Cher­ry Thomas joins Cari­bou as SVP of clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment; Ar­tax locks in Joseph Lobac­ki as CEO

Cher­ry Thomas

→ CRISPR genome edit­ing play­er Cari­bou Bio­sciences has ap­point­ed Cher­ry Thomas as SVP of clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment, a new­ly-cre­at­ed po­si­tion. Thomas jumps to Berke­ley-based Cari­bou from Ar­ray Bio­phar­ma, where she was VP of clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment of their on­col­o­gy di­vi­sion. She’s al­so been the ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment at BeiGene.

Joseph Lobac­ki

→ Not on­ly has au­toim­mune dis­ease-fo­cused Ar­tax Bio­phar­ma brought Joseph Lobac­ki to the helm as CEO, but the Cam­bridge, Mass­a­chu­setts-based com­pa­ny has al­so made some new ad­di­tions to its man­age­ment team. Lobac­ki takes over the reins from Damia Tor­mo, who re­mains on the com­pa­ny’s board of di­rec­tors. Lobac­ki joins the team af­ter a stint at Ve­rastem as EVP and CCO and as COO of Finch Ther­a­peu­tics. In ad­di­tion, Lobac­ki has held posts at Medi­va­tion, Mi­cromet and Gen­zyme.

Join­ing Lobac­ki are Chris Van­Deusen as CSO, Richard Polis­son as CMO and Bris­tol My­ers vet Karen LaRochelle as CBO. Both Van­Deusen and Polis­son hop aboard from Sanofi Gen­zyme, while LaRochelle hails from PsiOxus Ther­a­peu­tics.

Michelle Mc­Mur­ry-Heath

BIO has se­lect­ed its next CEO to suc­ceed James Green­wood as one of biotech’s top lob­by­ists. Michelle Mc­Mur­ry-Heath has joined the fray, af­ter spend­ing more than 5 years large­ly cen­tered on reg­u­la­to­ry work for J&J, spe­cial­iz­ing in de­vices. Mc­Mur­ry-Heath jumped in­to the in­dus­try from the FDA, where she was as­so­ciate di­rec­tor for sci­ence, cen­ter for de­vices and ra­di­o­log­i­cal health. Mc­Mur­ry-Heath’s ré­sumé in­cludes a stint on Capi­tol Hill, work­ing for for­mer Sen­a­tor Joe Lieber­man.

Green­wood came to BIO straight from Con­gress, where he had been a play­er in the House for 6 terms. That made him in­stru­men­tal in gain­ing pas­sage of key leg­is­la­tion — per­haps most no­tably the ex­tend­ed patent pro­tec­tion en­joyed by bi­o­log­ics. Green­wood knew many of the key law­mak­ers on a first-name ba­sis, af­ter cre­at­ing bi­par­ti­san re­la­tion­ships that clear­ly played to the ad­van­tage of biotech.

Michael Var­ney is step­ping away from his top post in Genen­tech R&D, and the sto­ried biotech is pluck­ing a star cell ex­pert from the Broad as his re­place­ment. In a state­ment, Roche CEO Sev­erin Schwan high­light­ed their in­ter­est in tap­ping Aviv Regev’s knowl­edge of “da­ta-based drug dis­cov­ery and de­vel­op­ment,” one of the mantras de­vel­op­ing in Big Phar­ma re­search. Regev — a mem­ber of the Na­tion­al Acad­e­my of Sci­ences — will be step­ping away from her job as fac­ul­ty chair and ex­ec­u­tive team mem­ber at the Broad In­sti­tute of Har­vard and MIT, her role as a pro­fes­sor at MIT as well as an in­ves­ti­ga­tor with the vir­tu­al Howard Hugh­es Med­ical In­sti­tute.

Regev will now be tak­ing a lead­ing role in a $10 bil­lion re­search or­ga­ni­za­tion as head of Genen­tech Re­search and Ear­ly De­vel­op­ment, bet­ter known as gRED to Basel-based pRED, and join­ing the ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee at Roche.

