Hello, I must be going: Jorge Gomez is Moderna CFO for only a day; As setbacks mount, Inovio’s Joseph Kim chooses the exit ramp
→ David Meline will have to put his retirement on hold.
In one of the more high-profile one-day tenures since Bill Belichick with the New York Jets, Jorge Gomez’s time as CFO at Moderna is over before it started. Gomez had replaced Meline this Monday, but the following day Gomez was gone after his former company, dental products manufacturer Dentsply Sirona, revealed an investigation that began in March into the “use of incentives to sell products to distributors in the third and fourth quarters of 2021, and whether those incentives were appropriately accounted for and the impact of those sales was adequately disclosed in the Company’s periodic reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission,” as stated in the SEC filing.
Meline is back in the CFO slot while chief executive Stéphane Bancel goes back to the drawing board for a successor.
→ Joseph Kim was not short on bluster, claiming that Inovio had “developed a vaccine in a matter of hours” in the early days of Covid-19. A fusillade of bad news with its Covid-19 vaccine candidate curtailed the Pennsylvania biotech’s efforts, from manufacturing spats to clinical holds, and now Kim is on his way out after 13 years at the helm. Enter Jacqueline Shea, Inovio’s COO since March 2019, to replace Kim as CEO. Shea’s previous experience as chief executive was with Aeras, a nonprofit focused on tuberculosis vaccines, and she’ll need to recalibrate a lurching pipeline at Inovio that’s also been hit with a delay on VGX-3100, a cervical cancer drug which won’t have a BLA ready in 2023.
→ Ameet Mallik is getting a shot at redemption after the Phase III pratfall with devimistat ended his tenure at Rafael Holdings. Mallik will replace Chris Martin as CEO of Swiss biotech ADC Therapeutics, which has branched out to China through its joint venture with Hillhouse-backed Overland Pharmaceuticals and notched an FDA approval in April 2021 for loncastuximab tesirine-lpyl, an antibody drug conjugate now marketed as Zynlonta. The devimistat results were so worrisome back in October that it spurred a housecleaning that included Mallik, who spent 16 years at Novartis and was EVP and head of US oncology from 2017-21.
→ J&J is lining up top leadership for its consumer health spinoff, naming Thibaut Mongon CEO designate and Paul Ruh CFO designate. Mongon, the EVP and worldwide chairman of consumer health since 2019, joined J&J back in 2000, while Ruh left PepsiCo after 17 years to take on the role of group CFO in the consumer health business five years ago. In November 2021, J&J mimicked other Big Pharmas before them like Merck, Pfizer and GSK by choosing to split the consumer division into what is still being creatively referred to as the New Consumer Health Company in press releases.
→ Not only did he cut loose from the CEO gig at his Covid-19 antibody play Adagio Therapeutics — which had its hopes torpedoed by the Omicron variant — Tillman Gerngross is also stepping away as chief executive of Adimab after co-founding the company 15 years ago. Gerngross will shift gears as executive chairman of the board and hand the keys to Philip Chase, Adimab’s general counsel since 2011. Eric Krauland, who’s been with Gerngross from the beginning here, will remain CSO but will need new business cards that show he’s also been named president of the company.
“I have the utmost confidence in this leadership team, who has been executing together for more than a decade, and I am proud to offer them this growth opportunity,” Gerngross said in a statement.
→ Geoff Green is exiting stage left as CEO of Longeveron on June 1, leaving CMO Chris Min to look after the Miami-based company on an interim basis. Green joined Longeveron at SVP of clinical operations in 2016 and was promoted to CEO in November 2020. The following August, its experimental cell therapy for aging frailty, lomecel-B, whiffed badly compared to placebo in a Phase IIb trial. Min had briefly led medical and clinical development at Enterin before taking the CMO job at Longeveron last month.
