Ex-Altimmune chief Bill Enright lands CEO role at Vaccitech; Reata poaches Alnylam CFO Manmeet Soni
→ After a stint consulting for Avidea Technologies, Bill Enright is back at the CEO game Vaccitech’s new chief. Like Altimmune — which Enright led for 11 years — Vaccitech has a dual focus on cancer and infectious diseases. The appointment brings him from Baltimore to Oxford, UK, where he will oversee pivotal data readout from its lead influenza program. Meanwhile, Tom Evans will transition to the CSO post, steering the science and R&D “that underpin Vaccitech’s tech inducing CD8+ and CD4+ T cell responses against foreign pathogens and tumors.
→ ReAlta Life Sciences — a young biotech creation of pediatricians and medical school researchers in Norfolk, Virginia— has tapped biopharma vet Ulrich Thienel as CEO. Thienel’s involvement with the company dated back to his stint at the contract research organization RRD International, where his team “helped ReAlta choose the best initial indications for the company to develop. Ulrich then joined the ReAlta Board following its formation in 2018,” recalled chairman John Harding. Thienel has since moved to a CMO role at Finch Therapeutics, the latest in a string of similar positions spanning J&J, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Takeda.
→ With an eye to commercialization, stem cell player Amnicell has recruited Helen Ljungdahl to the helm. The Merck vet, who jumps from the lead global marketing and business development role at GN Hearing, brings a blend of experience in pharma and medtech. She is now charged with realizing the potential of Amnicell’s research on amniotic fluid stem cells, which the company believes can accelerate healing, reduce scarring in non-healing wounds, and even treat end-stage lung disease and diabetes.
→ Once AbbVie-allied Reata Pharmaceuticals — focused on targeting molecular pathways involved in the regulation of cellular metabolism and inflammation — has welcomed Manmeet Soni on board to succeed Jason Wilson as CFO, while Wilson transitions to a new role as executive vice president of operations. Soni served in the same role at Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, securing more than $2 billion in new capital and collaboration agreements; ARIAD Pharmaceuticals, helping with their $5.2 billion acquisition by Takeda; and Pharmacyclics, assisting in their $21 billion acquisition by AbbVie.
→ A few months after Eisai mapped out plans to test a combination of their Biogen-partnered BACE drug elenbecestat with BAN2401 as a preventative Alzheimer’s therapy, the company has poached Priya Chaturvedi from Merck Research Labs to oversee global clinical quality assurance. The new VP hops from a similar role as executive director, clinical quality assurance, head of global GCP for infectious disease and vaccines at Merck. Her resume includes various roles at Pfizer and GSK.
→ With their lead monoclonal antibody cirmtuzumab in a Phase I/II clinical trial in combination with ibrutinib for the treatment of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) and mantle cell lymphoma (MCL), Oncternal Therapeutics has made some new additions to its leadership team with the appointments of Frank Hsu as CMO and Rajesh Krishnan as SVP, chemistry, manufacturing and controls (CMC) and manufacturing. Hsu most recently served as vice president and head of oncology at Immune Design before its acquisition by Merck. He has also served as CMO at Zyngenia, completed a stint at Genzyme and taught as a faculty member at Yale University. Krishnan hops over to the company after serving as vice president, process development and manufacturing sciences at Dynavax Technologies. Krishnan has held roles at Gilead Sciences, Merck, Amgen and Pfizer.
→ Scholar Rock — focused on the development of medicines in which signaling protein growth factors plays a key role to treat diseases, such as neuromuscular disorders, cancer, fibrosis and anemia — announced that their CFO, Rhonda Chicko, will soon be hitting the exit “to pursue other opportunities.” Prior to her time at the company, Chicko served as vice president finance for Editas Medicine and had stints at Ironwood Pharmaceuticals and Wellington Management. The company has initiated a search for a successor.
→ Rheumatic disease-focused Horizon Therapeutics’ CBO, Robert Carey, is stepping down from his post and the company has tapped Andy Pasternak as executive vice president and his successor. Pasternak jumps over to Horizon after a stint at consulting firm Bain & Company. Previously, Pasternak was a founding partner in the health & life sciences practice at Oliver Wyman.
