Brid­get Martell on tak­ing Yale spin­out 'to adult­hood'; Cul­li­nan On­col­o­gy CEO an­nounces res­ig­na­tion as Bris­tol My­ers hema­tol­ogy ex­ec is wel­comed aboard

Brid­get Martell

Brid­get Martell’s first clin­i­cal tri­al was an un­ortho­dox one.

Then a res­i­dent in in­ter­nal med­i­cine at Yale, she was giv­en an award to ex­plore a ca­reer in clin­i­cal re­search — which was how she wound up lead­ing a Phase I study for a ther­a­peu­tic co­caine vac­cine de­signed to help over­come ad­dic­tion. She end­ed up over­see­ing the tri­al from Pa­tient 1 to Pa­tient 110 and, in the end, the ear­ly tri­al was pos­i­tive.

“And so that’s when I re­al­ized that I need­ed to go to in­dus­try,” she said, “and un­der­stand how do you do this from start to fin­ish? How do you string those pearls?”

Thus be­gan a wind­ing, 20-year jour­ney that took her through every step on the prover­bial bench to bed­side jour­ney — cul­mi­nat­ing in the CEO of­fice at New Haven-based Ar­ti­zan Bio­sciences.

Uti­liz­ing a plat­form tech­nol­o­gy de­vel­oped by its Yale founders, the biotech has been scan­ning bac­te­r­i­al strains to pick out bad bac­te­ria and cook­ing up small mol­e­cules to tar­get them for both gas­troin­testi­nal and CNS dis­or­ders, an ap­proach it dubs “pre­ci­sion mi­cro­bio­me med­i­cine.” Ar­ti­zan is now “on track” to name its lead can­di­dates.

“I liken it to, you know, Jim­my took it out of in­fan­cy,” Martell said, re­fer­ring to for­mer CEO Jim­my Rosen. Now that Ar­ti­zan has grown in­to a tod­dler, “I have to take it to adult­hood.”

As a first-time CEO, she ex­pects to lever­age every as­pect of her wide-rang­ing back­ground for the new chal­lenge: the sci­en­tist who stud­ied mi­cro­bi­ol­o­gy and im­munol­o­gy; the in­ternist ex­posed to a whole ar­ray of dis­eases thrown at her; the clin­i­cal tri­al strate­gist with ex­pe­ri­ence at Pfiz­er, Ku­ra On­col­o­gy and bou­tique CRO RRD In­ter­na­tion­al; the biotech men­tor and ad­vi­sor she played while con­sult­ing for com­pa­nies and serv­ing as en­tre­pre­neur-in-res­i­dence at Yale’s Of­fice of Co­op­er­a­tive Re­search.

She will have help from a small team of 13 — an “amaz­ing team” whom she cites as a big fac­tor for the de­ci­sion to get in­to the trench­es — as Ar­ti­zan looks to es­tab­lish it­self in a bur­geon­ing field that’s grap­pled with its share of fail­ures.

“So we’re not ma­nip­u­lat­ing the mi­cro­bio­me, in terms of re­mov­ing or adding bugs or feed­ing bugs. What we’re do­ing is we’re ac­tu­al­ly af­fect­ing the fac­tors that are per­turb­ing the ul­ti­mate bal­ance in the GI tract and the in­flam­ma­tion,” she said. “Un­for­tu­nate­ly, some of the fail­ures are what I just spoke about, and that is, it’s com­plex, right? But, you know, if you start to chip away at what some of those mech­a­nisms are, hope­ful­ly we will start to have a broad­er un­der­stand­ing.”

Am­ber Tong


Nadim Ahmed

→ Co-found­ed by Patrick Baeuer­le — who was on our list of 20 in­flu­en­tial R&D ex­ecs in late Au­gust — Cul­li­nan On­col­o­gy end­ed up rais­ing $287.4 mil­lion in an IPO that helped get the prover­bial Nas­daq ball rolling in 2021. Now comes word that Owen Hugh­es has re­signed as CEO and Cul­li­nan has al­ready lined up Bris­tol My­ers Squibb’s Nadim Ahmed as his suc­ces­sor. Hugh­es, who slips in­to an ad­vi­so­ry role dur­ing the tran­si­tion, will no longer be on Cul­li­nan’s board of di­rec­tors.

