Karyopharm taps longtime Pfizer, Amgen vet to steer the ship; With Merck in the rearview mirror, Roger Perlmutter stakes his claim to a CEO job — and it's a surprising choice
Like many who work in biopharma, Richard Paulson got started in the field because of a love of science.
Paulson had just finished business school and was looking to start a career that married his two passions. While looking for jobs, he thought of his grandmother who had struggled with Alzheimer’s disease, recalling how he saw first-hand what innovative medicines can do for patients. Ultimately, he started his first job in the space as a sales rep at Glaxo Wellcome, one of GlaxoSmithKline’s predecessors before its merger with SmithKline Beecham in 2000.
“Quite frankly that’s still what I’m most passionate about,” Paulson told Endpoints News.
The industry vet now moves on to his next leadership post, stepping up as the new CEO of Karyopharm Therapeutics. It’s the latest stop in a 30-plus year biopharma career for Paulson, who had previously spent roughly 10 years at Glaxo, nine years at Pfizer and 10 years at Amgen. His most recent position was CEO of Ipsen Biopharmaceuticals.
Paulson’s earliest years working directly with physicians and patients helped shape the outlook for the rest of his career, he said. The hands-on interactions seeing exactly what was at stake for patients helped him understand how biopharma can make a positive impact in people’s lives.
He spent much of his time at Pfizer and Amgen outside North America, working on expanding access to medicines in places like the Czech Republic, South Africa and Germany. Running these divisions, where he said he could focus all his attention on one specific area, helped him learn how to build a culture among his employees.
In the mid-2010s, Paulson attained even greater responsibilities, first running Amgen’s US oncology marketing business and then the entire US oncology unit. From there, he moved on to Ipsen in 2018 and joined the board of Karyopharm in February 2020. The biggest thing he’s learned in moving from large pharma companies to more mid-size biotechs is applying that culture, he said, and ensuring everyone knows that the patients come first.
“Inside the organizations I’ve led and worked, everybody in the organization needs to understand healthcare professionals’ perspective and the patients’ perspective, and the challenges,” Paulson said. “I think if we understand those well, and we’re focused on understanding them, it helps us enable the kind of support that we want to enable.”
At Karyopharm, Paulson will head up a business that’s looking to continue expanding its footprint beyond multiple myeloma. In December, the biotech received FDA approval to move its Xpovio drug into the second-line setting for the disease, and Paulson said the company will look to build out its portfolio into solid tumors with data from an endometrial cancer program expected by the end of 2021. — Max Gelman
→ Did you really think Roger Perlmutter would go gently into that good biotech night? After what was billed as his Merck retirement, Perlmutter has stayed active, taking a board appointment with Daphne Koller’s bunch at insitro and becoming a science partner at CBC Group. This week his chance to run a company arrived, taking the helm at Hayward, CA drug discovery biotech Eikon Therapeutics from the creative minds of co-founders Eric Betzig and Robert Tijan.
Perlmutter, who came to Merck in 2013, didn’t rest on his laurels on the way out the door, instead purchasing OncoImmune for $425 million (a deal that didn’t exactly bear fruit) and forging a collaboration with Janux Therapeutics before he was succeeded by Dean Li. Our Amber Tong has more here on what brought Perlmutter to Eikon.
→ Kathy Reape was one of the execs that bolted from Spark in the wake of Roche‘s $4.3 billion takeover. She’s back in the game now helping out CEO Manny Simons as the chief development officer for Akouos, the gene therapy biotech in Boston focused on hearing loss. At first, Reape was Spark’s head of clinical R&D, and she led clinical development of Luxturna as CMO. Akouos was part of the 2020 IPO bonanza, ultimately raising more than $200 million.
→ Sean Nolan’s shiny new biotech Jaguar Gene Therapy roared onto the scene with a Series B round topping out at $139 million mere weeks ago. With eyes set on candidates for galactosemia, a subset of autism spectrum disorder, type 1 diabetes and (together with subsidiary Axovia) a subset of Bardet-Biedl syndrome, Jaguar has brought on Joseph McIntosh as CMO, almost exactly a year after he took the same job at Aruvant. McIntosh left for Aruvant last spring after five years at PTC Therapeutics in which he rose to SVP, head of clinical development. His first forays into biotech included roles at Eisai and Pfizer.
