

→ Jerusalem im­munother­a­py com­pa­ny KAHR has tapped Bryan Jen­nings as CFO and Aron Knicker­bock­er as a di­rec­tor. Jen­nings has made the CFO rounds at such biotechs as Pep­ti­log­ics, Ra­tio­nal Vac­cines and ChemomAb, and is a 20-year Mor­gan Stan­ley vet. Knicker­bock­er re­signed from his CEO post at Five Prime last Sep­tem­ber, with Tom Civik tak­ing over that top spot in April. Knicker­bock­er al­so co-found­ed and was chair­man and CEO of ra­dio­phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal play­er Rayze­Bio.

Kris­ti­ina Vuori

Vivek Ra­maswamy’s gene ther­a­py play­er Ax­o­vant has pro­mot­ed Parag Meswani to CCO, bump­ing him up from his pre­vi­ous po­si­tion of SVP, com­mer­cial strat­e­gy & op­er­a­tions. Meswani spent 13 years at Bio­gen and then led brand strat­e­gy for Lux­tur­na as head of US mar­ket­ing and di­ag­nos­tics for Spark Ther­a­peu­tics. Mean­while, Ax­o­vant has al­so brought Kris­ti­ina Vuori on to the board of di­rec­tors. Vuori is pres­i­dent of the San­ford Burn­ham Pre­bys Med­ical Dis­cov­ery In­sti­tute in San Diego.

Greg Patrick is re­tir­ing as CFO at Rockville, MD biotech Su­per­nus Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, which forked over $300 mil­lion in April for US WorldMeds’ CNS port­fo­lio. James Kel­ly is step­ping in to re­place Patrick, who is stick­ing around as an ad­vi­sor to fa­cil­i­tate the tran­si­tion. Kel­ly, who got his ca­reer go­ing at Janssen in the 1990s, had been the long­time CFO of Van­da Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals be­fore mak­ing his way to Su­per­nus. Kel­ly is al­so a Bio­gen vet who was al­so VP, con­troller at Med­im­mune.

Yvette White-Wig­gins

Yvette White-Wig­gins is re­tir­ing from the Biotech­nol­o­gy In­no­va­tion Or­ga­ni­za­tion (BIO) af­ter 18 years, the last 4 as their CFO. Her suc­ces­sor is Steve Jasko, who has been CFO at the Howard Hugh­es Med­ical In­sti­tute and the TB Al­liance. Be­fore these CFO roles at not-for-prof­its, Jasko spent 6 years with Cel­gene and was a fi­nance di­rec­tor at Mer­ck.

→ The search is un­der­way for a new CFO at Lon­don-based Si­lence Ther­a­peu­tics af­ter the siR­NA biotech an­nounced that Rob Quinn will be leav­ing in Jan­u­ary 2021 “to take up a new po­si­tion.” Quinn, a GSK vet, had been with Si­lence with 2017.

Sarah Noon­berg

Launch­ing last year with ARCH and Third Rock con­tribut­ing large­ly to the $191 mil­lion haul, Maze Ther­a­peu­tics has en­list­ed Sarah Noon­berg as CMO. Noon­berg comes to Maze af­ter rel­a­tive­ly brief CMO stays at Nohla Ther­a­peu­tics and Prothena Bio­sciences. Pri­or to those posts, she led glob­al clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment at Bio­Marin, spear­head­ing a port­fo­lio that in­cludes the gene ther­a­py for he­mo­phil­ia A, val­rox, which was giv­en a stun­ner of a re­jec­tion by the FDA in Au­gust.

Re­lief Ther­a­peu­tics, the Swiss biotech whose lead com­pound avip­tadil is be­ing de­vel­oped by Neu­roRx and has been iden­ti­fied as a promis­ing Covid-19 drug, has re­cruit­ed Jack We­in­stein as CFO and trea­sur­er. We­in­stein has pre­vi­ous biotech ex­pe­ri­ence from Cat­a­lyst Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, where he was their CFO, trea­sur­er and VP of busi­ness de­vel­op­ment.

