NASH hopeful Genfit promotes Dean Hum to president; Immune Therapeutics CEO passes baton to successor
In 1999, while Dean Hum was an associate professor at Laval University in Quebec, Genfit reached out to him. An expert in the modulation of transcription factors and nuclear receptors associated with endocrine and cardiometabolic diseases, Hum jumped aboard the company as CSO and has been with them ever since, currently serving as the company’s COO.
He has now been appointed as president of GENFIT Corp, GENFIT’s subsidiary in the US — but will still retain his duties as COO — and will be moving from the company’s headquarters in Lille, France to Genfit’s US-based office near Boston.
“What this move means is that we’re really pushing forward to building our presence in the United States and carrying over the leadership presence we have here in Lille to the talented pool of people at the Boston group and building up and managing that team,” he told Endpoints News.
The company is now focusing its attention on NASH and the upcoming Phase III readout of elafibranor — which was awarded orphan drug status, months ago, by US and EU regulators to treat patients with primary biliary cholangitis (PBC) — that is expected in Q1 of 2020.
In addition, Suneil Hosmane has been promoted to head of global diagnostics after serving as executive vice president of strategic development.
In his new role, Hosmane will manage the development and marketing activities related to NIS4 — the company’s proprietary blood test designed to identify NASH patients eligible for treatment.
These transitions come after Genfit CEO Jean-François Mouney announced that he was passing the reigns down to his chosen successor, Pascal Prigent, whilst remaining Chairman of the Board of Directors.
→ Immune Therapeutics — a T-Cell activation biopharmaceutical company focused on the treatment of autoimmune and inflammatory conditions, cancer, HIV/AIDS and animal diseases — has tapped Michael Handley to head the company as CEO and a member of the board of directors. Handley will succeed Noreen Griffin, who is resigning. Handley is the current CEO and chairman at cancer-focused Aletheia Therapeutics. He draws experience from his previous exec positions, including CEO and director of Armis Biopharma, vice president of quality, clinical and regulatory affairs at Vessix Vascular (acquired by Boston Scientific) and chief compliance officer and vice president of global regulatory affairs at The Spectranetics (acquired by Phillips). Handley has also held stints at J&J, Amgen and Genentech — where he helped in the launch of Avastin and Tarceva.
→ New York-based Neurogene — tackling rare neurological conditions with a pipeline of gene therapies using AAV tech — has welcomed Christine Mikail aboard as the company’s president. Mikail draws from experience as co-founder of Neumentum and Ferndale Advisors. She was the chief administrative officer and head of external business development/alliance management & general counsel at Axovant Sciences, where she helped the team raise $362 million for the company’s IPO. In addition to those, she has held stints at NPS Pharmaceuticals, Dendreon, Eli Lilly and ImClone Systems.
→ Forma Therapeutics has made some new additions to its leadership team with the appointments of former Synlogic CFO Todd Shegog as SVP, CFO and Takeda vet Jeannette Potts as SVP, general counsel and corporate secretary. At the same time, the company recently promoted Patrick Kelly to SVP, CMO and Mary Wadlinger to SVP, corporate affairs and chief human resources officer. In addition, the company also appointed former Boston Consulting Group principal Scott Boyle as vice president, business and corporate development and Genentech vet Brian Lesser as vice president, therapeutic head.
→ Joshua Brumm, COO and CFO of Kaleido Biosciences — focused on the microbiome organ to treat disease — is hitting the exit to serve as president and CEO of an unnamed “biotechnology company.” The company has initiated the search for a new CFO, and in the meantime, Richard Scalzo, the company’s corporate controller, has been appointed to serve as principal accounting officer and will temporarily assume Brumm’s responsibilities.
→ Adicet Bio — focused on the development of allogeneic cell therapies for cancer using gamma delta T cells — has enlisted Francesco Galimi as SVP and CMO. Galimi makes the shift to the company from Amgen, where he served as global program general manager, early development. Prior to his time at Amgen, Galimi was the head of clinical development at Onyx Pharmaceuticals and served at GNF/Novartis.
→ James Wilson’s gene therapy startup, Passage Bio — which recently scored $110 million in a Series B financing led by billionaire Len Blavatnik’s conglomerate — has welcomed Gary Romano as CMO and Edgar (Chip) Cale as general counsel. Romano joins the company after a stint as the head of clinical development for neurodegenerative disease and the deputy leader of the neurodegenerative disease therapeutic area at Janssen. Prior to that, he held positions at Merck Research Laboratories in the departments of clinical neuroscience and experimental medicine. Cale jumps aboard after a stint as SVP of legal corporate functions at GSK and general counsel of GSK’s vaccine unit. Prior to his time at GSK, Cale was a corporate and securities lawyer at Venture Law Group and Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison.