Ahmed, who was with Glax­o­SmithK­line from 1992-2010, be­comes a chief ex­ec­u­tive here af­ter two years as EVP and pres­i­dent of hema­tol­ogy at Bris­tol My­ers. Af­ter GSK, he moved to Cel­gene, start­ing out as se­nior di­rec­tor, glob­al mar­ket­ing in the mul­ti­ple myelo­ma fran­chise and climb­ing up to pres­i­dent, glob­al hema­tol­ogy & on­col­o­gy be­fore the buy­out.

→ There’s some reshuf­fling tak­ing place at Sio Gene Ther­a­pies, which was once Ax­o­vant un­til the com­pa­ny shed its vant-ness last No­vem­ber. On Nov. 12, chief R&D of­fi­cer Gavin Cor­co­ran is hit­ting the road for “an op­por­tu­ni­ty with a pri­vate health­care tech­nol­o­gy com­pa­ny,” leav­ing pres­i­dent and CEO Pa­van Cheru­vu to han­dle Cor­co­ran’s re­spon­si­bil­i­ties hence­forth. Along with this news, Sio — whose gan­gliosi­do­sis pro­gram has shown promise in Phase I/II — is open­ing up search­es for a CMO and SVP of ear­ly de­vel­op­ment and sci­en­tif­ic af­fairs, both new po­si­tions.

Mace Rothen­berg

→ The ubiq­ui­tous Mace Rothen­berg has stacked up the ap­point­ments af­ter his re­tire­ment from Pfiz­er, and the drug gi­ant’s ex-CMO emerges once again as se­nior ad­vi­sor to CEO Paul Pe­ter Tak at Can­del Ther­a­peu­tics. In the last nine months, Rothen­berg has col­lect­ed board seats at Sur­rozen, Tan­go Ther­a­peu­tics, and Au­los Bio­science, and he’s joined the mis­sion ad­vi­so­ry board at EQRx. “Can­del is at the fore­front of one of the most ex­cit­ing ap­proach­es in can­cer im­munother­a­py,” Rothen­berg said in a state­ment. “I am ex­cit­ed by the op­por­tu­ni­ty to help Paul Pe­ter ad­vance the com­pa­ny’s promis­ing on­col­o­gy pipeline.”

Michelle Chen

→ CBO Michelle Chen is the lat­est ex­ec to join Alex Zha­voronkov’s squad at Al drug dis­cov­ery start­up In­sil­i­co fol­low­ing the ap­point­ment of CFO Ni­rav Jhaveri last month. Chen car­ries a busi­ness de­vel­op­ment back­ground from such big names as Roche, Mer­ck and Bio­Marin; fast for­ward to the present, and Chen makes her ex­it from WuXi Bi­o­log­ics, where she was SVP of cor­po­rate de­vel­op­ment and dis­cov­ery busi­ness de­vel­op­ment.

Brit­tany Bradrick

→ A year ago, Peer Re­view told you about Brit­tany Bradrick’s ar­rival at Vi­a­Cyte as CFO (lat­er be­com­ing COO as well), but Bradrick has left Vi­a­Cyte to ac­cept the CFO job at Or­biMed-backed Neurelis, whose lead drug Val­to­co (di­azepam nasal spray) was ap­proved by the FDA last year to treat seizures. Neurelis’ CFO since 2011, George Stu­art, will now jump to the COO post at Neurelis sub­sidiary Aegis Ther­a­peu­tics. Ad­di­tion­al­ly, ex-Five Prime EVP and CFO David Smith has claimed a seat on Neurelis’ board of di­rec­tors.

