Joan Shen ends the year by saying goodbye to I-Mab; CRISPR Therapeutics puts coal in R&D chief's stocking
Deck the halls with more appointments in the last Peer Review for 2021. Thanks for reading every week!
→ When the calendar flips to 2022, Joan Shen is out at I-Mab “to pursue other interests,” leaving founder and chairman Jingwu Zang to succeed her as acting CEO in a bit of a surprise. Under Shen’s leadership, I-Mab formed a CD47 alliance with AbbVie in September 2020 with lemzoparlimab as the centerpiece, and a year later our Amber Tong detailed I-Mab’s aspirations for other comparable partnerships, notably for development of the CD73 antibody uliledlimab. Shen was one of our 20 Women in Biopharma R&D honorees this month.
Elsewhere at I-Mab, Andrew Zhu — formerly a member of the Chinese biotech’s scientific advisory board — has been named president and will lead global R&D efforts. He also grabs a seat on I-Mab’s board of directors.
→ According to a Form 8-K, CRISPR Therapeutics has dismissed EVP and R&D chief Tony Ho after four years on the job in a tersely-worded statement: “Dr. Ho’s termination is without cause and not the result of any disagreement with the Company.” Ho made the jump to CRISPR in 2017 from AstraZeneca, where he led development on such drugs as Imfinzi and was head of oncology innovation and integration. His ouster comes two months after Endpoints News looked under the hood at CRISPR’s off-the-shelf CAR-T data, in which CEO Samarth Kulkarni expressed enthusiasm about safety while question marks remain over durability.
→ Endpoints also spotlighted Samantha Du in our Women in Biopharma R&D special, and Zai Lab has promoted Harald Reinhart from CMO to president and head of global development, neuroscience, autoimmune and infectious diseases. Reinhardt, an advisor when Zai Lab was founded and medical chief for the autoimmune and infectious diseases portfolio since 2017, was Shionogi’s head of clinical development and medical affairs and is also the ex-VP and therapeutic area head, clinical development and medical affairs at Novartis. Zai Lab’s busy 2021 began by grabbing the Greater China rights to argenx’s drug efgartigimod — which was just approved for generalized myasthenia gravis this week — and it’s only continued by dipping into the neuro space with Karuna Therapeutics and paying $25 million upfront for the rights to two EGFR TKI inhibitors from Blueprint Medicines.
→ Andrin Oswald is taking a medical leave of absence from his post as Centogene CEO “for a period of at least four weeks,” the rare disease biotech said in a statement. Pinch-hitting for Oswald is Kim Stratton, one year after she resigned as CEO of Orphazyme — which has tried to keep its seat belts fastened during a bumpy ride of failures pertaining to its “pipeline-in-a-product” arimoclomol. Oswald replaced founding CEO Arndt Rolfs at Centogene on Dec. 1, 2020.
→ Peeking at another Form 8-K, AbbVie CFO Rob Michael has tacked on vice chairman, finance and commercial operations to his title after three years as EVP. Michael got his start at Abbott in 1993, and after the Abbott-AbbVie split, he became the pharma giant’s VP, financial planning and analysis. Prior to his promotion to CFO, he served as VP, corporate controller. Back in late September, AbbVie stepped on Biohaven’s turf with an FDA approval for atogepant, an oral CGRP receptor antagonist now marketed as Qulipta.
→ Zurich-based liver disease biotech Versantis has named Mark Fitzpatrick as CEO, ending co-founder Vincent Forster’s run in the top spot beginning Jan. 1. Fitzpatrick is the ex-president and CEO at Chiasma, the maker of the acromegaly drug Mycapssa which was sold to Amryt in May for $330 million, and he’s in his first year on the board of directors at Allena Pharmaceuticals. Forster will transition to the role of CSO at Versantis, which raised its last bundle of cash in September 2019.
→ Andrew Hall has torn off the interim label and has been named permanent CEO of Nova Scotia-based IMV. The Merck and Celgene vet had replaced CEO Frederic Ors on an interim basis in August after taking the CBO job in November 2020. Before joining IMV — which is developing its lead candidate maveropepimut-S in multiple cancer indications — Hall was Celgene’s executive director, business development and global alliances.