→ Genomics-driven research and diagnostics company, MedGenome, appointed Andrew Peterson as the company’s CSO. Prior to his appointment, Peterson was the senior director of molecular biology at Genentech, focused on the genomic applications for therapeutics in areas such as cardiovascular diseases and liver diseases. Peterson is also credited with leading the scientific efforts of a consortium that, as part of the GenomeAsia 100k consortium. produced a comprehensive catalog of genetic variation in more than 35,000 genomes across Asia.
→ OnKure has named James Winkler as vice president of discovery and translational biology, R. Michael Carruthers as CFO and Keith Olivia as general counsel and vice president of corporate affairs. Winkler brings experience to this new role from positions he has served at FORMA Therapeutics, Arvinas, Array BioPharma, GSK, SmithKline Beecham and J&J. Carruthers draws from his previous experience as CFO at Nivalis, Array BioPharma and Sievers Instruments. Olivia hops aboard the company after serving as OnKure’s outside corporate counsel since its founding in April 2011.
→ Palo Alto Health Sciences — whose product, Freespira, is the only FDA-cleared digital therapeutic for treating panic attacks, panic related disorders and PTSD — has announced the addition of Joseph Perekupka as CCO. Most recently, Perekupka served as the SVP of North America at Brainsway, where he helped with the completion of the company’s US IPO earlier this year. Previously, Perekupka served in positions at St Jude Medical and Biotronik.
→ EMD Serono — the US biopharma business for Merck KGaA — has tapped Kirk Taylor as senior vice president, North American medical affairs. Prior to joining the company, Taylor was the senior vice president, medical affairs strategy and operations for Verastem Oncology. In addition, he has served as chief of strategy and late phase development as well as CMO for Finch Therapeutics Group.
→ Beam Therapeutics — which was launched by CRISPR trailblazers and Editas’ scientific founders David Liu, Feng Zhang, and J Keith Joung — has enlisted Brian Riley as the company’s senior vice president of technical operations. Prior to jumping aboard to Beam, Riley led the biologics business of Catalent Pharma Solutions. His previous stints include roles at bioMerieux, Biogen, Amgen and Diosynth Biotechnology.
→ Gregory Verdine, founder of FogPharma, has made two new additions to its team. The company welcomed Fang Wang as vice president of biology and Nancy Wilker as vice president and lead IP counsel. Wang joins the company after a decade at Agios Pharmaceuticals, where she was director of biology and championed the rare genetic disease “type II D-2HG aciduria” program. She also led the development of the anti-mutant EGFRT790M antibody at Aveo Pharmaceuticals and helped develop the anti-ERBB3 antibody that was partnered with Biogen. Wilker hails from Biogen, where she held the position of IP counsel. Prior to her time at Biogen, Wilker served as IP counsel at CSL company Seqirus, was a partner at Sunstein Kann Murphy and Timbers and held stints at Cell Signaling Technology, PerkinElmer, Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr and Clark and Elbing.
→ Microsoft is trying to make a bigger push towards healthcare — inking an alliance with Adaptive Biotechnologies to develop a blood test that can help with the early detection of disease. Making further strides towards that goal, it was announced that the company had nominated GSK CEO Emma Walmsley to its board of directors. In addition, the company announced that two of the company’s board members, Charles Noski, former vice chairman of AT&T and Bank of America and Helmut Panke, former chairman of the board of management at BMW AG, have decided not to seek re-election to the board.
→ Kallyope CEO Nancy Thornberry has hopped onto the board of directors at Schrödinger, which received $110 million in its first venture round back in May. Thornberry will be joining GV entrepreneur-in-residence Rosana Kapeller on the board, who entered in January.
→ William “Bill’’ Aliski is joining the board of directors of X4 Pharmaceuticals — which back in May teamed up to collaborate with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society to accelerate the development of their lead product candidate, mavorixafor, for the treatment of Waldernström’s macroglobulinemia. Aliski brings experience to the role from his time as CCO of FoldRX Pharmaceuticals and as general manager for Biomarin Europe.
