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Albert Bourla, Pfizer CEO (AP Images)

#JPM21: Al­bert Bourla pre­pares Pfiz­er to set­tle in to next phase post-Up­john, but that does­n't mean he's rul­ing out deals

One of the iconic brands in biopharma, Pfizer took a big gamble on the strength of its in-house science when it decided to offload its flagging Upjohn generics business last year. Now, a more agile Pfizer is looking to cement its identity for the future, but one thing will stay the same: M&A is still very much a part of the game plan.

With its Upjohn generics business off the books, Pfizer is looking to double down on its branded medicines with the goal of hitting 6% annual growth each year — previously unheard-of at old Pfizer — while continuing to develop its blockbuster pipeline, CEO Albert Bourla said at a JP Morgan fireside chat Tuesday.

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With KRAS break­through on the hori­zon, Am­gen's David Reese re­flects on so­tora­si­b's loom­ing re­view date and murky fu­ture

After decades of failures laid waste to R&D outfits looking to solve the KRAS G12C puzzle, Amgen is as close as anyone ever has been to an approval with sotorasib. For Amgen R&D head David Reese, the drug’s looming review date is a point of reflection for his own career and a big milestone for Amgen’s blooming — if controversial — next-gen oncology pipeline.

Amgen filed its FDA application for sotorasib in December to treat metastatic non-small cell lung cancer with the KRAS mutation — once thought to be “undruggable” — months after the agency offered its breakthrough designation based on pivotal Phase I data showing previously unheard of response rates.

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Kathy High (Spark via YouTube)

Spark co-founder Kathy High joins a long­time col­lab­o­ra­tor at AskBio, help­ing steer Bay­er's gene ther­a­py push

Kathy High has re-emerged in the gene therapy space just as unexpectedly as she left Spark Therapeutics close to a year ago.

Her newest title will be president, therapeutics at AskBio, the biotech “race horse” that Bayer has just bought for $2 billion cash to build a cell and gene therapy unit around.

On the surface, the circumstances are not unlike Spark, which was getting absorbed into Roche following a $4.3 billion buyout. High, 68, was credited for both steering Luxturna toward an approval for a rare inherited eye disease caused by mutations in the RPE65 gene, setting up gene therapy research in hemophilia A and leading a Phase I/II trial for hemophilia B.

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Charles Albright (Rodrique Ngowi, AP Images)

Ed­i­tas Med­i­cine's sci­ence head Al­bright leaves for new job just as biotech gets tri­al clear­ance for sick­le cell ther­a­py

Editas Medicine has received the FDA’s blessing to enter the clinic with its first ex vivo cell therapy — but it will do so without CSO Charles Albright, who is leaving his post for the same gig at an early-stage company.

The FDA clearance was announced minutes after Editas shared word of Albright’s departure early Monday morning. The bittersweet news caused the biotech’s stock $EDIT to sink more than 12%, with shares hovering around $79 apiece.

DBV re­struc­tur­ing claims 200 jobs as it beats out a path to­ward peanut patch OK

Regulatory troubles around its peanut allergy treatment have hurt DBV Technologies bad.

It became even clearer Thursday morning as the French biotech disclosed the scope of a global restructuring it announced back in June. More than 200 jobs are being cut, leaving a team of 90 to carry on with the hard task of scoring approval for its Viaskin Peanut patch.

With a formal go-ahead from authorities in France, CEO Daniel Tassé expects the measures to reduce average monthly cash burn by up to half, thereby keeping the company afloat until late 2022.

Brian Kotzin, Nektar

Af­ter an up-and-down year, Nek­tar watch­es de­vel­op­ment head Wei Lin walk away as it pur­sues pipeline re­bound

More than any other year in recent memory, 2020 was a rollercoaster of highs and lows —mostly lows. Just ask San Francisco’s Nektar: Despite ditching its opioid program in January and offloading royalties to its two US-marketed meds, the biotech still has hopes for its pipeline to hit a rebound this year.

But that rebound won’t happen under the watch of senior VP and head of development Wei Lin, who is stepping down and leaving immunology head Brian Kotzin to step in.

Christian Itin at UKBIO19 (Endpoints News)

Au­to­lus buck­les down, chop­ping 20% of staff and seek­ing part­ner for a lead CAR-T pro­gram

Autolus Therapeutics showed up at the virtual ESMO conference just a few months ago with plenty of good things to say about AUTO3, its dual-targeting CAR-T for diffuse large B cell lymphoma. The safety data looked intact, and the therapy promised to be more durable than the first-generation options.

But early Wednesday the London-based biotech said it will be looking for a partner to take it from here — and letting go of 20% of its staffers in the process.

Elizabeth Nabel (Elise Amendola/AP Images)

Eliz­a­beth Nabel steps down as pres­i­dent of Brigham and Wom­en's Hos­pi­tal to team up with hus­band's biotech joint — re­port

The president of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, a renowned nonprofit medical center in Boston, is reportedly stepping down from her position to join her husband — Sanofi’s former CSO — in the biotech sector.

Elizabeth Nabel and BWH announced she would depart as president on March 1 after spending 11 years at the hospital. She will team up with her husband, Gary Nabel, who left the top R&D job at Sanofi in October to launch his own biotech developing immune therapies for cancer and infectious diseases, according to the Boston Globe

George Yancopoulos (L) and Len Schleifer (Regeneron)

Re­gen­eron's Schleifer, Yan­copou­los set their com­pa­ny's am­bi­tions sky high with $1.4B on the ta­ble in per­for­mance awards

One of the true success stories in biopharma, New York’s Regeneron has built a $51 billion market cap under the watchful eyes of co-founders and 32-year veterans Len Schleifer and George Yancopoulos. That success has made both men wealthy, even as Regeneron’s investor returns have flagged in recent years.

Regeneron’s ambitions are still sky high moving ahead — and just how much the company can capitalize on that vision could spell enormous paydays for its founders.

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Mace Rothenberg (Pfizer)

Mace Rothen­berg starts the year by step­ping out of his top job in Pfiz­er R&D — as Stan­ford’s Ai­da Habtezion steps in

There’s a changing of the guard underway in the senior ranks of Pfizer’s R&D team.

Chief medical officer Mace Rothenberg, who helped lead the pharma giant to 6 new drug approvals in the last 2 years, is stepping aside from his high profile perch and handing the job to Aida Habtezion, a physician scientist who’s been doing research on leukocytes at Stanford.

Rothenberg put out the word on social media Monday, though he didn’t say just what he had on his mind for the next chapter in his career. He told me via LinkedIn, though, that he’s most interested in finding some key board positions where he can be most useful.

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