CSO Bill Lund­berg tran­si­tions to ad­vi­sor role at CRISPR Ther­a­peu­tics; Prothena los­es CMO Sarah Noon­berg; Sanofi vet Mark Nut­tall jumps to Kymera

Bill Lund­berg

→ Wrap­ping a three-year run marked by the first clin­i­cal tri­al ap­pli­ca­tions for CRISPR-based ther­a­pies, Bill Lund­berg is step­ping down as CSO of CRISPR Ther­a­peu­tics $CR­SP. He will stay with the com­pa­ny as the head of its sci­en­tif­ic ad­vi­so­ry board. This con­tin­ues a pe­ri­od of tran­si­tion af­ter Sam Kulka­rni took over from found­ing CEO Rodger No­vak in Oc­to­ber. Much of the sci­en­tif­ic lead­er­ship now falls up­on Tony Ho, head of R&D.

Su­jay Kan­go, the guy who led the launch of Kypro­lis while at Oynx Phar­ma, will help plan com­mer­cial op­er­a­tions for lus­pa­ter­cept as CCO at Ac­celeron Phar­ma $XL­RN. Cur­rent­ly in PhI­II de­vel­op­ment, lus­pa­ter­cept is a Cel­gene-part­nered ane­mia ther­a­py for dis­eases like myelodys­plas­tic syn­dromes and be­ta-tha­lassemia. Kan­go, who’s amassed some ex­pe­ri­ence at both Ab­b­Vie and In­fin­i­ty, will be “in­stru­men­tal” as Ac­celeron dri­ves the drug to mar­ket.

Abl­ynx $ABLX is switch­ing up its board of di­rec­tors again. Af­ter a mere month in the chair­man‘s seat — a month that saw the Bel­gian biotech get ac­quired by Sanofi no less — Bo Jes­per Hansen has re­signed from the board al­to­geth­er for per­son­al rea­sons. His suc­ces­sor is Rus­sell Greig, a for­mer GSK ex­ec who’s kept him­self busy with a num­ber of board ap­point­ments.

Sarah Noon­berg

→ Af­ter a brief stint at Prothena $PR­TA, Medi­va­tion vet and CMO Sarah Noon­berg has re­signed from the pro­tein im­munother­a­py biotech. Noon­berg’s de­par­ture deals an­oth­er blow to the rare dis­ease play­er, which has al­ready suf­fered a short at­tack from Ker­ris­dale Cap­i­tal’s Sahm Ad­ran­gi as the PhI­II da­ta on its AL amy­loi­do­sis drug looms. The Dublin biotech, which has US of­fices in South San Fran­cis­co, will count on for­mer CMO Mar­tin Koller’s con­sul­ta­tion while it search­es for Noon­berg’s re­place­ment.

→ A top R&D ex­ec on Genen­tech’s Tecen­triq crew has jumped ship to join Hous­ton-based Bel­licum as its chief med­ical of­fi­cer. William Gross­man had led “the glob­al clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment of Tecen­triq in gas­troin­testi­nal can­cers and of can­cer im­munother­a­py com­bi­na­tions across all sol­id tu­mor types.” He joins Bel­licum on the heels of a clin­i­cal hold for the com­pa­ny’s lead­ing cell ther­a­py.

Selvi­ta, a Pol­ish drug dis­cov­ery com­pa­ny look­ing to build a clin­i­cal port­fo­lio, has re­cruit­ed Mer­ck KGaA vet Stef­fen Heeger to stew­ard that ef­fort. As CMO, Heeger will take charge of all clin­i­cal, med­ical and reg­u­la­to­ry af­fairs, with a spe­cial eye on SEL24, a dual PIM/FLT3 ki­nase in­hibitor cur­rent­ly in Phase I/II stud­ies for acute myeloid leukemia. Selvi­ta has been feed­ing drug can­di­dates emerg­ing from their dis­cov­ery plat­forms in­to its pipeline, bring­ing in part­ners such as Italy’s Menar­i­ni Group and the US’ Leukemia and Lym­phoma So­ci­ety along the way. The hir­ing of Heeger, who spent the past four years head­ing clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment at Mor­phosys, fits right in­to that de­vel­op­ment strat­e­gy.

