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.

Bris­tol My­ers is clean­ing up the post-Cel­gene merg­er pipeline, and they’re sweep­ing out an ex­per­i­men­tal check­point in the process

Back during the lead up to the $74 billion buyout of Celgene, the big biotech’s leadership did a little housecleaning with a major pact it had forged with Jounce. Out went the $2.6 billion deal and a collaboration on ICOS and PD-1.

Celgene, though, also added a $530 million deal — $50 million up front — to get the worldwide rights to JTX-8064, a drug that targets the LILRB2 receptor on macrophages.

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Fangliang Zhang, AP Images

UP­DAT­ED: Leg­end fetch­es $424 mil­lion, emerges as biggest win­ner yet in pan­dem­ic IPO boom as shares soar

Amid a flurry of splashy pandemic IPOs, a J&J-partnered Chinese biotech has emerged with one of the largest public raises in biotech history.

Legend Biotech, the Nanjing-based CAR-T developer, has raised $424 million on NASDAQ. The biotech had originally filed for a still-hefty $350 million, based on a range of $18-$20, but managed to fetch $23 per share, allowing them to well-eclipse the massive raises from companies like Allogene, Juno, Galapagos, though they’ll still fall a few dollars short of Moderna’s record-setting $600 million raise from 2018.

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As it hap­pened: A bid­ding war for an an­tibi­ot­ic mak­er in a mar­ket that has rav­aged its peers

In a bewildering twist to the long-suffering market for antibiotics — there has actually been a bidding war for an antibiotic company: Tetraphase.

It all started back in March, when the maker of Xerava (an FDA approved therapy for complicated intra-abdominal infections) said it had received an offer from AcelRx for an all-stock deal valued at $14.4 million.

The offer was well-timed. Xerava was approved in 2018, four years after Tetraphase posted its first batch of pivotal trial data, and sales were nowhere near where they needed to be in order for the company to keep its head above water.

Drug man­u­fac­tur­ing gi­ant Lon­za taps Roche/phar­ma ‘rein­ven­tion’ vet as its new CEO

Lonza chairman Albert Baehny took his time headhunting a new CEO for the company, making it absolutely clear he wanted a Big Pharma or biotech CEO with a good long track record in the business for the top spot. In the end, he went with the gold standard, turning to Roche’s ranks to recruit Pierre-Alain Ruffieux for the job.

Ruffieux, a member of the pharma leadership team at Roche, spent close to 5 years at the company. But like a small army of manufacturing execs, he gained much of his experience at the other Big Pharma in Basel, remaining at Novartis for 12 years before expanding his horizons.

Covid-19 roundup: Ab­b­Vie jumps in­to Covid-19 an­ti­body hunt; As­traZeneca shoots for 2B dos­es of Ox­ford vac­cine — with $750M from CEPI, Gavi

Another Big Pharma is entering the Covid-19 antibody hunt.

AbbVie has announced a collaboration with the Netherlands’ Utrecht University and Erasmus Medical Center and the Chinese-Dutch biotech Harbour Biomed to develop a neutralizing antibody that can treat Covid-19. The antibody, called 47D11, was discovered by AbbVie’s three partners, and AbbVie will support early preclinical work, while preparing for later preclinical and clinical development. Researchers described the antibody in Nature Communications last month.

Is a pow­er­house Mer­ck team prepar­ing to leap past Roche — and leave Gilead and Bris­tol My­ers be­hind — in the race to TIG­IT dom­i­na­tion?

Roche caused quite a stir at ASCO with its first look at some positive — but not so impressive — data for their combination of Tecentriq with their anti-TIGIT drug tiragolumab. But some analysts believe that Merck is positioned to make a bid — soon — for the lead in the race to a second-wave combo immuno-oncology approach with its own ambitious early-stage program tied to a dominant Keytruda.

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Pfiz­er’s Doug Gior­dano has $500M — and some ad­vice — to of­fer a cer­tain breed of 'break­through' biotech

So let’s say you’re running a cutting-edge, clinical-stage biotech, probably public, but not necessarily so, which could see some big advantages teaming up with some marquee researchers, picking up say $50 million to $75 million dollars in a non-threatening minority equity investment that could take you to the next level.

Doug Giordano might have some thoughts on how that could work out.

The SVP of business development at the pharma giant has helped forge a new fund called the Pfizer Breakthrough Growth Initiative. And he has $500 million of Pfizer’s money to put behind 7 to 10 — or so — biotech stocks that fit that general description.

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Leen Kawas, Athira CEO (Athira)

Can a small biotech suc­cess­ful­ly tack­le an Ever­est climb like Alzheimer’s? Athi­ra has $85M and some in­flu­en­tial back­ers ready to give it a shot

There haven’t been a lot of big venture rounds for biotech companies looking to run a Phase II study in Alzheimer’s.

The field has been a disaster over the past decade. Amyloid didn’t pan out as a target — going down in a litany of Phase III failures — and is now making its last stand at Biogen. Tau is a comer, but when you look around and all you see is destruction, the idea of backing a startup trying to find complex cocktails to swing the course of this devilishly complicated memory-wasting disease would daunt the pluckiest investors.

GSK presents case to ex­pand use of its lu­pus drug in pa­tients with kid­ney dis­ease, but the field is evolv­ing. How long will the mo­nop­oly last?

In 2011, GlaxoSmithKline’s Benlysta became the first biologic to win approval for lupus patients. Nine years on, the British drugmaker has unveiled detailed positive results from a study testing the drug in lupus patients with associated kidney disease — a post-marketing requirement from the initial FDA approval.

Lupus is a drug developer’s nightmare. In the last six decades, there has been just one FDA approval (Benlysta), with the field resembling a graveyard in recent years with a string of failures including UCB and Biogen’s late-stage flop, as well as defeats in Xencor and Sanofi’s programs. One of the main reasons the success has eluded researchers is because lupus, akin to cancer, is not just one disease — it really is a disease of many diseases, noted Al Roy, executive director of Lupus Clinical Investigators Network, an initiative of New York-based Lupus Research Alliance that claims it is the world’s leading private funder of lupus research, in an interview.