Gilead­'s ex-in­vestor re­la­tions chief takes CFO job at Sang­amo; For­mer GE Health­care ex­ec takes the helm at Vec­tura Group

And so the ex­o­dus con­tin­ues. Sung Lee, who had been Gilead‘s head of in­vestor re­la­tions, was named CFO of Sang­amo Ther­a­peu­tics, a cell and gene ther­a­py com­pa­ny. Lee had al­so helmed Gilead’s fi­nan­cial plan­ning and analy­sis di­vi­sion. Lee is just the lat­est in a slew of ex­its that have fol­lowed John Mil­li­gan‘s sud­den res­ig­na­tion from the CEO role in Ju­ly 2018. He had worked there for 14 years.

Will Down­ie Busi­ness Wire

UK-based res­pi­ra­to­ry drug de­vel­op­er Vec­tura Group has tapped for­mer GE Health­care ex­ec Will Down­ie as CEO. Down­ie will take over the reins from in­ter­im CEO Paul Fry — who took over the role in June at the de­par­ture of James Ward-Lil­ley. Fry will re­sume his du­ties as CFO. Pri­or to join­ing the com­pa­ny, Down­ie spent a decade as SVP at Catal­ent lead­ing the com­mer­cial ef­fort for glob­al sales and mar­ket­ing ac­tiv­i­ties. Be­fore that, he served as vice pres­i­dent and gen­er­al man­ag­er at GE Health­care and vice pres­i­dent of sales at Amer­sham Health.

→ Robin Bhat­tacher­jee has tak­en over the reins from re­tir­ing Glyn Parkin as CEO at Ac­timed Ther­a­peu­tics — a com­pa­ny fo­cused on the treat­ment of cachex­ia. Bhat­tacher­jee joins the com­pa­ny af­ter a stint as Acte­lion’s gen­er­al man­ag­er for the UK and Ire­land. Pri­or to that, he was the gen­er­al man­ag­er of CV Ther­a­peu­tics Eu­rope — which he joined af­ter serv­ing as head of mar­ket­ing at Sanofi-Syn­thélabo UK. Bhat­tacher­jee be­gan his ca­reer at Bay­er, serv­ing the com­pa­ny for 16 years in var­i­ous roles, such as UK mar­ket­ing man­ag­er and di­rec­tor in glob­al strate­gic mar­ket­ing. 

Af­ter an­nounc­ing plans for an $86 mil­lion IPO in June and pric­ing $75 mil­lion in Ju­ly, liv­er dis­ease-fo­cused Mirum Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals has named Ed Tuck­er as the com­pa­ny’s CMO. Tuck­er comes from Ac­er­ta Phar­ma, where he served as chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer — re­spon­si­ble for the busi­ness and op­er­a­tional ac­tiv­i­ties with­in the com­pa­ny’s heme-on­col­o­gy pipeline and help­ing with the US ap­proval and launch of Calquence in 2017. Pri­or to that, Tuck­er held var­i­ous stints at Bay­er, Janssen Phar­ma­ceu­ti­ca and Genen­tech.

Af­ter bag­ging $46 mil­lion cash and leap­ing out of stealth mode in Sep­tem­ber, Arch-backed Bound­less Bio is on the hunt to build out a pipeline of ecD­NA-tar­get­ing ther­a­peu­tics. The com­pa­ny has snagged Chris­t­ian Has­sig as CSO to help with that job. Has­sig served in the same role at Sier­ra On­col­o­gy be­fore join­ing Bound­less. Has­sig was the VP of drug dis­cov­ery at San­ford Burn­ham Pre­bys Med­ical Dis­cov­ery In­sti­tute and held a stint at Ka­lyp­sys. Has­sig be­gan his ca­reer at the Scripps Re­search In­sti­tute.

Chris­t­ian Has­sig Bound­less Bio

→ James Wil­son’s gene ther­a­py start­up, Pas­sage Bio — which re­cent­ly brought in bil­lion­aire Len Blavat­nik to help fund a $110 mil­lion Se­ries B round — has ap­point­ed Richard Mor­ris as CFO. Mor­ris joins from Con­text Ther­a­peu­tics where he served as EVP and CFO. Pri­or to that, Mor­ris was CFO at Vi­tae Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals (ac­quired by Al­ler­gan in 2016). Be­fore that, Mor­ris was the VP, glob­al fi­nan­cial plan­ning and strat­e­gy at Vi­roPhar­ma — help­ing lead to team to its ac­qui­si­tion by Shire.

