Jay Brad­ner’s NI­BR ex­it sets off a suc­ces­sion plan at Mer­ck; Dyne and Mor­phoSys fill ma­jor R&D roles

Jay Brad­ner

→ In the Big Phar­ma world, com­pa­nies like J&J and Mer­ck have ex­pe­ri­enced a pro­nounced sea change in lead­er­ship over a two-year pe­ri­od, and you can be­gin to say the same at No­var­tis, which dis­missed head of de­vel­op­ment John Tsai and head of on­col­o­gy Su­sanne Schaf­fert as part of CEO Vas Narasimhan’s wide-rang­ing re­struc­tur­ing plan. The next shoe to drop is Jay Brad­ner, the pres­i­dent of the No­var­tis In­sti­tutes for Bio­Med­ical Re­search, who is leav­ing his post on Hal­loween and pass­ing the ba­ton to Fiona Mar­shall, Mer­ck’s SVP and glob­al head of dis­cov­ery sci­ences, pre­clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment and trans­la­tion­al med­i­cine.

Fiona Mar­shall

In a LinkedIn post that made the rounds on Thurs­day, Brad­ner said, “I can­not prop­er­ly ex­press my grat­i­tude to all of my 5,600 in­cred­i­ble NI­BR col­leagues. In the dark­est and most iso­lat­ing mo­ments of the pan­dem­ic, we leaned on each oth­er and flour­ished per­son­al­ly and sci­en­tif­i­cal­ly, with grace and of­ten good hu­mor. Thank you, NI­BR, for the gift of your warm con­fi­dence, gen­er­ous ad­vices and to­tal com­mit­ment to our re­search; it has been hum­bling and in­spir­ing to be your leader.”

As Mar­shall ven­tures off to NI­BR, Mer­ck has her suc­ces­sor all fig­ured out. George Ad­dona joined the phar­ma gi­ant — from NI­BR, co­in­ci­den­tal­ly — in 2008 and has in­cre­men­tal­ly tak­en on big­ger roles ever since: For al­most three years, Ad­dona has been Mer­ck’s VP of quan­ti­ta­tive bio­sciences. You can read more of our cov­er­age about each of these ap­point­ments here and here.

Francesco Bib­biani

→ Now that the clin­i­cal hold has been lift­ed on its ther­a­py for Duchenne mus­cu­lar dy­s­tro­phy — a field that has seen its share of sim­i­lar ac­tions from the FDA — Dyne Ther­a­peu­tics has tapped Francesco Bib­biani as SVP, head of de­vel­op­ment. Bib­biani had led glob­al clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment at Ul­tragenyx, which just bought its An­gel­man syn­drome part­ner GeneTx in Ju­ly, since Feb­ru­ary 2021 and has held oth­er lead­er­ship po­si­tions in clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment at PTC Ther­a­peu­tics and Ei­sai.

Tim De­muth

Mor­phoSys has a po­ten­tial block­buster on its hands with the myelofi­bro­sis drug pelabre­sib from its Con­stel­la­tion Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals buy­out, but the Ger­man biotech will push for­ward with­out Malte Pe­ters, who will re­tire as chief R&D of­fi­cer at the end of the year. Schooled in Ger­many with a four-year run as Mer­ck KGaA’s head of glob­al clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment on­col­o­gy, Tim De­muth will take over for Pe­ters at the Mon­ju­vi mak­er. Peer Re­view told you about where De­muth land­ed af­ter he left the Ger­man phar­ma, tak­ing the CMO job at Pieris Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals in Au­gust 2021. This planned tran­si­tion comes af­ter Mor­phoSys struck a deal to ship off two an­ti­body pro­grams to ARCH’s Hu­man Im­munol­o­gy Bio­sciences in June.

