Hemgenix now approved, Paul Perreault plans his exit from CSL; LianBio president hands in resignation
→ As CSL trends upward, Paul Perreault will soon step down, putting one of his lieutenants in the top spot.
Paul McKenzie, the COO at the Australian pharma since 2019, will become CSL’s chief executive on March 6, while Perreault lends a hand in an advisory capacity for six more months after the transition takes effect. McKenzie owns Big Pharma experience from Merck, Bristol Myers Squibb and J&J’s Janssen, and was Biogen’s EVP of pharmaceutical operations & technology before CSL came calling.
The hemophilia B drug Hemgenix, which CSL developed with uniQure, was approved in late November. But its $3.5 million price tag dwarfs that of Novartis’ spinal muscular atrophy gene therapy Zolgensma, known as pharma’s most expensive drug at $2 million. Perreault, who was named CEO in 2013, also steered CSL to an $11.7 billion acquisition of Vifor Pharma and teed up an mRNA alliance with Arcturus for $200 million upfront.
“In working closely with Dr. McKenzie for more than three years, I am confident he will continue to innovate and build on CSL’s track record of growth for years to come,” Perreault said in a statement.
→ Debra Yu and Bing Li built LianBio as its first staffers in 2019, but Yu is walking away as president and chief strategy officer on Jan. 1 “to pursue other business and professional interests and opportunities,” according to the press release.
With a large supporting cast, RA Capital and Venrock led LianBio’s $310 million financing round in October 2020 — and a month later, Pfizer followed up with $70 million more. The Perceptive US-China startup landed on Nasdaq with a $325 million IPO in November 2021, and through Bristol Myers’ acquisition of MyoKardia, the Big Pharma and LianBio picked up an FDA nod with Camzyos, the obstructive hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) drug known investigationally as mavacamten.
Yu jumped from CBO to chief strategy officer in September 2021, not long after Eli Lilly’s Yizhe Wang replaced Li as CEO.
→ Things were already going to look markedly different from a leadership perspective at Roche when CEO Severin Schwan announced that he would depart on March 14, 2023. But Roche Pharmaceuticals CEO Bill Anderson will leave first as the turnover continues. This week’s press release indicates Anderson will exit to “pursue opportunities outside of Roche” on Dec. 31, while Roche’s CEO-in-waiting Thomas Schinecker will lead Roche Pharma on an interim basis.
Elsewhere at Roche, Silke Hörnstein — the global head of strategy and transformation for Roche’s diagnostics group — takes on a new role as head of corporate strategy in April 2023, while Nestlé CEO Mark Schneider and Yale professor Akiko Iwasaki are slated to be the newest board members.
Roche received a number of FDA nods in Anderson’s tenure, with Zolgensma and Spinraza competitor Evrysdi as the standout, but an attempt at resurrecting the Alzheimer’s drug gantenerumab recently whiffed in two Phase IIIs.
→ Lynn Seely is back at the helm of another biotech, replacing Liz Homans as president and CEO of Rick Klausner’s T cell outfit Lyell Immunopharma. Seely, a board member at Lyell for the past year and a half, piloted Myovant Sciences to the approval of its prostate cancer drug Orgovyx during her tenure as CEO from 2016-21.
While Myovant was getting another OK for the uterine fibroid med Myfembree in an auspicious start to the David Marek era, Lyell was about to make some noise of its own. In June 2021, at a time when companies left and right were making a mad dash to Nasdaq, the South San Francisco biotech separated itself from the pack by going public with a $425 million IPO, the third-largest in the industry last year behind Sana and Recursion. But with a chill permeating through the markets, Lyell’s stock price $LYEL has fallen nearly 80% since.
Homans has agreed to take a consulting role with Lyell until June 2024.
→ Curate Biosciences has found its next CEO in David Backer. Backer takes the reins from founding CEO Michael Grisham, who will transition to the role of chairman of Curate’s board. Backer joins the crew from Oxford Biomedica, where he served as CCO. Prior to that stint, Backer was SVP, commercial development at ElevateBio. Backer also boasts of an earlier career at MilliporeSigma as head of commercial development for gene editing and novel modalities.
→ Citing “personal reasons,” Stefan Oschmann is out after a year as chairman of Belgian multinational UCB, making ExeVir Bio COO Fiona du Monceau interim chair until a successor is named. Oschmann rose to chairman and CEO of Merck KGaA in April 2016, replacing Karl-Ludwig Kley, but president/CEO of healthcare Belén Garijo took over in May 2021 upon Oschmann’s departure. UCB scored an FDA approval in March for Fintepla — a drug it picked up from Zogenix— in patients ages 2 and up with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. But the agency turned down UCB’s BLA for its plaque psoriasis drug bimekizumab two months later.
