Peer Review

John Mendlein leaves Moderna for Flagship; Paul Sekhri to steer first xenotransplantation trials as eGenesis CEO

John Mendlein is out at Moderna just a year — a momentous year, no less, that saw Moderna reap a $604 million IPO — after becoming president of the biotech unicorn. The new role as executive partner at Flagship Pioneering brings him back to his “roots and passion for creating and growing innovative platform companies,” he said in a statement. He will have stay another six months as a consultant to Moderna, where he led a cross-functional team prepping the company for the public market as well as corporate strategy, partnering, legal and intellectual property.

→ After holding down the fort at eGenesis as interim CEO for over a year, Julie Sunderland is passing the role to Paul Sekhri and focusing again on being managing director of Biomatics Capital — one of the major backers for eGenesis’ radical gene editing approach to xenotransplantation. A one-time biotech founder, two-time CEO and three-time president, Sekhri has also held BD roles at Teva and Novartis before his most recent gig at Lycera. He is tasked with helping the biotech launch its first tests of transplanting modified pig organs into humans.

→ Months after poaching AstraZeneca vet Kevin Horgan to serve as CMO at microbiome drug developer Seres, the Cambridge, MA-based company has elevated CFO Eric Shaff to the position of CEO, to succeed Roger Pomerantz, who will remain board chairman. Shaff, who will continue to serve as Seres’ principal financial officer on an interim basis, joined the company in 2014 as CFO and was given the additional position of COO in early last year.

Onconova Therapeutics is handing Steven Fruchtman a second promotion in less than a year as it doubles down on Phase III programs for lead drug rigosertib and brings another candidate into the clinic. Fruchtman, the former CMO who recently became president, will officially take over as CEO after learning closely from Ramesh Kumar. A hematologist by training — fitting with Onconova’s primary focus on myelodysplastic syndromes — Fruchtman’s previous industry experience spanned from Ortho Biotech to Novartis.

→ As ArunA Bio looks to move its neural exosome platform — with applications as both therapeutics and delivery vehicles — into clinical trials and industry collaborations, Steven Stice is switching the CEO office for a CSO role to focus on R&D. His successor, Mark Sirgo, brings fresh experience running specialty pharma BioDelivery Sciences, which shares a focus on CNS with ArunA.

David Berman — Jeff Rumans for Endpoints News

David Berman, who until recently was head of I/O research at AstraZeneca, has been bumped up to the top job in R&D at Immunocore, the TCR biotech which recently recruited MedImmune chief Bahija Jallal as CEO. Berman is a well known player in oncology R&D and comes with credentials that includes a lengthy stint alongside his new CEO at Immunocore, which specializes in TCR work. Berman actually joined Immunocore, which is looking to reestablish its rep as a leader in its field worthy of a hefty unicorn valuation, last September ahead of a major revamp. He took over the lead role for the company’s top program for the late-stage effort on IMCgp100.

Omar Khwaja has jumped from his post as global head of Roche’s neuroscience translational medicine group as well as rare diseases to Voyager Therapeutics $VYGR, where he’ll be CMO. His work at Roche involved creating new gene therapy programs for a list of rare diseases, including spinal muscular atrophy as well as Huntington’s disease. And he’ll put that expertise to work now for Voyager, which has been struggling with a lead program on Parkinson’s.

Terns Pharmaceuticals has recruited Gilead vet Erin Quirk to realize its ambitious clinical plans in NASH. As CMO, Quirk will coordinate a discovery team in San Mateo, CA, where she is based, and a small development group in China. The hope is this model could assemble a pipeline and efficiently develop new drugs primarily for the Chinese market, with opportunities to reach US patients simultaneously. Most recently a VP of clinical research at Gilead, Quirk has also run clinical programs for Merck.

→ Having steered an antibiotic through to an approval at Insmed, CMO Paul Streck is moving onto the next project at Alder BioPharmaceuticals $ALDR. He will have the same role but work on a much different drug: eptinezumab, a CGRP migraine drug looking to find a place among big rivals, with a submission slated for this quarter. Streck, who ran clinical programs across a range of therapeutic areas while at GlaxoSmithKline and Shire, succeeds interim CMO Eric Carter.

→ Despite a delayed review for its peanut allergy drug — which Aimmune $AIMT has attributed to the FDA shutdown, though Commissioner Scott Gottlieb seems to suggest otherwise — the company is going ahead with the appointment of a chief commercial officer. Andrew Oxtoby jumps from Eli Lilly, where he was in charge of the insulin business after stints in the oncology unit.

→ As Tricida $TCDA hustles its late-stage chronic kidney disease drug to the FDA, it’s brought in Susannah Cantrell as chief commercial officer. A Big Pharma vet with stints at GlaxoSmithKline and Roche/Genentech, Cantrell most recently managed Gilead’s oncology business.

→ Conjugate vaccine developer SutroVax has named Elaine Sun its chief strategy officer in addition to her current role as CFO, with responsibilities for financial, corporate development and strategy functions. Sun, who first joined the company in 2017, has a background in financial and business advisory with experience leading the healthcare groups at Evercore and Merrill Lynch. Meanwhile, Jane Wright-Mitchell has been hired as general counsel.

Richard Christopher is the new CFO at InVivo Therapeutics, a biotech founded on lab work done by MIT’s Bob Langer and Joseph Vacanti to treat spinal cord injury.

→ Back in business to roll out its ADHD drug after a spell in limno, Ironshore Pharmaceuticals has tapped Merck vet Lewis Warrington to support the commercialization as VP and head of medical affairs.

Peter Van Vlasselaer is stacking up his board appointments after selling ARMO Biosciences to Eli Lilly. He’s taking the chairman seat at Asceneuron, a Merck spinoff developing tau modulators for Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases.


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

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