Joseph Tru­itt

BioSpecifics, a Delaware-based bio­phar­ma fo­cused on col­la­ge­nase-based ther­a­pies with its first-in-class prod­uct Xi­aflex, has re­moved the in­ter­im tag from Joseph Tru­itt and he will be the per­ma­nent CEO. He was named in­ter­im CEO by the board of di­rec­tors on April 6. Tru­itt has moved to BioSpecifics from Achillion, where he joined the com­pa­ny in 2009 and filled the roles of CCO and COO be­fore be­ing pro­mot­ed to CEO in May 2018.

Mi­cro­bi­ot­i­ca — which struck a $534 mil­lion mi­cro­bio­me pact with Roche in 2018 — has an­nounced the pass­ing of the com­pa­ny’s chair­man, Thomas Lynch. Lynch served as chair­man for the com­pa­ny since Sep­tem­ber 2019. Sam Williams, in­vestor di­rec­tor for IP Group, will serve as act­ing chair­man.

→ With its liq­uid-biop­sy tech­nol­o­gy EpiCheck, de­signed for ear­ly de­tec­tion in can­cers, Nu­cle­ix is ex­pand­ing op­er­a­tions in­to the Unit­ed States and ush­er­ing in new lead­er­ship. In ad­di­tion to its of­fices in Is­rael, Nu­cle­ix will ex­pand to San Diego and has named Chris Hi­b­berd CEO and Todd My­ers CFO of the Cal­i­for­nia op­er­a­tion. Hi­b­berd and My­ers come to Nu­cle­ix from As­tute Med­ical, where Hi­b­berd was CEO and co-founder and My­ers was CFO. Ad­di­tion­al­ly, Nu­cle­ix has reeled in Eyal Miller as GM for Eu­rope, Mid­dle East and Africa (EMEA). Miller was pre­vi­ous­ly the VP & head of the health­care di­vi­sion at Strata­sys.

Jeff Bai­ley

Jeff Bai­ley is tak­ing on the role of in­ter­im CEO at BioDe­liv­ery Sci­ences (BD­SI), whose prod­ucts tack­le se­ri­ous and de­bil­i­tat­ing con­di­tions. Bai­ley had been a board mem­ber at BD­SI, based in the Re­search Tri­an­gle area in Raleigh, since March. He was the CEO of Il­lu­mi­nOss Med­ical, which was ac­quired last month by Health­point Cap­i­tal, and the pres­i­dent and CEO of Lan­theus Med­ical Imag­ing. He al­so had a stint at No­var­tis and had a 22-year tenure at J&J.

Vivek Ra­maswamy‘s gene ther­a­py com­pa­ny Spirovant Sci­ences — look­ing to out­bid ri­val Ver­tex in treat­ing cys­tic fi­bro­sishas brought on Roland Kol­beck as CSO. Most re­cent­ly, Kol­beck served as VP, head of res­pi­ra­to­ry, in­flam­ma­tion and au­toim­mune re­search at Med­Im­mune, As­traZeneca‘s glob­al bi­o­log­ics or­ga­ni­za­tion — where he led the de­vel­op­ment of FASEN­RA, a bi­o­log­i­cal for the treat­ment of se­vere eosinophilic asth­ma.

Don Mar­vin

→ Re­unit­ing with chair­man and CEO Dale Pfost at New York-based Lo­do Ther­a­peu­ticsDon Mar­vin has been en­list­ed as EVP and CFO. Mar­vin and Pfost were at Or­chid Bio­sciences to­geth­er in the ear­ly 2000s, where Mar­vin was COO, CFO and SVP of cor­po­rate de­vel­op­ment. The chair­man of Con­cen­tric af­ter five years as pres­i­dent and CEO, Mar­vin al­so helmed Identi­GEN and Di­a­tron Cor­po­ra­tion.

→ San Fran­cis­co Bay Area-based Bolt Ther­a­peu­tics —de­vel­op­ing im­mune-stim­u­lat­ing an­ti­body con­ju­gates (ISACs) to treat can­cer — has snagged William Quinn as CFO. Pri­or to his ap­point­ment, Quinn was CFO and SVP, fi­nance and cor­po­rate de­vel­op­ment of Sune­sis. Quinn pre­vi­ous­ly held an 8-year stint at Jazz Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals and was al­so CEO and co-founder of Bul­let Tech­nol­o­gy.