Lau­ra Genatossio

→ There’s a slate of pro­mo­tions at Urovant af­ter the FDA ap­proval of Gemte­sa in De­cem­ber 2020 and sub­se­quent da­ta in Sep­tem­ber that showed the over­ac­tive blad­der drug didn’t have a sta­tis­ti­cal­ly sig­nif­i­cant ef­fect on blood pres­sure or heart rate. And CEO Jim Robin­son is wel­com­ing a new ex­ec: Lau­ra Genatossio (SVP and gen­er­al man­ag­er, Eu­rope) is the lone new­bie who piv­ots to Urovant af­ter be­ing Sarep­ta’s VP and gen­er­al man­ag­er in the Eu­rope, Mid­dle East and Africa (EMEA) re­gion. As for the pro­mo­tions, Alana Dar­d­en Pow­ell gets el­e­vat­ed to VP, cor­po­rate com­mu­ni­ca­tions af­ter her year as ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of busi­ness unit op­er­a­tions, com­mu­ni­ca­tions, and al­liance man­age­ment; Mark Niemaszek joined Urovant last year as VP of com­mer­cial op­er­a­tions and jumps to SVP, cor­po­rate plan­ning; and af­ter three years as VP, as­so­ciate gen­er­al coun­sel and head of in­tel­lec­tu­al prop­er­ty, Al­ler­gan vet Ted Chan scores the SVP ti­tle.

Ash Jayagopal

→ Raleigh, NC-based gene ther­a­py play­er Opus Ge­net­ics, the brain­child of Spark co-founder Jean Ben­nett that launched a month ago with a $19 mil­lion round, has picked up Ash Jayagopal as CSO and Joe Schachle as COO. Jayagopal con­cludes his two years as ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of dis­cov­ery med­i­cine at Ko­di­ak Sci­ences, and be­fore that he was head of mol­e­c­u­lar phar­ma­col­o­gy and bio­mark­ers in oph­thal­mol­o­gy at Roche, which bought Spark in 2019. Schachle makes the tran­si­tion to Opus from his sec­ond stint at Gri­fols, where he was VP of glob­al com­mer­cial ser­vices & con­trol­ling and lat­er the VP of cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence en­able­ment.

Gregg Ny­berg

→ For­mer­ly the Mass­a­chu­setts Cen­ter for Ad­vanced Bi­o­log­i­cal In­no­va­tion and Man­u­fac­tur­ing (CABIM), Land­mark Bio has in­stalled Gregg Ny­berg as chief tech­nol­o­gy of­fi­cer and Michael Cov­ing­ton as chief qual­i­ty and reg­u­la­to­ry of­fi­cer. Ny­berg spent al­most 15 years at Am­gen, then moved on to Mer­ck in 2017 and was the as­so­ciate VP and head of bi­o­log­ics process de­vel­op­ment at Mer­ck Re­search Lab­o­ra­to­ries. Cov­ing­ton, who was with Am­gen from 1993-2003, has held con­sec­u­tive posts at No­var­tis Gene Ther­a­pies and Or­chard Ther­a­peu­tics as VP of reg­u­la­to­ry CMC.

Jen­nifer Di­a­mond

→ To the moun­tains we go, where Uni­ver­si­ty of Col­orado on­col­o­gy spin­out OnKure Ther­a­peu­tics has named fac­ul­ty mem­ber Jen­nifer Di­a­mond as CMO. Di­a­mond is an as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor of med­i­cine in the Di­vi­sion of Med­ical On­col­o­gy at CU’s An­schutz Med­ical Cam­pus, the same in­sti­tu­tion where Rain Ther­a­peu­ticsRobert Doe­bele has al­so taught. Led by Ar­ray Bio­Phar­ma co-founder Tony Pis­co­pio, OnKure raised a Se­ries B that to­taled $55 mil­lion in March.

Au­gust Allen

→ Stay­ing in Boul­der, Enve­da Bio­sciences has poached Au­gust Allen from Re­cur­sion, re­cruit­ing him as chief plat­form of­fi­cer. Allen, who be­gan as a re­search as­so­ciate at Re­cur­sion in 2016, rose to di­rec­tor of prod­uct man­age­ment be­fore Enve­da came call­ing. Enve­da, a biotech where ma­chine learn­ing and nat­ur­al bi­ol­o­gy com­min­gle and which teed up a $55 mil­lion Se­ries A in June, is led by CEO Viswa Col­lu­ru, a Re­cur­sion alum in his own right.

Va­lerie Jansen

Va­lerie Jansen has been pro­mot­ed to CMO at El­e­va­tion On­col­o­gy, the Shawn Le­land-helmed start­up that in­tro­duced it­self in Ju­ly 2020 and then pulled in a $65 mil­lion Se­ries B the fol­low­ing No­vem­ber. Jansen, who took over as VP of clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment at El­e­va­tion back in April, pre­vi­ous­ly served as ex­ec­u­tive med­ical di­rec­tor at Mer­sana Ther­a­peu­tics and se­nior med­ical ad­vi­sor at Eli Lil­ly.