→ Serotonin 2A receptor agonists (or psychedelics)-focused Eleusis — which recently funded a mice study that found that (R)-DOI could be used to treat cardiovascular disease and potentially curb diabetes — has appointed David Guyer to its board of directors. Currently, Guyer serves as the executive chairman of IVERIC bio and has had stints as CEO of Eyetech Pharmaceuticals (later acquired by OSI Pharmaceuticals) and as a partner at VC firm SV Life Sciences Advisers.
→ Qrons — a company focused on the development of stem cell-synthetic hydrogel-based solutions for the treatment of traumatic brain injuries, like concussions and penetrating injuries — has brought on former NFL defensive lineman Derrick Chambers to the company’s advisory board. The company’s CEO, Jonah Meer, noted that Chambers will make a great addition to the team due to his awareness of the “potential for Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, a progressive degenerative disease of the brain that results from repetitive concussions and is often found in longtime players of the sport.”
→ A few months after having their shares dented because of underwhelming Phase III HAE data — they failed to cut the attack rate by at least 50% — BioCryst has welcomed Helen Thackray to the company’s board of directors. Thackray is the CMO and senior vice president of clinical development at GlycoMimetics — which recently had its own woes after Pfizer dismissed their lead drug as a Phase III failure.
→ Escient Pharmaceuticals — focused on advancing G protein couple receptor (GCPR)-targeted drugs — has welcomed co-founder and former CEO of Plexxikon (later acquired by Daiichi Sankyo in 2011) K. Peter Hirth to the company’s board of directors. Prior to his stint at Plexxikon — where two of their drugs, Zelboraf and Turalio, received FDA approval — Hirth served at Sugen and Boehringer Mannheim.
→ Fennec Pharmaceuticals — focused on the development of PEDMARK (sodium thiosulfate) for the prevention of platinum-induced ototoxicity in pediatric patients — has appointed Jodi Cook to the company’s board of directors. Cook currently serves as head of gene therapy strategy at PTC Therapeutics. Her prior experience spans roles including the COO of Agilis Biotherapeutics and as director of the hearing aid program at Mayo Clinic.
→ UK-based early cancer detection company Oncimmune Holdings has welcomed Tariq Sethi as CSO, Matthew Luttrell as CMO and Cléa Rosenfeld as head of investor relations. Sethi is a professor of respiratory medicine at King’s College London. Before jumping on board at Oncimmune, Sethi was chief physician-scientist, vice president in the clinical discovery unit at AstraZeneca. He is also the founder of Galecto Biotech. Luttrell joins the company after a stint as head of hematology, growth and emerging markets at Shire (now Takeda). He’s served in other roles at Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk, Gilead, and GSK. Rosenfeld brings experience to her new role from her time as head of investor relations at Shire, where she helped bring the company from an FTSE 250 Company to a top 50 FTSE company.
→ The top 3 execs running Ionis’ majority-owned spinoff Akcea are hitting the exit in a surprise twist Monday morning. Akcea $AKCA reported that CEO Paula Soteropoulos, President Sarah Boyce and COO Jeffrey Goldberg are out in a clean sweep. The board has placed Damien McDevitt — the chief business officer on the mother ship — in the interim chief executive spot as they hunt for some permanent replacements. Michael J. Yang and Joseph ‘Skip’ Klein III, meanwhile have joined the company’s board of directors. Moderna vet Soteropoulos and Goldberg will now switch out to advisory roles to “help ensure a smooth transition.”
→ Brian A. Johns, a top HIV scientist at GSK’s ViiV, is following the well-traveled road into biotech, after a 20-year stint as VP in charge of external discovery sciences. Noted as a co-inventor of dolutegravir — a bestselling HIV drug marketed alone as Tivicay — as well as the long-acting cabotegravir, Johns was featured in PhRMA’s Go Boldly campaign celebrating the industry’s breakthrough successes and the people who made them happen. And now he’s joining HemoShear in Charlottesville, VA as their new CSO. In a statement, Johns said he was particularly excited to be focusing on rare pediatric metabolic diseases. A couple of years ago HemoShear also lined up a $470 million collaboration with Takeda on NASH, another big indication that has attracted a slew of competitors looking to make their mark.
→ University of Basel, Switzerland spinout T3 Pharmaceuticals welcomed aboard Claire Barton as CMO after having been with the company as a consultant for the past 18 months. Her previous stints include roles at GlaxoWellcome, Lilly and Roche. This comes at the same time that the company raised 12 million CHF at the close of its second financing round, which will help propel the cancer-focused company’s lead product, T3P-Y058-739, into clinical testing, expected to begin in the middle of 2020.
Information added for clarification regarding Genfit