→ Af­ter Kel­ly Mar­tin suc­ceed­ed him as pres­i­dent and CEO of Ra­dius Health, As­cendis Phar­ma has tapped Jes­per Høi­land as glob­al chief com­mer­cial of­fi­cer. Be­fore Ra­dius, Høi­land spent 29 years at No­vo Nordisk, cul­mi­nat­ing in a three-year run as pres­i­dent and SVP, USA.

Jeanne Ma­gram

Third Rock Ven­tures part­ner Christoph Lengauer is no longer in­ter­im CSO at the place he co-found­ed, Cel­sius Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals. Jeanne Ma­gram has now tak­en over as CSO, as Lengauer stays in both his ad­vi­so­ry role and as a board mem­ber. A Pfiz­er and Boehringer In­gel­heim vet, Ma­gram was CSO at Quen­tis Ther­a­peu­tics and the found­ing CSO at North­ern Bi­o­log­ics. Mean­while, Xilio CEO René Rus­so has been named to Cel­sius’ board of di­rec­tors.

→ Be­cause of Covid-19 and “re­duced cor­po­rate ac­tiv­i­ty in busi­ness de­vel­op­ment and pro­mo­tion,” cannabi­noid-fo­cused Tetra Bio-Phar­ma has deemed pres­i­dent Syl­vain Chre­tien’s po­si­tion non-es­sen­tial and they have ac­cept­ed his res­ig­na­tion. CEO Guy Cham­ber­land, CFO Sabi­no Di Pao­la and COO Steeve Néron will han­dle Chre­tien’s re­spon­si­bil­i­ties.

Kim Sablich

→ Dublin-based Jazz Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals has re­cruit­ed Kim Sablich as their EVP and GM of North Amer­i­ca, ef­fec­tive June 1. Sablich has been My­ovant’s CCO since No­vem­ber 2018. Pri­or to My­ovant, Sablich was GSK’s VP, pri­ma­ry care mar­ket­ing in the US and al­so spent 15 years at Mer­ck.

→ With CEO William Chou in his first year, Aru­vant now has Joseph McIn­tosh step­ping in as CMO. McIn­tosh comes to Aru­vant, which tar­gets se­vere blood dis­or­ders, from PTC Ther­a­peu­tics, where he was SVP, head of clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment and shep­herd­ed the ap­proval of the Duchenne mus­cu­lar dy­s­tro­phy drug Translar­na as VP of de­vel­op­ment. He’s al­so been with NPS Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, Ei­sai and Pfiz­er.

CorMedix, which fo­cus­es on in­fec­tious and in­flam­ma­to­ry dis­eases, has se­lect­ed Matt David as EVP and CFO. Be­fore join­ing the NJ-based bio­phar­ma, David was head of strat­e­gy at Ovid Ther­a­peu­tics. David has over 15 years of ex­pe­ri­ence in health­care in­vest­ment bank­ing, no­tably at Bank of Amer­i­ca, and al­so as an eq­ui­ty an­a­lyst.

Al­lan Shaw

→ Im­muno-on­col­o­gy play­er Portage has called up­on Al­lan Shaw to be CFO, re­plac­ing Kam Shah. Pri­or to join­ing Toron­to-based Portage, Shaw has been a CFO on four pre­vi­ous oc­ca­sions: at Syn­dax Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals (where he was al­so trea­sur­er), Serono, NewLead Hold­ings and Vi­a­tel. He al­so found­ed Shaw Strate­gic Cap­i­tal in 2005.

De­bra Feld­man has joined the ranks at At­las-backed Dyne Ther­a­peu­tics as VP, head of reg­u­la­to­ry. Most re­cent­ly, Feld­man helped lead Sage Ther­a­peu­tics through its ap­proval of Zul­res­so as VP, reg­u­la­to­ry af­fairs.