Al­ix Hart

Pfiz­er has poached Drew Panayiotou from Al­pha­bet’s Ver­i­ly, nam­ing him bio­phar­ma glob­al chief mar­ket­ing of­fi­cer while Ver­i­ly pro­motes Al­ix Hart to his pre­vi­ous post. Panayiotou, the chief mar­ket­ing of­fi­cer at Ver­i­ly since late 2020, had been pres­i­dent of Chick-Fil-A sub­sidiary Red Wag­on Ven­tures and was al­so the US chief mar­ket­ing of­fi­cer for Best Buy from 2009-13. Hart is a for­mer Best Buy ex­ec in her own right who be­came Ver­i­ly’s head of con­tent and dig­i­tal strat­e­gy last year af­ter serv­ing as Nvidia’s glob­al head of dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing from 2016-21. Beth Bu­lik has more on both ap­point­ments.

Cigall Kadoch

→ With Cigall Kadoch div­ing in­to her new job as an in­ves­ti­ga­tor with the Howard Hugh­es Med­ical In­sti­tute on Sept. 6, she has re­signed as a board mem­ber at the biotech she co-found­ed, Foghorn Ther­a­peu­tics. She’ll still be on the SAB at Foghorn, which has sus­tained a reg­u­la­to­ry dou­ble wham­my with a par­tial clin­i­cal hold in May that grad­u­at­ed to a full clin­i­cal hold last week with its blood can­cer drug FHD-286.

Ker­ry Blan­chard

→ Putting a bow on a cou­ple of CEO de­par­tures End­points News re­port­ed on last Fri­day, Ker­ry Blan­chard walked away from Ever­est Med­i­cines short­ly af­ter hit­ting the moun­tain­top in Chi­na with Gilead-part­nered Trodelvy, gain­ing an ap­proval in the coun­try for un­re­sectable lo­cal­ly ad­vanced or metasta­t­ic triple-neg­a­tive breast can­cer. Ever­est pres­i­dent and CFO Ian Woo will be in­ter­im chief un­til the Shang­hai biotech finds a per­ma­nent suc­ces­sor.

Austin, TX-based Ae­glea Bio­Ther­a­peu­tics is trim­ming its staff by 25%, while chief ex­ec­u­tive An­tho­ny Quinn scales back to an ad­vi­so­ry role and gen­er­al coun­sel Jim Kas­ten­may­er takes charge as in­ter­im pres­i­dent and CEO. The FDA threw down the stop sticks with a re­fusal-to-file let­ter for Ae­glea’s arginase 1 de­fi­cien­cy drug pegzi­larginase in June.

And then there’s Nordic Nanovec­tor, try­ing to keep its head above wa­ter af­ter wav­ing the white flag with the PAR­A­DIGME study of its lead as­set Be­talutin in ear­ly Ju­ly. CEO Erik Skullerud is out, and Ma­lene Brond­berg will step in tem­porar­i­ly as she con­tin­ues her CFO du­ties — and as the Oslo biotech hud­dles up with Carnegie In­vest­ment Bank to “ex­plore strate­gic op­tions.”

Jeff Cis­li­ni

→ You say you want a Rev­o­lu­tion: Weeks re­moved from an up­sized pub­lic of­fer­ing to­tal­ing $230 mil­lion, RAS-mu­tat­ed can­cer biotech Rev­o­lu­tion Med­i­cines out of the Bay Area has se­lect­ed Daniel Si­mon as CBO while pro­mot­ing Jack An­ders to CFO and Jeff Cis­li­ni to gen­er­al coun­sel. Dur­ing Si­mon’s sev­en years with Guardant Health, he was SVP, bio­phar­ma busi­ness de­vel­op­ment and has worked in cor­po­rate de­vel­op­ment at Onyx Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals. For­mer­ly SVP, fi­nance and the prin­ci­pal fi­nan­cial and ac­count­ing of­fi­cer for CEO Mark Gold­smith, An­ders logged 12 years at De­pomed be­fore piv­ot­ing to Rev­o­lu­tion Med­i­cines in 2018. Cis­li­ni, the deputy gen­er­al coun­sel since 2020, is a one-time le­gal ex­ec at Atara Bio­ther­a­peu­tics.