→ Nathan McCutcheon had made the rounds at an array of biotechs — Eli Lilly, Allergan and Mallinckrodt among them — before he became Shionogi’s chief commercial officer in 2019. Now comes word that McCutcheon has been promoted to COO of Shionogi’s US business, and Gianine Esposito has been named to the Executive Committee. McCutcheon jumped ship at Mallinckrodt after four years, spending the back half of that time as SVP & general manager, US autoimmune and rare diseases. Esposito, a 10-year Shionogi vet with experience from GSK and Ferring Pharmaceuticals, changed her title from VP to SVP, human resources in April 2020.
→ At the tail end of March, Lonnie Moulder unveiled his latest startup Zenas BioPharma and installed himself as interim CEO. But he’s stepped aside in favor of new president and CEO Hua Mu, who co-founded Hillhouse-backed Overland Pharma and was the biotech’s interim CEO and CMO. While with Simcere, Mu was CSO and president of R&D, then CMO, and then president of Simcere of America after that. Mu will also be Zenas’ acting CMO.
“As a cross border company, it’s important to us that we have the right mix of executives that have deep experience and knowledge in both Western markets, specifically the US, and also in China,” Moulder told Endpoints.
Elsewhere at Zenas, Moulder has reunited with old Tesaro chum Joe Farmer, who’s signed on as chief business and administrative officer. Farmer, who was SVP, general counsel and secretary for four years at Tesaro, had been Xilio’s COO since May 2019.
→ Raising the curtain with a $100 million Series B just a few weeks ago, OrbiMed-backed oncology biotech Theseus Pharmaceuticals has tapped Tim Clackson as CEO as the Xilio exodus continues, while co-founder and interim CEO Iain Dukes slides into the executive chairman post. Clackson — the president and chief technology officer for Rene Russo at Xilio the past three years — has spent the bulk of his career at Ariad Pharmaceuticals from 1994-2017, fulfilling the president of R&D and CSO duties until Takeda bought the company.
→ Asit Parikh’s Third Rock-backed molecular machine startup MOMA Therapeutics has locked in Peter Hammerman as CSO. Hammerman hails from the Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research, spending close to five years as global head of oncology translational research. It’s another high-profile exit from NIBR shortly after Jeff Engelman left his global head of oncology post to start Treeline Biosciences with Loxo founder Josh Bilenker.
→ It’s full steam ahead at Neoleukin Therapeutics after the FDA gave the green light to start a Phase I trial for IL-2/IL-15 agonist NL-201, and the Seattle biotech has Priti Patel in place as CMO to facilitate the effort. Patel hails from AstraZeneca, where she was the Big Pharma’s VP, head of hematology clinical development, and she was senior director and head of clinical development at AstraZeneca subsidiary Acerta Pharma. Prior to these responsibilities, Patel was medical director at Onyx Pharmaceuticals.
→ In keeping with the Acerta Pharma theme, one of its co-founders Francisco Salva is taking on another CEO gig at Peter Thiel-backed Bayer partner Azitra, which focuses on skin microbiome. Besides Acerta, where he was VP of operations to boot, Salva was previously in command as president and CEO of Complexa since May 2018. He’s also worked for Bob Duggan as senior director of corporate development at Pharmacyclics from 2008-10.
→ Six months ago, Joe Jimenez launched investment firm Aditum Bio with partner Mark Fishman, and so far, the portfolio includes Teres Bio, Tempero Bio and the latest spinout, Anteris Bio. The next move for the ex-Novartis chief is joining Century Therapeutics as chairman of the board, signing on a couple months after Philadelphia-based Century hauled in $160 million in a Series C for its iPSC platform. Along with Jimenez, Century has also reserved a board seat for Cynthia Butitta, the ex-Kite COO and CFO who’s on the boards of Olema Oncology, Autolus and UroGen.
→ Chalk up another gig for Mace Rothenberg as he joins Surrozen’s board of directors. Since ceding the CMO throne at Pfizer to kick off the year with Aida Habtezion as his replacement, Rothenberg has taken other board appointments at Tango Therapeutics and Aulos Bioscience. Also along for the ride on the Surrozen board is SR One venture partner Christopher Chai, the erstwhile CFO of Principia Biopharma.
→ Our Jason Mast profiled Excision BioTherapeutics co-founder Kamel Khalili when the CRISPR biotech’s $60 million in funding was announced in February. Since then, William Kennedy was appointed SVP, clinical, and now Christine Silverstein is on board as CFO. This isn’t Silverstein’s first go-around as a CFO, having held the position at Abeona and, more recently, Emendo Biotherapeutics. Going further back, she was head of investor relations at Relmada Therapeutics before her time at Abeona.
