Peer Review

J&J R&D vet Peter Tummino joins the Big Pharma exodus, leaping to Nimbus as CSO; Cadent taps Jodie Morrison for CEO

→ After spending the last 16 years as a researcher in Big Pharma, Peter Tummino is going biotech.

Peter Tummino

Nimbus reports that Tummino is joining the company as its new CSO after his last stint at J&J, where he was global head of lead discovery and headed up research teams on both sides of the Atlantic. Earlier he had a long stretch at GSK, where he ran the cancer epigenetics team, among other things.

Nimbus made headlines in the industry with its $400 million upfront deal with Gilead on NASH. But it’s also been completely revamping the top team. CEO Don Nicholson left last fall, shortly after a $65 million raise, replaced by Jeb Keiper.  And founding CSO Rosana Kapeller followed  out the exit soon after, later joining Google’s GV as its first entrepreneur-in-residence for life sciences. 

We’ve seen a large exodus of R&D execs out of pharma in recent years, as senior researchers with years of experience in large organizations try their hand at the smaller biotechs, where new opportunities have abounded.

Jodie Morrison

Jodie Morrison has been tapped CEO of Cadent Therapeutics, freeing Michael Curtis to focus on the R&D work the biotech startup is doing on allosteric modulators with the $40 million cash it recently raised. Morrison brings fresh experience at the helm from Keryx and Tokai, both of which have since become blended into new, merged entities. Partnered with Novartis, Cadent is working on “both flavors of the NMDA receptor” to treat both depression and schizophrenia, though its most advanced program targets essential tremor.

→ Looking for some stability in the C-suite after going through two CEOs in less than a year, Abeona Therapeutics has asked interim CEO João Siffert to assume the post permanently. Formerly of fellow gene therapy company Ceregene, Siffert joined Abeona in 2018 as CMO and head of R&D, then soon began to double as chief executive when then-CEO Carsten Thiel got booted six months into the job due to misconduct. Siffert’s experience on the board of AveXis, the company says, positions him well for guiding the company in both the clinic and manufacturing facility.

→ Over a 13-year career as a biotech analyst at Piper Jaffray, Cowen and Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Rachel McMinn learned a lot about the industry and began to wonder if she should be the one running the company rather than just giving advice. After a short stint as chief business and strategy officer at Intercept, she’s ready to make the jump with the formal launch of a new biotech of her own. McMinn and the 20 staffers at New York-based Neurogene are tackling rare neurological conditions with a pipeline of gene therapies using AAV tech.

Catalent $CTLT has promoted Alessandro Maselli to president and COO. Formerly the SVP of global operations, Maselli will now oversee integration of the company’s contract research service offerings — with a recent acquisition of Juniper Pharma — and take the burden of running the day-to-day operations off CEO John Chiminski’s shoulders.

→ Following its peers in embracing digital medicine, France’s Sanofi said its chief medical officer Ameet Nathwani would also serve as the company’s first chief digital officer. Nathwani, who was hired in 2016, is now also charged with integrating Sanofi’s arsenal of medicines with digital technologies and inking digital partnerships. Last year, Pfizer and Merck named their CDOs, while Novartis and GSK announced similar appointments in 2017.

Gail McIntyre

→ Having managed Aravive’s $ARAV R&D operations in Houston for the past couple of years, Gail McIntyre has earned a seat on the executive team as CSO. She will continue to shepherd the biotech’s cancer therapies, one of which is now in Phase Ib, through lead optimization and early development to the clinic.

Sam Waksal’s Kadmon $KDMN has tapped one of its directors to lead its finance organization as CFO. Steven Meehan, a former investment banker, brings both a deep understanding of the Kadmon’s inflammatory and fibrotic disease pipeline and “experience in M&A, financial planning and capital raising,” the company says.

→ T cell immunotherapy developer Medigene has convinced seasoned investment banker Axel-Sven Malkomes to jump back into biotech. In the dual role of chief financial officer and chief business development officer, Malkomes will have broad authority over finance, BD, legal affairs, IT and commercial operations from his office in Munich. Previously, he led strategy planning and M&D for Merck KGaA.

Achilles Therapeutics has poached Roche vet Markus Dangl from fellow cancer immunotherapy developer Medigene. The CSO appointment will trigger a move from Germany to the UK for Dangl, who’s been tasked with steering the smooth entry of two lead neoantigen programs to the clinic — one in non-small cell lung cancer and another in melanoma.

→ As Achillion $ACHN plans for late-stage development and potential commercialization — despite recently dropping a lead program — it has elevated former capital markets banker Brian Di Donato to CFO, months after he joined the company.

→ Ready to embark on the clinical part of its T cell therapy journey, Eureka Therapeutics has hired Hanzhong Li to help engage the financial community. Li, whose official title will be SVP of corporate development, was CFO of China’s Ascentage Pharma following stints as a strategy director at Bayer and an analyst at Morgan Stanley.

→ Four former FDA officials have joined Parexel’s regulatory consulting team, including Kurt Brorson, a 26-year agency veteran steeped in chemistry, manufacturing and controls review for CDER; Changting Haudenschild, who primarily worked on clinical safety and efficacy as well as biomarkers at CBER; cell and gene therapy expert Mohammad Heidaran; and Mwango Kashoki, who brings perspective on post-approval safety requirements.

→ Nottingham, UK-based preclinical service provider Synature Discovery has recruited Allan Jordan from Cancer Research UK to direct its oncology drug discovery arm. He will be joined by Deloitte vet Louisa Jordison, Synature’s first director of strategy planning.

With contribution from John Carroll.

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Research Scientist - Immunology
Recursion Pharmaceuticals Salt Lake City, UT
Director of Operations
Atlas Venture Cambridge, MA

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