Peer Review

FSD Pharma scoops GW Pharma exec to guide cannabinoid development; Zealand Pharma is looking for a new CEO

→ Just a month after GW Pharmaceuticals launched its pioneering cannabis-derived drug in the US, its head of marketing has jumped to lead FSD Pharma, a Canadian biotech that wants to follow GW’s footsteps. Rupert Haynes will set up his own CEO office in the UK, where he’s been based. FSD’s pipeline will consist largely of pain, migraine and CNS treatments like Tourette syndrome, obtained through a recent acquisition of Israel’s Therapix.

Nick Staples

→ Now that Artios Pharma has closed its $84 million development round, chief business officer Nick Staples is moving on to become CEO at Locate Bio. The University of Nottingham spinout emerged from stealth mode earlier this year with £2 million dedicated to hiring and applying its drug delivery system and gene editing tech in orthopedic regenerative medicine. Robin Quirk, who filled the role ad interim, is now COO.

→ Following a couple of career detours via Bioventus and Ethicon, Samson Tom has returned to Osiris Therapeutics $OSIR. As president and CEO, Tom will oversee both R&D and commercialization of Osiris’ wound care, orthopedics, and sports meds. Interim CEO Jason Keefer will transition to the CCO role.

Britt Meelby Jensen

Zealand Pharma is losing CEO Britt Meelby Jensen to a “non-competing company” outside its native Denmark. Jensen’s four years at the helm was marked by several fundraising efforts to finance its new focus on rare disease, including a $77 million IPO and a $205 million royalties sale to longtime partner Sanofi. The search is now on for her successor.

→ Just 6 months after landing the top job at Abeona Therapeutics $ABEO, CEO Carsten Thiel has been unceremoniously booted from the executive suite, accused of unspecified “personal misconduct” involving his interactions with colleagues at the company. According to Abeona, a cell and gene therapy startup, “Thiel’s termination follows an investigation by independent members of the Company’s Board of Directors and external counsel into allegations of misconduct towards colleagues that the Board concluded violated the Company’s Code of Business Conduct and Ethics and was inconsistent with its expectations for Abeona’s CEO.” He’s being replaced on an interim basis by another new staffer: R&D chief João Siffert, who was brought in just a few weeks ago.

→ Novartis-backed Altimmune has tapped Vipin Garg to succeed outgoing president and CEO Bill Enright, entrusting him with growing the vaccine pipeline and exploring partnerships. Between the helms of Neos Therapeutics and Tranzyme Pharma, Garg has run both discovery-stage and commercial operations.

→ Having assembled a largely preclinical pipeline of gene therapies through a couple of licensing pacts, Axovant is expanding the crew charged with executing its high-stakes turnaround mission. All five execs coming on board are seasoned vets from big-name biopharma companies, with expertise ranging from manufacturing and technical operations to regulatory affairs and commercialization.

  • Greg MacMichael, SVP of technical operations, was the former global head of cell and gene therapy technical development and manufacturing at Novartis
  • Parag Meswani, SVP of commercial strategy and operations, joins from Spark Therapeutics — a US pioneer of the field
  • Paul Korner, SVP of clinical development, held the VP of medical strategy and clinical development role at Sarepta Therapeutics, another emerging gene therapy player
  • Greg Stewart, SVP of vector delivery and optimization, had a stint at neurology-focused Voyager Therapeutics
  • Sean O’Bryan, VP of regulatory affairs, jumps from the same role at Lysogene

ImmunoGen is parting ways with David Johnston in the aftermath of a jury verdict that found the CFO liable for securities fraud at a previous company. The SEC convinced the jury that Johnston had played an active role in a scheme to mislead investors of Aveo Oncology, pushing the line that tivozanib was headed for the market — failing to tell them of the many big issues that the FDA had about their trial design and how it was described to investors. ImmunoGen CEO Mark Enyedy will step in with the financial and investor relations work when Johnston leaves at year-end.

Carlo Incerti

Sanofi Genzyme vet Carlo Incerti is making the leap to VC life as operating partner at Forbion. Currently SVP, CMO and head of global medical affairs of the French drugmaker’s rare disease unit, Incerti will lend a hand to the company building work to be bankrolled by Forbion’s latest €360 million fund and leverage his network to help startups in the portfolio.

Thomas Jung

→ Fresh off a $46 million round led by Forbion, Inflazome has tapped Thomas Jung to spearhead its clinical challenge to prove NLRP3 is a great anti-inflammatory target. Jung previously spent 13 years doing immunological research at Novartis — one of Inflazome’s founding investors — with the notable experience of leading development for the ill-fated canakinumab.   

→ Ahead of an FDA decision on its key drug Jakafi’s use in graft vs. host disease, Incyte $INCY has lost its chief scientific officer Reid Huber to prominent healthcare venture firm Third Rock, but is bringing in Janssen’s Dashyant Dhanak to fill the gap.

Dhanak will need to get his act together before the upcoming American Society of Hematology (ASH) conference slated for this weekend, where Incyte is making multiple data presentations, including updated data for Jakafi in combination with its PI3K-delta inhibitor INCB50465 in patients with myelofibrosis. This combination is expected to play a critical role in expanding the Jakafi franchise in myeloproliferative neoplasms, a group of rare disorders of the bone marrow that cause an increase in the number of blood cells.

Dhanak joins Incyte as CSO and executive VP from J&J’s $JNJ Janssen, where he most recently served as global head, discovery sciences. Before Janssen, he spent a quarter of a century at GlaxoSmithKline $GSK. Meanwhile, Huber, who was a founding member of Incyte’s scientific team, is joining Third Rock as a partner after 16 years with the drugmaker.

Philip Gutry is the new chief business officer at Kronos Bio, charged with managing alliances, expanding clinical opportunities and beefing up the cancer pipeline. A former BD exec at Regeneron and a principal at MPM Capital, Gutry’s resume also featured a stint at Gilead Sciences, where Kronos CEO Norbert Bischofberger led R&D for 30 years.

Constellation Pharmaceuticals has given Patrick Trojer a promotion to mark his 10-year anniversary with the biotech. The new CSO was one of the founding scientists who built the team that eventually came up with Constellation’s two clinical and other preclinical assets, all aimed at modulating gene expression.

Arena Pharmaceuticals $ARNA has hired Robert Lisicki away from Regeneron after only six months as VP cardio-metabolic and inflammation. Lisicki is taking on the chief commercial officer at a time Arena is making a second shot at commercial success — co-headlined by a PAH drug that United Therapeutics has bought into — after a near-death experience with its diet pill. A new SVP of medical affairs, Paul Audhya, has also been on board in an effort to establish a presence in Boston, the San Diego company noted.

→ Capping a year of positive pivotal data rollout — triggering spikes in its volatile stock price Foamix $FOMX has recruited Jazz Pharma exec Matt Wiley as its chief commercial officer. The Israeli dermatology biotech is starting to plan launches of FMX101 for acne and FMX103 for rosacea as it gears up regulatory filings.

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Research Scientist - Immunology
Recursion Pharmaceuticals Salt Lake City, UT
Director of Operations
Atlas Venture Cambridge, MA

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