Aled Williams

→ De­vel­op­ing anti­gen-spe­cif­ic poly­mers to treat au­toim­mune dis­eases, Uni­ver­si­ty of Basel spin­out Polyneu­ron has locked in Aled Williams as CBO. Williams’ Big Phar­ma lead­er­ship ex­pe­ri­ence is vast — a lit­tle As­traZeneca here, some No­var­tis there, along with a dash of Pfiz­er, Roche and Bris­tol My­ers Squibb — but he comes to the Swiss biotech from a spell as chief com­mer­cial of­fi­cer at Vec­tivBio. Be­fore that, Williams was chief com­mer­cial of­fi­cer and head of pa­tient ac­cess for Ther­a­chon.

→ UK-based Achilles Ther­a­peu­tics, which pulled to­geth­er a $121 mil­lion megaround last year for their work with neoanti­gens in cell ther­a­pies, has named one of their founders, Karl Peg­gs, as CMO. Peg­gs, who hits the ground run­ning in his new re­spon­si­bil­i­ty on Jan. 4, 2021, is pro­fes­sor of trans­plant sci­ence and can­cer im­munother­a­py at UCL Can­cer In­sti­tute and sci­en­tif­ic di­rec­tor of the Blood and Trans­plant Re­search Unit at the Na­tion­al In­sti­tute for Health Re­search (NIHR).

Monique Levy

→ Us­ing an AI ap­proach to im­prove men­tal health, San Fran­cis­co-based Woe­bot Health has wel­comed Monique Levy as their chief com­mer­cial and strat­e­gy of­fi­cer. Levy, who has been on Google Health’s ad­vi­so­ry board, hails from Black­Thorn Ther­a­peu­tics, where she was their chief strat­e­gy of­fi­cer for the last year. She’s al­so been glob­al head of strat­e­gy, part­ner­ships and prod­ucts at iCar­bonX.

Daniel Vo­gel has moved in­to the CFO slot at UK-based Ge­nomics, who par­layed their analy­sis en­gine of more than 100 bil­lion da­ta points in­to a col­lab­o­ra­tion with Ver­tex for ge­net­ics and ma­chine learn­ing. Vo­gel jumps to Ge­nomics af­ter be­ing CFO at UK car buy­ing plat­form car­wow.

Meghan Rivera

→ Boston-based Ak­ili has named Meghan Rivera as chief mar­ket­ing of­fi­cer. In her new role, Rivera will be re­spon­si­ble for lead­ing mar­ket­ing and sales for the com­pa­ny’s first com­mer­cial prod­uct, En­deav­or­Rx. Rivera hails from AM­AG Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, where she ran the com­pa­ny’s women’s health busi­ness. In ad­di­tion, she pre­vi­ous­ly served at Boehringer In­gel­heim.

→ Women’s health-fo­cused Ovo­ca Bio has en­list­ed Christo­pher Wilt­shire as CBO and ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the board of di­rec­tors. Pre­vi­ous­ly, Wilt­shire served as non-ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor for the Dublin-based com­pa­ny’s board. Wilt­shire brings ex­pe­ri­ence from his roles at Hemath­er­ix, La Jol­la Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal and Pfiz­er.

Lev­an Dar­ja­nia

→  Cannabi­noid-fo­cused Green Hy­gien­ics has pulled in Lev­an Dar­ja­nia as CSO. Pri­or to hop­ping aboard, Dar­ja­nia held roles at Take­da, Well­spring Bio­sciences, Cy­lene Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals and Ver­ti­cal Bio­sciences.

→ Af­ter sign­ing on Tushar Shah to be CMO in May, Re­search Tri­an­gle phar­ma Liq­uidia Tech­nolo­gies has made Ger­ald O’Brien VP, pul­monary clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment. A for­mer med­ical af­fairs di­rec­tor at As­traZeneca and Bay­er, O’Brien bolts to Liq­uidia af­ter a brief stint as VP, clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment, pul­monary hy­per­ten­sion at Com­plexa.