→ Edward Cox has left the FDA after a long run as a top official at the regulatory agency and made the leap to biopharma. Cox has taken a new job as VP of regulatory affairs for Regeneron, a company he has come to know well as it fielded its blockbuster cash cow Eylea and then steered its way to new label extensions. Cox — who had been director of the FDA’s office of antimicrobial products (OAP) at CDER — has been regularly quoted as the senior FDA official on new regulatory developments for Eylea.
→ After a string of pipeline deals aimed at revitalizing the R&D group, the decidedly private German company is undergoing a high-level makeover of the top team. Boehringer reported that their pharma and biopharma business chief Allan Hillgrove has stepped down from their board of managing directors and will soon retire from the company after a 37-year stint that started with his position as a sales rep. He’s being replaced by Carine Brouillon, who joined the company a little more than a year ago after leaving J&J, where she was in charge of commercial strategies for neurosciences. And that’s not all. Joachim Hasenmaier, head of animal health, will also leave Boehringer at the end of the year. He’ll be replaced by 32-year company veteran Jean Scheftsik de Szolnok.
→ After wooing Alnylam exec Emmanuel Dulac to the post of CEO in April, Zealand Pharma has finally found a successor in Matthew Dallas for their CFO Mats Blom — who announced his departure in January. Dallas has served in the same role at Aveo Pharmaceuticals and CoLucid Pharmaceuticals (acquired by Eli Lilly). Dallas has also held stints at Genzyme, NEN Life Science Products and Kimberly Clark. Ivan Møller, who has been serving as interim CFO, will resume his role as SVP of technical development & operations.
→ University of Leeds, UK spinout Tissue Regenix Group, a regenerative medical devices company, has named Mike Barker as CFO and as an executive director of the board — after serving the company as interim finance director since the beginning of the year. Barker has years of experience as a chartered accountant for both AIM listed and private businesses and spent time in a role with Deloitte, as well as setting up his own consultancy business.
→ Medical cannabis company Verdemed — which is trying to make a bigger presence for itself in Latin America — has named Alexandre Penha CFO and appointed David Beatty to its board of directors. Penha has served as VP, corporate development and member of the board of directors of Australian-listed fertilizer company Fertoz Limited. He’s also handled corporate development for a minerals company. Beatty is currently managing director, Industrial Alliance Securities.
→ Medical device and digital health company Genetesis welcomed Peter Donato on board as CBO. Donato transitioned from a role as an independent director and audit committee chairman for Genetesis. He joins the crew with experience as CFO from his previous stints at Neuronetics and Assurex Health.
→ Ryan Tarzy has joined StartX spinout Cardinal Analytx Solutions as their CMO. Prior to joining the Palo Alto, California-based company, Tarzy served in a variety of roles at CoverMyMeds (acquired by McKesson in 2017). Previously, he served as the SVP of business development for PokitDok and co-found Playful Bee, and early childhood development startup.
→ FibroGen founder and CEO Thomas Neff died “unexpectedly” over the weekend, says the biotech company. He was 64 years old, according to the company’s latest proxy statement. Neff’s death comes as the biotech’s lead drug roxadustat — which is partnered with AstraZeneca — is drawing blockbuster projections from analysts as it nears NDA review status, 25 years after Neff founded the company. Board member James A. Schoeneck has been named interim CEO. The company did not provide a cause of death in its statement Monday morning. FibroGen has begun a search for a permanent replacement.
→ Mark Schoenebaum, one of the best known and most liked biotech analysts in the business, died over the weekend. Umer Raffat, who was mentored by Schoenebaum and stepped into his role at Evercore ISI, put out the word on Sunday, noting:
We’ve all looked up to him as the very best equity research analyst there has ever been on Wall Street. But that was only part of who he was: he was an absolute standout individual who touched so many lives, and whose strength of character showed in his sheer humility despite his absolutely unprecedented success.
He had evidently been making the rounds again in recent months, dropping emails about his interest in getting going again.