→ While KalVista is left to sort things out with its Phase II hereditary angioedema trial on clinical hold, Andrew Crockett’s biotech has appointed Paul Audhya as CMO. A Big Pharma vet in drug development with Amgen, Bristol Myers Squibb and Janssen, Audhya comes to KalVista from Arena Pharmaceuticals, completing his run as SVP, global medical affairs. His last CMO gig was at Reata Pharmaceuticals and he also spent two years at Vertex as VP, global strategy and phase 4, global medical affairs.
→ Munich-based CatalYm has brought on Phil L’Huillier to steer the company as CEO. L’Huillier comes from Merck, where he served as head of the European innovation hub & business development. Prior to Merck, L’Huillier was running a gig at Cancer Research Technology (CRT) as executive director and board member and led global licensing and business development at BioFocus Discovery. In addition to these roles, L’Huillier’s past stints include roles as non-executive director for Achilles Therapeutics, Artios Pharma, BliNK Therapeutics, PsiOxus Therapeutics, Revitope and Senectus Therapeutics.
→ With tapinarof making a mad dash to the FDA after sparkling Phase III data that were unveiled a couple weeks ago, Dermavant has ushered in Michael Swartzburg as CFO. He pivots to the dermatology member of the Vant family after three years at Iovance, where he was VP of finance and principal financial and accounting officer. Swartzburg’s financial knowledge has taken him to Allergan, Adverum and Pharmozyme, among others.
→ First it was CEO Brian O’Callaghan. Then it was CFO David Renas. This week at ObsEva, it’s Clive Bertram that gets the spotlight as chief commercial officer, as the C-suite wheels have kept on turning the last six months. Before he left for the Swiss biotech that’s trying to elbow its way to the front of the line in uterine fibroids with AbbVie and Myovant, Bertram was CCO and head of corporate development at Petra Pharma.
→ With $226 million worth of Series C funding to back up their shot at challenging Pfizer as a Prevnar 13 rival, Affinivax has handed the CFO reins to Elizabeth Radcliffe. After 10 years at Biogen, Radcliffe moved on to Agios from 2017-19 as a financial planning exec. Since then, she’s been part of Michael Gilman’s squad as Arrakis’ VP, finance and strategy and treasurer. Radcliffe’s arrival at Affinivax follows that of CBO Stuart Chaffee a couple weeks ago.
→ Martin Auster has joined Encinitas, CA-based immune modulation player Ventyx Biosciences, which cut loose from stealth mode to the tune of $114 million in March, as CFO. Wrapping up his time as Credit Suisse’s managing director, biotechnology analyst, Auster is the ex-CBO at Ascendis Pharma and was VP, business development and strategic finance at United Therapeutics.
→ Drug discovery company Verge Genomics is bringing Robert Scannevin into the fold with his appointment as CSO. Scannevin joins from Yumanity Therapeutics, where he served as head of research — overseeing biology and chemistry research focused on new target discovery and therapeutic development for neurodegenerative diseases. Prior to Yumanity, Scannevin had gigs at Biogen, J&J (now Janssen) and Wyeth (now Pfizer).
→ Siddhartha Mukherjee–founded Myeloid Therapeutics has locked in Bruce McCreedy as CSO. McCreedy comes from Precision Biosciences, where he served as SVP, cell therapy and immuno-oncology research. Prior to that, McCreedy was with Triangle Pharmaceuticals (now Gilead).
→ Developing the marrow-infiltrating lymphocytes that are depicted in its name, cancer-focused WindMIL Therapeutics has installed co-founder Kim Noonan as chief science & technology officer. Noonan discovered MILs in 2004 with Ivan Borrello before the Johns Hopkins spinout made its debut in 2016. WindMIL is currently in a Phase II trial to study MILs for patients with non-small cell lung cancer.
→ Big Pharma alum Andy Orth has signed on to become chief commercial officer at Pittsburgh-based rare disease outfit Krystal Biotech after five years at Alnylam. Finance stints at Amgen and Genzyme were stepping stones to other opportunities, including six years at Biogen that saw him get promoted to VP, global commercial strategy. Orth arrived at Alnylam in 2016 as VP, commercial practice and left as SVP, head of US Region.
→ TrakCel has pulled in Arturo Araya as CCO. Araya hails from Brainstorm Cell Therapeutics, where he served as EVP and CCO. Prior to that, he was with Novartis’ cell and gene therapies unit, serving as VP and head of global commercial, as well as leading the oncology unit for Novartis in 7 countries. In addition to his time at Novartis, Araya had a gig at Bristol Myers.