Gen­er­al At­lantic had top billing on a meaty $143 mil­lion Se­ries B round for Cin­Cor Phar­ma last week. The Cincin­nati biotech has now pegged Ma­son Free­man as EVP, clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment, and lead­ing the pipeline is the al­dos­terone syn­thase in­hibitor CIN-107 from Roche. A long­time Mass­a­chu­setts Gen­er­al Hos­pi­tal vet who found­ed the fa­cil­i­ty’s Trans­la­tion­al Re­search Cen­ter, Free­man is a ven­ture part­ner at 5AM Ven­tures who has Big Phar­ma ex­pe­ri­ence at No­var­tis as head of the trans­la­tion­al med­i­cine pro­gram for car­dio­vas­cu­lar & meta­bol­ic dis­eases.

Su­san Schnei­der

→ Things are per­co­lat­ing on the lead­er­ship front at Ap­plied Ge­net­ic Tech­nolo­gies Cor­po­ra­tion with the ap­point­ments of CMO Su­san Schnei­der and VP of clin­i­cal op­er­a­tions Sarah DiS­al­va­tore. Schnei­der, the for­mer SVP of clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment, oph­thal­mol­o­gy at Eloxx Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals and then Ji Xing Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, is a Genen­tech and GSK vet who’s been VP and ther­a­peu­tic area head of glau­co­ma and reti­na with Al­ler­gan. Af­ter work­ing in clin­i­cal op­er­a­tions at Helsinn and Stem­line Ther­a­peu­tics, DiS­al­va­tore was re­cent­ly as­so­ciate VP of clin­i­cal op­er­a­tions for Rock­et Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals. Her first day is Nov. 1, while Schnei­der starts on Nov. 8.

William Hod­der

→ Plac­ing an em­pha­sis on treat­ing dis­or­ders known as RA­Sopathies which are fu­eled by the ac­ti­va­tion of the Ras/Raf/MEK/ERK path­way, Penn­syl­va­nia-based NFlec­tion Ther­a­peu­tics has tapped William Hod­der as CEO and is bulk­ing up its lead­er­ship team with COO Gerd Kochen­do­er­fer, VP of clin­i­cal op­er­a­tions Patrice Hor­wath and SVP of glob­al reg­u­la­to­ry af­fairs & qual­i­ty as­sur­ance Lib­bie Mansell. Hod­der cap­tures the top spot here af­ter two years as CBO of Escient Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals and he’s al­so been a cor­po­rate de­vel­op­ment ex­ec at Fi­bro­Gen and Pro­tag­o­nist Ther­a­peu­tics. Kochen­do­er­fer, a Fi­bro­Gen vet as well in drug de­vel­op­ment, was SVP and head of op­er­a­tions at Bridge­Bio’s Pelle­Pharm. A Medtron­ic alum, Hor­wath has been a clin­i­cal op­er­a­tions di­rec­tor at Ralexar Ther­a­peu­tics, while Mansell just wrapped up a brief tenure as AskBio’s SVP, reg­u­la­to­ry af­fairs.

→ Bethes­da, MD-based Gain Ther­a­peu­tics, which re­leased pos­i­tive re­sults from its in­duced pluripo­tent stem cell (iP­SC) study on Gauch­er and Parkin­son’s dis­ease last month, has ap­point­ed Matthias Alder as COO. Be­fore join­ing Gain, Alder was CBO at Au­to­lus Ther­a­peu­tics. He has al­so served as an EVP at Su­cam­po Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals and Kuros Bio­sciences (for­mer­ly Cy­tos Biotech­nol­o­gy).

Philip Lam­bert

→ Backed by the Boehringer In­gel­heim Ven­ture Fund and tak­ing aim at ALS and fron­totem­po­ral de­men­tia with its lead as­set, San Diego neu­rode­gen­er­a­tive dis­ease biotech Li­bra Ther­a­peu­tics has brought in Philip Lam­bert as CSO. Be­fore join­ing Li­bra, which made its de­but last Sep­tem­ber with a $29 mil­lion Se­ries A haul, Lam­bert was the chief sci­en­tist at Cen­to­gene and has al­so been head of dis­cov­ery at Charles Riv­er Lab­o­ra­to­ries.