→ Boston Pharmaceuticals has been looking for someone to replace CEO Robert Armstrong for a few months. And they still are. But for now, Sophie Kornowski will step in as acting CEO and chair of the board, while the interim co-CEO system they had with Joanne Beck and Craig Basson will dissolve. Beck will now concentrate on her CMO duties, while Basson continues his dual roles of COO and CMO. Kornowski is a partner at Gurnet Point Capital, which launched Boston Pharmaceuticals in 2015 with ex-Sanofi chief Chris Viehbacher as CEO. To close out her 11 years with Roche, Kornowski was global head of Roche Partnering.
→ Thomas Appio doesn’t exactly take control at an optimal moment, but in a prepared statement he nonetheless expressed that it is “an honor and privilege to lead Bausch Health at this pivotal time in its history.” Appio’s predecessor Joe Papa is now the chairman and CEO of Bausch + Lomb, the eye care spinoff once named Valeant Pharmaceuticals that returned to the NYSE in underwhelming fashion with an IPO well below its range. Stocks tumbled more than 25% after a grisly Q1 earnings report at Bausch Health, which is also mired in a DOJ investigation over how they marketed three plaque psoriasis drugs (Siliq, Bryhali, Duobrii) and an antifungal drug (Jublia).
→ Ying Huang had been pulling double duty as chief executive and CFO of Legend, but he can now focus solely on his work as CEO with the promotion of Lori Macomber to finance chief. Macomber, the ex-associate VP of financial planning & analysis for Eli Lilly, was named VP of supply chain finance and controller at Legend in 2019 and would eventually be elevated to VP of finance in the spring of 2021. We also learned last week that no charges will be brought against Huang’s predecessor Frank Zhang following the customs investigation that placed him under house arrest in September 2020.
→ Redoubling its efforts to bring its hemophilia A gene therapy back to the FDA after its rejection in 2020 and striking an optimistic tone overall in its Q1 call in late April, BioMarin has mined Big Pharma to fill two key posts. Humaira Serajuddin (chief marketing officer) was in sales and marketing at Novartis Oncology before moving on to GSK, where she had remained for 11 years until 2019. In her final position at the UK pharma giant, she was VP & global medicines commercialization leader for the COPD portfolio. Meanwhile, Erin Burkhart (group VP, chief accounting officer) spent the last eight years at Eli Lilly, rounding out her time there as associate VP, US gross-to-net business analysis.
→ To accompany the pipeline pivot to epilepsy that was announced in March, Ovid Therapeutics has given Meg Alexander the new role of chief corporate affairs officer, according to the biotech’s Q1 report. Alexander, who had been head of communications for Jeremy Levin at Ovid, formerly led the reputation & risk management practice at Syneos Health.
→ Derailed by a CRL for its would-be Neulasta rival Rolontis and forced to trim down its workforce by 30% in an intensifying bear market, Spectrum Pharmaceuticals said goodbye to CFO Kurt Gustafson in February. Effective May 25, Nora Brennan will replace Gustafson as finance chief after serving in the same role at Fore Biotherapeutics for the last year. Brennan has also been a CFO with TELA Bio and Xeris Pharmaceuticals.
→ More promotions have been handed out at Morphic Therapeutic, with Bruce Rogers getting elevated to president and Blaise Lippa rising to CSO. Rogers, the chief scientist at Morphic since 2016, was head of neuro-opportunities to close out his 13 years at Pfizer, while Lippa is a founding member of the staff who’s been SVP of molecular discovery the past two years. Lippa came to Morphic from Cubist Pharmaceuticals, where he was senior director of medicinal chemistry. Last month, Aaron Pelta earned a promotion to SVP, business and corporate development and Morphic also hired Brihad Abhyankar as VP of clinical development.
→ Having served as colleagues back at Eyevance Pharmaceuticals, duo Jerry St. Peter and Wes Brazell are now coming back together at dermatologic and ophthalmic therapeutics-focused Xequel Bio as CEO and CFO, respectively. This isn’t St. Peter’s first rodeo wearing the CEO hat, having manned the ship over at Eyevance in the same role and as president prior to the company’s acquisition in 2020. Prior to that stint, St. Peter was SVP and head of Sun Pharmaceutical’s ophthalmics division, general manager of Nicox’s ophthalmic business in the US and SVP and head of the ophthalmic division at Inspire Pharmaceuticals (acquired by Merck in 2011).
