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Jim Greenwood, BIO

Jim Green­wood set to de­part from BIO af­ter US elec­tions — vows to en­sure law­mak­ers don't 'kill in­no­va­tion'

The herculean US drug lobby is losing one of its flagbearers: BIO CEO Jim Greenwood.

For more than 14 years Greenwood has led BIO, which has tripled in size under his reign and rebranded itself as the Biotechnology Innovation (previously Industry) Organization. He is set to depart after the US elections next year, and will help transition a new leader to represent the biotech industry and “defend innovation from domestic political attacks.”

William Kaelin. HHMI

What does No­bel-qual­i­ty re­search look like in ac­tion? Re­searchers re­count the Bill Kaelin ex­per­i­ment

There’s a question banded about at Tango Therapeutics, the biotech William Kaelin co-founded a few years back. It’s the adult scientist equivalent of a math teacher asking if you checked your work, subtracted back the sums and multiplied the quotients: Have you done the Bill Kaelin experiment?

“He holds it almost as a principle,” Tango CSO Alan Huang told Endpoints News. “And he won’t let go.”

Gregg Semenza
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Fol­low­ing top-lev­el C-suite de­par­tures, As­cle­tis raids No­var­tis for R&D ex­ec

Ascletis has wooed another top pharma exec from the US to China as it gets ready to show that its R&D team has what it takes to come up with some first-in-class drugs.

In taking up the CSO role Handan He is leaving behind a 22-year stint at Novartis, where her last title was global head of computational, biopharmaceutics and translational PK/PD.

Her arrival marks another big get for CEO Jinzi Wu, who earlier this year recruited Merck’s top drug developer in China as Ascletis’ CMO. But health and family concerns cut Zhengqing Li’s tenure short, forcing him to depart after only five months. Days ago CFO Lindi Tan also handed in her papers.

Gilead chief O'­Day re­cruits top Genen­tech re­searcher as new CMO in the wake of a high-lev­el R&D ex­o­dus

Gilead CEO Daniel O’Day has found his new chief medical officer in the top ranks of Roche’s storied biotech subsidiary Genentech, where O’Day had a front-row seat for years as a top executive in the Swiss pharma giant.

O’Day announced this morning that Merdad Parsey, currently the senior VP of early clinical development at Genentech, is stepping over to Gilead as the new CMO at a time the new CEO is reworking the entire top leadership in the wake of a high-level exodus of execs. And in a switch, he says that Parsey will report directly to him, with EVP of research William Lee also making a direct report as well. That move leaves O’Day with a considerable hands-on role in the day-to-day management of R&D.

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Jim Swanson, Bayer

J&J poach­es Bay­er ex­ec Jim Swan­son as chief in­for­ma­tion of­fi­cer

James Swanson, who helped lead crop sciences at Bayer $BAYN, is joining J&J $JNJ as chief information officer, jumping into a pharmaceutical industry embracing by fits and starts modern digital tools like artificial intelligence.

The move comes a little over a month after Bayer recruited longtime J&J dealmaker Marianne De Backer to lead business development. Swanson replaces Stuart McGuigan, who this year jumped over to the State Department after seven years as J&J CIO.

Book ex­cerpt: How Hen­ri Ter­meer built Gen­zyme and pi­o­neered the rare dis­ease in­dus­try

It wasn’t that long ago when the notion of a startup company going after a rare disease with a total addressable market of a few thousand sick patients was a non-starter.

It was Genzyme founder Henri Termeer who changed all that. And today I’m pleased to share with readers an excerpt from a new book that examines how he built his groundbreaking company.

Termeer’s legacy rests on growing Genzyme into a world leader in orphan drug R&D, developing drugs for tiny patient populations, saving lives and pioneering an aggressive pricing strategy that made the field a popular focus among a whole generation of startups.

He was a mentor and friend to many leaders in the industry today. After selling Genzyme to Sanofi, he stayed active in biotech, serving on boards at Moderna, Verastem and others and investing part of the $158 million windfall of cash he earned in the Sanofi buyout in a long lineup of upstarts.

The book is titled Conscience and Courage: How Visionary CEO Henri Termeer Built a Biotech Giant and Pioneered the Rare Disease Industry and you can buy it from Amazon here or directly from the publisher. — Arsalan Arif

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Piv­otal fail­ure trig­gers job cuts at San Diego-based Toca­gen

Tocagen is circling the drain, following the crushing late-stage failure of its experimental brain cancer therapy last month. On Thursday, the San Diego-based company slashed its workforce by 65%.

Its two-part therapy was being tested in patients with recurrent high-grade glioma undergoing resection in the Toca 5 study. On average, patients on the Tocagen regimen actually did not live as long as those given standard treatment (11.1 months median compared to 12.2 months). In addition, the company’s therapy hit a hazard ratio of 1.06, reflecting an increased risk to patients, along with an unsavory p-value of 0.6154.

Neoanti­gen play­er PACT Phar­ma woos Tim Moore from Kite to run tech­ni­cal ops

In cell therapy, some of the biggest breakthroughs lie not in the science of killing tumor cells but figuring out a way to manufacture those treatments at scale. Working on a personalized T cell therapy targeting neoantigens, PACT Pharma knows just how important — and difficult — it can be to recruit a top-notch leader for the technical team.

Alex Franzusoff

“There are only a handful of people at the center of the action,” CEO Alex Franzusoff noted in a statement.

One of them is now coming to PACT. Tim Moore, who oversaw the CAR-T buildout at Kite, will officially become its president and chief technical officer next week.

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John Cox (Photo: Repligen)

The time is now: John Cox as­sumes CEO post at Flag­ship-backed Torque, steer­ing cell ther­a­py to clin­i­cal tri­als

A stealthy Torque Therapeutics is in the midst of raising a Series B round to bankroll an upcoming slate of clinical studies for its cancer cell therapy platform — and it will all be overseen by a new CEO.

John Cox, executive chairman since January, is taking over from Bart Henderson as the former chief pursues some other work with Flagship Pioneering.

The appointment marks the first full-time gig for Cox since he flipped Biogen’s hemophilia-focused spinout Bioverativ to Sanofi for $11.6 billion, earning a payout worth more than $85 million in the process. The little taste he had of cell therapy there, albeit for a distinctly different application, helped convince him that it’s a modality for the future. He envisions Torque becoming the definitive immuno-oncology cell therapy company, and the time is now to jump in.

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Stephen Hahn speaks at an FDA and AACR workshop, February 2018 [via the American Association for Cancer Research]

Trump will pick Stephen Hahn as his next FDA com­mis­sion­er — re­ports

President Donald Trump will nominate MD Anderson executive Stephen Hahn to lead the FDA, multiple outlets are reporting.

The move breaks from a consensus among former FDA leaders and patient advocacy groups pushing the administration to stick with acting commissioner Ned Sharpless, the National Cancer Institute director who has helmed the FDA on an interim basis since Scott Gottlieb ended his energetic and widely admired 2-year stint in April.