Cyn­thia Collins ex­its Hu­man Longevi­ty; Sec­tion 32 wel­comes Michael Pelli­ni; Sil­ver­back beefs up its C-suite

Michael Pelli­ni

Michael Pelli­ni has just jumped in­to a se­nior role at one of the most in­trigu­ing new ven­ture funds in the bio­phar­ma/health­care world. The for­mer CEO — and cur­rent chair­man — at Foun­da­tion Med­i­cine {$FMI}, which just won ap­proval for a new di­ag­nos­tic tool for sol­id tu­mors, has joined Bill Maris as a man­ag­ing part­ner at Sec­tion 32. In a mes­sage to End­points News, Pelli­ni said he is “[r]eal­ly ex­cit­ed to team up with Bill Maris and Jenn Kercher (ex-GV).” Maris him­self played a promi­nent role at GV, the cel­e­brat­ed glob­al ven­ture which has as­sert­ed it­self in the start­up biotech world, but the ad­di­tion of Pelli­ni will like­ly bring the fund even clos­er to bio­phar­mas. Here’s Pelli­ni again: “Broad man­date but I’ll pri­mar­i­ly be fo­cused on op­por­tu­ni­ties at in­ter­sec­tion of health care and tech­nol­o­gy which can have a sig­nif­i­cant im­pact on pa­tient care and/or drug de­vel­op­ment.”

→ Af­ter less than a year in the role, Cyn­thia Collins is out at Hu­man Longevi­ty. J. Craig Ven­ter’s high-fly­ing an­ti-ag­ing start­up re­cruit­ed the for­mer GE ex­ec­u­tive last Jan­u­ary, when founder Ven­ter hand­ed the CEO reins over for the first time. Ven­ter on­ly loos­ened his grip on the wheel, con­tin­u­ing lead­er­ship as ex­ec­u­tive chair­man and stay­ing on board in a dai­ly role lead­ing the com­pa­ny’s sci­en­tif­ic strat­e­gy and di­rec­tion. Collins was for­mer­ly CEO of GE Health­care, and when she came to HLI she brought a slew of top ex­ec­u­tives with her. Now, Ven­ter is tak­ing back over as CEO. The com­pa­ny gave no rea­son for the abrupt lead­er­ship change. Last year, HLI al­so lost its chief da­ta sci­en­tist Franz Och (the chief ar­chi­tect of Google Trans­late), who left the role to join Grail.

→ A stealthy Sil­ver­back Ther­a­peu­tics has been build­ing up its C-suite with top tal­ent from a pair of high pro­file biotechs in the Seat­tle area. The lat­est re­cruit is Seat­tle Ge­net­ics {$SGEN} COO Er­ic Dob­meier, who will take the helm at Sil­ver­back. He will lead Mike Sun, al­so from Seat­tle Ge­net­ics, and Juno’s Sam Black­man, in work­ing on the biotech’s mys­te­ri­ous pipeline — which will like­ly fea­ture im­munother­a­py, giv­en the lead­er­ship’s back­ground. Dob­meier’s de­par­ture marks a big change for Seat­tle Ge­net­ics, where he had worked for the past 16 years with CEO Clay Sie­gall, who’s had to wres­tle with his share of set­backs over the past year.