Meanwhile, Brazell formerly served as CFO of Eyevance and TearLab and has experience in leadership roles at Alcon during his 21-year gig there.
→ FDA vet Ke Liu has bolted from Sana Biotechnology and taken on the role of chief development officer at Marengo Therapeutics, a TCR startup targeting the Vβ chain which Apple Tree Partners unveiled in November 2021. Liu was just named Sana’s global head of regulatory strategy after originally coming on board in late 2020 as head of regulatory affairs & strategy, which Peer Review reported at the time. Elsewhere at Marengo, Harvard professor Bruce Chabner — clinical director emeritus for the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center — will lend a hand as senior strategic advisor.
→ Launched in 2019 from the lab of MIT’s Darrell Irvine, cancer upstart Elicio Therapeutics has promoted Peter DeMuth to CSO and named Joy Seymour VP, head of regulatory affairs. DeMuth, an Irvine disciple, has been a part of Elicio from its infancy and had served as VP of research. Meanwhile, Seymour ends her 14-year stay at Bristol Myers Squibb as global regulatory lead for cellular therapy and worked closely on such drugs as Breyanzi and Abraxane.
→ Encinitas, CA-based immune modulation Ventyx Biosciences has tapped Shoreline Biosciences co-founder William Sandborn as president and CMO, succeeding Jörn Drappa, who took the job in September 2021 when the biotech racked up $51 million in Series B financing. Sandborn turned up in Peer Review a year ago when he became medical chief at Shoreline not long after the appointment of CFO Vanessa Jacoby.
→ Chris Barbazette has been appointed chief commercial officer of DNA Script, the DNA synthesis outfit that hit a $165 million Series C jackpot in October with Casdin Capital leading a clutch of investors. After a series of positions in a nine-year period at Affymetrix, culminating in a stint as SVP, global commercial operations, Barbazette would then become CCO at Agendia and, most recently, German-based Resolve Biosciences.
→ French biotech MedinCell has installed Richard Malamut as CMO. A Bristol Myers and AstraZeneca vet who’s held CMO roles at Collegium Pharmaceutical and Avanir Pharmaceuticals, Malamut also led early clinical strategy for TV-46000/mdc-IRM — the subcutaneous schizophrenia drug that was knocked back by a CRL a few weeks ago — at MedinCell’s partner Teva from 2013-16.
→ Staying in France, Step Pharma continues to piece together its clinical development team with the appointments of Brian Schwartz as CMO and Maureen Higgins as VP and head of clinical operations. Most recently, Schwartz served as CMO and head of R&D at ArQule, which was acquired by Merck in 2020. Higgins was previously VP for project management at Precision for Medicine, and she has also served as director for project management at Chiltern Oncology.
→ A couple weeks after Mark Sirgo took over for Stephen Squinto as chairman, Italian gene therapy player Genenta Science has made Tim Obara head of business development. Before joining the biotech co-founded by Luigi Naldini, Obara worked at Jim Wilson’s Gene Therapy Program at Penn as executive director of research operations. Breaking through in marketing at Merck, Obara then held several business development positions at GSK and AstraZeneca, and prior to Penn he was VP technical operations, CMC gene therapy manufacturing operations lead for Amicus.
→ Roche-backed NMD Pharma, which recently hauled in a $40 million raise, has found a new CMO in Jorge Quiroz. Prior to joining the Danish neuromuscular disorder biotech, Quiroz served as CMO at a pair of gene therapy companies, Apic Bio and Solid Biosciences. The ex-Roche head of neurodevelopment and psychiatry also served as director of translational medicine at J&J.
→ Bit by bit, Camarillo, CA-based CAR-T developer ImmPACT Bio is assembling its senior leadership after a $111 million Series A in January. A few weeks after Venkat Yepuri became COO, Baxter and Shire alum Sylvain Roy has signed on to ImmPACT Bio as chief technology officer. Roy had spent the last year as VP of manufacturing operations for ImmunityBio, and he was VP, manufacturing & process sciences with NantKwest before Patrick Soon-Shiong merged the two companies in late 2020.