→ Antibody-based drug developer Kling Biotherapeutics out of Amsterdam has tapped Michael Koslowski as CEO. Koslowski is a Boehringer Ingelheim vet who co-founded Adaptate Biotherapeutics and was CMO/R&D chief at GammaDelta Therapeutics, a startup that was sold to Takeda last year. Ex-musician DA Wallach has not only invested in Kling, but in Elon Musk’s Neuralink with his VC firm Time BioVentures.
→ Now under the direction of ex-eGenesis chief Paul Sekhri, diabetes-focused vTv Therapeutics has installed Steven Tuch as CFO. The ex-managing director and head of healthcare equity capital markets at BMO Capital Markets recently led corporate development at Rallybio, which just teamed up with AbCellera on a rare disease pact. With Sekhri running the show, vTv hopes to rebound after a pipeline reorg, a significant staff reduction and the resignation of his predecessor Deepa Prasad, who lasted four months.
→ Vigil Neuroscience announced Thursday that its CMO Spyridon Papapetropoulos was hitting the exit to pursue a CEO opportunity. Now, we know where he went. Papapetropoulos is showing up at Aussie-based Bionomics to steer the company as its new CEO and president, replacing Errol De Souza. Prior to his role at Vigil, Papapetropoulos was chief development officer and SVP, head of development at Acadia Pharmaceuticals and CEO at SwanBio. Papapetropoulos’ résumé also boasts of stints at Cavion, Biogen, Allergan, Pfizer and Teva.
→ Papapetropoulos‘ departure from Vigil wasn’t the only change at the company. The Cambridge, MA-based biotech had also brought on David Gray as CSO. Gray joins from Inscopix, where he served in the same role. Prior to that, Gray was VP of chemistry at Tony Coles-led Cerevel Therapeutics and had a 16-year long gig at Pfizer, culminating in his role as senior director, neuroscience biology.
→ Leonardo Faoro has signed on as CMO of RAS therapy developer Quanta Therapeutics. Faoro comes to the South San Francisco biotech from Exelixis, where he was SVP and early clinical development lead, and he worked on Avastin at Genentech from 2009-14. Sofinnova, AbbVie, Surveyor Capital and Longitude Capital were among those that contributed to Quanta’s $60 million Series C in October 2021.
→ Vienna-based immunotherapy company Hookipa Pharma will be ringing in the new year with a promotion and board appointment. Hookipa is promoting its EVP, clinical research and development Katia Schlienger to the role of CMO. Schlienger joined Hookipa in January 2021 after a 14-year long stint at Merck, where she held a variety of roles across early and late-stage clinical development in oncology and vaccines.
Joining the board will be MorphoSys’ chief research and development officer Malte Peters, who also sits on the board of Tango Therapeutics.
→ Comanche Biopharma has recruited Allison August as CMO. August hails from Moderna, where she was VP of clinical development, infectious diseases. Also during her time with Moderna, August helped lead clinical development of several vaccines including RSV, hMPV-PIV, Zika and chikungunya. Earlier in her career, August was with Novavax and Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics.
→ Wendy Dwyer appeared in this space last September when she took the CBO job at Saniona; this week she’s turned up as business chief of AI Proteins, a de novo protein maker from Boston. Prior to her time at Saniona, Dwyer was CBO at Surface Oncology and VP, corporate business development with Ipsen.
→ London VC Abingworth has welcomed Joy Ghosh to the team as managing director. Ghosh, who held business development positions at Novartis and Biogen, had recently been a portfolio manager with Eventide Asset Management.
→ Kirke Weaver will soon remove the interim label at Organon: He’ll be the permanent general counsel and corporate secretary for the Merck women’s healthcare spinout when the ball drops in Times Square on Jan. 1. Weaver had filled several legal positions at Merck since 2003 before pivoting to Organon as SVP, commercial, regulatory, securities, employment & deputy corporate secretary in early 2021.
→ Cybrexa Therapeutics is bringing Michael Needle into the fold as CMO, taking over for Arthur DeCillis, who will be transitioning back into a consulting role. Needle boasts former stints as CMO at Aveo Oncology, Array BioPharma and as VP, pediatric strategy at Celgene.
→ Bay Area genome sequencing outfit Personalis is saying goodbye to its CEO, co-founder and board member John West as he heads into retirement. West founded the company in 2011 with four Stanford professors. In the meantime, CFO Aaron Tachibana will serve as interim CEO and Christopher Hall, Personalis’ SVP and head, diagnostics business, has been promoted to president.