→ Mar­i­nus Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals saw its shares eclipsed in Ju­ly when it failed to com­pare on PPD in its Phase II tri­al for a ri­val IV for­mu­la­tion of Sage’s de­pres­sion drug Zul­res­so. Now the com­pa­ny has wooed Joe Huli­han, the for­mer glob­al med­ical af­fairs leader of neu­ro­science of J&J, to the po­si­tion of CMO. Huli­han will suc­ceed Lo­ri­anne Ma­suo­ka, who is re­tir­ing from the po­si­tion. Most re­cent­ly, Huli­han was prin­ci­pal at Par­a­digm Neu­ro­science. Pri­or to that, he served in var­i­ous neu­rol­o­gy and psy­chi­a­try-fo­cused roles at J&J, in­clud­ing VP, CNS med­ical af­fairs at Janssen. In ad­di­tion, he served as di­rec­tor, CNS re­search, clin­i­cal af­fairs at Or­tho-Mc­Neil Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal.

An­tibi­otics-fo­cused En­ta­sis Ther­a­peu­tics — which is part­nered with GSK for a Phase III tri­al on the an­tibi­ot­ic zo­liflo­dacin to tar­get Neis­se­ria gon­or­rhoeae has named Mer­ck vet David Al­tarac as CMO, suc­ceed­ing re­tir­ing CMO Robin Isaacs. In his new role, Al­tarac will be re­spon­si­ble for lead­ing clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment for the com­pa­ny’s lead pro­grams, sul­bac­tam-dur­lobac­tam and zo­liflo­dacin — both in Phase III tri­als. Most re­cent­ly, he served as SVP and head of glob­al reg­u­la­to­ry af­fairs, glob­al drug safe­ty and R&D qual­i­ty and com­pli­ance at Shire. Pri­or to that, he served as VP, reg­u­la­to­ry af­fairs at NeoStem.

→ Joanne Schindler is suc­ceed­ing Gabriela Ro­su as CMO at IMV. Schindler has served as VP, clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment and ex­ec­u­tive med­ical di­rec­tor at H3 Bio­med­i­cine and as VP, clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment at Con­stel­la­tion Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals. Her pre­vi­ous stints in­clude roles at Syn­De­vRx, Im­muno­Gen and No­var­tis.

Cam­bridge, UK-based Bi­cy­cle Ther­a­peu­tics — which raised $61 mil­lion in a down­sized IPO in Mayhas brought on Nigel Crock­ett as CBO. Most re­cent­ly, Crock­ett served as a found­ing part­ner at Tukan Part­ners. He did a pre­vi­ous stint as VP, busi­ness de­vel­op­ment at As­tex Ther­a­peu­tics. In ad­di­tion, the com­pa­ny has ap­point­ed for­mer CEO and pres­i­dent of Medelle, Veron­i­ca Jor­dan, to its board of di­rec­tors, where she will serve as chair of the com­pen­sa­tion com­mit­tee. 

Af­ter re­cent­ly wel­com­ing a new CMO and VP of reg­u­la­to­ry af­fairs, Check­mate Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals has ap­point­ed Kleem Chaud­hary as CBO. Chaud­hary joins the com­pa­ny af­ter serv­ing as head of busi­ness de­vel­op­ment & li­cens­ing at Bio­gen and as a trans­ac­tion leader in busi­ness de­vel­op­ment at Take­da. He has al­so held stints at No­var­tis and Gilead Sci­ences

Af­ter bag­ging $20 mil­lion in a fi­nanc­ing round in April, Penn-part­nered and James Wil­son co-found­ed Scout Bio — fo­cused on de­vel­op­ing gene ther­a­pies for pets — has brought on Boehringer In­gel­heim (BI) vet Anne Traas as chief de­vel­op­ment of­fi­cer. Most re­cent­ly Traas served as head of Saint Joseph phar­ma clin­i­cal R&D — where she was re­spon­si­ble for tar­get an­i­mal safe­ty and ef­fi­ca­cy stud­ies — at BI sub­sidiary Boehringer In­gel­heim An­i­mal Health. She has al­so served as as­so­ciate di­rec­tor of US bi­o­log­i­cal clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment and as­so­ciate di­rec­tor of phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment at BI. Ear­li­er in her ca­reer, Traas was a res­i­dent in med­ical ge­net­ics and a clin­i­cal tri­als vet­eri­nar­i­an at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Penn­syl­va­nia. 

Af­ter re­cent­ly un­veil­ing 24-week da­ta from their OP­TIC tri­al of their ex­per­i­men­tal ther­a­py, AD­VM-022, Ad­verum Biotech­nolo­gies an­nounced the ap­point­ment of Pe­ter Soparkar as chief le­gal of­fi­cer. Soparkar joins the com­pa­ny from Coun­syl (ac­quired by Myr­i­ad Ge­net­ics), where he served in the same po­si­tion. Soparkar served as the VP and as­so­ciate gen­er­al coun­sel at Jazz Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals — where he led the trans­ac­tions of the ten­der-of­fer of Cela­tor and the ac­qui­si­tions of Gen­tium, EU­SA Phar­ma and Azur Phar­ma. Ear­li­er in his ca­reer, Soparkar worked at Lath­am & Watkins.