→ Derek Hicks has left Spark to become CBO at Intellia, the biotech co-founded by Jennifer Doudna that caused a tectonic shift this summer by showing that CRISPR could be used to edit DNA directly into patients. In October 2020, Hicks had joined Spark as head of business development after spending more than 16 years at Pfizer, closing out his time as the drug giant’s VP of corporate development, worldwide business development. Intellia also inked a CRISPR partnership with SparingVision in October, focusing on three eye disease targets.
→ Shankar Ramaswamy’s gene therapy outfit Kriya Therapeutics has selected Neera Ravindran as CFO. Ravindran spent the last two years with GlaxoSmithKline’s Covid-19 antibody partner Vir as VP, head of investor relations & strategic communications, and she’s also been head of investor relations for North America with Roche/Genentech. Kriya brought its total raise to $180 million with a $100 million Series B this summer that was headlined by board member Jim Momtazee at Patient Square Capital.
→ Finch Therapeutics, the microbiome biotech that followed up its Series C raise with a $128 million IPO in March, has promoted Joseph Vittiglio to chief business and legal officer. Vittiglio joined Finch a year ago as general counsel and corporate secretary after five years at AMAG Pharmaceuticals, where he was CBO and general counsel. He’s also been a legal exec with Flexion Therapeutics and Aveo Pharmaceuticals.
→ Provention Bio has spent the last couple months of 2021 refashioning its leadership, and this week brings more of the same by naming Christina Yi as COO and promoting Benedict Osorio to chief quality officer. Yi is an Amgen alum who spent the last year in the COO post at Vaccinity after 11 years with Dendreon, and Osorio became SVP of quality at Provention Bio in August 2020 after serving as COO at Progenics Pharmaceuticals. He’s also made stops as a quality assurance exec at Achillion and Acorda Therapeutics. Along with these appointments, Provention Bio has also recently hired a new CFO, research and early development chief and SVP of clinical development.
→ Suzhou, China-based Transcenta has pulled in former CStone exec Daniel Weng as CFO. During his tenure at CStone, Weng served as VP and head of finance. Prior to that, Weng had stints at Everest Medicines (VP and head of finance) and Amgen (CFO of China).
→ Boehringer Ingelheim cancer partner OSE Immunotherapeutics out of Nantes, France has made a batch of hires, starting with Laurence de Schoulepnikoff as CBO. An 11-year Novartis vet in business development, de Schoulepnikoff spent the last three years as CBO and COO of AMAL Pharmaceuticals and she was briefly the senior director of BD at Ferring Pharmaceuticals.
Elsewhere, OSE Immunotherapeutics has welcomed Linda Lebon as chief regulatory officer; Silvia Comis as head of clinical development; and Françoise Bono as senior strategic development director. Lebon has been chief regulatory officer before with Osivax and was VP of regulatory affairs at argenx. Comis hails from IQVIA, where she was senior medical director, oncology, and she was elevated to European head of early products medical affairs in oncology during her seven years at Novartis. And Bono, a Sanofi vet and the former head of oncology at Evotec, also held the role of CSO at Onxeo.
→ Focused on G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs) and equipped with a $100 million Series B, ShouTi has appointed Ding Ding as CFO. She was recently head of healthcare investment banking and capital markets at Credit Suisse after stints at UBS and Barclays. Led by Receptos co-founder Raymond Stevens, ShouTi is tackling pulmonary arterial hypertension first and has studies lined up for type 2 diabetes/obesity and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.
→ Neurodegenerative disease-focused NeuroSense Therapeutics has brought on a slate of new hires to its exec team and board of directors. The Cambridge, MA-based company has brought in Ferenc Tracik as CMO. Tracik comes with experience from former stints at Biogen, Novartis and Orphazyme.
The four new board members consist of Yael German (Israeli member of Knesset and former minister of health); Caren Deardorf (CCO of Magenta Therapeutics); Christine Pellizzari (chief legal officer of Science 37); and Cary Claiborne (COO of Adial Pharmaceuticals).
→ Thomas Heineman has climbed higher in the ranks at Calgary-based Oncolytics Biotech, moving from global head of clinical development and operations to CMO. Heineman joined Oncolytics in August 2020, and prior to that he served as SVP and head of clinical development at Denovo Biopharma.