→ Ger­man-based Curexsys has plucked up Chris­t­ian Eck­ert as COO. Eck­ert makes his way to the ex­o­some-fo­cused com­pa­ny from Bris­tol My­ers, where he was re­spon­si­ble for GMP man­u­fac­tur­ing, amongst oth­er du­ties. Be­fore that, Eck­ert was with Medi­gene and Evotec.

Lori Gavrin has been ap­point­ed to the new­ly cre­at­ed po­si­tion of chief busi­ness and strat­e­gy of­fi­cer at NeuEx­cell Ther­a­peu­tics. Gavrin served most re­cent­ly as VP of cor­po­rate de­vel­op­ment at Tmu­ni­ty, and she’s al­so worked in lead­er­ship po­si­tions at Wyeth/Pfiz­er and GSK. Last month, Penn­syl­va­nia-based NeuEx­cell struck a man­u­fac­tur­ing deal with Fu­ji­film cen­ter­ing on its gene ther­a­py NXL-001 for is­chemic cor­ti­cal stroke.

Hai­jun Sun

→ Barcelona on­col­o­gy start­up ONA Ther­a­peu­tics has reached in­to the GSK tal­ent jar to pluck Hai­jun Sun as CSO. Af­ter three years at F-star — where he was VP of bi­o­log­i­cal prod­ucts — Sun spent a year with Tizona Ther­a­peu­tics as VP of an­ti­body de­vel­op­ment. He joined GSK in 2017 and was the phar­ma gi­ant’s head of an­ti­body phar­ma­col­o­gy be­fore land­ing his first C-suite job here at ONA, which launched last sum­mer with Bpifrance and Span­ish VC Ys­ios Cap­i­tal con­tribut­ing to the €30 mil­lion round. Ona has al­so giv­en its sci­en­tif­ic ad­vi­so­ry board a boost by nam­ing the fol­low­ing: Pamela Klein, Cé­dric Blan­pain, Sean Mor­ri­son, Josep Tabernero, Mark Thros­by and ONA sci­en­tif­ic co-founder Sal­vador Az­nar Ben­i­tah.

Katha­ri­na Staufer has signed on to be CMO at Swiss rare liv­er dis­ease biotech Ver­san­tis. Staufer comes to Ver­san­tis from In­sel­spi­tal — al­so known as the Uni­ver­si­ty Hos­pi­tal of Bern — where she was head of trans­plant med­i­cine. CEO Vince Forster dis­cussed the “un­de­liv­ery mech­a­nism” in Ver­san­tis’ plat­form with End­points News when the com­pa­ny nabbed Se­ries B fund­ing in Sep­tem­ber 2019.

Tere­sa Bair

Troy Wil­son’s Ku­ra On­col­o­gy has paved the way for Tere­sa Bair to be chief le­gal of­fi­cer. Bair spent six years at Athenex and since June 2020 she had tak­en on the roles of EVP, gen­er­al coun­sel and SVP, ad­min­is­tra­tion. Ku­ra’s menin in­hibitor KO-539 is now in Phase Ib for pa­tients with re­lapsed or re­frac­to­ry acute myeloid leukemia.

→ South San Fran­cis­co-based Novome Biotech­nolo­gies has re­cruit­ed Bill McLeod as CFO. McLeod most re­cent­ly served as a cor­po­rate fi­nance con­sul­tant to Sur­rozen. Pri­or to that, McLeod spent a decade at Stifel, where he served as co-head of eq­ui­ty cap­i­tal mar­kets. McLeod’s oth­er roles in­clude stints at JP Mor­gan and Bank of Amer­i­ca, among oth­ers.

Thomas Thomas

Alopexx has reeled in Thomas Thomas as CFO. Thomas joins the Cam­bridge, MA-based com­pa­ny with ex­pe­ri­ence from his roles at the Stup­s­ki Foun­da­tion (CEO from 2009-2010) and Genen­tech (cor­po­rate trea­sur­er from 2001-2006). Ad­di­tion­al­ly, Thomas serves as an in­de­pen­dent di­rec­tor on the board of Opi­ant Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals.