Anne Traas

→ NGM Bio­phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals — which re­cent­ly tout­ed pos­i­tive Phase II NASH re­sults — has hired Va­lerie Pierce as SVP, gen­er­al coun­sel and chief com­pli­ance of­fi­cer. Pierce joins the com­pa­ny from Jazz Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, where she served as as­so­ciate gen­er­al coun­sel. Be­fore Jazz, Pierce was the VP and se­nior trans­ac­tion­al coun­sel at Amyris. Her pre­vi­ous stints in­clude roles at Sune­sis Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, OneWorld Health, Tu­larik and ALZA

→ Con­tin­u­ing to ex­pand in­to the US vi­ral vec­tor mar­ket – re­cent­ly ink­ing a deal with De­nali in Jan­u­ary to de­vel­op AAV vec­tors for ther­a­peu­tics in ar­eas such as Alzheimer’s, Parkin­son’s and Lou Gehrig’s dis­ease – Siri­on Biotech has an­nounced that Siri­on’s VP, US op­er­a­tions, Carl Chris­tel, has re­lo­cat­ed to the com­pa­ny’s Cam­bridge, MA of­fice. In ad­di­tion, the com­pa­ny has brought on vi­rol­o­gist Ra­jesh Pan­i­grahi and Boston Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tal hema­tol­ogy and on­col­o­gy post­doc Ro­man Braun to fur­ther US op­er­a­tions. Both will serve as the com­pa­ny’s key ac­count man­agers.

→ Camp4 Ther­a­peu­tics — which inked a col­lab­o­ra­tion with RNAi trend­set­ter Al­ny­lam in Jan­u­ary — has named pres­i­dent and CEO of Deci­bel Ther­a­peu­tics, Steven Holtz­man, as the chair of their board of di­rec­tors and Paula Ra­gan, founder, pres­i­dent and CEO of X4 Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, as the di­rec­tor of its board. In ad­di­tion Uni­ver­si­ty of British Co­lum­bia pro­fes­sor Michael Hay­den has joined the com­pa­ny’s sci­en­tif­ic ad­vi­so­ry board.

→ Rock­well Med­ical — fo­cused on im­prove­ments for pa­tients with ane­mia, with an ini­tial fo­cus on end-stage re­nal dis­ease — has wel­comed John McLaugh­lin as chair­man of its board of di­rec­tors. McLaugh­lin is the for­mer CEO of PDL Bio­Phar­ma and will be suc­ceed­ing Ben­jamin Wolin, who will re­main on the board.

Neu­rode­gen­er­a­tive dis­ease-fo­cused Neu­ro­pore Ther­a­pies has ap­point­ed for­mer Roche ex­ec Joseph Mc­Crack­en to its board of di­rec­tors. Mc­Crack­en cur­rent­ly serves as an ad­vi­sor of cor­po­rate strat­e­gy and busi­ness de­vel­op­ment ini­tia­tives for sev­er­al bio­phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­nies, in­clud­ing Modalis Ther­a­peu­tics and Savara Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals

Biotech Ox­ford Bio­Dy­nam­ics — fo­cused on the de­vel­op­ment of epi­ge­net­ic bio­mark­ers based on reg­u­la­to­ry genome ar­chi­tec­ture — has ap­point­ed Uni­ver­si­ty of Glas­gow rheuma­tol­ogy pro­fes­sor Iain McInnes to the com­pa­ny’s sci­en­tif­ic ad­vi­so­ry board. 

A New Fron­tier: The In­ner Ear

What happens when a successful biotech venture capitalist is unexpectedly diagnosed with a chronic, life-disrupting vertigo disorder? Innovation in neurotology.

That venture capitalist was Jay Lichter, Ph.D., and after learning there was no FDA-approved drug treatment for his condition, Ménière’s disease, he decided to create a company to bring drug development to neurotology. Otonomy was founded in 2008 and is dedicated to finding new drug treatments for the hugely underserved community living with balance and hearing disorders. Helping patients like Jay has been the driving force behind Otonomy, a company heading into a transformative 2020 with three clinical trial readouts: Phase 3 in Ménière’s disease, Phase 2 in tinnitus, and Phase 1/2 in hearing loss. These catalysts, together with others in the field, highlight the emerging opportunity in neurotology.
Otonomy is leading the way in neurotology
Neurotology, or the treatment of inner ear neurological disorders, is a large and untapped market for drug developers: one in eight individuals in the U.S. have moderate-to-severe hearing loss, tinnitus or vertigo disorders such as Ménière’s disease.1 With no FDA-approved drug treatments available for these conditions, the burden on patients—including social anxiety, lower quality of life, reduced work productivity, and higher rates of depression—can be significant.2, 3, 4

Joe Jimenez, Getty

Ex-No­var­tis CEO Joe Jimenez is tak­ing an­oth­er crack at open­ing a new chap­ter in his ca­reer — and that in­cludes a new board seat and a $250M start­up

Joe Jimenez is back.