→ Akron Bio is waving in Christopher Murphy as CEO. Murphy brings experience from his times at Thermo Fisher (VP and general manager of viral vector services), Brammer Bio (COO), Sanofi Genzyme, BioReliance and Lederle Laboratories.
→ Texas-based cardiorenal disease player Renibus Therapeutics has named Asha Ramdas as SVP, program management, technical operations and manufacturing. Ramdas had been global product general manager for tezepelumab (marketed as Tezspire) and then VP, commercialization, program and portfolio management at Amgen, the last pharma standing to buy Horizon Therapeutics in the industry’s biggest M&A news of the year.
→ Peer Review knows you’re shocked to hear this, but John Maraganore has landed another appointment — long live the Maraganore Meter! This time around, the ex-Alnylam chief has popped up as a strategic advisor at Calico’s AI partner Terray Therapeutics. Maraganore also has advisory roles at such companies as ProQR, Evelo Biosciences and Chroma Medicine, among many others.
→ Ex-Bayer CEO Dieter Weinand has added Seattle I/O player Umoja Biopharma to his list of chairmanships. The former Pfizer and Bristol Myers exec chairs the boards of Replimune, Mnemo Therapeutics, ZielBio, Fore Biotherapeutics and RNA startup Aptah Bio.
→ Dawn Svoronos has joined the board of directors at Shao-Lee Lin’s Acelyrin, which loaded up on cash yet again with a $300 million Series C in September. Svoronos had a 23-year career at Merck until her retirement in 2011, and she’s currently on the boards of Xenon Pharmaceuticals and Adverum Biotechnologies.
→ CSL’s aforementioned mRNA partner Arcturus has added John Markels to the board of directors. Markels, who retired from Merck as president of global vaccines after 35 years with the company, also has a board seat at Sangamo.
→ Moderna’s founding CSO Antonin de Fougerolles is hopping into a seat on the board of directors at Chimeron Bio. Since leaving his post at Moderna, de Fougerolles has been CSO at Ablynx and is currently CEO of Evox Therapeutics.
→ Al Sandrock’s gene therapy biotech Voyager Therapeutics has elected Grace Colón to the board of directors. The one-time Gilead exec was replaced by Arena’s Robert Lisicki as president and CEO of InCarda Therapeutics this fall.
→ GSK’s science committee chair is getting a new face as Jesse Goodman ends his rotation after more than five years. Taking his place will be Hal Dietz, who is the former president of the American Society of Human Genetics.
→ Simos Simeonidis has resigned from the board of directors at microRNA shop Regulus Therapeutics to focus on his duties as co-CEO and co-chief investment officer at Ally Bridge Group. Biogen and Exelixis chairman Stelios Papadopoulos also chairs Regulus, a company he co-founded in 1994.
→ Re-evaluating its pipeline and securing a $123 million Series C in August, Flagship’s Senda Biosciences has appointed MIT chemical engineering department head Paula Hammond to the board of directors. Hammond is on Moderna’s scientific advisory board and on the board of directors at Alector.
→ Randy Schatzman-led Bolt Therapeutics is ushering in Laura Berner to its board of directors. Berner currently serves as COO at TRexBio and previously was with Myovant as VP, head of business development & investor relations.
→ Last we heard of Verastem Oncology, the company had clinched a breakthrough designation nod from the FDA for its combo therapy in ovarian cancer. Now, the biopharma is offering up a seat on its board of directors to its former CFO and CBO Robert Gagnon. Since leaving his post, Gagnon has served as CFO and operating partner at Gurnet Point Capital.
→ Vyvgart maker argenx has named Ana Cespedes to the board of directors. A former marketing exec with Merck KGaA, Cespedes is COO of the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI).
→ Adjuvant Capital-backed synbio player Codagenix has brought on Paul Grint to its board of directors. Grint most recently served as CEO of Ampliphi Biosciences and has prior experience at Regulus Therapeutics, Cerexa, Kalypsys and at the Forest Research Institute.
→ Los Angeles-based Appia Bio, whose scientific co-founder Lili Yang was featured in this year’s Endpoints’ Women in Biopharma R&D special report, has welcomed Robert Negrin to its scientific advisory board. Negrin is a professor of medicine and former chief of the division of blood and marrow transplantation at Stanford University.
→ Pharmaxis has appointed Simon Green to its board of directors. Green spent 17 years at CSL, where he was SVP, global plasma R&D and general manager of CSL’s manufacturing sites in Germany and Australia.