→ Paris-based Pharnext has wel­comed some fresh faces to its man­age­ment team with the ap­point­ments of Raj Tho­ta (chief man­u­fac­tur­ing of­fi­cer and head of CMC) and Ab­hi­jit Pan­gu (head of reg­u­la­to­ry af­fairs). Ad­di­tion­al­ly, the com­pa­ny has pro­mot­ed Xavier Paoli to COO. Tho­ta comes to Pharnext from Fron­ti­da Bio­Pharm, where he served as VP, gen­er­al man­ag­er. Mean­while, Pan­gu joins with ex­pe­ri­ence from his times at Or­p­hazyme and Fer­ring among oth­ers. Last, but not least, Paoli joined Pharnext in 2014 as com­mer­cial­iza­tion strat­e­gy di­rec­tor. Pri­or to this stint, Paoli was with GSK, UCB and Alex­ion.

Alan Fu

IA­SO Bio­ther­a­peu­tics has brought on Alan Fu as CFO. Fu most re­cent­ly served as man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Haitong In­ter­na­tion­al and di­rec­tor of Cit­i­group Glob­al Mar­kets. Ear­li­er in his ca­reer, Fu served at Rigel Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals.

→ Boston-based X4 Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals has me­thod­i­cal­ly as­sem­bled its lead­er­ship in the last year, whether it’s with new­com­ers (CSO Art Taveras and CMO Diego Ca­david) or pro­mo­tions (COO Mary DiB­i­ase). This time around, X4 has se­lect­ed Karolyn Park from Take­da as VP, US com­mer­cial. Park was se­nior di­rec­tor, US hema­tol­ogy port­fo­lio strat­e­gy In her lat­est role at Take­da, and she has ex­pe­ri­ence with Aduhelm be­fore its con­tro­ver­sial ap­proval as Bio­gen’s as­so­ciate di­rec­tor, glob­al ad­u­canum­ab com­mer­cial. In oth­er X4 de­vel­op­ments, Shire rare dis­ease vet Françoise de Craeck­er has joined the board of di­rec­tors.

Clay Sie­gall

Seagen CEO Clay Sie­gall has been named chair­man of the board at fel­low Seat­tle biotech Umo­ja Bio­phar­ma. The on­col­o­gy-fo­cused Umo­ja is flush with cash af­ter suc­ces­sive fi­nanc­ing rounds of $53 mil­lion and $210 mil­lion in No­vem­ber 2020 and June, re­spec­tive­ly.

Rachelle Jacques

→ Chaired by new Mi­rati CEO David Meek, the board of di­rec­tors at uniQure now in­cludes Rachelle Jacques. The com­pa­ny Jacques leads, En­zy­vant, just re­ceived FDA ap­proval last Mon­day with the one-time re­gen­er­a­tive ther­a­py Rethymic for ba­bies with con­gen­i­tal athymia.

→ Plung­ing down the Covid-19 leader­board af­ter the FDA re­ject­ed its lenzilum­ab EUA pitch, Hu­mani­gen is load­ing up on more board mem­bers. For­mer No­var­tis ex­ec John Hohnek­er jug­gles oth­er board seats at Bio­Th­eryX, Cyg­nal, Ar­a­vive, Evelo Bio­sciences and Tr­ishu­la Ther­a­peu­tics, and Fo­s­un vet Kevin Xie has been Gra­cell’s CFO since Ju­ly 2020.

→ Sarep­ta’s CMO and EVP of re­search and de­vel­op­ment Gilmore O’Neill is mak­ing his way on­to the board of di­rec­tors at Aptinyx. Pri­or to his cur­rent stint at Sarep­ta, O’Neill spent 15 years at Bio­gen, where he held roles in the de­vel­op­ment pro­grams for Alzheimer’s dis­ease, move­ment dis­or­ders, neu­rol­o­gy, mul­ti­ple scle­ro­sis, pain, neu­ro­mus­cu­lar dis­ease, gene and cell ther­a­py, and rare dis­eases.

