LabCorp selects its new CEO; Pfizer names ex-Genentech vet as new head of oncology R&D
→ Longtime Merck executive Adam Schechter will be taking over as CEO and president of LabCorp with the retirement of David King on October 31— when he will become executive chairman of the board of directors. The company says that “the board expects to choose one of its members to be lead independent director at a later date.”
Schechter has been on LabCorp’s board since April 1, 2013, serving as the lead independent director since January of this year. During his long-time stint at Merck, Schechter helped lead the integration of Merck and Schering-Plough and held executive roles in the company, including president of global human health and president of Merck’s global pharmaceutical business.
King has served as CEO for 13 years, starting in January 1, 2007. Prior to his appointment to CEO at LabCorp, King was executive vice president, COO and executive vice president of strategic planning and corporate development. When King first joined the company in 2001 — he previously served as the principal outside legal counsel for several years to the company — he served as SVP, general counsel and chief compliance officer.
→ Patricia Hurter will be at the helm of Lyndra Therapeutics — which is working on an “ultra-long-acting oral delivery system” — as its CEO effective September 3, 2019. Hurter will be succeeding co-founder Amy Schulman, a VC who is becoming executive chair. Prior to joining Lyndra, Hurter had a stint at Vertex as the company’s senior vice president of pharmaceutical and preclinical sciences and interim head of global regulatory affairs.
→ OncoCyte Corporation — a developer of non-invasive tests for the early detection of lung cancer — announced that Ronald Andrews will take charge of the company as its CEO, effective July 1. OncoCyte’s current CEO, William Annett, will remain with the company in an advisory role during the transition.
With over 30 years in the field, Andrews has had various stints, including CEO and founder of Bethesda Group, CEO of Clarient (formerly ChromaVision Medical Systems), CEO of GE Molecular Diagnostics, executive roles at Roche Molecular Diagnostics and he sits on the board of directors for three companies.
→ Leif Johansson’s time as AstraZeneca chairman is coming to an end as retirement looms. Johansson has had seven eventful years with the company — surviving a takeover bid by Pfizer, a turnaround mission and some political turmoil. Under FTSE-100 regulations, board members are not considered “independent” if they remain in their positions beyond nine years.
Johansson was recruited to AstraZeneca’s board in 2012, after stints at AB Electrolux and LM Ericsson. Soon after joining the company, he brought on Pascal Soriot from Roche to serve as the company’s chief. The two worked together to help AstraZeneca bounce back from a raft of patent expirations and successfully fended off Pfizer’s attempt to execute a $118 billion hostile takeover in 2014.
His pay totaled £690,000 in 2018, making him one of the best-paid chairs of an FTSE-100 company according to Sky News.
→ Pfizer scooped up Calico exec Jeff Settleman to head its oncology R&D ops in La Jolla. Settleman steps in as the company prepares for the retirement of Robert Abraham — whose experience stretches back to his early years at Wyeth.
Settleman is now managing 800 employees divided between tumor cell biology, cancer immunology discovery and target therapeutics, each with their own leaders.
Settleman served as a Harvard faculty member for 18 years and his first entry to the industry was in 2010 when he took up a discovery position at Genentech, which has seeded the Bay Area biotech hub with seasoned talent.
Pfizer’s oncology unit has seen quite a bit of change in recent years. Just a few weeks ago, Dimitry Nuyten, clinical head in immuno-oncology, jumped to Aduro. Charles Hugh-Jones left last August for Allergan after a 16-month stint as CMO; on the commercial side, Liz Barrett was snatched up by Novartis before moving on to lead the biotech UroGen.
→ The CSO of Agios Pharmaceuticals, Scott Biller, has announced his retirement — after being with the company for nearly a decade. Biller will retire at the end of 2019, but will continue to serve as a strategic advisor through the end of 2020. The company has initiated a search for his successor.
→ Earlier in April Rob Iannone announced that he was leaving his position as CMO of Immunomedics to head to Pennsylvania to be “close to his family.” Well, it looks like Jazz Pharmaceuticals — a company selling and developing drugs for sleep disorders and cancer — has snatched the former AstraZeneca exec to lead its global R&D team. Prior to his stint at AstraZeneca, Iannone worked for Merck, where he helped develop its PD-1 inhibitor star, Keytruda.
→ As China’s influence on global biotech continues to grow, Beigene CEO and chairman John Oyler, who co-founded the company in 2010, has been elected to BIO’s board of directors as well as the organization’s health section governing board.
→ Ahead of Third Rock’s record $770 million fund for its next wave of investments in the life sciences field, one key investor, Alexis Borisy, made an unexpected exit from the company. Borisy, who headed up investments in Magenta, Revolution, Blueprint and more, is headed for parts currently unknown. He was not involved in raising the last round and won’t be handling the investment deals.
→ Carisma Therapeutics — a biopharmaceutical company focusing on developing cell therapy platforms based on engineered macrophages — has welcomed Robert Petit as its CSO. Petit joins the biotech after his most recent stint as CSO of Advaxis. Petit has a wealth of experience, co-founding an immuno-oncology program in the early days of cell therapy, working as a part of the pioneering team at BMS to establish the first checkpoint inhibitor therapy, establishing academic IL-2 LAK and TIL cell treatment programs — among other things.
→ NeoImmuneTech (NIT) welcomed Samuel Zhang to the company as its CBO. Zhang’s most recent stint was as VP, product and portfolio strategy at Merus. Prior to that Zhang held positions at Eli Lilly, Pfizer, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Novartis Oncology.
