Flagship keeps ex-FDA commish Stephen Hahn busy with another CMO gig; Daphne Koller makes key hire at insitro by welcoming Google and Facebook vet
→ What’s next for Stephen Hahn, you ask? It’s an interim CMO post at Flagship’s YourBio Health, the maker of kits that sidestep the conventional methods of blood collection in favor of push-button devices. Hahn joined Flagship in June as CMO of its Preemptive Medicine and Health Security initiative after a topsy-turvy run as FDA commissioner in the Trump administration. Hahn received his share of flak when he extolled the virtues of convalescent pharma before the emergency use authorizations of the Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccines, eventually walking back his comments. Conversely, Hahn received kudos for staying resolute on safety followup from clinical trials. A month after his FDA tenure, Hahn joined the board of directors at Blackfynn.
→ Tom Stocky’s post-Google and Facebook journey takes him to Daphne Koller’s crew at insitro as VP of product, putting him in charge of enhancing the user experience for its machine-learning apparatus. Besides his years as Google’s director of project management (helping build the Google App Engine) and as Facebook’s VP of search & profile, he’s familiar with the biotech landscape as a technology fellow and a member of the scientific advisory board at Denali, which released less-than-satisfying Hunter syndrome data in July. Additionally, Stocky ran the learning platform at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.
→ There’s a CMO shift that has taken place at Swiss biotech ADC Therapeutics, with Jay Feingold handing over the keys to VP of medical affairs Joseph Camardo. Before making his way to ADC in early 2020, Camardo spent 10 years as an exec at Celgene, where he was SVP of global medical affairs and corporate medical operations, then SVP of Celgene Global Health before the Bristol Myers Squibb deal closed. The Chris Martin-led ADC has expanded its reach into China with its joint venture Overland ADCT BioPharma, which named Eric Koo as its CEO in April.
→ Marc Blaustein has been named COO at microbiome player Finch Therapeutics, which nabbed an upsized $128 million IPO in March — nearly six months after its Series C that totaled $90 million for CEO Mark Smith’s bunch. The director of business development at Alkermes from 1999-2004, Blaustein co-founded and helmed Akashi Therapeutics and later became CEO of NED Biosystems. In his latest gig, Blaustein led business development at Guide Therapeutics, a Georgia Tech spinout that Beam bought for $120 million upfront in February.
→ With a modest $10 million Series B in the hopper and ex-Genzyme CFO Jim Sherblom as executive chairman, ReForm Biologics has tapped Jeff Hackman as president and CEO. His predecessor, John Sorvillo, will chair the advisory board. Once in charge of the US internal medicine and oncology franchises at Shire, Hackman leaves his post as president of US operations with EUSA Pharma. Based in Woburn, MA, ReForm Biologics focuses on what they describe as “gentler medicines” for children and the elderly.
→ Accompanying the news that Acorda is undergoing another revamp and trimming its staff by 15%, Lauren Sabella is getting promoted to COO and Kerry Clem is stepping into the CCO job that Sabella previously held. Sabella’s tenure at Acorda began in 2010 as EVP of commercial development, while Clem has spent a decade himself at Acorda, moving out of his role as EVP of sales, market access, and operations.
→ Bobby Gaspar’s gene therapy biotech Orchard Therapeutics has refashioned its C-suite considerably, promoting Leslie Meltzer to CMO while adding two fresh pickings to the leadership basket: CSO Fulvio Mavilio and chief technical officer Nicoletta Loggia. After stints at Actelion and Biogen, Meltzer joined Orchard in 2018 as VP of US medical affairs, climbing to SVP of medical affairs, clinical operations and diagnostics. Mavilio, the current CSO at Smart Immune, is the ex-SVP of translational science for Audentes and will consult at Orchard until he officially begins as chief scientist in January 2022. Loggia spent the last 17 years at Novartis in a number of capacities and since last April had been global head of cell and gene therapies.
→ Padding the C-suite further after the arrivals of CSO John Leonard and CMO Edward Conner, CRISPR upstart Locanabio — nine months removed from its Series B megaround — has selected Kat Lange as CFO. Lange takes the plunge into the biotech world after 12 years at JP Morgan; since 2019 she had been executive director in JPM’s healthcare investment banking group. You may recall that another Locanabio exec, VP of R&D Ranjan Batra, was featured as one of Endpoints News’ 20 under 40 leaders this year.
