Genentech alum Jane Grogan goes startup hopping from ArsenalBio to Graphite Bio; Scott Holmes to handle CFO duties at Catamaran Bio, teaming up again with ex-Disarm CEO
→ Gene editing player Graphite Bio notched a $150 million Series B megaround to boost its total to $195 million, and a month later, Jane Grogan is moving from another startup to be Graphite’s CSO. Grogan is leaving ArsenalBio after serving as chief scientist since its launch in October 2019. She was at Genentech from 2004-19, with her last five years as head of adaptive tumor immunity and principal scientist of cancer immunology discovery research.
Graphite Bio looks to set itself apart in a sickle cell field that already consists of such names as Vertex/CRISPR, bluebird bio and Global Blood Therapeutics — where Graphite CEO Josh Lehrer was once CMO — with its lead candidate GPH101.
→ Just a dream and the wind to carry him: Sailing takes Scott Holmes away to the CFO post at Catamaran Bio, the CAR-NK cell therapy player with Alvin Shih now in place at the top spot. It reunites the pair after Shih captained the boat at Disarm Therapeutics before Eli Lilly purchased the company for $135 million upfront, with Holmes as his CFO. Holmes also brings CFO experience from Kiadis Pharma and Keryx Biopharmaceuticals, where he engineered the merger with Akebia in 2018. Catamaran Bio made its debut in November with a $42 million Series A round.
→ San Francisco age-related disease biotech Fountain Therapeutics has tapped William Greene as CEO while he continues to helm Iconic Therapeutics, which he’s led since 2014. Greene, a former MPM Capital venture partner who cut his teeth helping develop such drugs at Lucentis as a clinical scientist and epidemiologist at Genentech, co-founded Pear Therapeutics in 2013 with Corey McCann and Stephen Smith.
→ The C-suite is coming together at Surface Oncology with the promotions of Alison O’Neill and Jessica Fees and the arrival of Henry Rath. O’Neill, the new CMO, joined Surface in 2018 as VP of clinical development after a couple years in the same capacity at Radius Health, and she’s worked in Sanofi’s global oncology division as senior director. Fees takes the CFO job and has been with the biotech since 2014, making the leap from her former role of SVP of finance. Meanwhile, Rath embarks on his second CBO gig, leaving that position at TScan. He’s an Amgen vet who was SVP, corporate development at Seres from 2015-19.
→ That’s all for the Genesis Therapeutics CBO search as Will McCarthy lands the job. McCarthy pivots to the AI biotech, spun out of Stanford and led by CEO Evan Feinberg, after CBO stints at Generation Bio and Ignyta, which Roche snapped up for $1.7 billion. After a short stay at Biogen, McCarthy was with Halozyme from 2007-14 and then became VP, corporate development at Foundation Medicine. Genesis Therapeutics raked in a $52 million Series A round back in December after partnering with Genentech to utilize the AI capabilities that help “get them prepared for clinical trials more quickly, and with a more optimal compound,” Feinberg told Endpoints News.
→ Deborah Ascheim has signed on to be CMO at StrideBio, an AAV-based gene therapy developer in the Research Triangle area. Ascheim’s previous CMO experience was with Linda Marbán’s team at Capricor from 2015-19, and the ex-Icahn School of Medicine professor had been doing some independent consulting work as president of d2a.
→ After making the addition of Nicholas Desjardins as CFO and corporate development officer last week, Himalaya Therapeutics has tapped Brian Zhang as CEO. Zhang comes from Roche, where he helped lead the development of Xenical and the discovery of Dorzagliatin, among others.
→ Menlo Park, CA-based CohBar has pulled in Joseph Sarret to steer the helm of the company as CEO and director — succeeding Steven Engle. Sarret joins the mitochondria-based therapeutics company from Corium International, where he served as CBO. Sarret’s previous experience includes stints at Solazyme, Sevident and Codexis.
In addition to Sarret’s appointment, CohBar has promoted David Greenwood as chairman of the board. Greenwood joined the board in April 2019.
→ Austin city limits: T cell therapy-focused Triumvira out of Texas is shoring up its leadership team after launching last summer with a $55 million round, naming Teresa McRoberts CFO while promoting Andreas Bader to CSO and Jon Irvin to SVP of finance. McRoberts leads the triumvirate with previous credits that include Morgan Stanley and JP Morgan, and she comes to Triumvira after serving as portfolio manager, SVP and senior analyst at Alger Management. Before heading to Triumvira in 2018 as SVP of R&D, Bader co-founded and was CEO of Orros Therapeutics and was scientific co-founder of Mirna Therapeutics. Irvin was also with Mirna as CFO before arriving on the scene as VP of finance for Triumvira in 2018.
→ Trevor Hallam has been promoted to president of research and CSO of Sutro Biopharma, which began the dose-expansion cohort for its Phase I ovarian cancer study in January. Hallam has his share of Big Pharma bona fides from AstraZeneca and Roche, and he’s been Sutro’s CSO since December 2010. Before his Sutro tenure began, he was EVP of R&D at Palatin Technologies.