Myr­tle Pot­ter

→ Duk­ing it out in the liq­uid biop­sy space with com­pa­nies like Caris and Thrive Ear­li­er De­tec­tion, Red­wood City, CA-based Guardant Health has elect­ed Myr­tle Pot­ter to the board of di­rec­tors. An ex-COO at Genen­tech, Pot­ter joined Roivant in 2018 and is cur­rent­ly CEO of Sum­i­to­vant Bio­phar­ma.

Zai Lab has made Scott Mor­ri­son a mem­ber of the board of di­rec­tors just a cou­ple weeks af­ter look­ing to file a BLA sub­mis­sion for the Macro­Gen­ics an­ti­body mar­ge­tux­imab in Chi­na. Mor­ri­son, who re­tired from Ernst & Young, is on the boards of Au­dentes, Corvus Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, Glob­al Blood Ther­a­peu­tics, Ideaya Bio­sciences and Ve­ra Ther­a­peu­tics.

Maria Fardis

Paul Wot­ten-led Ob­sid­i­an Ther­a­peu­tics is lean­ing on some­one fa­mil­iar with the TIL are­na by ap­point­ing Maria Fardis to the board of di­rec­tors. Back in May, Fardis re­signed as CEO of Io­vance al­most im­me­di­ate­ly af­ter the com­pa­ny said they’d have to de­lay the BLA fil­ing of their gene ther­a­py by at least an­oth­er year.

Look­ing to fight off cy­to­tox­ic T and NK cells, au­toim­mune dis­ease and can­cer biotech Abcuro has added Dar­lene Dep­tu­la-Hicks to the board of di­rec­tors. Since 2019, Dep­tu­la-Hicks has been CFO at F-star and is the for­mer CFO at Pieris.

→ CD­MO Biovec­tra has added two new faces to its board of di­rec­tors with the ap­point­ments of Gor­don Mc­Cauley (pres­i­dent and CEO of ad­Mare BioIn­no­va­tions) and Steven Klosk (for­mer CEO of Cam­brex Cor­po­ra­tion).

Derek Graf al­so con­tributed to this edi­tion.

Spe­cial re­port: Meet 20 ex­tra­or­di­nary women who are su­per­charg­ing bio­phar­ma R&D

Even though many biopharma leaders have come together in recent years to address its gender gap, the consensus is clear: We still have a long way to go.

Companies this year were 2.5 times more likely than last year to have a diversity and inclusion program in place, according to a recent BIO survey, but women are still largely absent from executive roles. Getting women to enter the industry isn’t the problem — studies show that they represent just under half of all biotech employees around the world. But climbing through the ranks can be challenging, as women still report facing stereotypes, and, unfortunately, harassment.

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Op­ti­miz­ing Oral Drug De­liv­ery us­ing Zy­dis® Oral­ly Dis­in­te­grat­ing Tablet Tech­nol­o­gy to Ad­dress Pa­tient Chal­lenges

KEY POINTS

Patients prefer oral dosing, but swallowing tablets can be a challenge for many patients.
The Zydis® orally disintegrating tablet (ODT) platform addresses challenges associated with oral dosing, expanding benefits for patients and options for healthcare providers.
A strong growth trajectory is expected for ODTs given therapeutic innovation and continued technology development.

Many patients prefer conventional tablets for the administration of medications, but some geriatric and pediatric patients and those with altered mental status and physical impairments find swallowing tablets to be difficult. Orally disintegrating tablets (ODTs), which dissolve completely without chewing or sucking, offer a patient-friendly dosage form for the administration of small-molecule drugs, peptides and proteins. With the potential for multiple sites of drug absorption, often faster onset action for the active pharmaceutical ingredient (API), and potentially greater bioavailability, ODTs are an attractive option for drug developers considering first-to-market formulations or product line extensions of existing drugs with compatible API. In this report, we look at how innovation in the industry-leading Zydis ODT platform is expanding oral formulation options and bringing benefits to patients.

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Geoffrey Porges (SVB Leerink)

The 2022 wave com­ing? Top an­a­lyst says Big Phar­ma will have more than $1T avail­able to sat­is­fy its grow­ing ap­petite for biotech M&A

All through this year you could practically feel the frustration of the biotech investor class as M&A activity continued to drag behind expectations — or desires. Buyouts of public companies provide the essential juice for keeping stocks lively, and there’s been a notable lack of juice in 2021.