→ After Patrick Soon-Shiong’s much-ballyhooed “cancer moon shot” fizzled on the launch pad at NantKwest, he reverse-merged the company with his cell therapy outfit ImmunityBio in December and handed the controls to Rich Adcock. The team continues to take shape with Helen Luu as ImmunityBio’s first chief commercial officer and Sigrid Schreiner, who starts Monday as SVP of global market access. Luu’s clipped reign as CEO of Cell BT began in May after stepping in as COO in September 2020, and earlier she led business development within her 10-year stint at cancer vaccine maker Dendreon. Schreiner, also a Dendreon vet, had been promoted to SVP, global market access & distribution at Stemline Therapeutics in the spring of 2020.
→ Last month, Fulcrum’s stock rose by 125% after some initial success in their Phase I study to treat inherited blood disorders — a huge upswing considering the issues they encountered on the market last summer after a Phase II dud. This week, Fulcrum brings on Mel Hayes as chief commercial officer. Hayes has made stops along the way at Bristol Myers, Bayer and Baxalta, and he was recently Sanofi Genzyme’s global head commercial, VP, rare blood disorders.
→ Bedford, MA-based Verseau Therapeutics, developing cancer drugs with a line of attack it calls macrophage repolarization, has ushered in Karen Tubridy as chief development officer. Tubridy, the ex-chief development officer at Eleven Biotherapeutics, moves on from her double duty as SVP, global programs and chief development officer at Akebia. Verseau, co-founded by Bob Langer with a first-year CEO in John Edwards, debuted in October 2019.
→ As Tubridy gets started at Verseau, Tim Smith walks away — writing a new chapter as SVP, head of corporate development at New Jersey p53-focused biotech PMV Pharmaceuticals, chaired by Rich Heyman. Smith, the CBO at Verseau since 2019, is a seven-year Celgene alum who has been a CBO before at Cleave Biosciences and led corporate development at Ideaya. PMV added $53 million to its coffers in a Series D from August 2020 to continue its focus on mutant p53 proteins, an especially tough nut to crack against cancer.
→ Longwood-backed immunotherapy startup Immunitas Therapeutics, flush with $58 million in Series B cash, has picked up Thomas Tan as CSO after he held the same title at Bicara Therapeutics. Tan, a Roche vet, has also been head of immunology at Forma Therapeutics and Elstar Therapeutics. Co-founded by Dana-Farber’s Kai Wucherpfennig and Genentech R&D chief Aviv Regev, Immunitas is trying to push its CD161-blocking antibody IMT-009 into the clinic and also promoted Amanda Wagner to CBO in August.
→ Neoleukin has been allowed to pass go on the FDA monopoly board with its IL-2/IL-15 agonist after a three-month hold, and the Seattle biotech has just tapped Bill Arthur as VP and head of research. All Arthur has to do is drive down Interstate 5 from his previous stop, Seagen, where he was senior director & head of cancer biology during his 10 years there. While with Merck from 2006-11, Arthur was team lead in biomarker discovery for investigational oncology drugs.
→ Mary DiBiase has been promoted to COO at mavorixafor developer X4 Pharmaceuticals after serving as SVP, technical operations and quality. The 16-year Biogen alum initially jumped on board at X4 in 2017 in the role of VP, program and alliance management. Back in November, Art Tavares left Biogen to become X4’s CSO, and a month later the company poached CMO Diego Cavavid from Fulcrum. Trials are underway for mavorixafor to treat such diseases as WHIM syndrome (Phase III), Waldenström’s macroglobulinemia (Phase Ib with ibrutinib) and severe congenital neutropenia (also Phase Ib).
→ Biophytis — evaluating its sarcopenia drug Sarconeos (BIO101) in Covid-19 patients with severe respiratory failure — has given Rob van Maanen the nod as CMO after Jean Mariani held the fort for a couple months. Mariani had temporarily replaced Sam Agus and remains on the scientific advisory board. As for van Maanen, he exits the CMO post at mitochondrial disease-focused Khondrion to join the Paris-based biotech. Elsewhere, he was a senior medical director during a six-year run at Astellas and the CNS director at Eisai from 2005-10.