Arun Upad­hyay

Ocu­gen wasn’t in the FDA’s good graces when they faced a $10,000 fine for not un­veil­ing tri­al re­sults, but now that the clin­i­cal hold has been lift­ed on its Covid-19 vac­cine can­di­date Co­v­ax­in, the Malvern, PA biotech has ush­ered in Robert Hop­kins as CMO and pro­mot­ed Arun Upad­hyay to CSO. Hop­kins has been around the block with Mer­ck Re­search Lab­o­ra­to­ries and Emer­gent BioSo­lu­tions, among oth­er com­pa­nies, and in Au­gust 2021 he was el­e­vat­ed to med­ical chief at Adap­tive Phage Ther­a­peu­tics. Upad­hyay joined Shankar Musunuri’s squad in 2017 and had been run­ning R&D at Ocu­gen since De­cem­ber.

Eu­gene Kennedy

→ With its stock price $GRTX lan­guish­ing in the pen­ny stock range af­ter a Phase III prat­fall with its lead drug ava­sopasem last Oc­to­ber, Penn­syl­va­nia’s Galera Ther­a­peu­tics has ap­point­ed Eu­gene Kennedy as CMO. Jon Holm­lund, Galera’s med­ical chief since 2012, is re­tir­ing as the year comes to a close. Kennedy, the med­ical chief for the last year and a half at In­no­v­a­tive Cel­lu­lar Ther­a­peu­tics, tack­led the same role at Lu­mos Phar­ma.

→ Re­gen­er­a­tive med­i­cine com­pa­ny Ser­ax­is has reeled in Paul Strumph as CMO. Strumph brings ex­pe­ri­ence from his times at Meta­vant Sci­ences (CMO), Lex­i­con Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals (VP, clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment), Quin­tiles (North Amer­i­cal re­gion­al CMO), and Ju­ve­niles Di­a­betes Re­search Foun­da­tion (CMO). Strumph jump­start­ed his ca­reer at GSK, Mer­ck KGaA/EMD Serono and Bris­tol My­ers Squibb.

Jean-François Fournier

→ Que­bec-based Va­leo Phar­ma has re­cruit­ed Kyle Steiger as chief com­mer­cial of­fi­cer and Jean-François Fournier as busi­ness unit head — oph­thal­mol­o­gy. Both are No­var­tis Cana­da alums: Steiger was VP of oph­thal­mol­o­gy to cap off 19 years with the Big Phar­ma, and Fournier had spent the last three years as com­mer­cial di­rec­tor, mar­ket­ing & sales. Be­fore his time with No­var­tis Cana­da, Steiger was briefly the na­tion­al sales di­rec­tor for Ipsen’s on­col­o­gy port­fo­lio.

Ray Sta­ple­ton

→ Af­ter ap­point­ing In­hibitor Ther­a­peu­tics chair­man Mark Wat­son to the board of di­rec­tors in ear­ly Au­gust, Vaxart has wel­comed Ray Sta­ple­ton as chief tech­nol­o­gy of­fi­cer. Sta­ple­ton comes to the South San Fran­cis­co vac­cine mak­er from Geno­cea Bio­sciences, where he held the same ti­tle and was EVP. He al­so rose through the ranks in 15 years at Mer­ck, be­com­ing ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor, glob­al vac­cines tech­nol­o­gy and en­gi­neer­ing un­til he left the phar­ma gi­ant in 2015.

Rob Quinn

→ Ad­vanc­ing its lead as­set — a drug for Char­cot-Marie-Tooth dis­ease type 1A named PXT3003 — in­to Phase III, French neu­ro biotech Pharnext has in­stalled GSK fi­nan­cial vet Rob Quinn as CFO, while Valérie Wor­rall has moved on “to pur­sue oth­er in­ter­ests” af­ter more than six months on the job. Quinn’s most re­cent gig as fi­nance chief was with Benev­o­len­tAI, and he’s al­so been CFO for Si­lence Ther­a­peu­tics.

Be­hzad Mah­davi

Gink­go Bioworks has lined up Be­hzad Mah­davi as SVP of bio­phar­ma man­u­fac­tur­ing & life sci­ence tools af­ter raid­ing the bar­gain bin and buy­ing out Zymer­genwhich had en­dured a dis­as­trous ride on the strug­gle bus — for $300 mil­lion in Ju­ly. Mah­davi makes the leap to Gink­go from Catal­ent, where the 13-year Lon­za vet served as VP, glob­al open in­no­va­tion.

