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Tuyen Ong, Flagship CEO-partner and Ring Therapeutics CEO (Flagship)

Keep­ing an 'im­mi­grant mind­set,' Flag­ship taps a self-pro­fessed no­mad as CEO for their next-gen vi­ral vec­tor up­start

Tuyen Ong considers himself a bit of a nomad.

Early in his life, he came to the UK as a refugee from Vietnam, and obtained his MD at University College London. Then he went to NYU for an MBA and began his career in biopharma at Pfizer, making further stops across the country at Bausch + Lomb, PTC Therapeutics and most recently Biogen.

Now, he’s ready for his next gig: CEO-partner at Flagship Pioneering and CEO of Ring Therapeutics, a gene therapy outfit where he’ll be running the show. When Ong looks back at his career, he says he can see how all the dots connected to lead him to this point.

New Dewpoint Therapeutics CEO Ameet Nathwani (Sanofi)

A long-haul biotech with some im­pres­sive back­ers and big goals re­cruits a ma­jor league R&D ex­ec to the helm. What’s next?

A few weeks ago Kite and Allogene founder Arie Belldegrun jumped into the expanded syndicate for a Boston-based biotech called Dewpoint Therapeutics — a Polaris-birthed venture that’s styled itself as a drug development pioneer out to craft a major pipeline.

That round — which also added deep-pocket player ARCH to the list of backers — came up with $77 million for the next step in the long journey toward the clinic, a nice add to the A round that launched the company. Now we hear that Dewpoint has recruited Ameet Nathwani to the executive suite as the new CEO, who’s taking the helm from Polaris managing partner Amir Nashat, who brought the company into existence.

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Michael Varney, Frazier

Months af­ter re­tir­ing from Genen­tech, Michael Var­ney brings his drug hunt­ing eye to Fra­zier

Michael Varney began his post-Genentech career by taking a job as chairman of R&D at a biotech startup. Now he’s signed on for a new gig that will put him in direct contact with a whole lot more.

The biotech vet — who enjoyed a stellar reputation running Roche’s prestigious gRED organization in South San Francisco — is one of two freshly minted life sciences senior advisors at Frazier Healthcare Partners. Pfizer vet Don Frail has been tapped for the same role after most recently leading the external science and innovation team at Allergan.

Emma Walmsley, GSK CEO (Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images)

GSK's Em­ma Walm­s­ley grant­ed dame­hood by Queen Eliz­a­beth II

GlaxoSmithKline CEO Emma Walmsley is adding a royal title to her name. In Queen Elizabeth II’s annual Birthday Honours — which came a bit late this year due to the pandemic — Walmsley was dubbed a dame.

The Birthday Honours are intended to recognize “outstanding achievements” across the UK. This year, about a third of the awards were given to “heroes” of the pandemic, according to The Guardian. Dames are equivalent in status to knights — a title earned by Walmsley’s predecessor Andrew Witty in 2012.

Charles Lieber, AP

Em­bat­tled Har­vard sci­en­tist Charles Lieber goes on a counter-of­fen­sive, hir­ing high-pro­file lawyer and su­ing Har­vard for aban­don­ing him amid fed­er­al probe

Charles Lieber, the Harvard scientist facing federal charges for allegedly lying about Chinese funding, is mounting a fierce legal defense, beginning with the enlistment of a high-profile attorney and a lawsuit against his employer.

Lieber hired Marc Mukasey, a criminal attorney who defended former Navy Seal Edward Gallagher against war crime charges last year and currently represents Eric Trump in a New York state fraud case, the New York Times first reported. And on Friday, he filed suit against Harvard, alleging the university abandoned him and their responsibility to indemnify him or aid his legal defense.

Sa­mi An­war raked in mil­lions of dol­lars gath­er­ing drug tri­al da­ta at his sites. But it was all a lie — and now he's been sen­tenced to 28 years

According to federal prosecutors, Sami Anwar was quite successful in reaping millions of dollars operating trial sites in Washington state for drug developers. He offered safety data on dozens of drugs covering a gamut of ailments — from diabetes, asthma, pediatric illnesses, adolescent smoking, cirrhosis, scabies, depression to opioid addiction.

And it was all a lie, according to US attorney William Hyslop, who runs the Eastern District of Washington. After successfully prosecuting Anwar and winning a guilty verdict, a judge has now imposed a 28-year sentence on the convicted fraudster to think it over.

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Rick Bright arrives to testify before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health on May 14, 2020 (Greg Nash, POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

BAR­DA chief turned whistle­blow­er Rick Bright re­signs from gov­ern­ment with one last broad­side against the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion

Rick Bright, the federal vaccines official turned whistleblower, resigned from the government yesterday, firing a final charge of political meddling at the Trump Administration as he departed.

Bright had led BARDA for 4 years before being suddenly removed from the post in April, just as the once little-known agency was gearing up for what would ultimately be a more than $10 billion effort to accelerate vaccines and therapeutics for one of the worst pandemics in modern history. In subsequent statements, whistleblower complaints, and congressional testimony, he alleged that he was ousted for resisting a plan to mass distribute hydroxychloroquine — a Trump-touted drug that has since repeatedly proven ineffective — to hard-hit areas and described an extended history of political interference in agency decision-making.

Jennifer Doudna and Emanuelle Charpentier (AP Images)

Em­manuelle Char­p­en­tier and Jen­nifer Doud­na win the No­bel Prize for ground­break­ing CRISPR dis­cov­ery

Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna have won the Nobel Prize in chemistry for their groundbreaking work using CRISPR/Cas9 in gene editing.

Charpentier and Doudna, now one of the busiest scientists/entrepreneurs in the Bay Area, birthed a whole new research field when they published their work on an easily accessible technology for gene editing.

The breakthrough swiftly inspired hundreds of academic studies and spawned a wave of biotech startups like Intellia, CRISPR Therapeutics and others that sought to apply the tech to the development of new therapies. And now those upstarts are being followed by a whole new wave of companies that are applying improvements on the duo’s foundational work.

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Brett Staahl and Benjamin Oakes

The lat­est Jen­nifer Doud­na start­up launch­es with a Bio­gen part­ner­ship and eyes on big tar­gets few CRISPR com­pa­nies have chased

Three years ago, Jennifer Doudna gathered with two postdocs and a fellow biochemist around a circular table on the second floor of UC Berkely’s Energy Biosciences building, where they tried to answer a question: What, precisely, would the best gene editor look like?

By that point, a slate of startups had launched to turn CRISPR-Cas9 into drugs, diagnostics and crops. But researchers at Berkeley and elsewhere were turning up new enzymes that were smaller, more versatile than the original Cas9 – enzymes that, if engineered correctly, could solve some of the challenges early CRISPR research had faced.  They decided to take one of them, called CasX, and try to use it in an area that had long been black hole for both pharma and gene editing — neurodegeneration.

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Blaine McKee (file photo)

Laid off from Im­muno­Gen, an ex-Gen­zyme and Shire ex­ec heads to an ARCH up­start

ImmunoGen CBO Blaine McKee got laid off after the company had a big Phase III failure last March, but by the time his official exit came around in December, he already landed a plum new gig. ARCH Venture Partners had tapped the longtime executive to run a biotech willing to spend a lot of cash in an area that had gone under-invested: kidney disease.

Now that biotech is emerging from stealth mode with 12 employees, $51 million in Series A funding from ARCH and UCB Venture and two new methods of directly attacking a disease and an organ that drug developers have long only tried to mitigate from the side. They’ve also got a new name: Walden Biosciences.