→ Italian gene therapy biotech Genespire has appointed Julianne Smith as chief development officer and Smaragda Angelidou as head of CMC. Smith devoted more than 18 years to Cellectis in a string of roles, the last two of those years as VP, translational sciences. Angelidou, who was with GSK from 2009-19, makes the switch to Genespire after her time at Autolus as senior director of tech transfer and product delivery.
→ While we’re on a roll in Italy, Temferon maker Genenta Science out of Milan has recruited Richard Slansky as CFO. Slansky heads to the gene therapy developer after recent CFO turns at Biological Dynamics and, from 2015-18, OncoSec. And six months after Stephen Squinto took over as chairman, Genenta has picked up another member of the board of directors with Celldex president and CEO Anthony Marucci jumping in.
→ After naming co-founder William Sandborn CMO last week, San Diego-based natural killer and macrophage-cell therapy biotech Shoreline Biosciences has selected Vanessa Jacoby as CFO. Jacoby spent more than three and a half years as chief accounting officer for Avidity Biosciences, making an impact during Avidity’s IPO last summer that was worth nearly $300 million.
→ Ann Cunningham has emerged from VistaGen’s board of directors to take over as chief commercial officer after the biotech named Joanne Curley to the board last week. Cunningham, who joined the VistaGen board in 2019, is an Eli Lilly marketing alum and led the global strategy team for Rexulti at Otsuka. Furthermore, she’s been VP, neurodegenerative disease and psychiatry for Teva Pharmaceuticals.
→ Allergan vet Scott Akamine will be chief legal officer for Tony Coles at Cerevel Therapeutics, effective May 24. Akamine says farewell to AEON Biopharma after nearly two years as general counsel and corporate secretary, and he was senior counsel and assistant secretary during his Allergan days from 2013-15.
→ Gradually shedding its Unum past, Cogent Biosciences has seen some corresponding C-suite turnover with first-year CEO Andrew Robbins, chief technology officer Brad Barnett and CSO John Robinson. Add chief legal officer Evan Kearns to the list. Kearns had served at Agenus since 2014, the last three of those years as VP, general counsel, corporate secretary and chief compliance officer.
→ Codagenix has added yet another fresh face to its team — after plucking up Linda Maldonado as VP, biologics chemistry and manufacturing controls last month — with the appointment of Johanna Kaufmann as EVP, oncology. Kaufmann hails from GSK, where she served as scientific director, immuno-oncology. Before that, she was senior scientist, innovation and automation/vaccine development at Genocea Biosciences.
→ John Crowley has added Sébastien Martel to the staff at Amicus, where he’s hitting the ground running as SVP of strategy and business development. Martel just capped off a 12-year run at Sanofi as SVP, global head of rare diseases; he’s also been involved with investor relations at Serono (known now as Merck KGaA) and marketing at Novo Nordisk.
→ Brendan Frey’s AI upstart Deep Genomics — which has identified an antisense oligonucleotide exon-skipping candidate that targets Wilson disease — has recruited Jeffrey Brown as VP of preclinical research. Brown makes the transition to Toronto-based Deep Genomics from Voyager Therapeutics after two years as senior director of neuroscience. A Pfizer and Bristol Myers alum, he’s also been Wave Life Sciences’ director of CNS biology.
→ Juliet Williams has been named SVP, head of biology at Nello Mainolfi’s protein degradation shop Kymera, which had a memorable 2020 with a $102 million raise and a meaty IPO. At the Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research, Williams was executive director of oncology small molecule drug discovery, and she’s been head of oncology pharmacology with Novartis and Sanofi.
→ Antares Pharma, which has the testosterone injection Xyosted in its stable of products, has made Joseph Renda SVP of commercial. After sales positions at Novo Nordisk and Pfizer, Renda has spent the previous three years as Mallinckrodt’s VP US sales, autoimmune and rare disease.
→ Antiviral drug developer Maxwell Biosciences has bagged John Lord as VP, research & development. Lord comes aboard with experience from his time at Savara, where he served as head of research and development and head of the Hørsholm, Denmark-based site. In addition, Lord brings to the table his involvement at Nektar Therapeutics and Rhône-Poulenc Rorer.
→ New York biotech Anavex has a former FDA hand joining as SVP for nonclinical development. Adebayo Laniyonu most recently served as supervisory pharmacologist/toxicologist at the FDA CDER.