Scott Dixon

→ Not to be con­fused with the In­dy­Car su­per­star, Scott Dixon has reached the check­ered flag as chief com­mer­cial of­fi­cer of dig­i­tal clin­i­cal tri­al out­fit Ob­vio­Health. Dixon, who has worked at such com­pa­nies as Or­a­cle, Web­MD and Parex­el, spent the last year as chief rev­enue of­fi­cer of Fly­wheel.io.

→ Texas-based Biote has las­soed in Samar Kam­dar as CFO. Kam­dar hops aboard af­ter a stint as CFO of Slync.io and Tax­Act. Pri­or to that, Kam­dar had gigs at CROSS­MARK, Avail­i­ty, and Pep­si­Co.

Bar­ry Le­d­er­man

World­wide Clin­i­cal Tri­als has brought aboard Bar­ry Le­d­er­man as CFO. This isn’t Le­d­er­man’s first time don­ning the CFO hat, hav­ing served in the role at Perime­ter So­lu­tions and Ha­lo Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals. Ear­li­er in his ca­reer, Le­d­er­man had gigs at Ei­sai and Ny­comed and a 10-year run at Roche.

Kim Bo­er­icke

→ Clin­i­cal tri­al ser­vice provider THREAD is weav­ing in Kim Bo­er­icke to its lead­er­ship team as chief de­liv­ery of­fi­cer. Bo­er­icke joins with ex­pe­ri­ence from her times at Icon (pres­i­dent, Icon com­mer­cial­iza­tion and out­comes), Quin­tiles (VP and man­ag­ing di­rec­tor) and i3 Re­search (glob­al VP).

→ Get­ting this year off to an aus­pi­cious start with a $100 mil­lion Se­ries B round, UK cell and gene ther­a­py man­u­fac­tur­er Ori Biotech has made a bevy of moves, start­ing with Kale Feeter and Lind­sey Clarke as di­rec­tors of busi­ness de­vel­op­ment.

Lind­sey Clarke

Feeter comes to Ori from Cy­ti­va, where he was en­ter­prise busi­ness de­vel­op­ment leader, cell & gene ther­a­py, while Clarke was Bio-Techne’s se­nior man­ag­er, glob­al prod­uct mar­ket­ing, cell & gene ther­a­py. Ori has al­so en­list­ed Sar­to­rius alum Quentin Vic­ard as di­rec­tor of prod­uct man­age­ment, Bri­an Macauley as cloud plat­form lead, and ex-Au­to­lus se­nior sci­en­tist Claire Hor­lock as prin­ci­pal sci­en­tist. Fi­nal­ly, Is­abelle Riv­ière and Ja­son Bock are now mem­bers of the sci­en­tif­ic ad­vi­so­ry board.

ProKid­ney is bring­ing in a pro it­self in the likes of Glenn Schul­man as SVP of in­vestor re­la­tions. Schul­man pre­vi­ous­ly served as VP of in­vestor re­la­tions at X4 Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals and was SVP, in­vestor re­la­tions and cor­po­rate com­mu­ni­ca­tions at Au­rinia Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals. Schul­man has al­so held roles at Achillion Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals and Cura­Gen.

Avid Bioser­vices has re­cruit­ed Pramthesh Pa­tel as VP, process de­vel­op­ment. Pa­tel, a 23-year vet from GSK, most re­cent­ly served as se­nior di­rec­tor. Pri­or to that, Pa­tel had a decade-long stint at Bris­tol My­ers.

Na­tal­ie Mount

→ Gate­way to a new chair­per­son: 16-year Pfiz­er vet Na­tal­ie Mount has been named to the po­si­tion at St. Louis cell ther­a­py out­fit Wu­gen, re­plac­ing John McK­earn, who will stay on the board. The ex-CSO of Gam­maDelta Ther­a­peu­tics, Mount was al­so CEO of Gam­maDelta spin­out Adap­tate Bio­ther­a­peu­ticstwo com­pa­nies that have been sold to Take­da in the last year.

