Following top-level C-suite departures, Ascletis raids Novartis for R&D exec
Ascletis has wooed another top pharma exec from the US to China as it gets ready to show that its R&D team has what it takes to come up with some first-in-class drugs.
In taking up the CSO role Handan He is leaving behind a 22-year stint at Novartis, where her last title was global head of computational, biopharmaceutics and translational PK/PD.
Her arrival marks another big get for CEO Jinzi Wu, who earlier this year recruited Merck’s top drug developer in China as Ascletis’ CMO. But health and family concerns cut Zhengqing Li’s tenure short, forcing him to depart after only five months. Days ago CFO Lindi Tan also handed in her papers.
While immuno-oncology was front and center in that hire, this time around Ascletis is more vague about He’s duties, simply highlighting He’s extensive experience in pushing drugs to the market, with 30 INDs and 3 NDAs under her belt. There is a hint that she might also contribute to the business development team, having conducted 15 due-diligence evaluation projects at the Swiss pharma giant.
Hong Kong-listed, Hangzhou-based Ascletis is known domestically for developing and commercializing China’s first home-cultivated hepatitis C drug — with some help from Roche — but has made a point to become a global player, not just in the antiviral space but also cancer and liver diseases.