Eli Lilly partner AbCellera finds a CBO in the face of bamlanivimab struggles; FibroGen's next CSO walks into roxadustat rebuff
→ Covid-19 variants have marred the effectiveness of Eli Lilly and AbCellera’s bamlanivimab to such an extent that the US government stopped using the monoclonal antibody in March, followed by a similar halt for the combo treatment with etesevimab late last month. AbCellera is nonetheless pressing onward with a new candidate for mild to moderate cases, LY-CoV1404, and this week Neil Berkley joined Carl Hansen’s squad as CBO. Berkley, a GlaxoSmithKline neuroscience veteran, makes the leap from Halozyme, starting out at the San Diego biotech as head of oncology global partnering, corporate development in 2019 and earning a promotion to VP, head of business development.
→ Skunked by an FDA adcomm’s emphatic roxadustat downvote yesterday, FibroGen picked an interesting week to break in another CSO with John Hunter getting the nod. His predecessor, Percy Carter, didn’t last a year before he scampered off to Blueprint Medicines in May to take that CSO job. Now it’s up to Hunter — the ex-chief scientist at Compugen — to dive in to this situation after a year as chief executive & scientific officer of Keyhole Therapeutics.
Unease about roxadustat’s safety prompted the Cardiovascular and Renal Drugs Advisory Committee to vote against the anemia drug by wide margins: 12-2 for patients on dialysis with anemia from chronic kidney disease, and 13-1 for non-dialysis patients.
→ RTW Investments-backed Ji Xing Pharmaceuticals has tapped Joseph Romanelli to steer the helm of the ship as CEO. Romanelli comes aboard with experience from his time at Merck, where he most recently served as president of MSD China — overseeing the country’s launches of Keytruda and Gardasil. In addition to his stint as president, Romanelli previously served as president of US human health and VP of investor relations.
→ Former Terns Pharmaceuticals CEO Weidong Zhong has turned up at Sciwind Biosciences USA — the US subsidiary of Hangzhou Sciwind Biosciences — as chief strategy officer and president. Prior to founding Terns, Zhong was CFO of Nightstar Therapeutics, which was later acquired by Biogen in a buyout that has turned into a major headache. Zhong was the global head of antiviral research at Novartis and the senior director of biology at Gilead. In August, Senthil Sundaram took over as CEO of Terns, while Zhong settled into the roles of CSO and chairman, but only fleetingly.
→ Tessera’s last big batch of execs rolled in this spring with ex-bluebird CMO David Davidson leading the pack. This batch is even bigger: CEO Geoff von Maltzahn has pulled together six more teammates while promoting another at the Flagship-backed gene writing biotech, headlined by president and CFO Howard Liang, who was CFO and chief strategy officer during his six-year run at BeiGene. Our Nicole DeFeudis spoke with him before Wednesday’s announcement.
Here are the other folks donning the Tessera jersey: Madhusudan Peshwa (CTO for cell therapy) had been CTO of Mana Therapeutics and was CTO and global head of R&D for GE Healthcare’s cell and gene therapies business; Bill Querbes (SVP, therapeutic discovery & translational sciences) is an Alnylam vet who comes to Tessera after his time as Avrobio’s VP and Fabry program lead; Cecilia Cotta-Ramusino (SVP, platform development) was employee no. 1 at insitro as head of functional genomics after her four years with Editas Medicine; Vikram Ranade tacks on SVP to his title after joining Tessera last year as head of corporate development; David Pollard (head of bioprocess) logged more than two decades at Merck and is the former executive director of process sciences at Kite; and finally, Steve Garbacz (head of finance) made stops at Biogen, Epizyme, and Spero before his most recent gig as VP, finance and corporate controller for Anika Therapeutics.
→ There’s no off button for the Audentes purge as Megan Baierlein sets up shop at T cell receptor (TCR) biotech T-knife Therapeutics as COO. Baierlein was likewise the COO at Audentes, now Astellas Gene Therapies and rattled by the deaths of two patients that could set back approval of its gene therapy at least until the middle of 2022. She’s made other stops along the way at Genentech, BioMarin, and Ultragenyx before this new gig at Versant-backed T-knife, which raked in a $78 million Series A round almost a year ago and named Thomas Soloway CEO in January.
Multiple Audentes staffers have since moved on to greener pastures in the last several months. With their new companies in parentheses, that list includes CMO Edward Conner (Locanabio), CCO Eric Mosbrooker (Cognoa), SVP of technical operations Donald Wuchterl (now Baierlein’s colleague at T-knife), and SVP of human resources Mary Newman (Taysha).