Bri­an La­m­on

→ Bris­tol My­ers Squibb vet Bri­an La­m­on has moved on to pre­ci­sion med­i­cine-fo­cused Caris Life Sci­ences as their CBO. La­m­on spent 6 years at BMS in a hand­ful of ca­pac­i­ties, leav­ing the phar­ma gi­ant as their VP, de­vel­op­ment lead, gen­i­touri­nary (GU) ma­lig­nan­cies, on­col­o­gy de­vel­op­ment.

Bernard Coulie-led Pli­ant Ther­a­peu­tics, which amassed $144 mil­lion in an up­sized IPO in June, has cor­ralled Mike Ouimette as their gen­er­al coun­sel. Ouimette had been VP and as­sis­tant sec­re­tary of Por­to­la be­fore Alex­ion bought it for $1.4 bil­lion, and he was al­so se­nior cor­po­rate coun­sel and as­sis­tant sec­re­tary for Onyx Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals.

→ For­mer Roche chair­man and CEO Franz Humer has been named ex­ec­u­tive chair­man at Neo­gene Ther­a­peu­tics, which en­joyed a $110 mil­lion launch in Sep­tem­ber with the help of Al­lo­gene co-founders Arie Bellde­grun and David Chang. Humer re­tired from Roche in 2014.

Je­re­my Levin

→ Ef­fec­tive Mon­day, Je­re­my Levin will take over as chair­man of Mel­bourne-based Opthea, fo­cused on reti­nal dis­eases such as wet AMD and di­a­bet­ic mac­u­lar ede­ma (DME). The Ovid CEO is al­so the cur­rent chair­man of BIO.

IN8bio has snagged Alan Roe­mer as chair­man of its board of di­rec­tors. Roe­mer helped in launch­ing Roivant Sci­ences and Ax­o­vant Sci­ences and served as the CFO of Ax­o­vant. Pri­or to that, he served in roles at Ze­los Ther­a­peu­tics and Phar­mas­set (ac­quired by Gilead).

Paul Sekhri and Alan Moses are the lat­est mem­bers of Is­raeli mi­cro­bio­me drug dis­cov­ery play­er Bio­mX as Erez Chi­movits and Yaron Bres­ki step down. Sekhri has helmed eGe­n­e­sis since Jan­u­ary 2019, while Moses re­tired from No­vo Nordisk in 2018 af­ter 14 years in var­i­ous po­si­tions, in­clud­ing glob­al CMO.

John Crow­ley

→ Pompe dis­ease treat­ment ad­vo­cate John Crow­ley has joined the board of di­rec­tors at genome edit­ing out­fit In­tel­lia Ther­a­peu­tics. Crow­ley has been chair­man and CEO at Am­i­cus Ther­a­peu­tics since 2005.

→ Seat­tle-based Lu­men Bio­science, which raked in $16 mil­lion in a Se­ries B and re­ceived a $4 mil­lion grant from the US Army Med­ical Re­search & De­vel­op­ment Com­mand in Sep­tem­ber to fight GI in­fec­tions in Covid-19 pa­tients, has brought on Mark Lit­ton to sit at the board of di­rec­tors. Lit­ton has been the COO at Athi­ra Phar­ma since last sum­mer.

→ St. Louis biotech Im­munopho­ton­ics has made Jonathan Knowles a mem­ber of their board of di­rec­tors. The for­mer head of re­search at Roche, Knowles has chaired the boards at Im­muno­core and Adap­ti­m­mune.

Ann Miller

→ Fo­cused on en­zyme ther­a­peu­tics to fight meta­bol­ic and kid­ney dis­or­ders, Al­lena Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals has added Ann Miller to their board of di­rec­tors. A Mer­ck, Am­gen and Ei­sai alum, Miller was more re­cent­ly the VP of mar­ket­ing at Sanofi.