→ Richard Wanstall has joined oncolytic virus biotech Oncorus — which hit Nasdaq during the go-go days of 2020 — as CFO. Wanstall previously served as CFO and treasurer at Aileron Therapeutics, and he has also spent time at Moderna as VP of finance.
→ Joan Schmidt has joined Pharvaris, which is looking to compete in the hereditary angioedema space with an oral drug instead of the available injectables, as chief legal officer, effective June 1. Most recently Schmidt, a legal exec for a decade at Novo Nordisk, served as general counsel and secretary at Arena Pharmaceuticals, and she was also general counsel at DBV Technologies.
→ Scandion Oncology is bringing out the welcome wagon for Alfredo Zurlo, who’s been appointed CMO. Zurlo had a 7-year stint at Roche, serving as international medical director of oncology and headed the launch of bevacizumab (Avastin) in Europe. After his tenure at Roche, Zurlo picked up the CMO role at Glycotope and Mologen.
→ Carmell Therapeutics — focused on accelerating bone and soft tissue healing — is bringing Sebastian “Sebby” Borriello into the fold as CBO. Borriello spent 25 years of his career with J&J and most recently served as CCO of SK Life Science, where he helped lead the US launch of Xcopri in May 2020.
→ New Jersey-based Elite Pharmaceuticals is ringing in Robert Chen as CFO, taking over the reins from Marc Bregman. Chen formerly served as CFO, VP of finance for KBP Biosciences and has also held financial roles at Bradley Pharmaceuticals, Novartis, Victory Commercial Management, Medimetriks Pharmaceuticals and Taiho Oncology.
→ Opus Genetics is picking up Jennifer Hunt as chief development officer. Hunt joins the North Carolina-based company with a wealth of experience under her belt, having served at Voyager Therapeutics, Editas Medicine, Retrophin and Sanofi-Aventis, among others.
→ Life science tools company Lumicks has ushered in Andre Nel as CFO. Nel joins the Amsterdam-based company from Dante Labs, having served in the same role as CFO. Prior to that, Nel had a 7-year stint at Illumina, culminating in his role as VP of finance. Additionally, earlier in his career, Nel held roles at Pfizer.
→ Salt Lake City-based Recursion, which struck an AI pact with Roche and Genentech last December, has named Ryan Kelly as its first chief communications officer. Kelly most recently served at Virgin Hyperloop One, where he oversaw global marketing and communications. Prior to that Kelly had gigs at The New York Times, WPP, Media-Corps and GWNewYork.
→ To the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex we go, where Southlake-based OncoNano Medicine has welcomed Elina Lavit as VP, business development. Lavit was previously executive director, program management of Taysha Gene Therapies, another DFW biotech and one of many companies in the industry beset by layoffs in the ferocious bear market. She’s also been director of program management at MyoKardia and Bristol Myers. OncoNano’s Phase II trial is ongoing for its lead asset, a fluorescence imaging agent called pegsitacianine.
→ Chicago-based physIQ is bringing aboard John Wilson as SVP and general manager of life sciences and Chris Englerth as VP of marketing. Wilson joins with stints from Oracle, Medidata Solutions and Veeva Systems under his belt, while Englerth formerly served in roles at Phlexglobal, Bioclinica, Apria Healthcare and the American Red Cross.
→ Sandra Horning has kept busy through a collection of board appointments since her retirement in 2019, and this week the former CMO and global head of product development at Roche has gained a seat on the board at Fabrice Chouraqui’s Flagship company Cellarity. She’s also a board member at the drug pricing disruptor she co-founded, EQRx, as well as Gilead, Moderna and Sean Bohen-led Olema Oncology.
→ Mary Lynne Hedley will be a member of Eli Lilly’s board of directors effective May 15. Hedley, a board member at Centessa and Helsinn, is a senior scientific fellow at the Broad Institute and the co-founder, former president and COO of Tesaro, which GSK purchased three years ago.