Bill Haney-led up­start Drag­on­fly Ther­a­peu­tics has named Tapan Ma­niar as SVP and head of clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment. Ma­niar leaps aboard from Reper­toire Im­mune Med­i­cines, where he was in the same role. Pri­or to that, Ma­niar was se­nior di­rec­tor of clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment at Atara Bio­ther­a­peu­tics and glob­al de­vel­op­ment lead at Am­gen.

Machelle Manuel has joined Cam­bridge, MA-based Amy­lyx Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, which fo­cus­es on ALS, Alzheimer’s and oth­er neu­rode­gen­er­a­tive dis­eases, as VP, head of glob­al med­ical af­fairs. Manuel had just spent eight years at Iron­wood Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, where she was head of glob­al med­ical sci­en­tif­ic af­fairs and part of the ini­tial med­ical af­fairs lead­er­ship team.

→ Ex­o­some biotech Evox Ther­a­peu­tics has tapped Gilead vet Paul Carter as non-ex­ec­u­tive chair­man. Carter cur­rent­ly has di­rec­tor­ships at Hutchi­son Chi­na MediTech and Mallinkrodt Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, and un­til April, he was a di­rec­tor at Alder Bio­phar­ma. Dur­ing his time at Gilead, Carter was the EVP, chief com­mer­cial of­fi­cer and the SVP, head of com­mer­cial op­er­a­tions, in­ter­na­tion­al mar­kets. He was al­so at re­gion­al VP of Chi­na and Hong Kong at GSK.

→ No­var­tis-backed Al­tim­mune has en­list­ed for­mer Pfiz­er ex­ec Di­ane Jorkasky to its board of di­rec­tors. Dur­ing her time at Pfiz­er, Jorkasky served as VP of glob­al clin­i­cal re­search op­er­a­tions. In ad­di­tion, Jorkasky held ex­ec posts at En­do Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals and Aileron Ther­a­peu­tics.

Bharat Tewarie has jumped on the board of di­rec­tors at Bay Area start­up Alveo Tech­nolo­gies, which an­nounced a col­lab­o­ra­tion with Janssen Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals in April to bring its be.well plat­form to mar­ket. Tewarie found­ed Boston Bio­Phar­ma Con­sul­tants in Jan­u­ary and was the EVP, CMO and mem­ber of the Ex­ec­u­tive Com­mit­tee at UCB.

Im­ple­ment­ing re­silience in the clin­i­cal tri­al sup­ply chain

Since January 2020, the clinical trials ecosystem has quickly evolved to manage roadblocks impeding clinical trial integrity, and patient care and safety amid a global pandemic. Closed borders, reduced air traffic and delayed or canceled flights disrupted global distribution, revealing how flexible logistics and supply chains can secure the timely delivery of clinical drug products and therapies to sites and patients.

In fi­nal days at Mer­ck, Roger Perl­mut­ter bets big on a lit­tle-known Covid-19 treat­ment

Roger Perlmutter is spending his last days at Merck, well, spending.

Two weeks after snapping up the antibody-drug conjugate biotech VelosBio for $2.75 billion, Merck announced today that it had purchased OncoImmune and its experimental Covid-19 drug for $425 million. The drug, known as CD24Fc, appeared to reduce the risk of respiratory failure or death in severe Covid-19 patients by 50% in a 203-person Phase III trial, OncoImmune said in September.

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Pascal Soriot (AP Images)

UP­DAT­ED: As­traZeneca, Ox­ford on the de­fen­sive as skep­tics dis­miss 70% av­er­age ef­fi­ca­cy for Covid-19 vac­cine

On the third straight Monday that the world wakes up to positive vaccine news, AstraZeneca and Oxford are declaring a new Phase III milestone in the fight against the pandemic. Not everyone is convinced they will play a big part, though.

With an average efficacy of 70%, the headline number struck analysts as less impressive than the 95% and 94.5% protection that Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna have boasted in the past two weeks, respectively. But the British partners say they have several other bright spots going for their candidate. One of the two dosing regimens tested in Phase III showed a better profile, bringing efficacy up to 90%; the adenovirus vector-based vaccine requires minimal refrigeration, which may mean easier distribution; and AstraZeneca has pledged to sell it at a fraction of the price that the other two vaccine developers are charging.