Stéphane De­pil

→ French CAR-T de­vel­op­er Cel­lec­tis has re­cruit­ed Stéphane De­pil, the for­mer R&D chief of Servi­er, to lead the com­pa­ny’s clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment. De­pil will serve as se­nior vice pres­i­dent of R&D and chief med­ical of­fi­cer. The new ap­point­ment brings De­pil back to the in­dus­try af­ter a break while he di­rect­ed the can­cer im­munother­a­py pro­gram at the Léon Bérard Can­cer Cen­ter in Ly­on, France. But back when he was at Servi­er, he over­saw 20 can­cer pro­grams, sev­er­al of which were in clin­i­cal tri­als. Cel­lec­tis hopes to ben­e­fit from De­pil’s track record in the field to move its CAR-T as­sets in­to the clin­ic af­ter a rough start in­volv­ing a pa­tient death. “Stéphane De­pil’s deep med­ical, aca­d­e­m­ic, and clin­i­cal reg­u­la­to­ry on­col­o­gy ex­pe­ri­ence – specif­i­cal­ly in R&D for all phas­es with­in the phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal, biotech­nol­o­gy, and clin­i­cal re­search spaces – will be in­valu­able as he leads Cel­lec­tis’ strat­e­gy and pro­motes aware­ness of the break­through work that we are do­ing as a leader and in­no­va­tor in the gene-edit­ing field,” said An­dré Chouli­ka, Cel­lec­tis’ CEO, in a state­ment. Mean­while, for­mer Boston Con­sult­ing Group part­ner and man­ag­ing di­rec­tor El­sy Bogli­oli has been ap­point­ed as EVP, strat­e­gy and cor­po­rate de­vel­op­ment.

Christo­pher Twit­ty just got a pro­mo­tion at On­coSec, mov­ing up to the chief sci­en­tif­ic of­fi­cer role just a year af­ter join­ing the biotech as ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of clin­i­cal sci­ence. The po­si­tion has been va­cant since Robert Pierce switched to be­ing chief sci­en­tif­ic strate­gist, there­by open­ing him­self up to an­oth­er job at Fred Hutchin­son Can­cer Re­search Cen­ter. The biotech {$ONCS}  has just in­stalled a new CEO to ad­vance its check­point drug com­pan­ion, and the hir­ing of Twit­ty re­in­forced that di­rec­tion. With his pre­clin­i­cal and clin­i­cal im­muno­log­i­cal back­ground at Toca­gen, Twit­ty will al­so lead On­coSec’s clin­i­cal im­mune mon­i­tor­ing and bio­mark­er pro­gram.

→ DNA sam­ple prep com­pa­ny Puri­gen Biosys­tems has tapped NanoS­tring vet Bar­ney Saun­ders as CEO. Hav­ing been in the role for five years, founder Klint Rose will now fo­cus on be­ing CSO and board di­rec­tor. Saun­ders fits right in­to Puri­gen’s pro­file as he brings three decades of com­mer­cial ex­pe­ri­ence at life sci­ence com­pa­nies that of­fer di­ag­nos­tic, man­u­fac­tur­ing and prepa­ra­tion ser­vices. What Puri­gen of­fers is a plat­form for ex­tract­ing, pu­ri­fy­ing and con­cen­trat­ing DNA and RNA from bi­o­log­i­cal sam­ples us­ing an elec­tric-field-dri­ven tech­nique called iso­ta­chophore­sis — a tech­nol­o­gy that came out of Juan San­ti­a­go’s re­search at Stan­ford Uni­ver­si­ty.

Out­post Med­i­cine has lured Pfiz­er vet Ian Mills to join as chief med­ical of­fi­cer, over­see­ing glob­al clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment and reg­u­la­to­ry op­er­a­tions for the start­up fo­cus­ing on uro­log­ic and gas­troin­testi­nal dis­or­ders. Mills, who is mov­ing on from a brief clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment stint at Mit­subishi Tan­abe Phar­ma Eu­rope, had spent 15 years work­ing a string of re­search jobs at Pfiz­er. Dur­ing that time, he spear­head­ed the sub­mis­sions for mar­ket­ing ap­proval of five prod­ucts, two of which were for urol­o­gy in­di­ca­tions. Hav­ing led more than 20 urol­o­gy projects span­ning Phas­es I to IV, he is ex­pect­ed to be piv­otal in ad­vanc­ing Out­post’s lead prod­uct can­di­date, OP-687, which treats over­ac­tive blad­der and ir­ri­ta­ble bow­el syn­drome. Launched in 2016 with of­fices in Lon­don and In­di­anapo­lis, Out­post is a port­fo­lio com­pa­ny of Fra­zier Health­care Part­ners.