→ When last we saw Thomas Lars Andresen, he co-founded and was CSO of Torque Therapeutics, which Flagship then fused together with Cogen to form Repertoire Immune Medicines last year. Starting Aug. 1, Andersen becomes CEO and a board member at T-Cypher Bio, Oxford’s TCR biotech that broke free from Orbit Discovery in February. Andresen also founded medical device outfit Nanovi and MonTa Biosciences, both located in Denmark.
→ Elementary, my dear Peer Reviewers: Bryan Dechairo is succeeding co-founder Rahul Dhanda as president and CEO of Feng Zhang’s diagnostic upstart Sherlock Biosciences, which launched in 2019. A Pfizer vet in molecular medicine, Dechairo was previously Myriad Genetics’ SVP of clinical development, a position he had held since 2017. Dhanda remains a board member until the end of the year and then he will become a strategic advisor in 2022 for Sherlock, so named for its CRISPR-based technology platform (Specific High-sensitivity Enzymatic Reporter unLOCKing).
→ After launching early last month with a $12.8 million seed round led by Takeda Ventures and the Dementia Discovery Fund, Transine Therapeutics has plucked up Jan Thirkettle as CEO. Thirkettle is no stranger to the executive seat, having previously served as CEO and chief development officer at Freeline Therapeutics. Prior to his career at Freeline, Thirkettle spent 18 years at GSK, including roles spanning from discovery to manufacturing.
→ Starting July 1, Philip Kantoff took on the CEO role at Cambridge, MA-based radiopharmaceutical company Convergent Therapeutics — with its lead candidate CONV 01-α being developed to treat prostate cancer. Kantoff had been chairman of the Department of Medicine at Memorial Sloan Kettering since 2015, and was the longtime director of the Lank Center for Genitourinary Oncology at Dana-Farber.
→ Genomic diagnostics player Veracyte is becoming another Peer Review mainstay, with Rebecca Chambers stepping up to the plate as EVP and CFO just days after CBO Rob Brainin and chief information officer Bill Zondler were added to new CEO Marc Stapley’s team. Chambers just completed a run as CFO at Outset Medical and was VP, financial planning & analysis to close out nearly seven years at Illumina from 2012-19.
→ Jazzed about the obe-cel data it presented to the European Hematology Association for indolent B cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma, London-based Autolus has ushered in Edgar Braendle as chief development officer. The Novartis oncology vet just had a year-long stay as CMO and global head of development with Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma Oncology. Autolus named ex-Syncona chief Martin Murphy chairman in April after trimming 20% of its workforce to kick off 2021.
→ Kelly Gold has the Midas touch at Camp4 Therapeutics with her promotion to CBO and SVP of finance, while Michelle Gates steps in as SVP and chief people officer. Gold has served as Camp4’s director, corporate development & finance and VP, corporate development since punching her ticket out of Biogen in 2017. Gates had devoted her last 16 years to a series of human resources capacities at Akamai Technologies before this new position at CEO Josh Mandel-Brehm’s regRNA biotech.
One more Camp4 nugget: Mass General Brigham‘s chief academic officer Ravi Thadhani takes a seat on the board of directors.
→ Making its debut in May with Alexion co-founder Stephen Squinto as CEO and $40 million worth of fresh Series A funding at its disposal, Gennao Bio has locked in Chris Duke as COO. Duke used to be in charge of operations for Amicus’ Japanese affiliate and led the commercialization in Tokyo for its Fabry disease drug Galafold. He also has COO experience from Advaxis and was NPS Pharma’s executive director of international commercial operations. Additionally, ex-Arch Oncology interim CEO and ubiquitous Peer Review presence Julie Hambleton is now part of Gennao Bio’s board of directors.
→ Once known as Trovagene, San Diego-based Cardiff Oncology has bulked up its C-suite with CMO Katherine Ruffner and CFO James Levine. Ruffner has worked in oncology development with Pfizer, Biogen and Amgen, and she comes to the onvansertib biotech from ALX Oncology, where she was VP of clinical development. Since late 2018, Levine had been CFO with Cidara Therapeutics, helping strike a deal this spring with J&J in which the pharma giant staked up to $780 million on Cidara’s influenza drugs.
→ Before all the kids were doing it, Chardan chose the SPAC route with Chardan Healthcare Acquisition and reverse-merged with BiomX in 2019. Gbola Amusa was at the forefront of that effort, and this week Chardan promoted him to CSO. Amusa, who will still be listed as a partner, spent the last seven years as Chardan’s head of healthcare research.
→ Co-founded by Luigi Naldini last year, Milan gene therapy player Genespire has tapped Philippe Mauberna as CFO. Mauberna spent the last eight years as CFO of Nanobiotix, which just presented data at ASCO for its hafnium oxide nanoparticle drug NBTXR3, and he took on the same title previously at Astellas Pharma France. Mauberna’s association with Astellas goes back to his days as the company’s senior director, EMEA, market planning and commercial effectiveness in the UK.