Taiyin Yang has joined the board of di­rec­tors at Brii Bio­sciences af­ter re­tir­ing from a ca­reer at Gilead that be­gan in 1993. For­mer Sana ex­ec Stacey Ma suc­ceed­ed Yang as Gilead’s EVP of phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal de­vel­op­ment and man­u­fac­tur­ing on Ju­ly 18.

He­len Kim

→ Irish biotech Prothena has re­served space for He­len Kim — the for­mer EVP of busi­ness de­vel­op­ment at Kite — on the board of di­rec­tors. Since 2019, the ex-NGM Bio­phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals CBO has been a se­nior di­rec­tor at Arie Bellde­grun’s Vi­da Ven­tures. No­vo Nordisk forked over $100 mil­lion up­front for Prothena’s AT­TR amy­loi­do­sis drugs last sum­mer.

→ Ex-Fer­ring US chief Paul Navarre has clinched a spot on the board of di­rec­tors at Dan­ish biotech Leo Phar­ma dur­ing a pe­ri­od of job cuts — up to 150 on the R&D team alone — and re­struc­tur­ing. Af­ter his 15 years at Proc­ter & Gam­ble, Navarre held a string of lead­er­ship roles for a decade at Al­ler­gan and has been a strate­gic ad­vi­so­ry board mem­ber at Flag­ship Pi­o­neer­ing.

→ Speak­ing of Flag­ship, the epi­ge­net­ics-fo­cused Omega Ther­a­peu­tics has elect­ed Rain­er Boehm to the board of di­rec­tors. Boehm fin­ished up a long ca­reer at No­var­tis as chief com­mer­cial & med­ical af­fairs of­fi­cer in 2017 and is a board mem­ber at Cel­lec­tis and Hu­mani­gen.

Biotech in­vestors and CEOs see two paths to growth, but are they equal­ly vi­able?

The dynamic in the biotech market has been highly volatile in the last few years, from the high peaks immediately after the COVID vaccine in 2021, to the lowest downturns of the last 20 years in 2022. This uncertainty makes calling the exact timing of the market’s turn something of a fool’s errand, according to Dr. Chen Yu, Founder and Managing Partner of TCG Crossover (TCG X). He speaks with RBC’s Noël Brown, Head of US Biotechnology Investment Banking, about the market’s road ahead and two possible paths for growth.

Dave Marek, Myovant CEO

My­ovant board balks as ma­jor­i­ty own­er Sum­it­o­mo swoops in with a $2.5B deal to buy them out

Three years after Sumitomo scooped up Roivant’s 46% stake in the publicly traded Myovant $MYOV as part of a 5-company, $3 billion deal, they’re coming back for the whole thing.

But these other investors at Myovant want more than what the Japanese pharma company is currently offering to pay at this stage.

Sumitomo is bidding $22.75 a share for the outstanding stock, which now represents 48% of the company after Sumitomo bumped its ownership since the original deal with Roivant. Myovant, however, created a special committee on the board, and they’re shaking their heads over the offer.

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Casey McPherson shows his daughters Rose (left) and Weston around Everlum Bio, a lab that he co-founded to spark a treatment for Rose and others with ultra-rare conditions. (Ilana Panich-Linsman)

Fa­ther starts lab af­ter in­tel­lec­tu­al prop­er­ty is­sues stymie rare dis­ease drug de­vel­op­ment

Under bright lab lights, Casey McPherson holds his 6-year-old daughter, Rose. His free hand directs Rose’s gaze toward a computer screen with potential clues in treating her one-of-a kind genetic condition.

Gray specks on the screen show her cells that scientists reprogrammed with the goal of zeroing in on a custom medicine. McPherson co-founded the lab, Everlum Bio, to spark a treatment for Rose — and others like her. A regarded singer-songwriter, McPherson never imagined going into drug development.

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Vlad Coric, Biohaven CEO

Vlad Coric charts course for new Bio­haven with neu­ro­science push and Big Phar­ma vets on board

What’s Biohaven without its CGRP portfolio? That’s what CEO Vlad Coric is tasked with deciding as he maps out the new Biohaven post-Pfizer takeover.