→ Caroline Loew’s biosensor shop Glympse, using its platform to catch indications of NASH in patients, has appointed Tram Tran as CMO. Tran says farewell to Gilead, where she was VP of medical affairs, global head, liver diseases, fibrosis and Covid-19. She made the leap to Gilead in 2018 after 16 years both at Cedars-Sinai and in academia as a professor of medicine at UCLA.
→ Infinity Pharmaceuticals brought on Robert Ilaria to be its new CMO. Ilaria most recently came from Bristol Myers as part of their development team, and was the executive medical director for clincal R&D for Celgene before that. At the same time, Infinity is moving their consulting chief physician Brian Schwartz, a former acting CMO at Tarus, to the board of directors.
→ Pamela Garzone is taking over as chief development officer at Anixa Biosciences after holding executive roles with Calibr at the Scripps Research Institute and Pfizer. The sigh of relief you hear may be coming from San Jose after the FDA granted Anixa’s IND application for its Moffitt-partnered CAR-T immunotherapy in late August; the agency had placed a clinical hold on it in April.
→ Pillar Biosciences has picked up Randy Pritchard as CEO — taking over for founder Gang Song, who will transition to chairman of the board. Pritchard joins the in vitro diagnostics company after holding positions at POC Diagnostics & Core Reagents (as SVP of US diagnostics marketing and SVP & lifecycle leader) and Roche Diagnostics (VP of marketing).
→ Swedish cell therapy biotech Anocca, raking in $47 million from a Series B round in July, has welcomed Jacob Michlewicz as CFO. Michlewicz recently logged two years as CFO of Stockholm-based medtech Bioservo Technologies, a maker of wearables to help strengthen muscles which lists the exoskeleton glove Ironhand among its products.
→ Cyrus Arman has signed on to Madison, WI peptide drug developer Nimble Therapeutics as CBO. After five years at Amgen where he was elevated to director of corporate strategy, Arman then pivoted to immuno-oncology biotech Neuvogen in 2019 as VP of corporate development and strategy.
→ Ali Hariri has been named CMO of Watertown, MA-based Eloxx Pharmaceuticals, which acquired Zikani Therapeutics this spring. Hariri, a clinical development leader at Ionis and Takeda, comes to Eloxx after his time as Sanofi’s senior global project head in rare disease clinical development. Helmed by ex-Zikani CEO Sumit Aggarwal, Eloxx is shooting for data in Q4 with its lead candidate ELX-02 for cystic fibrosis patients with nonsense mutations.
→ It’s full steam ahead with more hires at Third Rock startup MOMA Therapeutics after Asit Parikh rolled in as CEO and CSO Peter Hammerman followed him three months later, with Semi Trotto joining the molecular machine biotech as chief people and experience officer. Trotto, who spent 11 years in human resources and global talent acquisition at Bristol Myers, shifted to general manager at Thrive Earlier Detection after Exact Sciences purchased it for a near steal of a $2.5 billion deal last fall. She also led HR at Editas Medicine from 2016-19.
→ Our Max Gelman just covered VectivBio’s buyout of Comet Therapeutics last week, and now CEO Luca Santarelli brings in Scott Applebaum as chief legal officer and corporate secretary. Formerly senior counsel at Bristol Myers with 10 additional years at Shire under his belt, Applebaum joins VectivBio from Travena, where he was chief legal & compliance officer and SVP of regulatory affairs.
→ Palo Alto, CA-based Medable has plucked up MaryAnne Rizk as chief strategy officer. Rizk joins the company with experience from her time at Oracle, Medidata, Merck and IQVIA.
→ Isabel Carmona has joined New Jersey-based Rocket Pharmaceuticals as chief human resources officer and SVP. Carmona held a similar position at Ichnos Sciences and was involved in HR at Shire and Teva. Rocket ran into some issues back in May when the FDA stalled its Phase I trial for a gene therapy candidate to treat Danon disease, and it wasn’t until August that Rocket was able to get the trial back off the ground.
→ Rani Therapeutics, which is working on a robotic pill and pulled in $69 million worth of new funding in December, has tapped Eric Groen as general counsel. Groen, an Amgen vet, most recently served as the company’s regional general counsel for its commercial business in Canada, Latin America, Middle East and Africa.