J&J vet Eliz­a­beth Cer­mak has added an­oth­er board ap­point­ment to her ré­sumé. Cer­mak joins Mol­e­culin Biotech while cur­rent­ly serv­ing on the boards of Que On­col­o­gy and Clarus Ther­a­peu­tics as well. Cer­mak for­mer­ly served as world­wide VP per­son­al prod­ucts fran­chise and VP pro­fes­sion­al sales & mar­ket­ing dur­ing her 25-year stint with J&J and pre­vi­ous­ly served as CCO and EVP at POZEN (now Ar­alez Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals).

George Mont­gomery

→ Red­wood City, CA biotech Ash­vattha Ther­a­peu­tics, de­vel­op­ing hy­drox­yl den­drimer ther­a­peu­tics from tech­nol­o­gy li­censed from Johns Hop­kins, has elect­ed George Mont­gomery to their board of di­rec­tors. Mont­gomery is al­so a board mem­ber at Lu­men Bio­science and a man­ag­ing di­rec­tor at WestRiv­er Group.

→ Af­ter team­ing up with Mer­ck to study its CD47 block­er ALX148 in com­bi­na­tion with Keytru­da to treat head and neck squa­mous cell car­ci­no­ma (HN­SCC) late last month, ALX On­col­o­gy has formed a sci­en­tif­ic ad­vi­so­ry board with Kei­th Fla­her­ty, Charles Baum and Kipp Weiskopf. Fla­her­ty is a pro­fes­sor of med­i­cine at Har­vard Med­ical School and co-founder of Loxo On­col­o­gy be­fore the com­pa­ny was snatched up by Eli Lil­ly. Baum is the cur­rent CEO and board mem­ber of Mi­rati Ther­a­peu­tics, while Weiskopf is a co-founder of ALX.

→ Af­ter bag­ging Tony Ver­non as non-ex­ec­u­tive chair­man of its board of di­rec­tors last month, glob­al med­ical de­vices com­pa­ny CMR Sur­gi­cal has picked Bill Mc­Comb as non-ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor. Mc­Comb climbs aboard with a 14-year stint un­der his belt from J&J and served as com­pa­ny group chair­man of J&J’s or­tho­pe­dic and neu­ro­log­i­cal med­ical de­vices busi­ness. In ad­di­tion he served as pres­i­dent at Mc­Neil Con­sumer Health­care and at Or­tho Women’s Health & Urol­o­gy.

Biotech Half­time Re­port: Af­ter a bumpy year, is biotech ready to re­bound?

The biotech sector has come down firmly from the highs of February as negative sentiment takes hold. The sector had a major boost of optimism from the success of the COVID-19 vaccines, making investors keenly aware of the potential of biopharma R&D engines. But from early this year, clinical trial, regulatory and access setbacks have reminded investors of the sector’s inherent risks.

RBC Capital Markets recently surveyed investors to take the temperature of the market, a mix of specialists/generalists and long-only/ long-short investment strategies. Heading into the second half of the year, investors mostly see the sector as undervalued (49%), a large change from the first half of the year when only 20% rated it as undervalued. Around 41% of investors now believe that biotech will underperform the S&P500 in the second half of 2021. Despite that view, 54% plan to maintain their position in the market and 41% still plan to increase their holdings.

Covid-19 vac­cine boost­ers earn big thumbs up, but Mod­er­na draws ire over world sup­ply; What's next for Mer­ck’s Covid pill?; The C-suite view on biotech; and more

Welcome back to Endpoints Weekly, your review of the week’s top biopharma headlines. Want this in your inbox every Saturday morning? Current Endpoints readers can visit their reader profile to add Endpoints Weekly. New to Endpoints? Sign up here.

You may remember that at the beginning of this year, Endpoints News set a goal to go broader and deeper. We are still working towards that, and are excited to share that Beth Snyder Bulik will be joining us on Monday to cover all things pharma marketing. You can sign up for her weekly Endpoints MarketingRx newsletter in your reader profile.

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No­var­tis de­vel­op­ment chief John Tsai: 'We go deep in the new plat­form­s'

During our recent European Biopharma Summit, I talked with Novartis development chief John Tsai about his experiences over the 3-plus years he’s been at the pharma giant. You can read the transcript below or listen to the exchange in the link above.

