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As blue­bird plans its big split, rare dis­ease head An­drew Oben­shain re­cruits Iron­wood vet as CFO

As Nick Leschly counts down his final month as chief bluebird — before taking on the new role of 2seventy CEO — he has unveiled a key hire and a couple of updates.

The planned spinout, which is now set to take place in mid-October, will split the current bluebird into two companies, keeping the rare disease and gene therapy pipeline under the original bluebird moniker while Leschly steers the ship at oncology-focused newco 2seventy. Following “an intense period” of internal prep work, it’s time to share plans with outsiders, he said.

Boris Johnson (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

UK unions lam­bast plan for ma­jor lay­offs at MHRA as Brex­it takes its toll

The UK’s MHRA may have to lay off about 300 of its 1,200 employees, thanks to a decline in income due to reduced medical product submissions following Brexit, spurring anger among unions across the island.

Five UK unions are now demanding action from Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his government, noting that the layoffs will likely either lead to longer timelines for new drug and device submissions or “the MHRA will be reduced to effectively ‘rubber stamping’ EU regulatory decisions.”

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Jeff Bezos (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

There's a new an­ti-ag­ing up­start in town — and it's re­port­ed­ly backed by Ama­zon bil­lion­aire Jeff Be­zos

Going to space wasn’t enough. Middle-aged billionaire Jeff Bezos wants to extend human life — and to do so, he’s reportedly backing the latest entrant into Silicon Valley’s burgeoning race to slow aging.

A stealthy biotech called Altos Labs launched earlier this year with at least $270 million and a slate of longevity experts on board to pursue biological reprogramming technology, according to a scoop by the MIT Technology Review. Unnamed sources told the Technology Review that Altos will establish sites in the Bay Area, San Diego, Cambridge, UK, and Japan. In addition to Bezos, the operation is also rumored to be backed by Russian billionaire Yuri Milner, who’s invested in Facebook and Twitter.

Gisela Schwab

Ex­elix­is mourns the deaths of two long­time ex­ec­u­tives

Exelixis is grieving the loss of two longtime executives this week, one of whom succumbed to a lengthy battle with cancer and the other of whom had been on medical leave since June.

Gisela Schwab, Exelixis’ soft-spoken CMO of the last 15 years, passed away over the weekend, CEO Michael Morrissey announced on Monday. Although it’s unclear what caused her death, the oncologist took a medical leave of absence back on June 18. The news comes days after the passing of Jon Berndt, Exelixis’ senior VP of sales.

David Sackler testifies via video to a House Oversight Committee hearing (House Television via AP)

Sack­lers win im­mu­ni­ty from opi­oid law­suits as Pur­due Phar­ma is dis­solved in bank­rupt­cy set­tle­ment

The long-running battle involving the Sackler family, owners of Purdue Pharma, and lawsuits over their role in the opioid epidemic drew to a close Wednesday, with the company dissolved and the Sacklers absolved from liability.

A bankruptcy court in southern New York approved the settlement deal, which came after much consternation from critics saying it didn’t go far enough in holding the Sacklers accountable. The family will pay about $4.5 billion over the next nine years in exchange for the protections, and Purdue Pharma will be transformed into a public benefits company aimed at fighting the opioid crisis that has led to more than 500,000 deaths in the US.

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Jim Wilson (L) and Tachi Yamada

Scoop: In­spired by the late Tachi Ya­ma­da, Jim Wil­son launch­es new non­prof­it tar­get­ing un­der­served ul­tra-rare dis­eases

A group of powerhouse biotech leaders is coming together to launch a new nonprofit, one aimed at delivering therapies to rare disease populations they believe pharma is leaving behind.

Jim Wilson, the famed gene therapy researcher, teamed up with the late Tachi Yamada and Braidwell’s Alex Karnal to launch the Institute for Life Changing Medicines. The institute, which officially debuts Thursday morning, will hit the ground running with a program for the ultra-rare Crigler-Najjar syndrome, planning to launch a first-in-human study later this year.

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In a ma­jor blow to vac­cine ef­forts, se­nior FDA lead­ers step­ping down

Two of the FDA’s most senior vaccine leaders are exiting from their positions, raising fresh questions about the Biden administration and the way that it’s sidelined the FDA.

Marion Gruber, director of the FDA’s Office of Vaccines Research & Review and 32-year veteran of the agency, will leave at the end of October, and OVRR deputy director Phil Krause, who’s been at FDA for more than a decade, will leave in November. The news, first reported by BioCentury, is a massive blow to confidence in the agency’s ability to regulate vaccines.

Tal Zaks (Rodrique Ngowi/AP Images)

Te­va re­cruits Tal Zaks to its board, of­fer­ing $300K+ pay pack­age and seam­less tran­si­tion from Mod­er­na

Tal Zaks has found the first gig for his post-Moderna career — which will start just right after his last day at the mRNA powerhouse.

The seasoned exec has been recruited to the board at Teva, serving a one-year stint under chairman Sol Barer as an independent director starting Oct. 1. As announced earlier this year, his departure from Moderna is scheduled for late September, five and a half years since he was first appointed CMO.

Onno van de Stolpe, Galapagos CEO (Thierry Roge/Belga Mag/AFP via Getty Images)

Un­der with­er­ing fire, Gala­pa­gos founder and CEO On­no van de Stolpe is ex­it­ing top post

Twenty-two years after Dutch businessman Onno van de Stolpe founded Galapagos and oversaw its rise, and fall, the beleaguered biotech CEO is calling it quits. The biotech reported just after the market $GLPG closed that van de Stolpe will step out the exit once his successor can be found.

A search is now underway.

The move comes 2 months after longtime CSO Piet Wigerinck hung up his company lab coat.

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Jim Jogerst (Rubius)

Flag­ship woos an­oth­er Big Phar­ma BD ex­ec to biotech. Red blood cell ther­a­pies any­one?

Flagship Pioneering — which has built a reputation for stocking its portfolio companies with Big Pharma vets — has raided J&J again for a dealmaker.

Most recently, Jim Jogerst was senior director of business development at Janssen’s infectious diseases and vaccines business. He will now become Rubius Therapeutics’ chief business officer, tasked with identifying partnerships, collaborations and alliances, according to CEO Pablo Cagnoni.