Mark Nut­tall

→ Af­ter two decades in Big Phar­ma, Mark Nut­tall is switch­ing gears to do busi­ness for a lit­tle biotech hunt­ing for ground­break­ing pro­tein degra­da­tion drugs. At­las-backed Kymera emerged from stealth mode just last Oc­to­ber, and Nut­tall — com­ing from the near­by of­fice of Sanofi Gen­zyme — is one of a dozen new staff that CEO Lau­rent Au­doly plans to hire this year. As chief busi­ness of­fi­cer, Nut­tall is tasked with ex­plor­ing new part­ner­ships and col­lab­o­ra­tions — some­thing he’s had plen­ty of ex­pe­ri­ence with while at Sanofi and J&J. In the spir­it of wel­com­ing, the Cam­bridge, MA-based com­pa­ny has al­so ap­point­ed Nim­bus CEO Don Nichol­son to its board of di­rec­tors.

→ As Liq­uidia Tech­nolo­gies ad­vances the first prod­uct can­di­date en­gi­neered from its own tech plat­form, it has tapped Kevin Gor­don to lead fi­nance op­er­a­tions and cor­po­rate de­vel­op­ment as pres­i­dent and CFO. Most re­cent­ly the COO and EVP of con­tract re­search gi­ant Quin­tiles, Gor­don helped ex­e­cute the Quin­tiles-IMS merg­er that gave life to IQVIA.

→ In an­oth­er ex­pres­sion of its dogged faith in Afrez­za, MannKind has en­list­ed di­a­betes ex­pert David Kendall’s help in achiev­ing the growth po­ten­tial that they be­lieve the in­haled in­sulin still has. Even though Sanofi pulled out of a mar­ket­ing part­ner­ship af­ter de­cid­ing the mar­ket isn’t there, Kendall — who joins from Eli Lil­ly — can still see the meal­time in­sulin be­com­ing the stan­dard of care for di­a­bet­ics.

Marc Beer has re­signed from the board chair­man role at Min­er­va Neu­ro­sciences $NERV, trig­ger­ing the el­e­va­tion of CEO Rémy Luthringer to ex­ec­u­tive chair­man­ship. Join­ing him at the board will be William Doyle, ex­ec­u­tive chair­man of Novo­cure, who’s been ap­point­ed as lead in­de­pen­dent di­rec­tor. The change­up hap­pens at a time the cen­tral ner­vous sys­tem spe­cial­ist is look to piv­ot to com­mer­cial stage with its lead drug, MIN-101, cur­rent­ly in PhI­II test­ing for schiz­o­phre­nia.

Ac­er Ther­a­peu­tics $AC­ER, the biotech look­ing to mar­ket a rare dis­ease drug that some fear would be the next Em­flaza, has an­nounced four ad­di­tions to the ex­ec­u­tive ranks. John Klopp is the VP of man­u­fac­tur­ing; Ter­rie Kellmey­er, VP of clin­i­cal sci­ence; Ja­son Knee­land, VP of fi­nance and con­troller; and Kim Thar­ald­sen, se­nior di­rec­tor of mar­ket­ing. Klopp is the star hire here, hav­ing worked on or­phan drug de­vel­op­ment at Bio­Marin and Ul­tragenyx for a decade. The ex­pan­sion of the man­age­ment team is part of a big­ger dri­ve to build a com­mer­cial op­er­a­tion in an­tic­i­pa­tion of the NDA fil­ing for Ed­si­vo (celipro­lol), a drug for vas­cu­lar Ehlers-Dan­los syn­drome bought cheap­ly out­side the US.

Pan­na Shar­ma has stepped down as CEO and pres­i­dent of Can­cer Ge­net­ics, the Ruther­ford, NJ-based out­sourc­ing group that spe­cial­izes in di­ag­nos­tic and test­ing ser­vices for per­son­al­ized on­col­o­gy treat­ment. COO Jay Roberts will take the helm in the in­ter­im.

