Peer Review

Ironwood recruits CMO on the eve of split-up; Roche vet Margrit Schwarz joins Genevant

Ironwood Pharmaceuticals is filling up its C-suite to prepare for the impending split up into two entities. Just a week after tapping AstraZeneca’s Mark Mallon for the CEO job, the company has appointed Michael Shetzline as CMO of the commercial-focused unit, tasked with stewarding existing gastrointestinal assets, including its franchise drug Linzess, as well as finding new product opportunities in the space. He will report to Thomas McCourt, the current chief commercial officer who’s getting promoted to president as founding CEO Peter Hecht leaves to run the R&D spinout.  

Bo Rode Hansen is bringing a fellow Roche alum to his team at Genevant, the RNA-focused biotech birthed out of a collaboration between Roivant and Arbutus. Margrit Schwarz, most recently VP and global head of external innovation at the Swiss pharma giant following research roles at Amgen and Boehringer Ingelheim, joins as CSO and head of R&D. Also joining the Boston-based company is Pete Zorn, who has a background as general counsel and is taking the COO post.

Pearl Huang, a founder and early exec at BeiGene, is returning to biotech as CEO of Cygnal Therapeutics. Jumping from Roche — where she was the SVP and global head of therapeutic modalities, overseeing everything from small molecule to nucleic acid-based therapies. A product of Flagship Pioneering’s innovation foundry, Cygnal is targeting mechanisms and pathways associated with the peripheral nervous system, a structure of nerves working outside the central nervous system, plowing a field they call “exoneural biology.”

CRISPR Therapeutics has wooed senior FDA official John Martin to become its head of government affairs. Martin, whose title was principal associate commissioner for legislative affairs, led the agency’s negotiation with Congress over reauthorization of user fees and supported legislation addressing the opioid abuse epidemic.

Claudia D’Augusta is the new CFO at Basel, Switzerland-based Therachon, a Versant-backed startup focused on rare genetic diseases. D’Augusta held the same role at stem cell players TiGenix (until Takeda bought it out) and Cellerix (before it merged with TiGenix).

→ Following some drama with ex-CEO Carsten Thiel — who was ousted a mere six months into the job — Abeona Therapeutics $ABEO has made a pair of promotions to “bolster financial strategy and controls.” Christine Silverstein, formerly SVP of finance and investor relations, will become CFO; Edward Carr will be the chief accounting officer.

→ As development of umbilical cord blood-derived T-regulatory cellular therapies gets under way at Cellenkos, the MD Anderson spinout has appointed Elizabeth Read as chief technology officer to oversee chemistry, manufacturing and controls as well as regulatory affairs. Read comes to the Houston operation from a slate of roles in the San Francisco Bay Area, capped by a brief stint at Adicet Bio.

Gavin Ling is supplementing his PhD in hemophilia gene therapies with a job as chief medical officer of Ascension Healthcare, steering development of new hemophilia A treatments. This marks the first biotech role for Ling, a consultant hematologist at Guy’s and St Thomas Hospital, London.

Bioasis has hired Christine Antalik as CFO, with great expectations on her knowledge about financing, business development and growth planning — all crucial to licensing plans for its xB3 platform technology, which is designed to deliver drugs across the blood-brain barrier.

→ In case you missed it, Paul-Peter Tak has left the leading role in GlaxoSmithKline’s immunology unit to become a venture partner at Flagship Pioneering. According to his LinkedIn profile, the transition happened last October.


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