→ Six months into the Paul Medeiros era, CNS-focused Q-State Biosciences has handed out a promotion to Graham Dempsey (CSO and head of R&D) while putting out the welcome mat for CFO Chris Watt and general counsel Jim Jacobson. Dempsey came to Q-State out of Harvard in 2014 as a senior scientist, climbing to SVP of R&D in short order. Jacobson makes the switch after being Merck KGaA’s senior attorney and chief US privacy counsel, with experience that dates back to his participation in the healthcare task force for the Clinton White House. Watt devoted more than 10 years to Biogen and then became SVP, head of finance at Tetraphase until La Jolla Pharmaceutical bought the company last summer.
→ With its lead drug EDG-5506 geared toward Duchenne and Becker muscular dystrophy, Edgewise Therapeutics out of Boulder, CO has called upon Joanne Donovan to be CMO, taking over the position briefly held by Kirsten Gruis. Donovan is a 13-year Genzyme vet who was CMO and SVP, clinical development at Catabasis, where she spent 10 more years.
→ Polish oncology biotech Ryvu Therapeutics has recruited Vatnak Vat-Ho as CBO. Before taking on his first CBO assignment at Ryvu — based in Krakow with selective CDK8/CDK19 kinase inhibitor RVU120 in its pipeline — Vat-Ho was Affimed’s VP of business development. And further back, he rounded out his eight years at Pfizer as senior director/team lead, strategy, business development & alliance.
→ Beverly Hills immuno-oncology biotech GT Biopharma has named Gregory Berk CMO while he resigns from his board seat, moving the University of Minnesota’s Jeffrey Miller — the inventor of the TriKE technology platform that GT Biopharma utilizes — from consulting CMO to consulting CSO. Berk just completed a fleeting stay as CMO of Celularity and has also held the same title at Verastem and Sideris Pharmaceuticals.
→ Elastrin Therapeutics has welcomed Pedro Quintana Diez to its leadership team as CMO. Quintana Diez jumps aboard from Sensory Sciences, where he also served as CMO. In addition, Quintana Diez has held roles at Grunenthal, AbbVie and ParinGenix.
→ Antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) biotech Mersana Therapeutics out of Cambridge, MA has brought on Alejandra Carvajal as SVP and chief legal officer. Carvajal was previously chief legal officer, general counsel & secretary at Momenta, navigating the legal work during J&J’s $6.5 billion buyout. Additionally, she held multiple roles at Millennium and was the VP, general counsel at Cerulean Pharma.
→ San Diego-based Shoreline Biosciences has named its co-founder William Sandborn as CMO. Sandborn was on the faculty of the Mayo Clinic from 1993-2010. After that, he served as professor of medicine, chief of the division of gastroenterology and director of the Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center at the University of California San Diego. He was a scientific co-founder of Santarus (acquired by Salix Pharmaceuticals, now Bausch Health). Currently, he serves on the SAB of Prometheus Biosciences.
→ A couple weeks back, Antios Therapeutics chalked up a $96 million Series B round, with CEO Greg Mayes indicating to Endpoints that they’re “going to be prepared” for an IPO. Antios has subsequently brought on Katie Laessig as SVP, global regulatory affairs and Karen Fusaro as SVP, clinical operations. A 16-year FDA alum, Laessig makes the switch to Antios from her role of VP, therapeutic strategy, strategic drug development at IQVIA. Fusaro’s Big Pharma involvement comprises of global clinical development at Novartis and global clinical trials for HIV, migraine and other candidates at GSK, and more recently she was VP, clinical and regulatory operations at Melinta Therapeutics.
→ Dirk Stevens has taken on the role of SVP, quality assurance and regulatory affairs at MiMedx — looking to put a tumultuous past behind them — after two years as VP, global regulatory affairs at Smith & Nephew. Stevens has also been a regulatory exec at Fresenius Medical Care and served at J&J, Baxter Healthcare and Covidien.
→ Fremont, CA-based biotech Cytek Biosciences — which closed a $120 million Series D round last November — has bagged Allen Poirson as SVP of marketing and corporate development. Poirson hails from twoXAR Pharmaceuticals, where he served as SVP of biopharmaceutical business development. Prior to that, he was CEO of Sony Biotechnology and Accuimage Diagnostics.
→ Immunicum interim chair Christine Lind has joined the NDA Group as VP of commercial. Most recently, Lind served as strategy and business development advisor at BioArctic AB. Prior to that, Lind was CEO of Medivir and had a decade-long stint at Merrill Lynch.
→ Aruvant — Vivek Ramaswamy’s sickle cell Vant — has welcomed Meghan Kelton as executive director of human resources and Blair Clark-Schoeb as SVP of communications. Kelton was a strategic HR leader at J&J and then moved on to Novartis Gene Therapies (previously AveXis) as people and organization head and HR site lead. Clark-Schoeb has been SVP, communications at Zyla Life Sciences, and early in her career she was senior director of corporate finance for The Medicines Company.
