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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.

Ex-DARPA di­rec­tor pur­sues all-in-one can­cer pill as NED CEO; Karyopharm los­es com­mer­cial chief ahead of drug roll­out

“Why not try?”

That’s what Geoffrey Ling told me over the phone when asked about what led him to his journey to the position of CEO at NED Biosciences — a company with a lofty goal of creating an all-in-one oral drug to treat all types of cancer and making this drug available to not only developed nations, but also the developing world. 

Ling comes from an extensive background in medicine and the government. He is the co-leader of The Brain Health Project, a professor of neurology and an attending neurocritical care physician at John Hopkins University and Hospital, as well as the assistant director for Medical Innovation of the Science Division in president Obama’s White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). 

Gold­man Sach­s' Ankang Li heads to biotech Terns as new CFO; SV re­cruits new part­ner for De­men­tia Dis­cov­ery Fund

→ Fresh off a NASH deal with French drugmaker Genfit, Terns Pharma has appointed Ankang Li as CFO. The Chinese biotech scooped Li from Goldman Sachs, where he led high profile biotech IPOs as executive director of healthcare investment banking. A law school graduate with a background in biomedical research — his career has taken him to Salk Institute and Merck’s Asia Pacific innovation hub — Li will hold extensive responsibilities in corporate financing and business development.

Evan Loh climbs the lad­der to be­come CEO at Paratek Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals; Co­di­ak's Doug Williams takes chair­man's role at AC Im­mune

→ Determined to be the good story that the antibiotics field so desperately needs, Paratek Pharmaceuticals $PRTK is reshuffling its top-level management to handle a growing commercial operation. Evan Loh has become CEO after climbing the ladder over the past seven years (from CMO to president and COO) while Michael Bigham claims the newly created position of executive chairman. They will oversee life cycle expansion initiatives for Nuzyra with chief commercial officer Adam Woodrow, who’s been promoted to president. Meanwhile, Randy Brenner will take up additional responsibilities in medical affairs after leading the regulatory efforts for Paratek.

Maze in­ter­im chief Charles Hom­cy pass­es ba­ton to Ja­son Colo­ma; William Col­lier tapped as CEO of Ar­bu­tus

→ Four months into Maze Therapeutics’ launch, Charles Homcy is passing the startup’s reins to another Third Rock colleague. Jason Coloma, the current COO, is leaving his role at the VC firm to become full-time CEO on a mission to translate genetic insights into new medicines. Equipped with a whopping $191 million with support from Arch, Maze’s big idea is to find and target genetic modifiers that play a role in Mendelian diseases caused by another gene. Coloma, a Roche/Genentech vet seasoned in business development, was CBO at Corvus Pharmaceuticals before joining Third Rock in 2017.