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Bob Nelsen (Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images)

Bob Nelsen rais­es $800M and re­cruits a star-stud­ded board to build the 'Fox­con­n' of biotech

Bob Nelsen spent his pandemic spring in his Seattle home, talking on the phone with Luciana Borio, the scientist who used to run pandemic preparedness on the National Security Council, and fuming with her about the dire state of American manufacturing.

Companies were rushing to develop vaccines and antibodies for the new virus, but even if they succeeded, there was no immediate supply chain or infrastructure to mass-produce them in a way that could make a dent in the outbreak.

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Carl Hansen, AbCellera CEO (University of British Columbia)

From a pair of Air Jor­dans to a $200M-plus IPO, Carl Hansen is craft­ing an overnight R&D for­tune fu­eled by Covid-19

Back in the summer of 2019, Carl Hansen left his post as a professor at the University of British Columbia to go full time as the CEO at a low-profile antibody shop he had founded called AbCellera.

As biotech CEOs go, even after a fundraise Hansen wasn’t paid a whole heck of a lot. He ended up earning right at $250,000 for the year. His compensation package included a loan — which he later paid back — and a pair of Air Jordan tennis shoes. His newly-hired CFO, Andrew Booth, got a sweeter pay packet than that — which included his own pair of Air Jordans.

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Leonard Schleifer, Regeneron CEO (Andrew Harnik/AP)

Trail­ing Eli Lil­ly by 12 days, Re­gen­eron gets the FDA OK for their Covid-19 an­ti­body cock­tail

A month and a half after becoming the experimental treatment of choice for a newly diagnosed president, Regeneron’s antibody cocktail has received emergency use authorization from the FDA. It will be used to treat non-hospitalized Covid-19 patients who are at high-risk of progressing.

Although the Rgeneron drug is not the first antibody treatment authorized by the FDA, the news comes as a significant milestone for a company and a treatment scientists have watched closely since the outbreak began.

Bahija Jallal (file photo)

TCR pi­o­neer Im­muno­core scores a first with a land­mark PhI­II snap­shot on over­all sur­vival for a rare melanoma

Bahija Jallal’s crew at TCR pioneer Immunocore says they have nailed down a promising set of pivotal data for their lead drug in a frontline setting for a solid tumor. And they are framing this early interim readout as the convincing snapshot they need to prove that their platform can deliver on a string of breakthrough therapies now in the clinic or planned for it.

In advance of the Monday announcement, Jallal and R&D chief David Berman took some time to walk me through the first round of Phase III data for their lead TCR designed to treat rare, frontline cases of metastatic uveal melanoma that come with a grim set of survival expectations.

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Am­gen sev­ers 14-year Cy­to­ki­net­ics part­ner­ship, bail­ing on ome­cam­tiv af­ter mixed PhI­II re­sults

Amgen is shrugging off a 14-year development alliance and the tens of millions of dollars spent to develop a new heart drug at Cytokinetics after a Phase III trial turned up weak data — leaving Cytokinetics to soldier on alone.

Omecamtiv mecarbil technically worked, meeting the primary composite endpoint in the Phase III GALACTIC-HF study. But it missed a key secondary endpoint, which analysts had been following as a key marker for success — reduction of cardiovascular (CV) death. While Cytokinetics celebrated the results, its stock tanked 43% upon the news, and analysts warned of an uncertain path ahead. Now, Amgen wants out.

News brief­ing: Ab­b­Vie part­ner Teneo­bio ex­pands tech li­cense with CAR-T play­er Po­sei­da; Ar­genx buys PRV from Bay­er for $98M

Teneobio may be best known for its pact with AbbVie and Gilead, but before its big break the bispecific player had licensed its antibodies for a different use: as binders in CAR-T therapies being developed by Poseida.

Now, the biotechs are expanding their partnership, with Poseida exercising four options to deploy Teneobio’s heavy chain only domain antibodies commercially.

The commercial licensing fees remained under wraps, but Teneobio is eligible for $250 million in milestones for these CAR-Ts against undisclosed targets.