So is all that about to change, big time?

SVB Leerink’s Geoffrey Porges, a longtime student of biotech M&A, thinks so. In a lengthy analysis he put out last week, Porges totted up the cash flow of the major pharmas and determined that there was a good long list of industry buyers who would have around a half trillion dollars of cash to play with in 2022. Leverage that up with added debt and you could get that deal cache to $1.6 trillion.

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Mar­ket­ingRx Matchup: How Ab­b­Vie and Bio­haven ads rank in head-to-head mi­graine chal­lenge

Are you ready to rumble? DTC brands that is. MarketingRx is launching a new monthly feature today called MarketingRx Matchup. We’re pitting two pharma brands’ DTC advertising in the same therapeutic category against each other to find out what consumers and patients really think.

Market research company Leger is handling the polling and analysis each month, and I’ll be writing up the results — along with my own take — inside MRx on the first Tuesday of the month.

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Wendy Lund, Organon chief communications officer

Q&A: Organon chief com­mu­ni­ca­tions of­fi­cer Wendy Lund talks about the Mer­ck spin­off, women’s health and why it mat­ters

One of Wendy Lund’s earliest jobs was head of marketing at Planned Parenthood. As the youngest person on its management team, she introduced them to emerging new technologies, and in return, she learned the importance of fighting for what you believe in.

Now as chief communications officer at Organon, the women’s health company recently spun off by Merck, Lund is keeping that point top of mind. That’s in part because women’s health hasn’t been a spotlight therapy area for Big Pharma in years. Several companies have spun off, sold or at least considered selling women’s health assets to focus on “core” products.

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Mar­ket­ingRx roundup: Pfiz­er re-ups pneu­mo­nia ads as Mer­ck threat looms; Re­al Chem­istry founder CEO Jim Weiss steps back

Every autumn, leaves fall from the trees and people start holiday shopping – and for the last few years Pfizer debuts a new “Know Pneumonia” awareness TV ad. This year the commercial, launched a week ago, features different people who talk about why they got vaccinated against pneumococcal pneumonia. Actors portray a young female firefighter with asthma, a mechanic with heart disease and an older woman with her grandchild. A Pfizer spokesperson declined comment on the latest iteration of the long-running campaign.

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Mer­ck pumps the brakes on two more PhI­II tri­als for its lead an­ti-HIV drug

After trial investigators flagged a drop in immune cell counts that an external committee determined was related to treatment last month, Merck has been pausing HIV-related Phase II and III trials ever since.

On Monday, the biopharma company announced it’s pausing enrollment in two of its Phase III trials evaluating its leading anti-HIV drug candidate, which is the once-monthly, oral islatravir.

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Covid-19 roundup: Plant-based shot proves safe, 71% ef­fi­ca­cious in PhI­II; Bourla ex­pects an­tivi­ral to launch this month

Quebec-based Medicago and its adjuvant partner GlaxoSmithKline said Tuesday that their plant-based Covid-19 vaccine candidate proved to be 71% efficacious against all variants of SARS-CoV-2 in a Phase III trial of more than 24,000 adults in Canada, the US, UK, Mexico, Argentina and Brazil.

In addition to showing 75% efficacy against the Delta variant specifically, the companies also said the vaccine proved to be generally safe, with no serious adverse events reported and reactogenicity generally being mild to moderate. The results mean that a regulatory submission will be filed with Health Canada imminently, they said.

Richard Lerner (Scott Audette/AP Images)

Richard Lern­er, an­ti­body pi­o­neer and long­time pres­i­dent of Scripps Re­search, dies at 83

Richard Lerner, the esteemed biochemist who pioneered a new way to develop monoclonal antibodies and led Scripps Research Institute to prominence, has passed away.

A spokesperson for Scripps told the San Diego Union-Tribune that Lerner died of cancer in his La Jolla home. He was 83 years old.

Among other things, Lerner’s lab was known for devising a new technique for creating antibodies — deployed as cancer treatments as well as in immunology and disease research — one that the New York Times called a “major advance in biotechnology.” It led to companies making mAbs a thousand times faster, more accurately, at a lower cost. That foundational research cemented the discovery of Humira, which went on to become the world’s best-selling treatment.