Col­in Fre­und takes new CEO job at Mod­ra Phar­ma; Com­pass re­cruits Pfiz­er, Bio­gen vets to C-suite

Col­in Fre­und

→ Am­s­ter­dam-based Mod­ra Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals has tapped a per­ma­nent CEO to guide its pipeline of oral chemother­a­pies as it wraps up a Phase Ib/IIa study for the lead pro­gram — a tablet for­mu­la­tion of do­c­etax­el. Col­in Fre­und comes with fresh CEO ex­pe­ri­ence at Que On­col­o­gy as well as a pre­vi­ous stints at Trangene and GPC Biotech. Er­ic van der Put­ten, the Agla­ia Bio­med­ical Ven­tures part­ner who was fill­ing the role ad in­ter­im, will re­cede to a board di­rec­tor role. Mean­while Ed­win De Wit has al­so joined the com­pa­ny as head of on­col­o­gy de­vel­op­ment.

No­var­tis’ in­sis­tence on cen­tral­iz­ing top ex­ecs in its Swiss head­quar­ters has cost the phar­ma gi­ant a key leader: Liz Bar­rett has put in her no­tice just 10 months af­ter tak­ing on the on­col­o­gy chief role.

“Af­ter much per­son­al re­flec­tion, it be­came clear that my fam­i­ly would be un­able to re­lo­cate to Basel where the on­col­o­gy head­quar­ters is based,” Bar­rett said in a state­ment.

Su­sanne Schaf­fert, pres­i­dent of No­var­tis sub­sidiary Ad­vanced Ac­cel­er­a­tor Ap­pli­ca­tions, is re­plac­ing Bar­rett as CEO of the on­col­o­gy busi­ness unit. Bar­rett is mov­ing to the helm of a US-based biotech, though she told End­points she can’t say which just yet.

Or­biMed– and Thiel-backed Com­pass Ther­a­peu­tics has scooped Pfiz­er’s head of ear­ly clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment, Yu Liu, to over­see the slate of pro­grams gen­er­at­ed from its an­ti­body dis­cov­ery plat­form. The new CMO will have a chance to work on tar­gets in can­cer, in­flam­ma­tion and au­toim­mune dis­ease. lever­ag­ing a di­verse range of ex­pe­ri­ence ac­crued over the years at Bio­gen, Bris­tol-My­ers Squibb, Es­sen­tialis Ther­a­peu­tics and Am­gen. Fel­low Bio­gen vet Lynne Sul­li­van — who al­so han­dled tax­es for Mer­ck KGaA is com­ing on board as CFO.

No­var­tis may still have big plans for CAR-T, but the phar­ma gi­ant con­tin­ues to bleed top tal­ent from the group ex­pect­ed to car­ry out the work. Cam­bridge, MA-based Sem­ma Ther­a­peu­tics — which is de­vel­op­ing a hoped-for stem cell cure for Type 1 di­a­betes — said that they have re­cruit­ed No­var­tis CAR-T chief David Leb­wohl as their new chief med­ical of­fi­cer. Sem­ma has al­so re­cruit­ed David DiGius­to as chief tech­nol­o­gy of­fi­cer and Ann Dar­da as head of hu­man re­sources. Last fall in­vestors put up $114 mil­lion to fund a pi­o­neer­ing hu­man study that will put a new de­liv­ery tech to the test in di­a­betes.

Daphne Qui­mi just got a pro­mo­tion at Am­i­cus Ther­a­peu­tics $FOLD, where she will be­come CFO in the be­gin­ning of next year as Chip Baird leaves for a new job. The hand­off caps the first year Am­i­cus be­came a com­mer­cial com­pa­ny with a con­tro­ver­sial OK for its Fab­ry dis­ease drug Galafold. Sev­er­al oth­er ex­ecs are get­ting new roles: Al­iba­ba alum­nus David Clark has been ap­point­ed chief peo­ple of­fi­cer; Ellen Rosen­berg has been pro­mot­ed to chief le­gal of­fi­cer; An­drew Mul­berg is now SVP, glob­al reg­u­la­to­ry af­fairs; and An­tho­ny Sileno will be SVP, clin­i­cal op­er­a­tions and trans­la­tion­al sci­ences.

Sono­ma Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, a spe­cial­ty phar­ma now fo­cused on der­ma­tol­ogy, has hired Fred­er­ick (Bub­ba) Sand­ford to ex­e­cute the com­pa­ny’s turn­around plan. He will take the roles of both CEO Jim Schutz and CFO Bob Miller, who re­signed from the com­pa­ny $SNOA.

→ As Johns Hop­kins spin­out Wind­MIL Ther­a­peu­tics opens a new of­fice to con­sol­i­date its cell ther­a­py work and at­tract tal­ent in Philadel­phia, two ex­ecs are join­ing the out­post. Monil Shah, chief de­vel­op­ment of­fi­cer, comes with a string of roles at Brook­lyn Im­munoTher­a­peu­tics, Ven­trus Bio­sciences, Cel­gene, Fi­bro­Gen, Am­gen and oth­ers on his re­sume. New VP of op­er­a­tions Patrick Dougher­ty was the chief of staff to the SVP of R&D at Glax­o­SmithK­line. Wind­MIL closed a $32.5 mil­lion round ear­li­er this year for its work on mem­o­ry T cells re­sid­ing in the bone mar­row and a “sig­nif­i­cant ex­pan­sion” of its team.