Karen Turn­er

Karen Turn­er start­ed at Clin­i­pace this week as the new CFO — sig­nal­ing a new era for the clin­i­cal re­search or­ga­ni­za­tion af­ter founder Jeff Williams passed the CEO torch to Ja­son Mon­teleone in Oc­to­ber. Be­tween INC Re­search and Fair­Point Com­mu­ni­ca­tions, Turn­er has had a taste of both the CRO in­dus­try and the fi­nan­cial side. Her re­spon­si­bil­i­ty will be to over­see the com­pa­ny’s fi­nan­cial re­port­ing in­clud­ing ac­count­ing, tax, trea­sury and in­vestor re­la­tions.

Feng Zhang of Ca­lyxt (not be to con­fused with the Broad in­ves­ti­ga­tor cred­it­ed for CRISPR-Cas9) is leav­ing the biotech $CLXT af­ter a five-year stint as COO. A brief SEC fil­ing not­ed that Zhang plans to pur­sue a ca­reer in aca­d­e­mics, and CSO Dan Voy­tas will man­age sci­en­tif­ic op­er­a­tions.

Michelle Keefe has been ap­point­ed Pres­i­dent, com­mer­cial so­lu­tions at INC Re­search/in­Ven­tiv Health $IN­CR, com­ing to the con­tract re­search and com­mer­cial­iza­tion or­ga­ni­za­tion by way of health­care com­mu­ni­ca­tions firm Pub­li­cis Health, non-for-prof­it home­care provider The Vis­it­ing Nurse Ser­vice of New York, and Pfiz­er. Her pre­de­ces­sor Michael Bell will con­tin­ue as chair­man of the board of di­rec­tors. “As the com­mer­cial­iza­tion mod­el con­tin­ues to evolve, there’s sig­nif­i­cant op­por­tu­ni­ty to lever­age our in­dus­try-lead­ing port­fo­lio to serve both large phar­ma and the un­tapped small- and mid-sized mar­ket,” said Keefe in a state­ment. “Cus­tomers now re­quire flex­i­ble, tar­get­ed pro­grams that com­ple­ment tra­di­tion­al out­sourced sales rep­re­sen­ta­tives with med­ical sci­ence li­aisons (MSLs), re­im­burse­ment spe­cial­ists and so­phis­ti­cat­ed mar­ket ac­cess and mul­ti-chan­nel ca­pa­bil­i­ties. INC Re­search/in­Ven­tiv Health has the peo­ple, per­spec­tives and pro­grams to de­liv­er these new so­lu­tions.”

→ Look­ing to pro­mote and as­sess its non-opi­oid post-sur­gi­cal pain drug, Paci­ra Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals has named Scott Braun­stein and Richard Scran­ton as COO and CSO, re­spec­tive­ly. Both were pro­mot­ed in­ter­nal­ly in the Par­sip­pa­ny, NJ-based com­pa­ny $PCRX, and made con­tri­bu­tions to Ex­par­el: Braun­stein helped steer a col­lab­o­ra­tion with J&J, while Scran­ton led sci­en­tif­ic com­mu­ni­ca­tions, mar­ket ac­cess and health out­comes an­a­lyt­ics.’

As Nas­daq en­rolls the fi­nal batch of 2019 IPOs, how have the num­bers com­pared to past years?

IGM Biosciences’ upsized IPO haul, coming after SpringWorks’ sizable public debut, has revved up some momentum for the last rush of biotech IPOs in 2019.

With 39 new listings on the books and roughly two more months to go before winding down, Nasdaq’s head of healthcare listings Jordan Saxe sees the exchange marking 50 to 60 biopharma IPOs for the year.

“December 15 is usually the last possible day that companies will price,” he said, as companies get ready for business talks at the annual JP Morgan Healthcare Conference in January.

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A fa­vorite in Alex­ion’s C-suite is leav­ing, and some mighty sur­prised an­a­lysts aren’t the least bit hap­py about it

Analysts hate to lose a biotech CFO they’ve come to trust and admire — especially if they’re being blindsided by a surprise exit.