John Carroll: I followed your career for quite some time. You’ve had more than 20 years in big pharma R&D and you’ve obviously seen quite a lot. I really was curious about what it was like for you three and a half years ago when you took over as R&D chief at Novartis. Obviously a big move, a lot of changes. You went to work for the former R&D chief of Novartis, Vas Narasimhan, who had his own track record there. So what was the biggest adjustment when you went into this position?

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Amit Etkin, Alto Neuroscience CEO (Alto via Vimeo)

A star Stan­ford pro­fes­sor leaves his lab for a start­up out to re­make psy­chi­a­try

About five years ago, Amit Etkin had a breakthrough.

The Stanford neurologist, a soft-spoken demi-prodigy who became a professor while still a resident, had been obsessed for a decade with how to better define psychiatric disorders. Drugs for depression or bipolar disorder didn’t work for many patients with the conditions, and he suspected the reason was how traditional diagnoses didn’t actually get at the heart of what was going on in a patient’s brain.

Susan Galbraith, Executive VP, Oncology R&D, AstraZeneca

As­traZeneca on­col­o­gy R&D chief Su­san Gal­braith: 'Y­ou're go­ing to need or­thog­o­nal com­bi­na­tion­s'

 

Earlier in the week we broadcast our 4th annual European Biopharma Summit with a great lineup of top execs. One of the one-on-one conversations I set up was with Susan Galbraith, the oncology research chief at AstraZeneca. In a wide-ranging discussion, Galbraith reviewed the cancer drug pipeline and key trends influencing development work at the pharma giant. You can watch the video, above, or stick with the script below. — JC

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Roche's Tecen­triq cross­es the fin­ish line first in ad­ju­vant lung can­cer, po­ten­tial­ly kick­ing off gold rush

While falling behind the biggest PD-(L)1 drugs in terms of sales, Roche has looked to carve out a space for its Tecentriq with a growing expertise in lung cancer. The drug will now take an early lead in the sought-after adjuvant setting — but competitors are on the way.

The FDA on Friday approved Tecentriq as an adjuvant therapy for patients with Stage II-IIIA non small cell lung cancer with PD-(L)1 scores greater than or equal to 1, making it the first drug of its kind approved in an early setting that covers around 40% of all NSCLC patients.

FDA ad­comm votes unan­i­mous­ly in sup­port of a J&J Covid-19 boost­er two months af­ter one-dose shot

The FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) on Friday voted 19-0 in favor of authorizing a second shot of J&J’s Covid-19 vaccine to follow at least two months after the initial dose.

Regulators don’t have to follow VRBPAC’s recommendation, but they almost always do. Considering that the CDC’s advisory committee has already been set to review the expanded EUA, VRBPAC’s recommendation is likely to be adopted.

Tillman Gerngross, Adagio CEO

Q&A: Till­man Gern­gross ex­plains why his Covid mAb will have an edge over an al­ready crowd­ed field

If anyone knows about monoclonal antibodies, it’s serial entrepreneur, Adimab CEO, and Dartmouth professor of bioengineering Tillman Gerngross.

Even the name of Gerngross’ new antibody startup Adagio Therapeutics is meant to reflect his vision behind the development of his Covid-19 mAb: slowly, he said, explaining that “everyone else, whether it’s Regeneron, Lilly, or AstraZeneca, Vir, they all valued speed over everything.”

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Susan Galbraith speaking at Endpoints News' virtual EUBIO21 summit

Imfinzi/treme­li­mum­ab com­bo scores As­traZeneca an­oth­er OS win — this time in liv­er can­cer

Is the tide turning on AstraZeneca’s battered PD-L1/CTLA4 combo?

A single priming dose of the experimental tremelimumab, followed by Imfinzi every four weeks, beat Nexavar (sorafenib) in helping a group of liver cancer patients live longer in a Phase III study, the company reported, meeting the primary endpoint.

Specifically, the two drugs extended overall survival for patients with unresectable hepatocellular carcinoma who had not received prior systemic therapy and were not eligible for localized treatment.

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