The ex-CEO of Novartis has taken a board seat on Century Therapeutics, the Versant and Bayer-backed startup focused on coming up with a brand new twist on cell therapies for cancer — a field where Jimenez made his mark backing the first personalized CAR-T approved for use.

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Can we make the an­tibi­ot­ic mar­ket great again?

The standard for-profit model in drug development is straightforward. Spend millions, even billions, to develop a medicine from scratch. The return on investment (and ideally a tidy profit) comes via volume and/or price, depending on the disease. But the string of big pharma exits and slew of biotech bankruptcies indicate that the model is sorely flawed when it comes to antibiotics.

The industry players contributing to the arsenal of antimicrobials are fast dwindling, and the pipeline for new antibiotics is embarrassingly sparse, the WHO has warned. Drugmakers are enticed by greener pastures, compared to the long, arduous and expensive path to antibiotic approval that offers little financial gain as treatments are typically priced cheaply, and often lose potency over time as microbes grow resistant to them.

Top Har­vard chemist caught up in FBI’s 'T­hou­sand Tal­ents' drag­net, ac­cused of ly­ing about Chi­nese con­nec­tions, pay

The FBI’s probe into the alleged theft of R&D secrets by Chinese authorities has drawn Harvard’s top chemist into its net.

The agency accused Charles M. Lieber, who chairs the university’s chemistry and chemical biology department, with lying about his involvement in China’s Thousand Talents campaign, which was established as a way of drawing in innovators from around the world. And the scientist, 60, was charged with making false statements about his ties to China.

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Eye­ing a trio of tri­al ini­ti­a­tions, Jim Wilson's gene ther­a­py start­up woos Bruce Gold­smith from Deer­field as CEO

Passage Bio — Jim Wilson’s self-described “legacy company” — has wooed a seasoned biotech executive to steer the clinical entry of its first three gene therapy programs.

Bruce Goldsmith jumps to the helm of Passage after a brief CEO stint at Civetta, a cancer-focused startup he helped launch while a venture partner at Deerfield. He takes over from OrbiMed partner and interim chief Stephen Squinto, who will now lead the R&D team.

The FTC and New York state ac­cuse Mar­tin Shkre­li of run­ning a drug mo­nop­oly. They plan to squash it — and per­ma­nent­ly ex­ile him

Pharma bro Martin Shkreli was jailed, publicly pilloried and forced to confront some lawmakers in Washington riled by his move to take an old generic and move the price from $17.50 per pill to $750. But through 4 years of controversy and public revulsion, his company never backed away from the price — left uncontrolled by a laissez faire federal policy on a drug’s cost.

Now the FTC and the state of New York plan to pry his fingers off the drug once and for all and open it up to some cheap competition. And their lawsuit is asking that Shkreli — with several years left on his prison sentence — be banned permanently from the pharma industry.

UP­DAT­ED: Ac­celeron res­ur­rects block­buster hopes for so­tater­cept with pos­i­tive PhII — and shares rock­et up

Acceleron $XLRN says that its first major trial readout of 2020 is a success.

In a Phase II study of 106 patients with pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH), Acceleron’s experimental drug sotatercept hit its primary endpoint: a significant reduction in pulmonary vascular resistance. The drug also met three different secondary endpoints, including the 6-minute walking test.

“We’re thrilled to report such positive topline results from the PULSAR trial,” Acceleron CEO Habib Dable said in a statement. The company said in a conference call they plan on discussing a Phase III trial design with regulators.

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Short at­tack­er Sahm Ad­ran­gi draws crosshairs over a fa­vorite of Sanofi’s new CEO — with PhII da­ta loom­ing

Sahm Adrang Kerrisdale

Kerrisdale chief Sahm Adrangi took a lengthy break from his series of biotech short attacks after his chief analyst in the field pulled up stakes and went solo. But he’s making a return to drug development this morning, drawing crosshairs over a company that’s one of new Sanofi CEO Paul Hudson’s favorite collaborators.

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Amber Saltzman (Ohana)

Flag­ship's first ven­ture of 2020 is out, and it's all about sperm

A couple years ago, Amber Salzman got a call as she was returning East full-time after a two-year stint running a gene therapy company in California.

It was from someone at Flagship Pioneering, the deep-pocketed biotech venture firm. They had a new company with a new way of thinking about sperm. It had been incubating for over a year, and now they wanted her to run it.

“It exactly fit,” Salzman told Endpoints News. “I just thought I had to do something.”