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Chris Roberts jumps back in­to biotech with CSO gig at Black Di­a­mond; Trou­bled Five Prime ap­points in­ter­im CEO

→ After spending two years as entrepreneur-in-residence at SR One — the venture arm of his former employer, GlaxoSmithKline — Chris Roberts is back at the frontlines of biotech.

As CSO of Black Diamond Therapeutics, Roberts joins CEO David Epstein in driving their targeted kinase inhibitors toward the clinic. He will lead research and early development on the biotech’s MAP platform, which zeroes in on allosteric mutations of oncogenes. Its lead candidate, BDTX-189, targets EGFR and HER2 regardless of tumor type.

Alex Ar­faei trades his an­a­lyst's post for a new role as biotech VC; Sanofi vet heads to Vi­for

Too often, Alex Arfaei arrived too late. 

An analyst at BMO Capital Markets, he’d meet with biotech or pharmaceutical heads for their IPO or secondary funding and his brain, trained on a biology degree and six years at Merck and Endo, would spring with questions: Why this biomarker? Why this design? Why not this endpoint? Not that he could do anything about it. These execs were coming for clinical money; their decisions had been made and finalized long ago.

Randy Schatz­man jumps to the helm of an­oth­er start-up; No­vo Nordisk vet lands top post at Macrophage Phar­ma

→ In biotech, long-term survival in the executive ranks can depend a lot on the quality of your connections in the venture/investing side of the business.

So when Randy Schatzman exited Alder after taking the company from conception to the threshold of a likely approval for a new migraine therapy, it was his relationship with longtime backers that led him to his new job as CEO of Bolt Biotherapeutics, announced this week.

Ex-Al­tim­mune chief Bill En­right lands CEO role at Vac­citech; Rea­ta poach­es Al­ny­lam CFO Man­meet Soni

→ After a stint consulting for Avidea Technologies, Bill Enright is back at the CEO game Vaccitech’s new chief. Like Altimmune — which Enright led for 11 years — Vaccitech has a dual focus on cancer and infectious diseases. The appointment brings him from Baltimore to Oxford, UK, where he will oversee pivotal data readout from its lead influenza program. Meanwhile, Tom Evans will transition to the CSO post, steering the science and R&D “that underpin Vaccitech’s tech inducing CD8+ and CD4+ T cell responses against foreign pathogens and tumors.

Igny­ta founder boosts team at his new can­cer start­up; Cy­tomx CMO hits the ex­it

→ Ignyta founder and ex-CEO Jonathan Lim is beefing up the team at Erasca, his new startup dedicated to erasing cancer. Genentech vet Gary Yeung has been promoted to chief operating and financial officer, leaving an open CBO role for David Chacko to step in. Chacko joins from Versant Ventures, where, as a principal, he was credited for advancing several portfolio companies through fundraising, business development and other affairs. Les Brail, who has been working on Neon’s personalized neoantigen vaccine, will be the VP of clinical development; Karen Gilmore, one of Lim’s old colleagues at Ignyta, has been tapped as VP of finance.

Bain's Or­ly Mis­han joins Pfiz­er's neu­ro spin­out Cerev­el; On­colyt­ic virus biotech taps Sil­la­Jen ex­ec He­le­na Chaye as CEO

→ Bain Capital is deploying one of its top investors to Cerevel Therapeutics, steering a $350 million-plus neuro play carved out of Pfizer. Orly Mishan — a co-founder and principal of Bain’s life sciences unit — was involved in the partnership that birthed the biotech spinout in the first place. As Cerevel’s first chief business officer, she is tasked with corporate development, program management as well as technical operations. 

Amy Bur­roughs to lead Cleave Ther­a­peu­tics; Cyn­thia Collins clinch­es Ed­i­tas CEO job amid his­toric CRISPR move

→ After bagging $12 million to advance its lead drug candidate CB-5339 — a (VCP)/p97 inhibitor — through early clinical development, Cleave Therapeutics is beefing up its executive team. Amy Burroughs will be leading the helm as CEO while Scott Harris joins as COO. Burroughs was an executive-in-residence at 5AM Ventures, which led the recent financing, where she also served as a strategic commercial advisor to portfolio company Crinetics Pharmaceuticals. Given her early experience with the team at Genentech and background in life sciences consulting, Burroughs brings critical perspectives on “understanding market needs, building partnerships and attracting top-notch talent,” said board chairman and former Cleave CEO Laura Shawver.

David Apelian to steer TCR play at Pitt spin­out; Third Rock scoops Il­lu­mi­na ex­ec as CEO of can­cer de­tec­tion up­start

→ Weeks after revealing that he’s leaving Eiger BioPharmaceuticals to join a private biotech, David Apelian has finally surfaced as CEO of BlueSphere Bio. Seeded by UPMC Enterprises to advance personalized treatments developed at the University of Pittsburgh, the company is “destined to be a leader in the exciting field of T-cell therapy for cancer.” Co-founders Mark and Warren Shlomchik — Pitt professors who happen to be brothers — provided the foundational TCXpress platform, the latest in a wave of new tech promising to harness patients’ own T cells targeting neoantigens. With $10 million in Series A money, the company expects to enter the clinic in about two years, Apelian told BioCentury.

→ Axon Neuroscience, the Alzheimer’s biotech focused on tau, has promoted general counsel Michal Fresser to CEO. As the head of both the diagnostic and immunotherapy divisions, Fresser will lead the company in seizing a moment where the dominance of the amyloid theory seems to have subsided after numerous failures and alternative targets such as tau are coming under the spotlight. He takes over from Roman Sivak, who will retain the title of managing director and dedicate his time to clinical trials and R&D. The company, which is based in Cyprus and Slovakia, is finalizing a Phase II study for its vaccine.

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Peer Re­view: Ru­bius re­cruits BD chief; Epizyme hires No­var­tis vet as CFO

→ Rubius Therapeutics — clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company developing a new class of medicines called red cell therapeutics — made the addition of Kris Elverum to its senior leadership team as SVP of business development and strategy. Elverum joins the company from Turnstone Biologics and has previously served at SQZ Biotech, Novartis and McKinsey & Co. 

→ As Epizyme preps a transition to the commercial stage — which could come as early as next January if the FDA comes through — it’s installing Paolo Tombesi as CFO. A Novartis vet, Tombesi has overseen a similar transition for Insmed, helping launch a subsidiary in Japan and bringing in more than $1 billion by Epizyme’s count. Aside for the sarcoma application, now under priority preview, a second NDA for tazemetostat is slated for later this year, he added.

Seer adds ex-FDA chief Mark Mc­Clel­lan to the board; Her­cules Cap­i­tal makes it of­fi­cial for new CEO Scott Bluestein

→ On the same day it announced a $17.5 million Series C, life sciences and health data company Seer unveiled that it had lured former FDA commissioner and ex-CMS administrator Mark McClellan on to its board. “Mark’s deep understanding of the health care ecosystem and visionary insights on policy reform will be crucial in informing our thinking as we work to bring our liquid biopsy and life sciences products to market,” said Seer chief and founder Omid Farokhzad in a statement.