Po­sei­da Ther­a­peu­tics, an up­start look­ing to catch up in the CAR-T field with a suite of gene en­gi­neer­ing tech­nolo­gies, has tapped Mar­tin Giedlin to lead tech­ni­cal op­er­a­tions as a vice pres­i­dent. A Sang­amo vet, Giedlin’s claim to fame is di­rect­ing the man­u­fac­tur­ing process in sup­port of Kym­ri­ah while he’s at No­var­tis. Po­sei­da’s most ad­vanced cell ther­a­py, for mul­ti­ple myelo­ma, is still in Phase I, but the San Diego biotech is hop­ing Giedlin’s ex­per­tise in process de­vel­op­ment will give them an edge in as­sem­bling its wide-rang­ing pipeline.

→ With the res­ig­na­tion of CFO Robert Dick­ey IV, co-founder and long­time board mem­ber Jonathan Gold is step­ping in as his tem­po­rary re­place­ment at Mo­tif Bio $MTFB. The UK an­tibi­ot­ic de­vel­op­er has gar­nered some at­ten­tion with its plans to re­sub­mit iclaprim, a drug that has been re­ject­ed by the FDA and changed hands a cou­ple times since.

→ Hav­ing qui­et­ly re­signed from Te­va, An­drew Boy­er is pop­ping up on the oth­er end at Am­neal Phar­ma, an­oth­er gener­ic mak­er about to merge with Im­pax Lab­o­ra­to­ries. Boy­er, who start­ed a decades-long ca­reer in gener­ics at Al­ler­gan, was the trou­bled Is­raeli gi­ant’s pres­i­dent and CEO of North Amer­i­ca. Now, he will lead com­mer­cial op­er­a­tions for the com­bined com­pa­ny as EVP.

→ Switzer­land’s Ad­dex Ther­a­peu­tics is wel­com­ing back Jean-Philippe Rocher to work on the com­pa­ny’s small mol­e­cule al­losteric mod­u­la­tor plat­form — which he helped build with Robert Lüt­jens — as the co-head of dis­cov­ery. “The team will ini­tial­ly fo­cus on de­liv­er­ing on our fund­ed re­search pro­grams which are be­ing con­duct­ed in col­lab­o­ra­tion with In­di­v­ior PLC and The Michael J. Fox Foun­da­tion for Parkin­son’s Re­search,” said Ad­dex CEO Tim Dy­er. The part­ner­ship with In­di­v­ior tar­gets ad­dic­tion treat­ments and car­ries up to $330 mil­lion in po­ten­tial mile­stones. Rocher, who was most re­cent­ly at Pierre Fab­re, will al­so over­see the pre­clin­i­cal port­fo­lio.

→ Af­ter a months-long hunt, Al­ler­gan $AGN has locked in Matthew Walsh as the suc­ces­sor of out­go­ing CFO Maria Tere­sa Hi­la­do, who an­nounced the de­sire to re­tire in Sep­tem­ber. Most re­cent­ly CFO at out­sourc­ing com­pa­ny Catal­ent, Walsh — al­so named EVP — is tasked with un­lock­ing growth po­ten­tial even as Al­ler­gan con­tends with the im­mi­nent gener­ic com­pe­ti­tion fac­ing its Resta­sis fran­chise. “Matt brings to Al­ler­gan a unique com­bi­na­tion of skills, in­clud­ing a tech­ni­cal back­ground, a deep un­der­stand­ing of the health­care in­dus­try, a rich ex­pe­ri­ence across fi­nan­cial dis­ci­plines, and the abil­i­ty to lead com­plex health care or­ga­ni­za­tions,” said CEO Brent Saun­ders in a state­ment. “I’m pleased to wel­come Matt to our team and look for­ward to part­ner­ing with him as we con­tin­ue to dri­ve strong fi­nan­cial per­for­mance and de­ploy our cap­i­tal to in­crease share­hold­er re­turn over the short- and long-term.”