→ Overhauling its focus from gene therapy to kidney disease and receiving a tepid response on Nasdaq, Vera Therapeutics (formerly Trucode Gene Repair) has turned to Sean Grant to be CFO. Grant, a one-time Citigroup exec in healthcare investment banking, swings over to Vera after a year as VP of corporate strategy and business development for CareDx.
→ Corcept Therapeutics has enlisted Gilead alum Amy Flood as chief human resources and communications officer. Flood gave 21 years to Gilead and had been serving as SVP, public affairs for Dan O’Day’s bunch. Her appointment comes several months after Corcept — the first biotech to secure an FDA approval for a Cushing’s syndrome drug with Korlym in 2012 — made a couple of leadership readjustments by slotting ex-CFO Charles Robb into the CBO role, paving the way for current CFO Atabak Mokari.
→ With ex-Dermira CEO Andrew Hotchkiss now at the helm, Danish PCSK9 biotech Draupnir Bio’s latest hire is chief discovery officer Anna Quattropani. She had a long association with Serono (later Merck Serono) in medicinal chemistry and then shifted to its spinoff Asceneuron, spending the last eight years there and rising to EVP and head of non-clinical development and medicinal chemistry.
→ Brooklyn ImmunoTherapeutics, the IL-2 biotech in a Phase IIa trial with IRX-2 for head and neck cancer, nets another exec with chief administrative officer Jay Sial after CSO Kevin D’Amour’s appointment in June. Sial just completed a brief stint as CFO of Aspen Neuroscience, now under the leadership of CEO Damien McDevitt.
→ Biosimulation-focused Certara has handed the top human resources job to Nicolette Sherman, who was also the chief human resources officer at Oyster Point Pharma and held HR and leadership development posts during her 11 years with Sanofi. Additionally, Certara has recruited former McKinsey director Nancy Killefer and ex-Editas Medicine CEO Cynthia Collins to its board of directors.
→ Cygnal put out word on Twitter that Timothy Zheng has climbed aboard as SVP of biology. Previously, Zheng was a research fellow and executive director of immune modulation at Boehringer Ingelheim and also spent 17 years at Biogen. The Pearl Huang-led Flagship biotech exploring the exoneural biology field later tweeted that Arrakis co-founder and CSO Jennifer Petter has joined the scientific advisory board.
→ Anna Diaz Triola has signed on as chief commercial officer of AstraZeneca’s antibacterial spinout Entasis Therapeutics. The ex-Biogen product manager and associate director grabs this opportunity after consecutive VP of marketing stints at Flexion Therapeutics and Summit Therapeutics. Earlier, Triola closed out her six years at Cubist Pharmaceuticals as head of patient engagement & advocacy.
→ Syneos Health, the CRO located in the Research Triangle of North Carolina, has appointed Michael Brooks as its first chief development officer. Brooks, who took on a basket full of roles during his days at PPD from 1999-2014, is the ex-president & global head of clinical development & commercialization services for LabCorp (Covance).
→ Narcan maker Opiant Pharmaceuticals has named Matthew Ruth as its CCO. Prior to his new role, Ruth was COO for medtech company RightCare Solutions. Before that, Ruth was VP of Azur Pharma and Avanir Pharmaceuticals and held a variety of roles at Allergan.
→ Sharon Morriss has been named SVP of clinical development at Austin-based orphan drug biotech Lung Therapeutics, which had its most recent round of funding two years ago. The Shire vet jumps on board from Cedric Francois’ crew at Apellis, leaving her mark on the rare disease and ophthalmology clinical portfolio as SVP, clinical development operations. In May, Apellis’ paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria drug pegcetacoplan was approved by the FDA, now known as Empaveli.
→ Tavanta Therapeutics has made some changes to its leadership team with the appointment of Andreas Maetzel as CMO and the promotion of Elizabeth Manning Duus to VP of clinical development. Maetzel joins the company after a stint as CMO of KalVista Pharmaceuticals and senior global medical affairs positions with BioCryst Pharmaceuticals and Cornerstone Biopharma. Meanwhile, Duus came to Tavanta in January 2019 as executive director, clinical development after serving at Helsinn Therapeutics and Akros Pharma.
→ Gaithersburg, MD-based NexImmune threw its hat into this year’s IPO ring with a $110 million haul, and the biotech has sewn up two new hires with SVP of translational science Jack Ragheb and head of business development Matt Schiller. Ragheb hails from Eli Lilly, where he was senior medical fellow for immunology and co-chaired the immunogenicity/immunosafety working group. Schiller’s run with EMD Serono began in 2015, serving as director, global licensing & business development, immunology.