Pfizer officially scooped up Biohaven’s CGRP assets on Monday, including blockbuster migraine drug Nurtec and the investigational zavegepant, for $11.6 billion. As a result, Coric spun the broader pipeline into an independent company on Tuesday — with the same R&D team behind Nurtec but about 1,000 fewer staffers and a renewed focus on neuroscience and rare disease.

In AstraZeneca's latest campaign, wild eosinophils called Phils personify the acting up often seen in uncontrolled asthma

As­traZeneca de­buts an­noy­ing pur­ple ‘Phil’ crea­tures, per­son­i­fied asth­ma eosinophils ‘be­hav­ing bad­ly’

There are some odd-looking purple creatures lurking around the halls of AstraZenca lately. The “Phil” character cutouts are purple, personified eosinophils with big buggy eyes and wide mouths, and they’re a part of AZ’s newest awareness effort to help people understand eosinophilic asthma.

The “Asthma Behaving Badly” characters aren’t only on the walls at AZ to show the new campaign to employees, however. The “Phils” are also showing up online on the campaign website, and in digital and social ads and posts on Facebook and Instagram.

Mar­ket­ingRx roundup: No­var­tis re­cruits NFL coach for Leqvio cam­paign; Pfiz­er pro­motes ‘Sci­ence’ merch on so­cial me­dia

Novartis is turning to a winning coach to talk about Leqvio and the struggles of high cholesterol — including his own. Bruce Arians, the retired NFL head coach of the Arizona Cardinals and Super Bowl-winning Tampa Bay Buccaneers, is partnering with the pharma for its “Coaching Cholesterol” digital, social and public relations effort.

In the campaign, Arians talks about the potential for “great comebacks” in football and heart health. Once nicknamed a “quarterback whisperer,” he is now retired from fulltime coaching (although still a front-office consultant for Tampa Bay), and did a round of media interviews for Novartis, including one with People and Forbes.

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Amy West, Novo Nordisk head of US digital innovation and transformation (Illustration: Assistant Editor Kathy Wong for Endpoints News)

Q&A: No­vo Nordisk dig­i­tal in­no­va­tion chief Amy West dis­cuss­es phar­ma pain points and a health­care 'easy but­ton’

Amy West joined Novo Nordisk more than a decade ago to oversee marketing strategies and campaigns for its US diabetes portfolio. However, her career path shifted into digital, and she hasn’t looked back. West went from leading Novo’s first digital health strategy in the US to now heading up digital innovation and transformation.

She’s currently leading the charge at Novo Nordisk to not only go beyond the pill with digital marketing and health tech, but also test, pilot and develop groundbreaking new strategies needed in today’s consumerized healthcare world.

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Benjamine Liu, TrialSpark CEO

Paul Hud­son and Tri­alSpark's mu­tu­al de­sire to speed up de­vel­op­ment con­verges in three-year, six-drug goal

A unicorn startup that originally set out to hasten clinical studies for biopharma partners dug further into its revised path of internal drug development by linking arms with Sanofi in a pact that the biotech’s CEO said originated from the top.

TrialSpark and the Big Pharma on Tuesday committed to in-licensing and/or acquiring six Phase II/Phase III drugs within the next three years.

“I’ve known Paul Hudson for a while and we were discussing the opportunity to really re-imagine a lot of different parts of pharma,” TrialSpark CEO Benjamine Liu told Endpoints News, “and one of the things that we discussed was this opportunity to accelerate the development of new medicines in mutual areas of interest.”

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Take­da to pull key hy­poparathy­roidism drug from the mar­ket af­ter years of man­u­fac­tur­ing woes

Takeda on Tuesday morning made an announcement that almost 3,000 people with the rare disease known as hypoparathyroidism were fearing.

Due to unresolved supply issues and manufacturing woes, Takeda said it will cut its losses and discontinue its hypoparathyroidism drug, known as Natpara (parathyroid hormone), halting all manufacturing of the drug by the end of 2024, but the entire inventory will be available until depleted or expired, a company spokesperson said via email.