Andrew Dickinson, Gilead

Gilead­'s chief strat­e­gy ex­ec gets a big pro­mo­tion af­ter or­ches­trat­ing multi­bil­lion-dol­lar deals

Af­ter gain­ing cred­it as the ar­chi­tect of Gilead’s $12 bil­lion Kite buy­out as well as the re­cent $5 bil­lion part­ner­ship with Gala­pa­gos, chief strat­e­gy of­fi­cer An­drew Dick­in­son is be­ing pro­mot­ed to the pres­ti­gious CFO post at the big biotech. And new CEO Daniel O’Day says the lat­est move com­pletes his makeover of the top team.

Dick­in­son will re­main in charge of strat­e­gy in his new post.

A 3-year vet­er­an at Gilead, Dick­in­son joined the bell­wether biotech af­ter a lengthy stint at Lazard Frères & Co, where he was glob­al co-head of health­care in­vest­ing. Be­fore that, iron­i­cal­ly enough, he had been at Myo­gen, which was bought out by Gilead in 2006. Now he’ll be pri­mar­i­ly re­spon­si­ble for build­ing con­fi­dence in the num­bers at a com­pa­ny that has a strong foun­da­tion in HIV, a dis­ap­pear­ing fran­chise in hep C and a CAR-T sub­sidiary in Kite that has a long way to go in es­tab­lish­ing a new busi­ness.

Dick­in­son will get some guid­ance from Robin Wash­ing­ton, who he will be re­plac­ing as CFO. Wash­ing­ton said ear­li­er that she would re­main as an ad­vis­er for the com­pa­ny as she ex­it­ed the C-suite.

O’Day has been mak­ing some sweep­ing changes at the top end of the com­pa­ny since tak­ing the helm. Part­ly that was due to an ex­o­dus of ex­ecs out of R&D as they moved to new jobs run­ning their own biotech com­pa­nies. And CEO John Mil­li­gan and chair­man John Mar­tin both left in tan­dem as Gilead sought a new di­rec­tion in drug de­vel­op­ment that would please an anx­ious Wall Street.

That’s a work in progress. And Jef­feries’ Michael Yee coun­seled pa­tience to in­vestors anx­ious to see bot­tom-line im­prove­ments.

In the last 6 months, O’Day (1) filled the Kite CEO role from LLY, (2) put in a new head of Com­mer­cial from BMY, (3) hired a CMO role from Genen­tech, and (4) filled the CFO role in­ter­nal­ly as Dick­in­son was EVP Cor­po­rate De­vel­op­ment/Strat­e­gy al­ready and has been at GILD since 2016. Of note, Dick­in­son was brought on to join GILD dur­ing the lat­er part of the John Mil­li­gan era. Dick­in­son was close with Mil­li­gan pre­vi­ous­ly hav­ing served for a decade at Lazard to help ad­vise on strate­gic ideas in­clud­ing BD and M&A. Bot­tom line for GILD – in­vestors will need pa­tience. Im­proved sto­ries aren’t made overnight.

“Andy is an ex­cep­tion­al, high­ly strate­gic leader. In ad­di­tion to his im­pres­sive busi­ness and fi­nan­cial acu­men and broad ex­pe­ri­ence, Andy pos­sess­es strong cre­ativ­i­ty and vi­sion. This has been ev­i­dent in the way Gilead has ap­proached ac­qui­si­tions and part­ner­ships un­der Andy’s lead­er­ship,” not­ed O’Day. “Over the past months, one of my key pri­or­i­ties has been to en­sure we have an out­stand­ing team of lead­ers to shape Gilead’s long-term suc­cess. I am pleased that with Andy’s ap­point­ment as CFO, we now have our full lead­er­ship team in place.”

BiTE® Plat­form and the Evo­lu­tion To­ward Off-The-Shelf Im­muno-On­col­o­gy Ap­proach­es

Despite rapid advances in the field of immuno-oncology that have transformed the cancer treatment landscape, many cancer patients are still left behind.1,2 Not every person has access to innovative therapies designed specifically to treat his or her disease. Many currently available immuno-oncology-based approaches and chemotherapies have brought long-term benefits to some patients — but many patients still need other therapeutic options.3

Michael Gladstone, partner at Atlas Venture

At­las rais­es new $400M fund amid spree of VC rais­es. Here’s what they’ll spend it on

You can add another few hundred million to the now Montana-sized reservoir of cash biotech VCs have raised since the WHO declared Covid-19 a pandemic.

Atlas Venture, the prominent Kendall Square incubator, has raised $400 million for its twelfth biotech fund, their first in 3 years. After a string of mammoth new raises from other major VCs in April and May, the total pot now stands between $5 billion and $6 billion, depending on how you slice it.

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President Donald Trump (left) and Moncef Slaoui, head of Operation Warp Speed (Alex Brandon, AP Images)

UP­DAT­ED: White House names fi­nal­ists for Op­er­a­tion Warp Speed — with 5 ex­pect­ed names and one no­table omis­sion

A month after word first broke of the Trump Administration’s plan to rapidly accelerate the development and production of a Covid-19 vaccine, the White House has selected the five vaccine candidates they consider most likely to succeed, The New York Times reported.