→ San Diego whole-cell cancer vaccine biotech Neuvogen has corralled George Montgomery as CFO. Montgomery, the co-founder and ex-finance chief at Coherus BioSciences, has recently been managing director of WestRiver Group and is currently on the board of directors at Ashvattha Therapeutics. He’s also had seats on the boards of Lumen Bioscience, Viome and Boston Pharmaceuticals.
→ Belgian biotech Agomab is making a pair of hires after a $74 million Series B raise in March with Reginald Brys as head of research and Maria Nichol as head of IP. Brys and Nichol both hail from Galapagos — Brys was VP, head of disease biology and Nichol was VP, head of intellectual property at the Gilead partner that’s been on a downward spiral across the pipeline after the filgotinib fail, hastening the exit of CEO Onno van de Stolpe. Agomab’s lead candidate, ORG-129, is an oral small molecule ALK-5 inhibitor in Phase I for Crohn’s disease.
→ It’s only been two whole months since ex-AMAG Pharmaceuticals chief Scott Myers was appointed chairman somewhere (we kid here at Peer Review) — this time around he’s chairing the board at French hearing loss outfit Sensorion. Dynavax and Harpoon Therapeutics tapped Myers as chairman on the same week in late October.
→ Chemomab CEO Dale Pfost has also been named chairman of the board as Gennao Bio CEO Stephen Squinto steps aside completely from the board. Pfost, the ex-CEO of Lodo Therapeutics, took on the chief executive role at the Israeli fibrotic disease biotech in September.
→ BIO’s president and CEO Michelle McMurry-Heath is making her way over to the board of directors at Bioventus. McMurry-Heath brings to the role her experience from her role as VP, external innovation, global leader for regulatory science at J&J as well as her time spent at the FDA and the Aspen Institute.
→ William Link, the chairman at Glaukos the last 20 years, is retiring effective Dec. 31 and Thomas Burns will replace the Versant co-founder at the California ophthalmic disease player. Burns has helmed Glaukos and held a board seat since March 2002. Glaukos also announced that Mark Foley, a board member since 2014, has been named lead independent director.
→ Art Krieg’s Checkmate Pharmaceuticals, looking for a permanent CEO after Barry Labinger’s exit, has elected Joy Yan to the board of directors. A veteran of Bayer, Janssen and Bristol Myers Squibb, Yan is the current CMO at Ambrx Biopharma.
→ Cabometyx maker Exelixis has added tech exec Jacqueline Wright to its board of directors. Wright, the corporate VP and chief digital officer, US business at Microsoft, joined the tech giant 10 years ago as VP, IT strategic enterprise services.
→ Anne Marie de Jonge Schuermans will take over Rémi Droller’s seat on the board of directors at Pharvaris, chaired by Rhythm Pharmaceuticals CEO David Meeker. Currently head of technical operations at Sobi, de Jonge Schuermans spent three years as a manufacturing and supply chain exec at Biogen.
→ Susan Clement-Davies and Sir Robert Lechler have been added to the board of directors at London-based Eli Lilly RNA partner MiNA Therapeutics. Clement-Davies was managing director of equity capital markets at Citigroup, while Lechler is provost and SVP (health) at King’s College London and a board member at Quell Therapeutics. He’s also been head of the Division of Medicine at Imperial College London.
→ San Diego-based BioAtla has reeled in Edward Williams to its board of directors. Williams brings a wealth of experience to the role with former stints at Novo Nordisk, Novartis and Upjohn. Additionally, Williams serves as an advisor to the CEO of Ascendis Pharma and has served as the company’s interim US CCO from August 2020 to May 2021.
→ Vuja De Sciences has brought on Carl Barrett to its board of directors. Barret currently serves as VP of translational science in the oncology innovative medicines division at AstraZeneca. Prior to that, Barrett held roles at Novartis Oncology Translational Medicine, the NCI’s Center for Cancer Research and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.
→ Digital cell biology company Berkeley Lights has pulled out a seat for Jessica Hopfield on its board of directors. Hopfield currently serves as president of J Hopfield Consulting and formerly served as a partner of McKinsey & Company.