Jim Wilson startup Passage Bio plugs in CFO, CMO; Tillman Gerngross nabs a COO familiar with Covid-19 fight at Pfizer as Adagio files for IPO
→ Back in May, Passage Bio CFO Richard Morris and CMO Gary Romano left within days of each other, but this week the gene therapy player has found their replacements, along with a chief commercial officer. Simona King, a 19-year Bristol Myers Squibb vet in finance, becomes CFO on Aug. 23 after a quick stop in the same post at Tmunity Therapeutics and a year at Emergent BioSolutions. CMO Mark Forman gets started a week from today and was recently VP of translational medicine at Acadia Pharmaceuticals, preceded by 11 years at Merck. And Maria Törnsén, who got the ball rolling as CCO this week, had been Sarepta’s SVP, general manager, US.
Morris is currently CFO at Carisma Therapeutics after leaving Passage Bio, which had its FDA hold lifted for its infantile GM1 gangliosidosis drug PBGM01 to kick off 2021.
→ Tillman Gerngross’ gang at Adagio Therapeutics filed for an $100 million IPO this week, but it’s a lock that the Covid-19 antibody biotech will shatter that mark when all is said and done. To supplement that news, Adagio — moving at a pace that belies the tempo marking that bears its name — has tapped David Hering as COO. Adagio plucks Hering from Pfizer, where he was at the forefront of launching the pharma giant’s Covid-19 vaccine candidate as the global mRNA business lead. He had moved to Pfizer in 2015 from a number of roles at Novartis Vaccines, including head of North America.
→ Co-founded by Tim Springer, led by CEO Alise Reicin and raising the curtain with an $80 million Series A round in April, Tectonic Therapeutic has picked up a CMO with Marcella Ruddy coming on board a couple months after Peter McNamara assumed the head of research role. Big names abound in Ruddy’s track record: 10 years in clinical research at Merck; brief stays as an exec with EMD Serono and Alnylam; and the last five years with Regeneron, where she was VP, global program direction for immunology/inflammation and the program lead for Dupixent before setting off for GPCR (G protein-coupled receptor)-focused Tectonic.
→ Bill Grossman has jumped ship from Arcus, with an SEC filing indicating that he’ll step into the role of SVP, oncology clinical research at Gilead — Arcus’ collaborator on a mammoth $2 billion immuno-oncology deal — beginning this coming Monday. Kartik Krishnan will take over clinical development duties for Grossman, a consultant for Gilead since December who had served as CMO at Bellicum for a year until he left the troubled biotech to accept the CMO job with Terry Rosen-led Arcus in 2019.
→ There are changes galore with Kåre Schultz’s crew at Teva, starting with the departure of North America commercial head Brendan O’Grady “to pursue a career opportunity outside of the pharmaceutical industry,” which happens to be chief commercial & growth officer at telehealth company Amwell. Getting the call from the bullpen to replace O’Grady as head of North America commercial is Sven Dethlefs, Teva’s EVP, global marketing & portfolio and international markets commercial and an employee at the company since 2008. Eli Shani, the head of the global business development and alliance management group who’s been with Teva the last 15 years, is getting promoted to Dethlefs’ previous position of EVP, global marketing & portfolio.
So who’s taking Dethlefs’ other old job? We know who it is. That EVP of international markets commercial gig will belong to Mark Sabag, a 15-year Teva vet who was chief human resources officer and head of global communications, brand and ESG.
So who’s taking Sabag’s old jobs? We know that too. Galia Inbar earns the promotion after her time as Teva’s SVP, head of global people operations.
The first day for this reshuffling is set at Aug. 15.
→ Ken Frazier’s post-Merck plans are taking shape, chairing the health assurance initiatives at General Catalyst and managing its $600 million fund. General Catalyst chairman and managing director Ken Chenault has known Frazier well since their days at Harvard Law School. “I am excited and proud that he has decided to join GC amid the myriad of choices I know he had for this next chapter of his career,” Chenault said in a statement. Frazier stepped down from Merck a few weeks ago after 29 years with the company, 10 of those as CEO.
→ Roger Perlmutter transformed Janux Therapeutics from a relative nobody into a definite somebody when he bet $1 billion-plus on the San Diego biotech’s T cell engagers in December 2020 before his “retirement” from Merck took effect. And this week at David Campbell-led Janux, Shahram Salek-Ardakani has signed on as CSO. Salek-Ardakani spent the last five years at Pfizer and was the pharma’s senior director of cancer immunology.
→ Elevar Therapeutics out of Salt Lake City just popped into Peer Review a couple weeks ago with a few appointments — CMO Maureen Conlan among them — but a bigger change has unfolded at Elevar as Kate McKinley takes the helm, succeeding Alex Kim in the top spot. McKinley originally came to Elevar to take the CCO job in 2019 after two years at Dendreon, and from 2000-17, she filled an extensive list of roles at AbbVie, rising to US head of sales and taking charge of the urology, oncology & gynecology franchise. And Kim isn’t wandering off completely, swinging into his new role as chairman of Elevar’s board.