→ Now that In­tel­lia Ther­a­peu­tics $INTL is sail­ing steadi­ly to­ward its first hu­man stud­ies with Ab­b­Vie vet John Leonard at the helm, Nes­san Berming­ham will of­fi­cial­ly re-join At­las Ven­ture as a ven­ture part­ner. Berming­ham had been CEO of the At­las-backed CRISPR/Cas-9 up­start (which he co-found­ed) for four years, lead­ing the com­pa­ny from seed in­vest­ment through an IPO to clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment. Back in his ven­ture cap­i­tal­ist shoes, he will be scout­ing for new biotechs for the At­las plat­form.

→ Pre­clin­i­cal ser­vice provider Sin­clair Re­search has brought in Alex Wake­field, a dual Eli Lil­ly and Co­v­ance vet, as its first VP of re­search and op­er­a­tions.

Kai­ji Hu is the lat­est re­search sci­en­tist to join cannabi­noid-de­rived med­ica­tion de­vel­op­er Medipure Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, with a spe­cif­ic man­date to spear­head pso­ri­a­sis and fat­ty liv­er dis­ease/NASH project.

Pablo Legorreta, founder and CEO of Royalty Pharma AG, speaks at the annual Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California (Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Cap­i­tal­iz­ing Pablo: The world’s biggest drug roy­al­ty buy­er is go­ing pub­lic. And the low-key CEO di­vulges a few se­crets along the way

Pablo Legorreta is one of the most influential players in biopharma you likely never heard of.

Over the last 24 years, Legorreta’s Royalty Pharma group has become, by its own reckoning, the biggest buyer of drug royalties in the world. The CEO and founder has bought up a stake in a lengthy list of the world’s biggest drug franchises, spending $18 billion in the process — $2.2 billion last year alone. And he’s become one of the best-paid execs in the industry, reaping $28 million from the cash flow last year while reserving 20% of the cash flow, less expenses, for himself.

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Paul Hudson, Sanofi CEO (Getty Images)

Sanofi CEO Paul Hud­son has $23B burn­ing a hole in his pock­et. And here are some hints on how he plans to spend that

Sanofi has reaped $11.1 billion after selling off a big chunk of its Regeneron stock at $515 a share. And now everyone on the M&A side of the business is focused on how CEO Paul Hudson plans to spend it.

After getting stung in France for some awkward politicking — suggesting the US was in the front of the line for Sanofi’s vaccines given American financial support for their work, versus little help from European powers — Hudson now has the much more popular task of managing a major cash cache to pull off something in the order of a big bolt-on. Or two.

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The Advance Clinical leadership team: CEO Yvonne Lungershausen, Sandrien Louwaars - Director Business Development Operations, Gabriel Kremmidiotis - Chief Scientific Officer, Ben Edwards - Chief Strategy Officer

How Aus­tralia De­liv­ers Rapid Start-up and 43.5% Re­bate for Ear­ly Phase On­col­o­gy Tri­als

About Avance Clinical

Avance Clinical is an Australian owned Contract Research Organisation that has been providing high-quality clinical research services to the local and international drug development industry for 20 years. They specialise in working with biotech companies to execute Phase 1 and Phase 2 clinical trials to deliver high-quality outcomes fit for global regulatory standards.

As oncology sponsors look internationally to speed-up trials after unprecedented COVID-19 suspensions and delays, Australia, which has led the world in minimizing the pandemic’s impact, stands out as an attractive destination for early phase trials. This in combination with the streamlined regulatory system and the financial benefits including a very favourable exchange rate and the R & D cash rebate makes Australia the perfect location for accelerating biotech clinical programs.

No­var­tis jumps in­to Covid-19 vac­cine hunt, as Big Phar­ma and big biotech com­mit to bil­lions of dos­es

After spending most of the pandemic on the sidelines, Novartis is offering its aid in the race to develop a Covid-19 vaccine.