→ The first snap­shot of ef­fi­ca­cy for Avro­bio’s lead gene ther­a­py to treat Fab­ry dis­ease might have spooked in­vestors, but the Cam­bridge, MA-based biotech $AVRO is keen to re­gain their con­fi­dence with four new hires. Bir­gitte Vol­ck, a rare dis­ease ex­pert for­mer­ly of So­bi and GSK, has been tapped as pres­i­dent of R&D; Erik Os­trows­ki joins as CFO from the same role at Sum­mit Ther­a­peu­tics; for­mer FDA staffer Josie Yang is the new head of reg­u­la­to­ry af­fairs; while Bio­gen vet Steven Avruch be­comes gen­er­al coun­sel.

→ Parisian biotech Bio­phytis has pro­mot­ed Jean-Christophe Mon­tigny to COO, from his pre­vi­ous role of su­per­vis­ing all things fi­nan­cial and le­gal for the com­pa­ny. Mean­while, Bio­phytis has al­so named Daniel Schnei­der­man as CFO. Schnei­der­man, who served most re­cent­ly as VP of fi­nance and con­troller at Boston-based pre­ci­sion med­i­cine com­pa­ny Meta­S­tat, will be based at the com­pa­ny’s Cam­bridge of­fice in the Unit­ed States as Bio­phytis ex­pands its op­er­a­tions in the re­gion. “We plan to con­tin­ue build­ing…in­fra­struc­ture in Boston with ad­di­tion­al key hires in 2018 and 2019, as we ex­e­cute the clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment of SAR­CO­NEOS through our…clin­i­cal phase 2b tri­al for the treat­ment of sar­cope­nia in both the Unit­ed States and Eu­rope, as well as progress SAR­CO­NEOS…in Duchenne mus­cu­lar dy­s­tro­phy (DMD) and MA­CU­NEOS…in dry age-re­lat­ed mac­u­lar de­gen­er­a­tion (AMD), CEO Stanis­las Veil­let said. 

Ed Kaye has re­cruit­ed two for­mer Sarep­ta col­league to his team as he moves Stoke Ther­a­peu­tics in­to a larg­er R&D space in Bed­ford, MA. Shamim Ruff, pre­vi­ous­ly Sarep­ta’s chief reg­u­la­to­ry af­fairs of­fi­cer and SVP, head of qual­i­ty, will have the ti­tle SVP of reg­u­la­to­ry af­fairs and qual­i­ty. Nan­cy Wyant comes on board as VP, head of clin­i­cal op­er­a­tions af­ter con­sult­ing with Stoke for the past few months fol­low­ing stints at Idera and BeiGene.

→ Ahead of a Phase III read­out of its NSCLC treat­ment, OSE Im­munother­a­peu­tics has ap­point­ed for­mer Sanofi $SNY ex­ec­u­tive Julien Per­ri­er as chief com­mer­cial of­fi­cer. Per­ri­er most re­cent­ly served as the head of Ab­b­Vie’s $AB­BV im­munol­o­gy di­vi­sion in France, where he was in charge of the com­mer­cial op­er­a­tions for Hu­mi­ra, as well as prep­ping the launch of two oth­er im­munol­o­gy prod­ucts. “Julien’s ex­pe­ri­ence in im­munol­o­gy and bi­o­log­ics will al­so prove es­sen­tial as we plan next steps for FR104, a Phase 2-ready, first-in-class CD28 an­tag­o­nist with ex­cit­ing po­ten­tial to treat au­toim­mune dis­ease,” OSE chief Alex­is Pey­roles said.

Boehringer In­gel­heim’s Hen­ning Ger­schews­ki is head­ing over to an­oth­er Ger­man firm where he will serve as as vice pres­i­dent of man­u­fac­tur­ing, sci­ence and tech­nol­o­gy. The com­pa­ny, Rentschler Bio­phar­ma SE, fo­cus­es on con­tract de­vel­op­ment and man­u­fac­tur­ing for bio­phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­nies.  


With con­tri­bu­tion by Na­tal­ie Grover.

2023 Spot­light on the Fu­ture of Drug De­vel­op­ment for Small and Mid-Sized Biotechs

In the context of today’s global economic environment, there is an increasing need to work smarter, faster and leaner across all facets of the life sciences industry.  This is particularly true for small and mid-sized biotech companies, many of which are facing declining valuations and competing for increasingly limited funding to propel their science forward.  It is important to recognize that within this framework, many of these smaller companies already find themselves resource-challenged to design and manage clinical studies themselves because they don’t have large teams or in-house experts in navigating the various aspects of the drug development journey. This can be particularly challenging for the most complex and difficult to treat diseases where no previous pathway exists and patients are urgently awaiting breakthroughs.