→ Fabrice Chouraqui and the folks at Cellarity now have an ex-Morgan Stanley analyst in their corner as David Risinger takes the CFO spot at the Flagship company. Risinger logged 12 years for Morgan Stanley as managing director and head of US major and specialty pharmaceuticals equity research. Cellarity chalked up $123 million in a Series B in February to advance its drug discovery platform that mixes network biology, high-resolution data, and machine learning tech.
→ From the creative mind of Feng Zhang, CRISPR upstart and Vertex CF partner Arbor Biotechnologies has turned to Pam Stetkiewicz and Kathryn McCabe to be COO and lead business development, respectively. Stetkiewicz just spent a year as SVP, global program leader at Flagship’s Pioneering Medicines, and from 2016-20 she was Editas Medicine’s VP, program and alliance management. McCabe looks to put down roots at Arbor after jumping around from Big Pharma to Big Pharma, notably GlaxoSmithKline, Eli Lilly and — just before grabbing this opportunity — Roche, where she was senior director of business development in Cambridge, MA.
→ Backed by Beth Seidenberg and Sean Parker and launched in the fall of 2019, designer T cell company ArsenalBio has named co-founder Nicholas Haining as CSO. Before jumping into ArsenalBio, Haining was VP of discovery oncology and immunology at Merck Research Laboratories. Like Passage Bio, ArsenalBio led off the new year with good news of its own, inking a discovery deal with Bristol Myers for $70 million upfront.
→ French hearing loss disorder biotech Sensorion will bring in Otmane Boussif as its new chief technical officer starting Aug. 1. Boussif, an EMD Serono and Sanofi Pasteur vet, brings Big Pharma experience to Sensorion after six years at Novartis in a panoply of positions ranging from global head of cell and gene therapy technical development to global head of early phase development.
→ TCR² Therapeutics impressed analysts last year around this time with data for its T cell therapy TC-210, albeit with a five-patient sample size. A year later, TCR² has appointed FerGene’s SVP of technical operations, Peter Olagunju, as chief technical officer. Prior to FerGene, Olagunju was the program lead for Zynteglo and later the VP of global patient operations for Nick Leschly’s bunch at bluebird bio. He’s also been involved in global technical operations at Dendreon.
→ Alexis Borisy’s EQRx has assembled a mission advisory board to — naturally — “guide the Company’s vision and mission-critical activities focused on bringing more affordable medicines to the people who need them globally,” the statement reads. A few of the headliners include longtime Roche exec (and EQRx co-founder) Sandra Horning, ex-Pfizer CMO Mace Rothenberg and ex-Sanofi global R&D chief Elias Zerhouni, while Otis Brawley, Richard Schilsky, Ellen Sigal and Gail Wilensky join them. Looking to shake up the drug pricing model, EQRx partnered with AI player Exscientia a month ago to develop less expensive oncology and immunology drugs.
→ San Francisco’s Esker Therapeutics, which made its debut in May with a $70 million Series A — all from Foresite Capital — has welcomed Kimberly Lindstrom as VP, regulatory and Travis Remarchuk as executive director, CMC. Lindstrom, the ex-senior director of regulatory affairs at Bristol Myers, had held the same title at MyoKardia before the $13 billion buyout. And Remarchuk was recently CMC director and staff scientist with Ryan Watts’ team at Denali. Esker has also scored a big board appointment with Bing Yao, the ex-CEO at Viela Bio who is now helming ArriVent Biopharma.
Only Esker and Sestina Bio have been unveiled so far as part of the five biotechs that Vik Bajaj is firing up at Foresite Labs, as discussed in an Endpoints News exclusive with our Amber Tong.
→ Matthew Navarro has taken on the role of CFO at Gilead’s NASH partner Glympse Bio. Once the senior manager, strategy, portfolio management and commercial operations at Pfizer, Navarro used to lead East Coast biopharma coverage as managing director at Perella Weinberg Partners. Last year around this time, Carolyn Loew-led Glympse racked up $46.7 million in a Series B round, setting up the biotech to further develop its biosensor platform.
→ Not to be confused with the former University of Texas quarterback, J&J and Novartis alum Chris Simms will survey the options on the field as chief commercial officer of retinal disease-focused Iveric Bio starting Aug. 2. Simms makes this change following a stay at Novartis where he led the US ophthalmics business unit — the home of Beovu and Xiidra. He was also the marketing lead for Lucentis during his four years at Genentech.
→ Sitting pretty with a massive Series C totaling $276 million, San Diego DNA sequencing player Element Biosciences has welcomed three execs to the team. Chief people officer Brian Stolz held this position before at videogame maker Activision Blizzard and then became Neil Kumar’s COO at BridgeBio. Diana King comes to Element as VP of customer support after almost two years as chief business development officer at medical imaging company Multi, Inc. And VP of engineering Jordan Neysmith was previously the senior director of development and engineering for Bruker Nano Surfaces.
