Peer Review

Editas CMO to exit as CRISPR tech gears up; Roche diagnostics division CEO Roland Diggelmann is out

Roland Diggelmann is stepping down as CEO of Roche’s diagnostics division to “pursue his career outside of the company.” The Swiss drugmaker $RHHBY, which parted ways with R&D chief John Reed in recent months, has appointed Michael Heuer — the region head of Europe, Middle East, Africa, and Latin America — to fill the role ad interim. This year marks the 10th year of Diggelman’s career at Roche Diagnostics, where he previously led the Asia Pacific region.

Bristol-Myers Squibb $BMY found a replacement for Murdo Gordon, the ex-commercial chief who recently jumped ship to take the same reins at Amgen. And CEO Giovanni Caforio didn’t have to go far to find him. Christopher Boerner, a seasoned vet who’s been in charge of international sales at Bristol-Myers, is getting the big promotion to commercial chief and executive vice president. Boerner — who’s worked at Seattle Genetics, Dendreon and Genentech in the past — will likely be given the chance of pushing Bristol’s new PD-1 approach on tumor mutation burden into the market, where it will likely face a considerable amount of confusion and kickback over the tests that would be required to identify patients. But to his advantage, he knows the portfolio better than most.

→ In the lat­est move in a reshuf­fle of se­nior execs among the biggest play­ers in bio­pharma, Gilead has tapped long­time Amgen vet Laura Hamill to head its com­mer­cial team. Hamill fills a po­si­tion va­cated by the re­tire­ment of James Mey­ers, whose ca­reer tra­jec­tory was quite sim­i­lar to hers: He joined Gilead in 1996 as a re­gional sales di­rec­tor, climb­ing all the way up to EVP, com­mer­cial op­er­a­tions. Hamill had been with Amgen since 2002, most re­cently serv­ing as SVP, US busi­ness op­er­a­tions. Her new role gives her broad au­thor­ity over Gilead’s mar­ket­ing strat­egy and prod­uct launches around the world. Hamill joins Gilead at a time the big biotech is undergoing a major soul searching amidst a C-suite exodus.

Editas Medicine is searching for a new exec to steer the first clinical tests of its CRISPR gene editing tech as CMO Gerald Cox plans to depart the company at the end of the year. Cox, a 16-year Sanofi Genzyme vet who joined Editas in 2016, did not give a reason for his resignation except that it “felt like a natural transition point.” Cox will continue to lead the efforts in submitting Editas’ first IND, which is expected in 2018.

→ Last we heard from Arcturus Therapeutics, CEO Joseph Payne was celebrating his victory against the board of directors that ousted him. Now, he’s ready to build up his own team in the aftermath of the battle royale, putting Andrew Sassine — one of the new board members he brought on to replace his old foes — in the CFO seat temporarily while he searches for a permanent hire. Formerly of Fidelity Investments, Sassine has spent the past few ears on the boards of several life science companies.

→ As the PDUFA date for Verastem Oncology’s PI3K drug approaches, it has recruited Robert Gagnon to handle its finances as CFO. A former chief accounting officer at Biogen, Gagnon has since worked in two CFO roles at an industrial services company and a life science research tools provider. It will only be weeks before we know whether duvelisib, an AbbVie castoff with a nomadic past, will finally get an OK at the FDA despite mixed results.

→ Toronto-based topical cream developer Delivra has promoted Pascal Attard to CFO after two years as VP of finance.

Longeveron, a Miami-based company developing stem cell therapies for age-related diseases, has named Arin Maercks chief commercial officer. With their lead product for aging frailty in Phase II, execs believe Maercks’ experience guiding growth in a slate of industries — from medical device to point of care technology — will come into play. Other programs in the pipeline include an Alzheimer’s treatment.

→ The hiring spree at Allogene Therapeutics is continuing with the appointment of David Tillet as SVP, head of quality. Tillet shares the same Amgen roots with Allogene’s new chief technical officer, Allison Moore, though he’s been working as a consultant in the past few years — Allogene being one of his clients. “I look forward to building and overseeing the quality function and being a part of this exciting time at Allogene,” he said in a statement, as the upstart looks to claim the frontrunner position in CAR-T with a pipeline of cell therapies from Pfizer.

→ Looking to up its IT game, Eisai has tapped Stephen Davies to oversee its global technology infrastructure and app development as well as the IT function for its Americas region. Jumping from a research director role at advisory firm Gartner’s life science division, Davies’ official title will be VP, Eisai strategy information systems.

Chi-Chang Wung is the new director of analytical development at UPM Pharmaceuticals. Prior to the contract development and manufacturing organization, he’s worked at Alkermes and Siga Technologies.

→ After a stint at generics maker Lupin Pharma, Merck vet Jeffery Palmer has landed at Tris Pharma. As VP of quality and compliance, he will build up a quality team as the company looks to pivot to commercialization with a pair of cold meds.

→ Canada’s Tetra Bio-Pharma has hired Steeve Neron to strategize marketing for its cannabinoid-based drug candidates. The new VP jumps from Bausch Health Canada — better known by its former identity as Valeant.

→ Noted CAR-T investigator Michel Sadelain is lending his cell therapy expertise to the platform builders at Berkeley Lights, where he’s the latest member of its strategic scientific advisory board.


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