Dipal Doshi, Entrada Therapeutics CEO

Ver­tex just found the next big ‘trans­for­ma­tive’ thing for the pipeline — at a biotech just down the street

Back in the summer of 2019, when I was covering Vertex’s executive chairman Jeff Leiden’s plans for the pipeline, I picked up on a distinct focus on myotonic dystrophy Type I, or DM1 — one of what Leiden called “two diseases (with DMD) we’re interested in and we continue to look for those assets.”

Today, Leiden’s successor at the helm of Vertex, CEO Reshma Kewalramani, is plunking down $250 million in cash to go the extra mile on DM1. The lion’s share of that is for the upfront, with a small reserve for equity in a deal that lines Vertex up with a neighbor in Seaport that has been rather quietly going at both of Vertex’s early disease targets with preclinical assets.

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WIB22: Am­ber Salz­man had few op­tions when her son was di­ag­nosed with a rare ge­net­ic dis­ease. So she cre­at­ed a bet­ter one

This profile is part of Endpoints News’ 2022 special report about Women in Biopharma R&D. You can read the full report here.

Amber Salzman’s life changed on a cold, damp day in Paris over tiny plastic cups of lukewarm tea.

She was meeting with Patrick Aubourg, a French neurologist studying adrenoleukodystrophy, or ALD, a rare genetic condition that causes rapid neurological decline in young boys. It’s a sinister disease that often leads to disability or death within just a few years. Salzman’s nephew was diagnosed at just 6 or 7 years old, and died at the age of 12.

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Ahead of ad­comm, FDA rais­es un­cer­tain­ties on ben­e­fit-risk pro­file of Cy­to­ki­net­ic­s' po­ten­tial heart drug

The FDA’s Cardiovascular and Renal Drugs Advisory Committee will meet next Tuesday to discuss whether Cytokinetics’ potential heart drug can safely reduce the risk of cardiovascular death and heart failure in patients with symptomatic chronic heart failure with reduced ejection fraction.

The drug, known as omecamtiv mecarbil and in development for more than 15 years, has seen mixed results, with a first Phase III readout from November 2020 hitting the primary endpoint of reducing the odds of hospitalization or other urgent care for heart failure by 8%. But it also missed a key secondary endpoint analysts had pegged as key to breaking into the market.

Ab­b­Vie slapped with age dis­crim­i­na­tion law­suit, fol­low­ing oth­er phar­mas

Add AbbVie to the list of pharma companies currently facing age discrimination allegations.

Pennsylvania resident Thomas Hesch filed suit against AbbVie on Wednesday, accusing the company of passing him over for promotions in favor of younger candidates.

Despite 30 years of pharma experience, “Hesch has consistently seen younger, less qualified employees promoted over him,” the complaint states.

Rami Elghandour, Arcellx CEO

Up­dat­ed: Gilead, Ar­cel­lx team up on an­ti-BC­MA CAR-T as biotech touts a 100% re­sponse rate at #ASH22

Gilead and Kite are plunking down big cash to get into the anti-BCMA CAR-T game.

The pair will shell out $225 million in cash upfront and $100 million in equity to Arcellx, Kite announced Friday morning, to develop the biotech’s lead CAR-T program together. Kite will handle commercialization and co-development with Arcellx, and profits in the US will be split 50-50.

Concurrent with the deal, Arcellx revealed its latest cut of data for the program known as CART-ddBCMA, ahead of a full presentation at this weekend’s ASH conference — a 100% response rate among patients getting the therapy. Investors jumped at the dual announcements, sending Arcellx shares $ACLX up more than 25% in Friday’s morning session.

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WIB22: Lead­ing NK cell re­searcher re­flects on roots in Iran, the UK and Texas

This profile is part of Endpoints News’ 2022 special report about Women in Biopharma R&D. You can read the full report here.

In a small but widely-cited 11-person study published in NEJM in 2020, seven patients saw signs of their cancer completely go away after getting a new therapy made from natural killer cells. The study was one of the earliest to provide clinical proof that the experimental treatment method had promise.

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WIB22: Chas­ing af­ter ever-evolv­ing sci­ence takes a drug hunter across the pond

This profile is part of Endpoints News’ 2022 special report about Women in Biopharma R&D. You can read the full report here.

Like many scientists, Fiona Marshall would tell you that she loved the natural world growing up — going to look at crabs running around the beach near her childhood home, pondering about the tides. But one thing about biology, in particular, stood out: It was constantly changing, and changing very quickly.

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Bio­gen vet jumps to CSO at Third Rock Treg biotech; Karuna CEO is step­ping down, but this is­n't good­bye

Just a few days into her new job, Ellen Cahir-McFarland’s office is being emptied.

Cahir-McFarland, formerly head of research at Annexon, is the new chief scientific officer of Abata Therapeutics, a preclinical biotech that’s developing regulatory T cell, or Treg, therapies for multiple sclerosis. On Monday, Abata will be moving from its current shared space to its new office in Watertown, MA — hence the emptying, Cahir-McFarland tells Endpoints News from a now bare, white-walled office room.

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