→ NexImmune has first-year CEO Kristi Jones in place and promoted Mathias Oelke to CSO a few weeks ago, and they’re now making a splash by electing Leena Gandhi to the board of directors. Gandhi returned to Dana-Farber in 2020 and is director of the Center for Cancer Therapeutic Innovation after her stint as VP, immuno-oncology development at Eli Lilly.
→ CRISPR genome editing player Caribou Biosciences released early data yesterday for its allogeneic CAR-T CB-010 and has appointed David Johnson to the board of directors. After almost 15 years in sales and marketing at Gilead, Johnson has held the role of chief commercial officer at Global Blood Therapeutics for four years.
→ UCLA professor and researcher Antoni Ribas has been named chairman of the board at the Israeli company he founded in 2015, Lutris Pharma. Ribas also co-founded Kalthera, which merged with ImmPACT Bio last summer.
→ Augustine Therapeutics is pulling in Gerhard Koenig as chairman of its board. Koenig co-founded Arkuda Therapeutics, where he serves as president and CEO. Koenig is also an entrepreneur-in-residence with Atlas Venture and has formerly held roles at Quartet Medicine (CEO), FORUM Pharmaceuticals (CSO and SVP), Fidelity Biosciences and Bayer.
Additionally, the company has announced the formation of a scientific advisory board with David Pareyson, Jonathan Baets, Philip Van Damme, Guido Cavaletti, Rainer Freynhagen, Hans Wildiers and Janssen vet Nicholas Carruthers.
→ Taking a dip in the treacherous IPO waters with a $69 million raise, AN2 Therapeutics has added Maggie FitzPatrick to the board of directors. The Cigna and J&J communications exec, who was also SVP, corporate affairs, philanthropy and customer engagement for Exelon, is on VistaGen’s board of directors.
→ Aussie-based Servatus is reeling in Uwe Buecheler as non-executive director of its board. Buecheler has spent more than 30 years at Boehringer Ingelheim, currently serving as the company’s senior advisor biopharmaceuticals for its board of management directors. Prior to that, Buecheler led a number of senior roles at Boehringer across CMC development, regulatory, biosafety, quality and as site head and lead for an expansion of the company’s global operation network in Europe, the US and China.
→ BigHat Biosciences is pulling out a seat for former Nektar Therapeutics CEO Rob Chess on its board of directors. Currently, Chess serves as chairman of Nektar and lead director of Twist Bioscience. Prior to this, Chess co-founded Biota Technologies and Penederm and was the first CEO of OPX Biotechnologies.
→ Icelandic biotech EpiEndo Pharmaceuticals — which back in August landed a €20 million Series A for the development of its anti-inflammatory COPD treatment — has found two new non-executive board members, Isaac Cohen and Eugen Steiner, to succeed departed member Robert Helgason. Cohen is founder, president and CEO of Iaterion and was previously founder, chairman and CEO of Bionovo. Meanwhile, Steiner is a venture partner at VC fund Healthcap and currently CEO of Nordic Vision Clinics.
→ Vancouver-based SOLVE FSHD is welcoming aboard Eva Chin as executive director. Chin comes with experience from Pfizer, the University of Maryland, MyoTherapeutics, Cytokinetics and NMD Pharma.
→ Pneumagen is tacking John Beadle onto its board of directors as non-executive director. Beadle is the founder and former CEO of PsiOxus Therapeutics and earlier in his career served at PowerMed (founder and CMO), Pfizer and GSK.
→ Rejuvenate Biomed has recruited Ajit Shetty as chair of its board. Shetty, prior to his retirement in 2017, was chairman of Janssen Pharmaceutica and a member of the operating committee of J&J. During his long career at the pharma giant, Shetty was president of Janssen in the US and spent nearly a decade at Janssen as managing director.
→ Cambridge, UK-based Domainex has appointed Scott Martin as analytical and bioanalytical group leader. Martin spent two decades over at AstraZeneca as associate principal scientist within the oncology DMPK department and has held roles at Roche, GlaxoWellcome and Zeneca Agrochemicals.
→ Premas Biotech is plucking up Saumen Chakraborty as part of its board of directors. Chakraborty previously served as CFO and president of Dr. Reddy’s.