AveXis, the Swiss pharma’s gene therapy subsidiary, has agreed to manufacture the vaccine being developed by Massachusetts Eye and Ear and Massachusetts General Hospital. The biotech will begin manufacturing this month, while the vaccine undergoes further preclinical testing. They’ve agreed to provide the vaccine for free for clinical trials beginning in the second half of 2020, but have not disclosed financials for after.

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Dan O'Day, Gilead CEO (Andrew Harnik, AP Images)

UP­DAT­ED: Gilead leas­es part­ner rights to TIG­IT, PD-1 in a $2B deal with Ar­cus. Now comes the hard part

Gilead CEO Dan O’Day has brokered his way to a PD-1 and lined up a front row seat in the TIGIT arena, inking a deal worth close to $2 billion to align the big biotech closely with Terry Rosen’s Arcus. And $375 million of that comes upfront, with cash for the buy-in plus equity, along with $400 million for R&D and $1.22 billion in reserve to cover opt-in payments and milestones..

Hotly rumored for weeks, the 2 players have formalized a 10-year alliance that starts with rights to the PD-1, zimberelimab. O’Day also has first dibs on TIGIT and 2 other leading programs, agreeing to an opt-in fee ranging from $200 million to $275 million on each. There’s $500 million in potential TIGIT milestones on US regulatory events — likely capped by an approval — if Gilead partners on it and the stars align on the data. And there’s another $150 million opt-in payments for the rest of the Arcus pipeline.

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Bryan Roberts, Venrock

Ven­rock sur­vey shows grow­ing recog­ni­tion of coro­n­avirus toll, wan­ing con­fi­dence in ar­rival of vac­cines and treat­ments

When Venrock partner Bryan Roberts went to check the results from their annual survey of healthcare leaders, what he found was an imprint of the pandemic’s slow arrival in America.

The venture firm had sent their form out to hundreds of insurance and health tech executives, investors, officials and academics on February 24 and gave them two weeks to fill it out. No Americans had died at that point but the coronavirus had become enough of a global crisis that they included two questions about the virus, including “Total U.S. deaths in 2020 from the novel coronavirus will be:”.

De­nali un­veils new way of cross­ing blood brain bar­ri­er as the big neu­ro­science bets en­ter its clin­i­cal years

Five years ago, as much of pharma began leaving neuroscience, three big-name scientists from Genentech and some A-list investors, including ARCH and Flagship, made a $217 million bet that new genetic insights and a reliance on biomarkers could bring them success. They called it Denali Therapeutics.

Still, Denali faced the problem that neuroscience developers have faced for decades: How do you get a large molecule across the blood-brain barrier, a natural defense evolved precisely to keep them out? Enzyme replacement therapy, for instance, would be a great candidate to treat several neurological disorders, but enzymes can’t cross the barrier.

Stymied by the pan­dem­ic, Im­munomedic­s' new CEO bows out, tak­ing a mil­lion bucks plus perks as he heads out the vir­tu­al ex­it

Just a little more than a month since taking over as the latest CEO to helm Immunomedics, $IMMU Harout Semerjian is exiting the company after being confronted by “logistical” obstacles thrown up by the pandemic that made it impossible for him to move from London to carry out the job. And he’s getting a little over a million dollars in cash plus perks to grease the skids on the way out.

Word of the changeup arrived right after the market closed Wednesday.

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Roger Perlmutter, Merck R&D chief (YouTube)

UP­DAT­ED: Backed by BAR­DA, Mer­ck jumps in­to Covid-19: buy­ing out a vac­cine, part­ner­ing on an­oth­er and adding an­tivi­ral to the mix

Merck execs are making a triple play in a sudden leap into the R&D campaign against Covid-19. And they have more BARDA cash backing them up on the move.

Tuesday morning the pharma giant simultaneously announced plans to buy an Austrian biotech that has been working on a preclinical vaccine candidate, added a collaboration on another vaccine with the nonprofit IAVI and inked a deal with Ridgeback Biotherapeutics on an early-stage antiviral.

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