→ While its lead program ETH42 advances toward clinical trials, Ethris — a company specializing in mRNA therapeutics, with specifics in pulmonary disease — announced the appointment of Thomas Langenickel as CMO. The Novartis vet was previously the executive director and head of respiratory profiling within the translational medicine group. Prior to Novartis AG, Langenickel held positions in discovery medicine at Bristol-Myers Squibb.
→ Ned Sharpless has named Keagan Lenihan as the FDA chief of staff, replacing Lauren Silvis — who is leaving the agency sometime this month after joining in May 2017 as deputy center director for policy at the FDA’s Center for devices and radiological health. Prior to joining the FDA in January 2018 as associate commissioner for strategic initiatives and external affairs, Lenihan served as senior counselor to then-HHS secretary Tom Price and senior legislative assistant to Price while he represented Georgia in the House as well as legislative director for representative Pete Sessions (R-Texas).
→ China and US-based cancer company Zai Lab has welcomed Valeria Fantin as its first-ever CSO. She will be based in the company’s US headquarters in San Francisco, leading the company’s internal drug discovery effort on a global basis. Prior to joining Zai Lab, Fantin served as CSO at Oric Pharmaceuticals – where she helped drive its GR antagonist ORIC-101 to clinic. Prior to that Fantin has held stints at Pfizer, Agios and Merck research laboratories. Samantha Du, Zai Lab’s founder and CEO said that Fantin’s over 20-year experience in oncology drug discovery will help lead with the internal discovery pipeline — which has a goal to announce one to two INDs per year starting in 2020.
→ Over the last year, BIO has separated its public affairs functions into two new departments. The industry organization announced that effective June 17, Rich Masters will head one department as EVP for public affairs. Masters joins from public affairs firm Qorvis communications. Last summer, the company named Jeanne Haggerty as EVP for government affairs and external relations of the other department. In addition, BIO has announced the departure of Ken Lisaius, the current SVP for communications, effective June 14.
→ Leo Pharma, who specializes in dermatology, announced that its president and CEO, Gitte Aabo, will be stepping down after 27 years — 11 as CEO — with the company. Catherine Mazzacco will succeed Aabo, effective August 1. Previously, Mazzacco was the head of global commercial operations at the biopharma division of the GE Healthcare unit of General Electric.
→ Fluidigm Corporation announced the appointment of its first-ever CSO, Andrew Quong, who joins from the Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research — which is sponsored by the National Cancer Institute (NIC) — as its director of strategic scientific initiatives and partnerships. Prior to his time at Frederick National Laboratory, Quong served as a faculty member in the Department of Cancer Biology at Thomas Jefferson University and the Department of Oncology at Georgetown University.
→ Theravance Therapeutics — who J&J gambled $1 billion last year in a partnership with the company in hopes of the next blockbuster JAK for Crohn’s, ulcerative colitis — has brought on Andrew Hindman as senior vice president and CFO of the company.
Most recently Hindman served as CBO of Acorda Therapeutics, where he led the company’s acquisitions Civitas Therapeutics and Biotie Therapies. Before that, Hindman was CEO and member of the board of privately-held biotechnology, Tobira Therapeutics, which was acquired by Allergan in 2016. Hindman has also held stints at Nodality, Onyx Pharmaceuticals and Gilead Sciences.
→ Eisai — the US subsidiary of Tokyo-based Eisai Co — announced Patrick Coyle as vice president and CFO of the company. He will serve on the executive committee. Coyle will be responsible for the financial operations of the company in the US and Canada. Prior to joining Eisai, Coyle was vice president, financial planning and analysis at INSMED. In addition, he’s had stints in the finance departments of Novartis, Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals, Sun Chemical and Computer Horizons Corporation.
→ Stephen Kennedy joins gene-editing biotech Casebia Therapeutics as its SVP, head of technical operations. With 30 years of experience in the field under his belt, Kennedy will oversee the company’s relationships with CROs and CMOs and will direct all manufacturing and support supply chain, quality and regulatory. He will also establish the process development and manufacturing strategy for new gene-editing based products, both ex vivo cell-based and in vivo therapies. Most recently, Kennedy served as the COO for restorative cell therapy company Histogenics Corporation. He’s also had stints at Mascoma Corp., The Novartis/MIT Center for Continuous Manufacturing and Genzyme.
→ Eiger BioPharmaceuticls appoints Jeysen Yogaratnam — who specializes in Hepatitis B and C — as vice president of global HDV clinical development. At his recent stint as senior medical director at Janssen Biopharma, Yogaratnam led drug development of hepatitis B virus (HBV) capsid assembly modulators.
“Jeysen’s background and experience in liver disease and antiviral drug development align well with our current and future HDV program needs as we advance Lonafarnib in the first-ever Phase III global study for HDV and Peginterferon Lambda toward Phase III for HDV,” said David Cory, president and CEO of Eiger. In addition to his time at Janssen, Yogaratnam has had stints at MIFCOR, Vertex – where he was the medical lead on the anti-HCV protease inhibitor, telaprevir (Incivek) — and Bristol-Myers Squibb.
→ Cellular and immune therapeutics company, Gamida Cell, has strengthened its management team with the addition of Tracey Lodie as CSO. Lodie will succeed Tony Peled, who is transitioning to the newly created role of chief technology officer at the company.
“We are delighted to welcome Tracey to Gamida Cell. Her deep experience in autoimmunity and immuno-oncology research will be critical as we continue to develop GDA-201 an investigational, natural killer cell-based immunotherapy in Phase I development with the potential to treat hematologic malignancies and solid tumors,” said Julian Adams, CEO of Gamida Cell.
Prior to joining Gamida Cell, Lodie served as SVP, translational immunology at BlueRock Therapeutics and has had stints at Syros Pharmaceuticals and Sanofi-Genzyme.