→ Developing an AAV-based gene therapy for BAG3-associated dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), Renovacor materializes with another new exec after adding CMO Marc Semigran, with Jiwen Zhang heading to the biotech as SVP, regulatory affairs and quality assurance. Zhang, who worked in regulatory affairs at such companies as Merck, Wyeth, Sanofi, GE Healthcare and Tmunity, had been VP, head of regulatory affairs at Passage Bio since 2019.
→ Mohammad El-Kalay’s June appointment as head of CMC was merely a warmup for the trio of incoming staffers at BeiGene partner Shoreline Biosciences. Boyan Litchev (SVP and head of global clinical development) has been around the block with leadership roles at Shire, Akcea and Halozyme, and in February 2020 he became head of clinical development, oncology for Poseida. Steven Neben (VP, alliance and project management) is an AnaptysBio vet who just completed a nine-year run at Regulus Therapeutics. And Bjorn Dahle (VP, smart manufacturing) is the ex-CEO of Inspire Solutions and VersaCall Technologies.
→ Shortly after The Column Group helped co-lead Circle Pharma’s $66 million Series C round, the South San Francisco macrocycle drug developer has now brought in Evelyn Wang as its VP of translational medicine. Wang, who was once the director of translational research at BioMarin, joined Exelixis in 2016 and held the role of executive director, translational medicine.
→ Boston-based Inozyme has reeled in Gayle Gironda as SVP of human resources. Gironda comes aboard after most recently serving as VP, human resources, global hematology and global market access at Bristol Myers Squibb. Before her role at BMS, Gironda was with Celgene and Alexion.
→ Personal Genome Diagnostics (PGDx) has welcomed back Mark Sausen to the team as VP, technology innovation. Sausen formerly served as the Baltimore-based company’s VP, research and development for six years before hopping over to a stint at Bristol Myers, where he was scientific director, clinical genetics and genomics.
→ Snapdragon Chemistry has enlisted Hui Fang as the company’s director of attribute sciences and quality control. Fang hops aboard after serving as associate director, CMC analytical development at Akebia Therapeutics. Prior to that role, Fang was with Eisai.
→ Former Bayer CEO Dieter Weinand is adding yet another executive chairman role to his résumé with his appointment to the board of directors at Essenlix. Currently, Weinand is the chairman of the board of Replimmune and executive chairman of ZielBioPharma. Weinand’s career has spanned stints at Pfizer, Bristol Myers and Sanofi.
→ T cell-based immunotherapy biotech Virion Therapeutics out of Philadelphia has elected Michelle Berrey and Bill Bradford to the board of directors. Berrey’s tenure as Intercept’s CMO and president of R&D is in its early stages, while Bradford co-founded and was CMO for Indalo Therapeutics.
→ Atsena Therapeutics, the Research Triangle gene therapy outfit founded by Shannon and Sanford Boye that bagged a $55 million Series A in December, has made room for Spark co-founder Jennifer Wellman on the board of directors. Wellman is now the COO at Manny Simons-led Akouos.
→ Immuneering, the oncology biotech where you can now find Biren Amin as CFO after offering his oncology takes at Jefferies, has opened up a seat for Ann Berman on the board of directors. Berman, the retired CFO and VP of finance at Harvard, has also been on the board of Loews since 2006.
→ New York-based Xalud Therapeutics has added some new faces to its strategic advisory board. The fresh recruits include: Michael Ehlers (CSO and venture partner at Apple Tree Partners); Mace Rothenberg (former CMO at Pfizer); Tarek Samad (SVP and global head of research at Lundbeck); and Matt Walker (SVP, head of industrial operations for GSK Vaccines).
→ When John Davis ultimately leaves Magenta Therapeutics, he has his next role lined up as a member of the board of directors at Third Rock’s immunometabolism biotech Rheos Medicines. In late May, Davis resigned as Magenta’s CMO and head of R&D, stepping aside “no later than July 30,” according to an SEC filing.
→ Michael Hayden is now a non-executive director at Oxford Biomedica. Hayden, the CEO of Forbion-backed neuro startup Prilenia Therapeutics, was the president of global R&D and CSO at Teva from 2012-17.
→ Brendan Delaney has been added to the board of directors at New York-based BeyondSpring. Delaney, the chief commercial officer of Immunomedics when Gilead made a $21 billion deal for the company, is in his first year as CCO at Constellation Pharmaceuticals.
→ Akero Therapeutics — who’s working on an old Amgen drug to treat NASH — has pulled in Judy Chou to its board of directors. Chou currently serves as president and CEO of AltruBio and formerly served as SVP and global head of biotech at Bayer. Earlier in her career, Chou held pharmaceutical operations and manufacturing roles at Pfizer and Tanvex Biopharma.
→ Out in the Rockies, Clovis Oncology is letting in Ronit Simantov as a member of the board of directors. The ex-VP of oncology global medical affairs at Pfizer, Simantov has been Gamida Cell’s CMO since July 2017.