→ For the third time in four weeks, Philly’s Renovacor makes an appearance at Peer Review, this time with CBO and SVP of operations Elizabeth White. She joins all the other newbies at the AAV-based gene therapy biotech from NeuExcell Therapeutics — another Pennsylvania company — where she served as chief business and strategy officer. White closed out her 15 years at Pfizer leading commercial development for the rare disease and gene therapy business.
→ Cancer biotech Iterion Therapeutics out of Houston has selected Jean Chang as COO. A nine-year Dynavax alum in corporate and program development with early stops at Genzyme and Gilead, Chang has served as Nurix Therapeutics’ VP, program management and asset strategy before moving on to Iterion, which has its lead candidate tegavivint in a Phase I/IIa trial to treat progressive desmoid tumors.
→ Another opportunity has opened up for Doug Manion, the CEO of Kleo Pharmaceuticals before Biohaven swooped in to buy the company in January. Manion is now EVP of R&D for Amit Munshi at Arena Pharmaceuticals, which suffered double duds with its lead drug etrasimod for atopic dermatitis and then with olorinab for IBS pain. Before his tenure at Kleo, Manion had an 11-year run at Bristol Myers that saw him lead specialty development and R&D in Japan and China.
→ Hello, Newman: Rockville, MD-based Immunomic Therapeutics has pegged Robert Newman as CBO. A former SVP at Ziopharm Oncology, Newman makes his way to Immunomic — a biotech working on a dendritic cell vaccine for glioblastoma multiforme dubbed ITI-1000 — after a stint as general manager of WCG Analgesic Solutions.
→ When the FDA pressed pause on Sigilon’s hemophilia A program a couple weeks ago with a clinical hold, it was the kind of stumble you don’t normally see from Flagship’s stable of companies. While Sigilon picks itself up and dusts itself off, the biotech co-founded by Bob Langer has also recruited Ajay Rai as SVP, head of business development. Since leaving Takeda in 2018 as senior director of corporate development, Rai had been VP, corporate development, strategy & alliance management with Frequency Therapeutics.
→ When in ROME: Three new staffers have emerged at Rosana Kapeller’s ROME Therapeutics, which puts “junk DNA” known as the repeatome in the spotlight. David Proia (VP, oncology) breaks away from his role as C4 Therapeutics’ senior director, in vivo pharmacology; Menachem Fromer (head of data science) is the former data science and R&D lead at Verily Life Sciences; and Sarah Knutson (senior director, early discovery) just spent more than two years at Kazumi Shiosaki startup Twentyeight-Seven and is the ex-associate director of discovery biology at Nimbus, where Kapeller was the founding CSO.
→ Brenda Marczi has been named SVP of regulatory affairs at San Diego-based cancer biotech Tracon Pharmacueticals. Marczi was a regulatory exec from 2011-20 at Ferring Pharmaceuticals and VP, regulatory and clinical affairs at Eagle Pharmaceuticals.
→ Cambridge, MA oncology upstart Immuneering has locked in Michael Bookman as general counsel and secretary. Bookman joins a staff that includes ex-Jefferies analyst Biren Amin after his time as general counsel and secretary at Frequency Therapeutics.
→ Florida-based Axogen, a developer of products for peripheral nerve repair, has pulled in Big Pharma luminary John Johnson for its board of directors. The J&J and Eli Lilly vet, who was once the CEO at Melinta, is entering his second year as CEO of Strongbridge Biopharma.
→ Paul Peter Tak-led oncolytic virus biotech Candel Therapeutics, shooting for that customary $100 million number with its IPO, has elected Diem Nguyen to the board of directors. The Pfizer veteran is in her first year as CEO of Xalud Therapeutics.
→ OrbiMed-backed Prelude Therapeutics out of Delaware has added Martin Babler to the board of directors. Babler scores this board appointment at the oncology outfit after Sanofi’s $3.7 billion purchase of Principia Biopharma ended his nine-year run as Principia’s chief executive.
→ Stacey Ma and Stephen Brady are now members of Atreca’s board of directors. Ma, who spent more than two decades at Roche/Genentech, is Sana’s EVP and head of technical operations (as well as a 2020 Women in Biopharma honoree at Endpoints News), while Brady first came to Tempest Therapeutics as president and COO before his June promotion to CEO.
→ Voyager’s CFO and principal finance and accounting officer Allison Dorval now owns a spot on the board of directors at Aerovate. Led by Timothy Noyes, Aerovate made its Nasdaq debut with an upsized IPO amounting to $121.5 million a few weeks ago.
→ VistaGen is growing its board of directors further with Maggie FitzPatrick, the former chief communications officer with J&J who just had a four-year run as a corporate affairs exec with Exelon. CNS-focused VistaGen has also named Joanne Curley and Mary Rotunno to the board since April.