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David Grainger [file photo]

'Dis­con­nect the bas­tard­s' — one biotech's plan to break can­cer cell­s' uni­fied de­fens­es

Chemotherapy and radiotherapy are the current gladiators of cancer treatment, but they come with well-known limitations and side-effects. The emergence of immunotherapy — a ferocious new titan in oncologist’s toolbox — takes the brakes off the immune system to kill cancer cells with remarkable success in some cases, but the approach is not always effective. What makes certain forms of cancer so resilient? Scientists may have finally pieced together a tantalizing piece of the puzzle, and a new biotech is banking on a new approach to fill the gap.

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While No­var­tis ban­ish­es Zol­gens­ma scan­dal scars — Bio­gen goes on a Spin­raza 'of­fen­sive'

While Novartis painstakingly works to mop up the stench of the data manipulation scandal associated with its expensive gene therapy for spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) Zolgensma— rival Biogen is attempting to expand the use of its SMA therapy, Spinraza. 

The US drugmaker $BIIB secured US approval for Spinraza for use in the often fatal genetic disease in 2016. The approval covered a broad range of patients with infantile-onset (most likely to develop Type 1) SMA. 

Jason Kelly. Mike Blake/Reuters via Adobe

Eye­ing big ther­a­peu­tic push, Gink­go bags $290M to build a cell pro­gram­ming em­pire

Ginkgo Bioworks is on a roll. Days after publicizing a plan to nurture new startups via partnerships with accelerators Y Combinator and Petri, the Boston biotech says it has raised another $290 million for its cell programming platform to reach further and wider.

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UP­DAT­ED: Speak­er Nan­cy Pelosi to un­veil bill for fed­er­al­ly ne­go­ti­at­ed drug prices

After months of buzz from both sides of the aisle, Speaker Nancy Pelosi will today introduce her plan to allow the federal government to negotiate prices for 250 prescription drugs, setting up a showdown with a pharmaceutical industry working overtime to prevent it.

The need to limit drug prices is a rare point of agreement between President Trump and Democrats, although the president has yet to comment on the proposal and will likely face pressure to back a more conservative option or no bill at all. Republican Senator Chuck Grassley is reportedly lobbying his fellow party members on a more modest proposal he negotiated with Democratic Senator Ron Wyden in July.

Jeff Kindler's Cen­trex­ion re­news bid to make pub­lic de­but

Jeffrey Kindler’s plan to take his biotech — which is developing a slate of non-opioid painkillers — public, is back on.

The Boston based company, led by former Pfizer $PFE chief Kindler, originally contemplated a $70 million to $80 million IPO last year— but eventually postponed that strategy. On Wednesday, the company revived its bid to make a public debut in a filing with the SEC — although no pricing details were disclosed.

Zachary Hornby. Boundless

'A fourth rev­o­lu­tion in can­cer ther­a­pies': ARCH-backed Bound­less Bio flash­es big check, makes big­ger promis­es in de­but

It was the cellular equivalent of opening your car door and finding an active, roaring engine in the driver seat.

Scientists learned strands of DNA could occasionally appear outside of its traditional home in the nucleus in the 1970s, when they appeared as little, innocuous circles on microscopes; inexplicable but apparently innate. But not until UC San Diego’s Paul Mischel published his first study in Science in 2014 did researchers realize these circles were not only active but potentially overactive and driving some cancer tumors’ superhuman growth.

Scott Gottlieb, AP Images

Scott Got­tlieb is once again join­ing a team that en­joyed good times at the FDA un­der his high-en­er­gy stint at the helm

Right after jumping on Michael Milken’s FasterCures board on Monday, the newly departed FDA commissioner is back today with news about another life sciences board post that gives him a ringside chair to cheer on a lead player in the real-world evidence movement — one with very close ties to the FDA.

Aetion is reporting this morning that Gottlieb is joining their board, a group that includes Mohamad Makhzoumi, a general partner at New Enterprise Associates, where Gottlieb returned after stepping out of his role at the FDA 2 years after he started.

Gottlieb — one of the best connected execs in biopharma — knows this company well. As head of FDA he championed the use of real-world evidence to help guide drug developers and the agency in gaining greater efficiencies, which helped set up Aetion as a high-profile player in the game.

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