Goldman Sachs' Ankang Li heads to biotech Terns as new CFO; SV recruits new partner for Dementia Discovery Fund
→ Fresh off a NASH deal with French drugmaker Genfit, Terns Pharma has appointed Ankang Li as CFO. The Chinese biotech scooped Li from Goldman Sachs, where he led high profile biotech IPOs as executive director of healthcare investment banking. A law school graduate with a background in biomedical research — his career has taken him to Salk Institute and Merck’s Asia Pacific innovation hub — Li will hold extensive responsibilities in corporate financing and business development.
→ Venture Capital SV Health Investors announced the appointment of Jonathan Behr as partner in the Dementia Discovery Fund — which at the completion of its fundraising in 2018 raised £250 million ($350 million). Behr joins the fund from JDRF T1D fund, where he served as its first managing director. He brings experience from various roles at PureTech Ventures, Enlight Biosciences and more than 13 other companies.
→ Viela Bio has promoted Mitchell Chan, one of the AstraZeneca execs who migrated to the spinout, to CFO. Having assisted in raising capital as head of finance and corporate strategy, he will now add treasury, investor relations and other responsibilities to his plate. His placement in the C-suite comes at a time Viela is gearing up to bring its lead drug, inebilizumab, to the FDA.
→ The maker of the widely-abused opioid drug Oxycontin, Purdue Pharma is trying to leave its bad reputation behind and rebuild its R&D sector with the appointment of Julie Ducharme as the company’s vice president and CSO. The company says that Ducharme will also “support the company’s ongoing efforts to help address the opioid addiction crisis.” Ducharme has 25 years of experience under her belt and brings skills from her time at AstraZeneca, Munidpharma and the National Research Council (Canada). Purdue Pharma is reportedly considering bankruptcy — a route taken by Subsys-maker Insyswhich is reportedly considering bankruptcy — a route taken by Subsys-maker Insys.
→ Swiss-based ObsEva — a company focusing on therapies for conditions that compromise the female reproductive health and pregnancy — welcomed Elizabeth Garner to the ranks as its CMO. The current CMO and head of pharmacovigilance, Elke Bestel, will be nominated as the company’s vice president, head of drug safety and pharmacovigilance and remain on ObsEva’s executive committee. Most recently, Garner served as CMO and SVP clinical development at Agile Therapeutics. Her previous stints include roles at Myriad Genetics Laboratories, Merck Research Laboratories and Abbott Laboratories — where she was the clinical lead of the endometriosis program for the now FDA-approved elagolix (Orilissa).
→ CEO and president of Arch Oncology — a clinical-stage immuno-oncology company developing anti-CD47 mAbs — Julie Cherrington, has joined the board of directors at Mirati Therapeutics — a biotechnology company focused on cancer therapies. Cherrington was the key contributor to the development of FDA-approved products Sutent, Palladia, Vistide, Viread and Hepsera. Cherrington has a wealth of executive experience and has served at Gilead Sciences, Zenith Epigenetics and Pathway Therapeutics among others.
→ InMed Pharmaceuticals — a company focused on cannabinoids — has appointed Takeda vet Catherine Sazdanoff to its board of directors. Sazdanoff joined Takeda in 2006 and prior to that, she served in various roles at Abbott Laboratories since 1984. Sazdanoff is also the independent director of the board of Meridian Bioscience and the current president and CEO of Sazdanoff Consulting.
→ Squarex, a low-profile biotech working on a preventative treatment for cold sores, has tapped a seasoned CEO to succeed its founder at the helm. Jack Talley joins just past his four-year anniversary with Izun Pharma, which followed previous stints at Alissa, Actinium and EpiCept. He is charged with steering SQX770, a topical formulation of the immunomodulator squaric acid dibutyl ester, from Phase II trials toward an approval. Hugh McTavish, who co-invented the company’s technology with hopes of one-upping current drugs for herpes labialis, is transitioning to an executive chairman role.
→ SOPHiA GENETICS — a health tech company who developed the AI SOPHiA for healthcare professionals — welcomed Foundation Medicine vet Troy Cox to its board of directors. Prior to serving at the Foundation Medicine, Cox held roles at Genentech, UCB BioPharmaceuticals, Sanofi-Aventis and Schering-Plough.