→ Philippe Dro has signed on to be a partner at Glenn Rockman’s Adjuvant Capital. The chairman of Scenic Biotech, Luciole Medical and LimmaTech Biologics, Dro was CBO of vaccine developer Themis until it was sold to Merck last year, and he also helmed Swiss-based GlycoVaxyn before its 2015 acquisition by GSK for $190 million.
→ Moving on from his Vertex crash-and-burn, the Ian Smith reclamation project has made its way to the board of directors at Adrian Gottschalk’s Foghorn Therapeutics. Last summer, Smith became chairman at Solid Bio and he’s the executive chairperson at ViaCyte.
→ Mark Velleca has been named chairman of the board at Turbine, a Hungarian drug discovery company using a simulation-based approach for its oncology therapies. Velleca had been CEO of G1 Therapeutics from 2014 until he handed the baton to Jack Bailey at the start of this year. On top of that, Gordon Mills and Klaus Hoeflich are now on Turbine’s scientific advisory board.
→ After reeling in former Jefferies analyst Biren Amin earlier this month, Immuneering has now selected Laurie Keating to be a part of its board of directors. Keating currently serves as EVP and chief legal officer of Alnylam. This isn’t Keating’s first board appointment, occupying a seat on the board of MassBio. Prior to Alnylam, Keating was with Millennium and Hydra Biosciences.
→ Otello Stampacchia is no longer on the board of directors at Morphic Therapeutic, leaving the door open for Susannah Gray to join. Gray retired from Royalty Pharma in 2019 after 14 years as EVP and CFO. In other Morphic board news, Vikas Goyal won’t seek reelection when his term runs out at the Waltham, MA biotech.
→ Finch Therapeutics — which scored $90 million to complete the final stretch for its oral microbiome therapy last September — has enlisted former Roche exec Susan Graf for its board of directors. Currently, Graf serves as CEO of Akamara Therapeutics. Graf was also the former CBO and principal financial officer of Epizyme. Before that, Graf was with NPS Pharma.
→ Several months after Alan Mendelsohn took the CMO reins, dermatologic disease-focused Timber Pharmaceuticals has made its CEO John Koconis chairman of the board. Moreover, two board members have been assigned new titles: Edward Sitar has been appointed lead independent director, while David Cohen chairs Timber’s Science and Technology Committee.
→ Akero Therapeutics — which surged off of “unprecedented” NASH data last July, just days after a crushing rejection for Intercept — has opened a seat on its board for Yuan Xu as an independent director. Xu brings with her experience from her time as CEO of Legend Biotech, which reeled in a $424 million monster IPO last year with her at the helm. Before that, Xu was at Merck’s biologics & vaccines subdivision as well as manufacturing groups for Novartis, Gilead and GSK.
→ After striking a NASH deal with Merck that could be valued at $458 million, South San Francisco liver disease biotech Aligos Therapeutics has made room for ex-MPM Capital managing director James Scopa on the board of directors. Scopa claims board seats at several other companies, including DiCE Molecules and Neuron23.
→ Emerging from stealth mode, securing an upsized IPO and getting hit with a clinical hold all in a short period of time, Marcio Souza’s crew at Praxis Precision Medicines has its second new board member in as many weeks: Mass General Hospital chief of neurology Merit Cudkowicz. Retired Vertex and Merck exec Jeffrey Chodakewitz has likewise headed to the board at Praxis, which has accepted the resignations of Blackstone’s Nick Galakatos and Kiran Reddy, Praxis’ co-founder and ex-CEO.
→ Trying to rehab their image after the Josh Hardy affair, Chimerix has reserved a seat for Vicki Vakiener on the board of directors. Vakiener was promoted to chief commercial officer of Epizyme in September.
→ Mary Lynne Hedley is adding another board seat to her résumé with her new appointment at Helsinn. Most recently, Hedley was director, president and COO at Tesaro. Prior to Tesaro, Hedley was with Abraxis Bioscience, Eisai, MGI Pharma and ZYCOS. Hedley currently sits on the boards of Veeva and Centessa Pharmaceuticals.
→ CNS biotech VistaGen has added Joanne Curley to the board of directors. Curley, who was with Gilead for nearly 15 years, was named chief development officer at Vera Therapeutics last year.
→ DefiniGEN has appointed Ben Cons as chairman of the board. Cons previously held a 20-year stint at IQVIA and the associated NovaQuest investment fund. Currently, Cons is chairman of Castor EDC and Charnwood Molecular, among others. Cons jumpstarted his career at BayerSchering and GSK.
→ Errol de Souza has been elected to the board of directors at Cyclerion Therapeutics, which saw a Phase II flop with olinciguat for sickle cell disease last October. The Neurocrine founder and executive chairman of Bionomics is on the boards of Royalty Pharma and Catalyst Biosciences.
→ Ergomed has made the addition of Llew Keltner to its board of directors, replacing Ian Johnson. Keltner brings experience from his time as chairman of Raptor Pharmaceuticals and as a member of the board of Mannkind.