Most of the names in the plan, known as Operation Warp Speed, will come as little surprise to those who have watched the last four months of vaccine developments: Moderna, which was the first vaccine to reach humans and is now the furthest along of any US effort; J&J, which has not gone into trials but received around $500 million in funding from BARDA earlier this year; the joint AstraZeneca-Oxford venture which was granted $1.2 billion from BARDA two weeks ago; Pfizer, which has been working with the mRNA biotech BioNTech; and Merck, which just entered the race and expects to put their two vaccine candidates into humans later this year.

Is a pow­er­house Mer­ck team prepar­ing to leap past Roche — and leave Gilead and Bris­tol My­ers be­hind — in the race to TIG­IT dom­i­na­tion?

Roche caused quite a stir at ASCO with its first look at some positive — but not so impressive — data for their combination of Tecentriq with their anti-TIGIT drug tiragolumab. But some analysts believe that Merck is positioned to make a bid — soon — for the lead in the race to a second-wave combo immuno-oncology approach with its own ambitious early-stage program tied to a dominant Keytruda.

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David Meline, incoming Moderna CFO

Am­gen vet David Meline finds a new CFO roost at Mod­er­na, tak­ing a ride on the Covid-19 tiger as de­part­ing ex­ec cash­es out with $12M

We found out a few weeks ago that Moderna CFO Lorence Kim isn’t waiting around to see how the biotech wunderkind makes out in its frantic race to field a messenger RNA vaccine that can quell Covid-19. And now we know who’s stepping on board to take his place in the latest move in the executive suite.

David Meline, who forged his rep during a 6-year run at Amgen, slipped out the exit right after his Q2 “retirement” party in California — presumably virtual — and started the next chapter of his career at a biotech company betting big on revolutionizing the vaccine R&D space.

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Leen Kawas, Athira CEO (Athira)

Can a small biotech suc­cess­ful­ly tack­le an Ever­est climb like Alzheimer’s? Athi­ra has $85M and some in­flu­en­tial back­ers ready to give it a shot

There haven’t been a lot of big venture rounds for biotech companies looking to run a Phase II study in Alzheimer’s.

The field has been a disaster over the past decade. Amyloid didn’t pan out as a target — going down in a litany of Phase III failures — and is now making its last stand at Biogen. Tau is a comer, but when you look around and all you see is destruction, the idea of backing a startup trying to find complex cocktails to swing the course of this devilishly complicated memory-wasting disease would daunt the pluckiest investors.

GSK presents case to ex­pand use of its lu­pus drug in pa­tients with kid­ney dis­ease, but the field is evolv­ing. How long will the mo­nop­oly last?

In 2011, GlaxoSmithKline’s Benlysta became the first biologic to win approval for lupus patients. Nine years on, the British drugmaker has unveiled detailed positive results from a study testing the drug in lupus patients with associated kidney disease — a post-marketing requirement from the initial FDA approval.

Lupus is a drug developer’s nightmare. In the last six decades, there has been just one FDA approval (Benlysta), with the field resembling a graveyard in recent years with a string of failures including UCB and Biogen’s late-stage flop, as well as defeats in Xencor and Sanofi’s programs. One of the main reasons the success has eluded researchers is because lupus, akin to cancer, is not just one disease — it really is a disease of many diseases, noted Al Roy, executive director of Lupus Clinical Investigators Network, an initiative of New York-based Lupus Research Alliance that claims it is the world’s leading private funder of lupus research, in an interview.

Covid-19 roundup: Mod­er­na read­ies to en­ter PhI­II in Ju­ly, As­traZeneca not far be­hind; EU ready to ne­go­ti­ate vac­cine ac­cess with $2.7B fund

Moderna may soon add another first to the Covid-19 vaccine race.

In March, the mRNA biotech was the first company to put a Covid-19 vaccine into humans. Next month, they may become the first company to put their vaccine into the large, late-stage trials that are needed to prove whether the vaccine is effective.

In an interview with JAMA editor Howard Bauchner, NIAID chief Anthony Fauci said that a 30,000-person, Phase III trial for Moderna’s vaccine could start in July. The news comes a week after Moderna began a Phase II study that will enroll several hundred people.

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José Basel­ga finds promise in new class of RNA-mod­i­fy­ing can­cer tar­gets, lock­ing in 3 pre­clin­i­cal pro­grams with $55M

Having dived early into some of the RNA breakthroughs of the last decades — betting on Moderna’s mRNA tech and teaming up with Silence on the siRNA front — AstraZeneca is jumping into a new arena: going after proteins that modify RNA.

Their partner of choice is Accent Therapeutics, which is receiving $55 million in upfront payment to steer a selected preclinical program through to the end of Phase I. After AstraZeneca takes over, the Lexington, MA-based startup has the option to co-develop and co-commercialize in the US — and collect up to $1.1 billion in milestones in the long run. The deal also covers two other potential drug candidates.

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