→ Michael Gerard departs from his role as associate general counsel at Spark to take on the general counsel position at Cabaletta Bio. Last year, the biotech teamed with Artisan Bio on CAAR-T (chimeric auto-antibody receptor) cell therapy development. Now it hopes that Gerard’s legal and corporate experience, which also includes a stint at Sandoz, will help push more gene therapies through the pipeline.
→ Andrew Welchman is leaving his post at the Wellcome Trust to hop aboard ieso as the company’s first-ever EVP for impact. Welchman served as head of neuroscience and mental health at the Wellcome Trust and previously served as a professor of neural intelligence at the University of Cambridge.
→ Scott Plevy is making his way over to Protagonist Therapeutics as EVP and therapeutic head, gastroenterology. Plevy brings with him experience from his time as CSO at Senda Biosciences and Synlogic Therapeutics. Plevy has also served as VP, immunology research and development at Janssen.
→ Ramana Kuchibhatla is taking over the torch as SVP and head of research & development from retiring exec Jay Saoud at Waltham, MA-based Minerva Neurosciences. Kuchibhatla comes to the company from PRA Health Sciences, a subsidiary of Icon, where he was executive director of global drug development. Prior to his role at PRA, Kuchibhatla was with Melior Pharmaceuticals, QED Pharmaceutical Services, Targacept, and GlaxoSmithKline.
→ Oxford-based Enesi Pharma has named Elizabeth Eagling-Vose as SVP, operations. Eagling-Vose hails from Oxford University spinout Vaccitech, where she served as senior director and head of clinical operations. Prior to her role at Vaccitech, Eagling-Vose was project director and director of patient engagement at Covance.
→ Passage Bio, the Pennsylvania-based gene therapy developer co-founded by Jim Wilson, has appointed Maxine Gowen as its new chairwoman of the board of directors. The CEO of TamuroBio and former Trevena CEO has been a member of the board since February, and was brought on as chairwoman following former chairman Tachi Yamada’s death in August.
→ Tom Civik has replaced Versant’s Jerel Davis as chairman of the board at synthetic lethality startup Repare Therapeutics, although Davis will keep his seat on the board. Civik takes this role at the precision oncology player after a year as president and CEO of Five Prime, which Amgen swooped in to buy for $2 billion in April.
→ You think Civik is done in this edition of Peer Review? In the words of ESPN college football icon Lee Corso, “Not so fast, my friend!” Civik is also in a new crop of board members at Pyxis Oncology, which just named Pamela Yanchik Connealy as CFO last week. Joining Civik are ex-Pfizer CMO Freda Lewis-Hall, Darren Cline and Mark Chin.
→ Steve Altschuler has been elected chairman of the board at Azura Ophthalmics based in Tel Aviv. The co-founder and former chairman at Spark is now managing director of healthcare ventures at Ziff Capital Partners and also chairs the board at upstart Lexeo Therapeutics.
→ Another Spark co-founder, Jean Bennett, has headed to the board of directors at Rockville, MD-based AAV gene therapy biotech Regenxbio. George Migausky, a board member at Immunovant and the ex-CFO of Dyax, is also claiming a board seat at Regenxbio.
→ Chaired by CEO (and Alexion co-founder) Stephen Squinto, Gennao Bio has added Gary Sender to the board of directors. From 2016 until his retirement this year, Sender was CFO at Nabriva Therapeutics and is a board member at Schrödinger, Harmony Biosciences, iBio and Elucida Oncology.
→ Siddhartha Kadia has earned a seat on the board of directors at “digital cell biology” company Berkeley Lights, a participant in the epic IPO boom of 2020. The ex-president and CEO of EAG Laboratories, Kadia is on the boards of IsoPlexis and NuVasive, among others.
→ Flagship-backed Evelo Biosciences, which joined the Covid-19 hunt last May, has brought on Iain McInnes — a leader in the fields of rheumatoid and psoriatic arthritis research — to its board of directors. McInnes is currently vice principal and head of college to the College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences, Muirhead professor of medicine, and honor consultant rheumatologist at the University of Glasgow in Scotland.