→ HEL Group, developer and manufacturer of lab tools, has pulled in Oh Chee Keat (Brian Oh) as regional sales director for Asia-Pacific. Oh most recently served as regional sales manager for Federgari Asia Laboratory Division. In addition, he’s had stints at Quantachrome Instruments and ITS Science & Medical.
→ Engitix has added a new face to its team with the appointment of Mike Burbridge as VP, oncology & immuno-oncology. Burbridge hails from the Servier Centre for Therapeutic Innovation in Oncology, most recently serving as program director, external innovation. Prior to that role, he was director of oncology translational and clinical research and clinical project manager.
→ San Diego-based Tracon Pharmaceuticals has welcomed Dongliang Zhuang as VP of statistics and biometrics. Zhuang hops aboard following stints at the FDA and Amylin‚ where he was the project statistician for the development of the company’s leading diabetic product Bydureon.
→ Clinical trial software and analytics provider Cytel has named Kyle Wathen as VP of scientific strategy and innovation. Wathen formerly served at Gilead, where he was leading the company’s advanced analytics group.
→ Sygnature Discovery has tapped David Lustig as VP business development – United States. Lustig comes at a time when the company is expanding its operations in the US. Lustig brings to the table his experience from his time at Syntex, Roche, CV Therapeutics, Optivia Biotechnology and Aptuit.
→ Big fish Luca Santarelli is diving into the Dementia Discovery Fund as its new chair for its scientific advisory board. Santarelli, CEO of VectivBio, brings a wealth of experience to the role. Prior to his current stint at VectivBio, Santarelli was co-founder and CEO of Therachon (acquired by Pfizer), venture partner at Versant Ventures and had a 12-year gig at Roche.
→ Far from Achilles’ last stand: Riding high with a $175.5 million IPO, London-based T cell therapy player Achilles Therapeutics has elected Julie O’Neill to the board of directors. O’Neill, once the EVP, global operations at Alexion, has other board roles at Icon, DBV Technologies and Hookipa Pharma. Elsewhere at Achilles, ex-Kite VP of operations Markwin Velders is a new addition to the scientific advisory board.
→ The stars have aligned at AMD-focused Gemini Therapeutics to make Georges Gemayel chairman of the board. Gemayel, an ex-Genzyme EVP and former Roche exec, also chairs the boards of OxThera and Orphazyme (among others) and sits on the board at Supernus. Just a few weeks ago, the Cambridge, MA biotech plugged Samuel Barone into the CMO slot.
→ CEO and co-founder of AskBio Sheila Mikhail is stepping onto the board of directors of Verve Therapeutics. Prior to her role at AskBio, Mikhail was at the helm of Bamboo Therapeutics as CEO and part of the management team at Chatham Therapeutics. Mikhail jumpstarted her career at Ropes & Gray LLP, where she spent 15 years at.
→ Faze Medicines — focusing on biomolecular condensates — has recruited Generation Bio CMO Douglas Kerr to its board of directors. Prior to Generation Bio, Kerr was VP and global development team lead for neurology at Shire. Before that, he was with Biogen in a variety of capacities. In addition to his new seat at Faze, Kerr sits on the board of Triplet Therapeutics.
→ Vividion has been on a hiring spree, starting with CEO Jeff Hatfield and filling other positions from CFO to head of regulatory. This week Christine Siu jumps on the Vividion bandwagon as a member of the board of directors. Siu is the COO-in-residence at BridgeBio and was employee no. 1 at Global Blood Therapeutics.
→ After all the Xilio talk earlier, the Waltham, MA biotech does have an update to its board of directors with Biogen and Sanofi Genzyme alum Christina Rossi grabbing a seat. Since 2018, Rossi has been chief commercial officer for Blueprint Medicines.
→ Co-founded by Jennifer Doudna, CRISPR upstart Caribou Biosciences has made room for Andrew Guggenhime on the board of directors. Guggenhime appeared in Peer Review back in May when he took the CFO job at SutroVax, and again in December when he was promoted to president under the new company name Vaxcyte.
→ Elizabeth Grammer has made her way to the board of directors at Sagimet Biosciences, which focuses on selective fatty acid synthase (FASN) inhibitors and filed for a $75 million IPO. Grammer is in her ninth year at Ardelyx, where she now serves as chief legal and administrative officer.
→ Putting its energy into Duchenne muscular dystrophy and other neurological diseases with recent Series B funding, Entrada Therapeutics has welcomed Bill & Melinda Gates Medical Research Institute special advisor Mary Thistle to the board of directors. Back in November, Thistle took on a board seat at a place where board appointments have been kind of a big deal: Ziopharm Oncology.